Sunday, 15 October 2017

Road-tripping in the lands of Cymru, Alba & England

Road-tripping in the lands of Cymru, Alba and England... A total of 14 days, 1 camper van, 13 camping sites, 3'000+ km covered, 46 coffees, 36 polaroids, 2 Cornish pastries, 3 scones and a whole load of fun :-)
The photobook version of the trip can be found by clicking here, but if you're viewing on your mobile or just prefer the blog format, keep on scrolling down for snaps, maps, itineraries and comments!

Day 1: Wiltshire (England)


Stonehenge is an ancient temple aligned with the movements of the sun. The stones were raised 4500 years ago by sophisticated prehistoric people (and no, it wasn't druids!)

Salisbury Cathedral

Britain's tallest spire, home of Magna Carta & the oldest working mechanical clock in the world (1396).

Day 2: Cornwall (England)

Eden Project, Port Isaac, Tintagel Castle

1) Marveling at space-age biomes of the largest indoor rain-forest in the world in Project Eden.
2) Cornish pastry lunch at Port Isaac (after having missed our Michelin-star lunch at Nathan Outlaw Fish Kitchen (haha, who knew they have two restaurants with the same name in this one little town - lol, we went to the other one and by the time we've figured out the mixup, it was already too late :-)

3) Heading northeast to King Arthur's birthplace, 12th century Tintagel Castle (or whatever was left of it).

Day 3: Monmouthshire (Wales)

Tintern Abbey and Abergavenny

Spent a good portion of the day stuck in traffic because of an accident on M5... however, made it on time for the picture-perfect riverside ruins of Tintern Abbey, Wale's best-preserved 12th-century abbey. Finished the day off with a lovely impromptu dinner at "The Hardwick" (an absolute must stop for a foodie on a gastro pub-hopping spree around Wales!).

Day 4: Brecknockshire, Gwynedd and Conwy (Wales)


Solving murder mysteries at "Murder and Mayhem" in Hay-on-Wye, a perfect little Welsh town that is pretty much one huge bookstore. And did you know they had kitten memes back in the 40s?! See pictures below!


Curious fact: apparently, 2/3 of Snowdonia National Park land is privately owned, and 2/3 of it is used for sheep farming! :-)

For next visit: 
Go Below Challenge (5 hours, 49 pounds pp) - ticket office at Conwy Falls.
Zip safari and underground adventures at Zip World.

Day 5: Snowdonia National Park (North Wales)

Betws-y-Cod, Llyn Elsi

Started the day at Snowdonia's Convy waterfall, did a 13 km mountain bike track to Llyn Elsi & around the village of Betws-y-Cod to work up an appetite for some Welsh cakes before heading off to Convy Castle.
It was a pity leaving Wales with its adorable 'Y Ddraig Goch' (Red Dragon) "mascot", but a traditional English pub dinner: pumpkin pie with Yorkshire pudding and gravy at The Red Lion in Dodleston - quite quickly mended my broken heart.

Day 6: Lancashire (North West England)


Created as the first ever tax evasion scheme by King John in 1207, Liverpool has had a very interesting history ever since: both musically and politically. An absolute highlight of the visit was the Albert Dock: cutting edge of engineering when built (it had the first-ever fireproof warehouse!), today it's a home to an array of museums including the Beatles Story: an awesome museum telling the story of the "Fab 4" in a very immersive and compelling way through informative commentary (by John Lennon's sister Julia) about the "four lads who changed the world" and life-sized replicas of the legendary club 'Cavern' (where the Beatles performed 292 times!) and the Abbey Road studios. Scattered around the dock one can also find Liverpool's mythical creatures including a 'lambanana' (a very cute-looking crossover between a lamb and banana, which - in the spirit of the city's 'Liver bird' (crossover between an eagle and a duck) - was designed as a protest against cloning and genetic modification :-)

Day 7: Cumbria (England)

The Lakes District

Touring the Lakes district, enjoying cute sheep portraits by lovely local animal illustration artists (Becca Fielding rules!), eating mint cake, avoiding red squirrels & admiring UNESCO World Heritage & National Trust-protected properties before delving into the depths of the Lake District's last Honister Pass slate mine :-)

Day 8: Northumberland (England) and Western Lowlands (Scotland)

Hadrian's Wall

Walking the Hadrian's Wall2000-year-old fortified dramatic Roman ruins snaking coast-to-coast across lonely hills. The wall once marked the northern limit of Roman Empire. 


Enjoying surprisingly sunny Glasgow (it totally did not live up to its gloomy image, even The Necropolis) and its really cool Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum.

Day 9 and 10: West Dunbartonshire and Highland (Scotland)

Loch Lomond

Picnic-style scenic breakfast at Loch Lomond, passing through Glencoe - classical dramatic Highland scenery towards the wilderness of the Isle is Skye: bullet holes in sheep signs and the weather that changes every 5 minutes and dramatic landscapes: it was worth every mile of the way there! 
After taking a peek at the Black Cuillin mountains, we headed towards the Fairy PoolsOld Man of Storr and Staffin Museum (to see the dinosaur footprint and the Kilt Rock for the perfect waterfall viewpoint...

Isle of Skye and Loch Ness

The highlights of the next day included Talisker Distillery, Fairy Glen, some furry Scottish cows and the amazing culinary delights of "The Three Chimneys" in a very remote part of the Isle of Skye before delving into the depths of the most mysterious Loch ever only to find... Nessy! 

Day 11: Stirling and the Ciry of Edinburgh (Scotland)

Stirling Castle's necropolis:


Edinburgh Castle is built on a volcanic crag, everyone drinks whisky instead of water and their national animal is a unicorn! How much more awesome can it get?

Day 12: North Yorkshire (England)


Enjoying the "most medieval city in England": 
1) visiting the York Minster - (arguably) the largest medieval cathedral in all of Northern Europe
2) being amazed at British recycling habits: Roman sarcophagi as flower pots!
3) having a proper cream tea and cake
4) roaming the Diagon Alley's (Harry Potter fans rejoice!) prototype: the Shambles
5) checking out York's sanctuary: the place where all your sins used to be pardoned of you can just get hold of that very special door handle 

Day 13: The Scottish Borders (Scotland), Berwickshire and North Yorkshire (England)

Border Abbeys: Melrose, Dryburgh and Whitby Abbey

A day in the Scottish Borders: visiting the picturesque Cistercian Melrose Abbey (where the Heart of William the Bruce is buried) and the romantic ruins of the early 12th century's Dryburgh Abbey (the final resting place of Sir Walter Scott)... Whitby Abbey: Gothic inspiration behind Bram Stoker's 'Dracula' - Whitby Abbey.

Day 14: Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire (England)

The Cotswolds, Blenheim Palace, Oxford 

1) Enjoying the 'chocolate box' towns of The Cotswolds AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). Famous mainly for horse trade (hence the wooden pony), Stow-on-the-Wold.

2) Roaming around the manicured lawns of one of Britain's greatest baroque stately homes, Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of the most bad-ass politician in the world (Winston Churchill) 
3) Following the footsteps of JRR Tolkien and Oscar Wilde in Oxford...