ARK Motorhome Blog

Welcome to our ARK Motorhome Blog

We have been motorhome users for many years now and love the freedom and simplicity of the lifestyle. This blog charts some of our recent adventures and experiences. We hope you find it informative and interesting.

Sandringham

16th April 2021 to 18th April 2021

First trip post lock-down – Sandringham and the north Norfolk coast

High pressure has been in control of the weather this week. It has been dry, clear and sunny albeit with ice in the mornings. This is my favourite time of year and my favourite weather. We just had to get out and about as soon as possible after the lifting of the restrictions on camping sites was lifted on the 12th April.

Neither Moira nor myself had been over to the Norfolk area for many, many years, so we decided on a short trip to Sandringham on the north coast. There are two sites in this area, both in the grounds of the Queen’s Sandrigham Estate. As we are a member of the Caravan and Motorhome Club (CMAC) we chose that one – The Sandringham Estate Caravan Club Site.

We arrived just after mid-day on Friday and found a very nice pitch in the sunshine. After a quick bite to eat we went exploringing and found the path the the gates at Sandringham. As the Duke’s funeral was the next day, the gates (whilst closed) were covered in floral tributes. There are a few photos in the carasel below. A lovely tribute.

With the sun out again on Saturday we headed toward Hunstanton. We parked on the sea front of the old town, by the lighthouse and Hunstanton Cliffs and spent the morning walking down to the peir at the newer end of Hunstanton. So good to be by the sea in beautiful sunshine. After a good few hours of walking we went back to the van for lunch.

The afternoon was a repeat of the morning but walking north east toward Holme Dunes. The tide was going out by now and the beach grew to an immense expanse of golden sand ahead of us as we walked. It was much quieter along this streatch with the dunes giving way to marshland and providing habitat for some unusual and interesting birds (I didn’t recognised most) rather than the usual gulls down by the peir and fun fair.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, Moira is a keen gardener and Geoff Hamilton’s gardens in Barnsdale are a favourite (Barnsdale Gardens ). So on the return journey home on Sunday we popped in again. Apparantly they sell plants that no one else does!!

Here are a few photos :

All in all a very pleasant weekend. The site was excellent (as we are coimg to expect from CMAC sites) , Sandringham and Hunstanton are both places we would return to, and the weather was superb. A great start ot the season for us.

Niggles

Another trip with almost no Motorhome problems. “Almost” because the dinette table is coming loose again at the bracket.

BTW: the motorised waste valve worked great!!

Round trip distance 275 miles according to google maps.

Remote Controlled Grey Waste Valve for my Bailey Autograph

My Bailey Autograph 79-6 has a grey waste outlet behind the drivers side rear wheel. As the chassis is very low on this model, operating the valve means kneeling by the rear wheel and reaching under. No hardship I know, but in the wet or close to well used grey waste drains I always end up with wet and muddy jeans. So, I decided to make a remote-controlled motorised valve that could be opened and closed using a key fob.

The existing pipe and valve assembly was simply push fitted into the elbow at the back of the grey waste tank and looks like this.

The piping is rigid 28mm which is used throughout the waste water system, and pushes directly into the female push-fit connecter on the tank elbow. Two-thirds of the way along the pipe (from the tank end) there is a 28mm bracket connected to the floor of the motorhome to keep the pipework steady. My aim is to build a motorised replacement that will fit through the existing bracket and push directly into the original pipework at the elbow. This way, if there is ever a problem with motorised valve, the remote or the power, then I can simply replace the old pipe and valve.

The Components

What components did I use to create my remote controlled grey waste valve for my Bailey Autograph?

  • 28mm rigid pipe – Originally manufactured by DLS Plastics (https://www.dlsplastics.co.uk/) but available from many caravan supplies stores, I picked up a 3m length for £6 locally. I only needed a couple of feet but it only came in 3m lengths.
  • 28mm to 1” BSP Male connector – These are a little bit harder to get a hold off. DLS Plastics manufacture them but they are not stocked by many caravan stores. I did find some at LeisureLines.net (here is the link 1″ BSP Connector) for £4.
  • The motorised valve came direct from the manufacturers UK distributor, (US Solid) which was cheaper that either EBay or Amazon. Ideally I would have preferred the 1 1/4” unit which has a port of similar diameter to the 28mm pipe. But I couldn’t find a 28mm to 1 1/4 “ BSP pipe connector. The 1” BSP has a port diameter of 20mm which could mean that the tank will take longer to empty, but it already seems to take an age so a few more minutes wont hurt. The 1” motorised ball valve cost £35, and is a simple 2-wire control to 12v.
  • The opposite side of the value will be at the same position as the original tap, so I am connecting a 1” BSP elbow I picked up from Amazon (1” BSP male Elbow).
  • Finally, the remote control switch which I also picked up from Amazon ( 12v 1ch remote relay ) for £15.

The Build

Having done the research and sourced the appropriate components, I found the build of the remote controlled grey waste valve for my Bailey Autograph quite simple.

  1. Cut the 28mm pipe to length such that the motorised valve is as close to the bracket as possible.
  2. Glue on the push-fit 28mm to 1” BSP connector
  3. Screw the 1” BSP connector to one port of the motorised valve and the 1” BSP elbow to the other.
  4. Open the leisure battery compartment and mount the remote relay module to the wall of the compartment next to one of the batteries. Wire up the remote relay to the leisure battery directly so that it is always on (with an in-line fuse). Programme the fobs to pair with the remote.
  5. Run a cable from the remote relay (in the leisure battery compartment) to the rear of the waste tank and connect to the motorised valve.

The hardest element of the above I found to be the last step. The Bailey has a low chassis, so crawling underneath without ramps is not easy and there is not room to work once you are there. I used the air vent from the battery compartment to exit the wire (save drilling another hole), tie-wrapped the cable to the chassis until I reached a longitudinal outrigger and then tie-wrapped it to the existing wiring loom that ran inside the outrigger.

As I can’t guarantee the motorised valve is IP66 compliant, and because it sits behind the mud flap of the rear wheel, I also covered the valve housing with bubble wrap and polythene.

The remote valve works really well. Plenty of range, simple to operate and no more muddy, wet knees. And if the worst should happen I can swop back to the original in less that 10 minutes! What’s not to like.

2020 Scotland Tour

10th September 2020 to 25th September 2020

Welcome to our 2020 Scotland Tour

The Google Map above shows the plan for this tour. Two and a half weeks taking in first the west coast and then the east with a stop over in the Cairngorms in the middle.

Starting early (about 05:30) the journey from Stafford to Ayr was pleasantly uneventful. Stopping at Tebay Services for a good cooked breakfast and a toilet break we arrived in Ayr just after noon and decided to take a walk on the beach to blow away the cobwebs after the long journey. Ayr beach front was impressive. A huge expanse of clean sand stretching down from the mouth of the river Ayr for over a mile down the coast. We strolled up to the light house and let the dog run.

Suitably refreshed we went to find the site. It was about a mile from the beach on the outskirts of town. Ayr Cragie Gardens Caravan Club Site. On booking-in we found the wardens had a similar motorhome to ours – and also purchased from Don Amott. We compared stories and niggles and warranty repairs, both discovering that problems we had experienced were not unique, and that neither had suffered any major issue that hadn’t already been fixed. So hopefully no future surprises.

We spent a couple of nights at Ayr. Revisiting the beach and taking a stroll through the town. A very pleasant Scottish coastal town, however the weather was deteriorating and forecast was worse. For the next 3 days the west coast of Scotland was expecting a months rain to fall and winds of 40mph to 60mph. Our itinerary had us moving up the west coast through Fort William and Oban over these next few days. Time to change tack – one of the beauties of motorhome ownership. If you don’t like the weather – go somewhere else.

After an hour looking at maps and weather forecasts we phoned the Caravan & Motorhome Club booking line to make some new reservations. Availability for a 8m motorhome was a little tricky but we booked into Forfar for a night and then Banchory for 2 nights. The East coast of Scotland looking like it would avoid the majority of the wet weather.

Here are a few photos :

Forfar Lochside Caravan & Motorhome Club site

After driving west to east across Scotland we eventually found the Forfar site – not as straight forward as most sites. The site had lovely new facilities that were allowed to poen under Covid restrictions by using the wristband system that seems to be common on club sites (only two people at a time in the washroom block – you hang your wristband on the peg outside. If there are 2 bands already on the peg you need to wait until someone comes out and claims theirs).

The site is adjacent to Loch Forfar which has a walking/cycle path around it’s circumference. It took us a couple of hours to walk all the way around.

Here are a few photos :

Silverbank Caravan and Motorhome Club Site

Banchory was a real find. We hadn’t planned to visit. It was simply the weather and availability that bought us to the site, but it is definitely a site we will return to. The site sits next to the river Dee on the outskirts of the small town of Banchory. It also sits on the Deeside trail – a 140 mile circular mountain bike route starting in Banchory. The route links up some of the best trails and scenery in Aberdeenshire, Deeside and the Eastern Cairngorm mountains.

We cycled along the trail to Crathes where there were a few crafty shops, cafes and a railway museum. In one of the galleries there were 2 artists from NEOS (North East Open Studios) explaining and showcasing their work.

Then we walked in the other direction into Banchory. A town with plenty of character in that upmarket Scottish way. Very clean and tidy with huge substantial granite clad houses in ample mature grounds overlooking the river. Considering this is rural Scotland I was surprised at the affluence on show especially on the roads: Lambogini, Porsche, and every other car seemed to be a Land Rover/Range Rover. Its proximity to Aberdeen could be the reason.

Here are a few photos :

Maragowan Caravan and Motorhome Club Site

To get ourselves back on track with our original itinerary we needed another couple of stop-overs before we arrived in Blair Atholl where we planned to meet our girls and their partners for a few days. We found availability in Killin for 2 nights as this was roughly en-route to Blair Atholl. We took the scenic route from Banchory over Braemar and past the ski centre. The drive wasn’t for the timid driver. Very narrow, twisting roads with over-hanging trees requires some concentration in a 8m motorhome that’s 2.5m wide. After 4 hours it does get a bit tiring.

The last 10 miles of the journey were along the banks of Loch Tay through Kenmore. Unfortunately it was raining with heavy cloud, but on a better day the views along this route must be stunning. The site was next to the river Tay (now in flood) and was flooded in places. We walked from the site through Killin and up to the Falls of Dochart. Whilst the power of the Tay in flood made the falls an impressive spectacle, it would have been nice to see the surrounding mountains and some blue sky instead of low misty cloud. There will be another time I’m sure.

Here are a few photos :

The next morning was no better. Rain, low cloud and mist, so we decided to move on and head closer to Blair Athol. The Blair Castle Caravan site couldn’t extend our booking by another night (full), so we found another site close by in Faskally.

Faskally Caravan Park

We used this site for a winter walking holiday a few years ago. We hired one of their lodges for a week in January and were blessed by 8 inches of snow that week. This time we were on a hardstanding on the site itself. The site sits adjacent to one of our favourite walks – the Killicrankie trail which follows the river Garry. So once we parked up we took the dog down to the river and along the path for a few miles

Blair Castle Caravan Park

Here we are again. This place is like a magnet to us. The sun is shining, the sky is clear and it’s 21 degrees in mid September. What’s not to like!!

This visit we have been allocated a pitch (273) at the back of the site rather than alongside the road that leads up the Castle. Whilst it isn’t fully serviced, it’s a much sunnier spot and my clean water extension hose just reaches the nearest tap, so the best of both I think.

Our girls wanted to come and join us for a few days, so I booked a lodge for them the other side of the river Garry. The 3 bedrooms allowed each of them the freedom to come and go when they could to fit in with work schedules and bring their partners with them if they wanted. Today (Wednesday) it was Abbie, Rhona and Aaron who were arriving, so we agreed to meet in the local hostelry for a beer and some food – The Atholl Arms.

As they had both spent 6 hours plus driving up from Stafford, it was a quiet night, with the promise of a walk to Bruar Falls in the morning.

As we returned, Moira’s brother arrived. He was staying at the Atholl Arms and is a keen golfer. Blair Atholl has a small 9 hole course so the 3 men decided to play 18 holes the next day. What a lovely course (Blair Atholl Golf Club). Lush and beautifully manicured with an interesting shared green on the 4th / 9th that sits on a raised plateau. We played the first 9 as match play and found we were all playing at about the same handicap, so played the back 9 as stableford each with a handicap of 9. Surprisingly I won by a couple of points.

Kirstie and Adam were next to arrive. After a further visit to the Atholl Arms we had an evening of board games and cards on the decking outside of the lodge. Really enjoyable evening – I hope we didn’t disturb the neighbours too much.

Saturday we decided to walk Ben Vrackie – again in the sunshine.

Unfortunately Jim and Abbie had to get to work on Monday and Kirstie and Adam also had to leave. But that left the 4 of us to try another walk. This time we attempted Scheillion – a Munro, and the mountain used by Charles Hunter to calculate the mass of the Earth many years ago. It’s not a long walk, but it is challenging both from a steep assent perspective and also the very rocky path for the last few kilometers. But the views from the top are stunning.

Here are a few photos :

St Andrews Holiday Park

On Tuesday we left Rhona and Aaron at Blair Atholl and headed to St Andrews. The site is situated above the East Sands on the cliff top with outstanding views across the bay and St Andrews harbour.

We have been to St Andrews a number of times but never stayed for more than a few hours. If you get the chance – visit. It’s got something for everyone: two sandy beaches, 7 gold courses including the famous Old Course (home of golf), the ruins of a castle, the ruins of an cathedral, a university, well stocked high street and bags and bags of character.

Here are a few photos :

Our eventual tour was very different to the one that we planned. But thats the real beauty of owning a motorhome. If the weather gets poor or you change your mind you simply move on.

Niggles

Only one thing to report this trip. At Blair Castle I couldn’t remove my 16 amp blue plug from the electricity outlet on the plot. The warden diagnosed that one of the pins in the plug had fused itself to the associated socket in the outlet. The blue 16 amp male plug needed removing from the cable and replacing before I could hook-up again.

The reason for this was not clear. Over the many years I have been Motorhoming I have never experienced this, but I could clearly see where the base of pin had over-heated. Perhaps a loose pin? Regardless I now carry a spare male and female 16 amp blue socket.

Round trip distance 1002 miles according to google maps.

Feedback

I’ve been contacted by a lady called Jen Stark who lives in New Zealand and has seen this article. She asked if I would publish a link to her site, so here it is 35 Benefits of Camping

Rutland

13th August 2020 to 16th August 2020

Our breif motorhome trip to Rutland

The weather this week has been extremely hot. Over 35 degrees for the last 5 days and tropical (greater than 20 degress) during the night. It will not last much longer but we thought we would squeeze in a long weekend before we resumed the normal britsh summer of 15 degress, rain and cloud.

It was Moira’s choice this time, and she has always wanted to visit the gardens of Geoff Hamilton at Barnsdale. These where the gardens featured on Gardeners World for many years whilst Geoff was the presenter. They are located close to Rutland Water in the county of Rutland – the smallest county in the UK.

We chose a camp site that was conveniantly close by – Rutland caravan and camping . The reviews for the site were dominated by a small number of horrendous comments, even though the overall rating was good. My personal opinion is that the site is great and the negative review comments are unwarranted. Its a large open site that feels relaxed and peaceful (in the adults only area where we were). We didn’t use the facilities due to Covid restrictions, however there was an indoor pool and cafe on site.

The site is close by the village of Greetham which is absoluely lovely in a quitessentially english sort of way. Golden sandstone houses with the odd thatched cottage thrown in. There were a couple of pubs in the village. Unusual since the village was only small. We stopped by The Plough for a quick beer one evening. They served an excellent pint of GreenKing IPA, and after a couple of those we decided to remain in the beer garden to have something to eat. I would recommend the burgers – superb.

As I mentioned Moira has always wanted to visit the gardens of Geoff Hamilton located in Barnsdale. Barnsdale Gardens is more than just a garden, its a complex of 38 gardens with a nursery and cafe serving home made cakes (well you just have to).

Here are a few photos :

We spent most of a day there, before returning to the site to sit out in the evening sunshine and cook some BBQed food with a few beers.

On Saturday we decided to do some mountain biking. Not being “spring chickens” lets say, the path we chose was around the circumference of Rutland Water. Mostly on the level although it was a little longer than we thought (about 18miles) which is greater than Carsington Water which have done in the past – a few times.

Niggles

Another trip with no Motorhome problems – fingers crossed the initial niggles are done now. We did call into Don Amott on the way out to Rutland. The warranty job to replace the rear light surrounds was carried out. Only a few minutes, but enough time to visit their onsite cafe for a great breakfast.

Round trip distance 155 miles according to google maps.

Blair Atholl

17th July 2020 to 24th July 2020

Our go-to place – Blair Atholl – is something we return to often, in our motorhome or their many options self catering

Camp sites are just starting to reopen for self-catering use i.e motorhomes and caravans. Social distancing is, of course, mandatory but is manageable in a motorhome if you are sensible. Whilst pubs and restaurants are also starting to open their doors, we have decided not to use them at the moment, and prefer to cater for ourselves in the motorhome this trip.

We have been coming to Blair Atholl now for more than 20 years. Usually two or more times each year – we love it here. We found Blair Castle Caravan Site whilst touring Scotland in a borrowed motorhome when the kids were tiny. Instead of the 2 nights we had planned there, we stayed a week, cancelling the other bookings. There was an instant attraction to the place and one that has only matured and increased over time.

The site has modernised during this period: a new site office and shop; Internet access, Segway and bike hire; and recently some lodges that are open all year even when the camp site is closed. Despite all these changes the site hasn’t lost its charm or its character and has resisted the temptation to squeeze more pitches into the grounds. It remains a lovely open site with huge areas of grass and play areas at its centre.

We know the local area very well, and use the site as the base for a lot of walking in the local hills. I’ll compose a Relive flyby from the routes we took during the week, but the Garmin site is currently down at the moment as it is being held to ransom by hackers.

Here are a few photos in the mean time.

Garmin is starting to recover from their ransom induced outage. Here is a Relive of some of the routes we walked. In total we managed 37.3 miles of planned walks in 5 days.

This was the first time we have been totally reliant on this motorhome without supplementing it with the use of shower blocks, toilets and restaurants. I wasn’t really expecting any issues as such, but thought it may be more restrictive than we are normally used to. Obsolutely not – no problems at all. In fact, under the current Covid circumstances, it felt even more comfortable and appropriate – even natural, than I was expecting.

The week flew by – as it always does when we visit Blair Atholl. We managed a reasonable walk everyday other than one due to heavy rain across most of Scotland that day. It doesn’t seem to matter that we have walked some these tracks tens of times, its always different. Red squirrels, red deer and bussards seems to be the more adundant of the local wildlife, along with the Highland cows or course. There are polecats up here too although I haven’t yet spotted one. During our last visit in January 2020 (using a lodge because the caravan site is closed in January) I set up a trial camera and caught some great footage of the Reds.

Round trip distance 685 miles according to google maps.

Niggles

Non this trip, apart from a window catch needing a bit of glue which is trivial especially since my wife can be a little heavy-handed.

The seal for the window above the cab was replaced under warranty in June and has stopped the wind noise at speed or during windy weather when we are driving.

The surrounds for the rear light clusters have now gone from pitted to fully rusty and leaving rust streaks on the bodywork. It has been acknolgedged by Don Amott as a warranty problem particular to this version of Bailey motorhome, but because of Covid they are still without a suitable replacements. It’s now been 4 months since the acknowledgement was conformed as a warraany issue.

Fairbourne

9th July 2020 to 14th July 2020

Well Lock-Down has seriously impacted our touring ambitions for this year. Restrictions on visiting family in Wales have just been eased so at long last we are going to visit my Mom in Fairbourne. as our first post lock-down trip. Caravan and Camping sites are still not open, so we will park in Mom’s driveway and use the motorhome to social distance / isolate ourselves as best we can.

As a result of the winter gales, the gates at the side of her house were blown apart. It was not just the high winds, but the gates were rotten having been made of softwood over 10 years ago. The only trace of the gates hanging on the gateposts after the gales were the hinges. The rest of the gates were strewn all over the garden.

The gates were a totally non standard size as they were custom made to fit into the thick welsh slate walls. So I will need to build replacements from scratch to fit the openings. I ordered some pressure treated timber a number of months ago (anticipating a much sooner visit) and it has been sitting on Mom’s driveway ever since.

So we loaded the motorhome with provisions for 4 days, as well as all the tools I would need e.g. chop saw, screws, hammer, etc etc. Most of these were too big to fit through the access door into the garage area under the rear seating, so it had to go inside the motorhome. The dog wasn’t impressed.

As you can see from the photo carosel below the new gates took shape quite nicely and the weather was kind. Job done and Mom was most appreciative.

There wasn’t much time for walking on this trip, but I did take the dog down to the lovely beach a couple of times. Sun shining, light breeze and waves lapping onto the sand at low tide. A great place to be.

Round trip distance 220 miles according to google maps.

Niggles

The windscreen was replaced during lock-down, but during the procedure Autoglass informed me that the Lane-Assistance camera may need re-aligning after the new windscreen was fitted. The camera is sited behind the rearview mirror and focusses through the windscreen. Re-alignment can be done by a Peugeot dealer which seemed the easist solution as soon as they opened their businesses again. However, the Stafford and Lichfield Peugeot dealers don’t have a workshop big enough to accomodate the Bailey. After driving to and from Fairbourne without the camara being re-aligned I found that I couldn’t detect any difference in the lane-assist performance. I concluded that the Autoglass engineers did a great job and didn’t disrupt it’s operation.

The grey water waste valve that fell off was just a push fit, so easily repaired. I have since puchased 5m of waste hose that connects directly to the valve for use on fully serviced pitches.

The pull switch in the bathroom broke again. After I repaired it the last time, I took the precaution of buying a replacement and leaving it in the motorhome, just in case. Although I bought it from B&Q it was a like for like replacement so after isolating the electrics it was a simple job to replace.

Enhancements

3rd March 2020 to 14th March 2020

Bike rack

The Motorhome was fitted with the fixing frame for a bike rack, but not the rack itself. The fixing frame is a Fiamma so I spoke to Don Amott about a suitable rack that fitted. They advised the Fiamma Pro C or Pro C-N. The C variant comes with the fixing frame and the N variant without. Ideally I would have purchased the N variant as it’s cheaper and I already had the fixing frame. However, after a little reasearch I found a company call Outdoorbits whose prices were only a fraction of those from Don Amott’s. Unfortunately they didn’t stock the N variant, but it was still much cheaper to buy the C variant from them, rather than the N variant fron Don Amott.

Installation was fairly straight forward. Other than assembly and tightening nuts all I needed to do was reduce the vertical frame slightly with a hack saw. Took about an hour in total.

Spare Wheel Carrier

I find it very odd that a vehicle with a price tag of greater than £50k, doesn’t come with a spare wheel. Nor does it come with a jack capable of lifting the motorhome even if you had a spare. I realise that all weight is payload, but it puts you entirely at the mercy of the breakdown services in whatever country you get the misfortunate of a puncture.

I have been a member of the AA for over 20 years and I know that they will be with me within a hour if I call them, but that doesn’t mean I will be on my way within 2 hours. The tyres on the motorhome are rated for over 4 tonnes and run at 80 psi. You can’t generally walk into a QuickFit and buy one. So a puncture on a Bank Holiday will probably disable the motorhome for a couple of days whilst a tyre can be found.

The comprimise for me is a wheel carrier with a spare tyre (not a full wheel and tyre). Ok it will still need the breakdown services to jack the motorhome up and replace the punctured tyre with the new one, but that is all I should need to get me on my way again.

The spare carrier I also bought from OutdoorBits and fitted it myself to mounting points already manufactured into the AlKo chassis. Another hour or so – and only half the wieght of a full wheel and tyre.

Fishguard

5th March 2020 to 8th March 2020

As the sites are starting to open up again and the weather gets a little less wet, we thought we would start the season with a long weekend in Pembrokeshire.

We chose the Fishguard Bay Resort. There were a couple of main reasons a) it was open and the facilities liooked good, b) the location – perched on top of the headland over-looking Fishguard harbor – a beautiful spot.

This was early March so we didn’t hold out much for the weather, but we did quite well. Mostly dry and overcast, but with extremes at both ends. A lovely clear sunset on thursday and a gale (50mph gusts) on saturday with much buffeting of the motorhome throughout the night.

From the site it took about half an our to travel down to St Davids where there was plenty of open parking for a large motorhome. We walked through the ruins of the old palace and around the catherdral. We didn’t go in as they were preparing for a wedding.

I can see why this little city is so popular. We also found a little pie shop – simply by the delicious smell eminating down the street. It was the first time we had tried a St David’s Oggie – lovely. If you are ever aound St Davids you must try one (or two).

We also tried a short walk along the Pembroke Coastal path. We didn’t go too far, the path was very muddy after all the recent rain and the drop down to the sea wasn’t trivial.

Round trip distance 435 miles according to google maps.

Further Niggles

Another couple of things to add to the list:

  • Whilst cruising down the M5 a lorry in front flipped up a rock. It hit the lower passenger side corner of the windscreen. Over the next three days we watched the cracks creep across the screen. Being replaced on the 27th March
  • The grey water waste value fell off. I’m sure it simply needs re-fixing but I haven’t got around to doing it yet

Lake District

30th Dec 2019 to 4th Jan 2020

Christmas 2019 was a relaxed family Christmas and memorable because of this. Close family, board games, card games, food and drink – all the ingredients necessary for a superb few days over the Christmas holidays.

It’s difficult to gather together extended family as everyone has their own plans and sometimes they just don’t line up. However, our attempt this festive period was to invite all extended family to our home on the Saturday (29th Dec). We filled the house and overflowed into the motorhome. As is traditional at this time of year, we all played silly games like adult versions of pass-the-parcel (wearing oven gloves). A little drink was consumed and soaked up with a great spread of food. Another great treat – Christmas is all about family.

But all that food and drink needs an outlet, so on the 30th Dec we jumped in the Motorhome and headed north for a few days.

We booked last minute at Troutbeck Head Caravan and Motorhome Clube site for 3 nights and arrived just before dark after a very late lunch at Tebay. Once again the Club wardens were happy to help and explain how their site and facilities operated. There had recently been some refurbishing work done and the reburbished toilet / shower block was superb.

The night time temperatures were now well below freezing with clear skies. It was great to lie in bed and look out at the stars through the morohome skylight without the usual light polution we get at home. Unfortunately the cold weather and fairly full site led to some electricity problems. To be clear these problems were not caused by poor maintenance or capacity issues at the site. These problems were caused by some inconsiderate campers overloading the circuits by using electric heaters in their awnings. Once the wardens had aked them to turned them off, we all had stable electricity again.

In Scotland (our usual bolt-hole) we are used to finding a walk, driving to the nearest carpark, parking up and setting off. In the Lake Distrinct we learned that it’s not that simple. Parking a large motorhome is not a trivial matter in the Lakes. Having found a couple of good walks we wanted to try, we couldn’t find parking and then ran out of light. So the next day we walked Mell Fell from the campsite to avoid the parking problem.

On the 2nd we left Troutbeck and made a booking at another Caravan and Motorhome club site – Conniston Park Coppice. This was about an hour south, travelling through Ambleside and down to the shores of Coniston. I am consistently impressed by the quality of these club sites and their facilities. However, there were hardly any pitches remaining (my fault for not booking earlier) so the only pitch we could find to fit our large motorhome was not entirely level – even with careful positioning of the wheel ramps.

The next day, having learned our lesson from Troutbeck, we found another walk that we could do from the site without needing to find parking. This walk was The Old Man of Coniston trail. Quite a challenging hike. The path leads up to 3000ft and along the rocky ledge which could well have been the top of a caldera formed by a long extinct volcano. Finlay (our spaniel) was not impressed. His idea of a holiday is curled up on the sofa.

Round trip distance 335 miles according to google maps.

Further Niggles

To add to the first list here are a few more:

  1. The front of the dinette eye-level cupbaord has warped to the point where the magnetic closures do not close – to be replaced under warranty by Don Amott on the 17th Jan.
  2. The closure on the centre eye-level locker in the rear lounge nolonger allows the locker to be closed. I repositioned the catch to fix the problem.
  3. The pull-switch on the bathroom light failed and wouldn’t turn the light on. Stripped in down and re-assembled it so it worked again – will need a replacement.
  4. Passenger side door mirror – bit more than a niggle but my fault. Smashed the casing on a wall. Will need to be replaced when I get home.

Fairbourne

7th Nov to 9th Nov 2019

When I was young I lived in a small coastal village on the mid-wales coast called Fairbourne. My mom still lives there. As it was my Mom who introduced us to motorhomes we thought we would go and visit. Round trip distance 220 miles according to google maps.

Thursday was a bit of a write-off weather wise – heavy rain for most of the day. But Friday was a brief exception – lovely clear blue skies. Just perfect for a walk on the miles of deserted beach.

Friday evening we had agreed to meet the rest of the family at a place called the George III Hotel at Penmaenpool. A lovely old place on the banks of the Mawddach estuary. It was great to see them all again and as with most of these get-togethers we were amongst the first to arrive and the last to leave. Good food and great company!!

We needed to get back on Saturday as our daughter Rhona, had to get back to Uni, so we set off from Fairbourne at about 11:30am for the 2 and a half hour drive. That’s when the fun really started. During the previuos evening it had snowed on the higher ground. The first snow of the year. Being rural Wales we had’t heard a word about it on TV or radio before we set off. Very pretty, but I had’t expected to be driving our new motorhome in 2 inches of fresh, slippy snow. Slowly but surely, with use of the traction control, we made progress, although we did pass a couple of other motorhome that got themselves temporarily stuck. I wasn’t sure I would ever need the traction control button. How wrong can you be.

Niggles

As the first 1000 miles approaches there have been a small number of niggles appearing with the build of the Bailey Autograph. Here is the list so far:

  1. The screws securing the plastic end-caps to the dinette table bracket dropped out. The self tapping screws were too small for the hole that had been drilled – I’ve replaced them.
  2. The screw-head for the newly installed alarm sensor on the habitation door interferes with the door closure, making the door difficult to open and close. I’ve replaced with a flat head that doesn’t impact the door closure.
  3. Rear-light cluster wiring on the passenger side protruding from under the vehicle and dangling on the road – tied it back with tie-wrap.
  4. Habitation door alarm wiring protruding from under the vehicle – tied it back with tie-wrap
  5. Recall on the Peugoet Boxer cab – break pipe fixings – booked in with local Peugot dealer on Friday.