Whitehaven to Sunderland in a Camper Van

With ‘The Heatwave’ upon us and a hose pipe ban feeling imminent we slung our ready packed bags of generic camper van items in the back of Jemima and hit the open road to St. Bees for a night at Seacote Holiday Park in a beautiful spot right next to the beach. This is a nice big caravan site with statics too but tourers get the best pitches, almost on top of the beach, (hard standing only – grass pitches are in a different place) for £21 per night including electric. Nice free hot showers, views, play park etc make this highly recommended in our little black book.
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Moving swiftly on the next morning we stumbled upon Whitehaven Festival – an eclectic mix of foods and stalls to feed your senses and all set with a backdrop of Whitehaven marina which looked spiffing on such a glorious day. Big shout out to Amazing Grazing  and Camp Cooks.  Who knew mutton could taste so good and ordering an ice cream soda could be so much fun??
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The weekend became a proper festivalfest as Keswick Mountain Festival was next to be geographically happened upon. Great atmosphere, lots of outdoorsy stalls like Garmin, Millets, etc, sporting events and activities, a big zip wire, more food (it’s all about the food) and looking on, from a dramatic angle, to Derwentwater, glistening in the sun. It was all deck chairs, pints, shirts off, sunburn central as the Brits made the most of this unexpected turn in the weather. There’s a lovely little walk along the edge to Friars Crag where you can get the best view of the lake.
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Our resting place for the evening was Thacka Lea Caravan Park, Penrith. This is a great little quiet site with lovely owners, a mere ten minute stroll into Penrith. £15 per night with hook up on well maintained grass pitches. 40p for an 8 minute shower. We whiled away a couple of pints in the Lowther Arms. Penrith isn’t terribly exciting but has a Yorkshire Trading Company shop which is like a big pound land so was in my element. Also, the ruins of it’s castle are worth a look at (& free), though right next to the main road and McDonald’s.  It was hard to resist a wee Happy Meal.  So I didn’t.
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Surely one of The Best Roads Ever to Drive a Camper Van On was the one across Alston Moor to Stanhope – wow. It was one of those where you have to keep stopping to take photos.  Around every corner there was an even better view than the last.  There comes a point where you have to just sling the camera to one side and enjoy it only through ones own eyes.
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We decided to treat ourselves to a nights bed and breakfast at the Packhorse Inn as there were no camp-sites in Stanhope or nearby (gap in the market?!) – it has friendly owners and a good breakfast (they also let you eat your Indian takeaway in the pub as they only serve food Sunday lunch times!) but could do with tarting up a bit which is exactly what’s currently under way. Stanhope is a tiny village with not much going on.
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We traversed onwards to Barnard Castle where we stopped at the majestic Bowes Museum but it was so sunny we couldn’t bring ourselves to go inside for anything more than a takeaway coffee so will have to peruse its collection of European fine and decorative art another time.
Then off home as it was too hot to drive any more (now there’s something you don’t hear every day in the UK).  OK so we didn’t quite make it to both ‘seas’, but three quarters of the way ain’t bad?!
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