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Brit Tour 2013: towing a caravan to Scotland and back

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    Brit Tour 2013: towing a caravan to Scotland and back

    Here i start with the detailed trip report of our 2013 summer tour to Scotland.
    We travelled form Stuttgart via Luxembourg and through Belgium to Dunkirk. This is a 700km strech and we arrived in Dunkirk in the afternoon with plenty of time until the departure of our booked ferry.



    The Dunkirk ferry terminal of DFDS has seen clearly better days. A huge passenger entrance is kept closed. Rolling stairways have not been is use for years. Visitors climb outside through a fire escape to the terminal. Big bistro areas with huge counters, but all is closed on a Sunday in main holiday season (so i guess it is always closed). No person is working here, just some food automats are selling something.

    This was a sad welcome and i have no imagination how this will motivate people to choose DFDS instead of the tunnel or other ferries.



    After a while our ferry arrived and had first to be unloaded. The impression in the terminal continued on board. Huge posters were advertising food which was not available. Instead of that food was offered without being advertised. No sign, no price, no attractive presentation (and later taste). You carry tablets to your table and they don't fit on it! They are too big. This is completely crazy on a quite modern ship. There is also no clear organization, what to do with used tablets and dishes. It is not really organiszed for helping yourself and employees who do it -- seldom seen. About half of the seats in restaurant and bistro area were soon occupied by sleeping people - not very pleasing to have a meal among all these tired patrons. But they don't have another place to go to. No seats except in the restaurant or bistro. We decided to look out for another ferry next time. This is no good welcome to Great Britain!

    The tour will lead us from Folkestone to Wiltshire and Bratford on Avon. We will see the canal and houseboats there. We will proceed then to Scotland. Loch Lomond, the isles of Mull and Sky will be on our route as well as other towns at the coast of the Western Highlands. Inverness will be our turning point and Edinburgh and Suffolk will be the stops on our route back to Folkestone.

    Our "live-impressions" can be read in my "Ralf_ on Tour"-thread in the Crew Manifest section. Here are also a lot of pictures of our meets & greets with the local members of our CV family, who have all been wonderful hosts to us and showed us much more than we would have been able to discover for ourselves.

    http://www.captainsvoyage-forum.com/...-tour.../page4
    Lofoten '07 ...... Nordnorge '11

    #2
    Re: Brit Tour 2013: towing a caravan to Scotland and back

    That's good, now we're away!
    But what a great pity, Ralf, that first impressions at Dunkirk were not inviting, to say the least. It rather dampens your spirits. However, it didn't put you off continuing!
    I'm looking forward to reading and seeing photos of all your travels on this GB trip - you covered a lot of ground.
    Ivy

    "To thine own self be true.......
    Thou canst not then be false to any man."

    Comment


      #3
      Re: Brit Tour 2013: towing a caravan to Scotland and back

      Those trucks at the tip of the bow looks so ... ehemmm.... not sea-ready... but, they are back in port and "ready-to-go" I suppose.
      With best regards from Jan-Olav Storli

      Administrator and Owner of CaptainsVoyage.
      Main page: http://www.captainsvoyage.com

      Surround yourself with positive, ethical people who are committed to excellence.

      Comment


        #4
        Re: Brit Tour 2013: towing a caravan to Scotland and back

        Thank you so far for the comments and i must tell you that a certrain Mr. PoloUK sent me a PM with a complete analysis of all ferries to and from GB, which is very interesting and leads to the conclusion, that Calais is in maximum a slightly better alternative to Dunkirk. I enjoyed this PM so much, and i am sure others would, too, but i guess he has fears to be banned by the ferry companies, if he is quoting the names here...



        The first night we stayed just a few miles away from Dover, already on the area of the Folkestone community. The campsite is called "Little Satmar" and is quite ideal for late ferry arrivals or early ferry departures as a spring board on and from the british Islands.

        http://www.keatfarm.co.uk/parks/little-satmar/

        A short walk from the campsite to the cliffs in the evening showed us the plan for our return after three weeks. We would have to do the cliff-walk, and we will see more pictures later. The night was a little short, because some young folks celebrated their weekend with lot's of beer and noise. A problem we had also later on another campsite during the weekend.

        During the next day we changed over to Wiltshire, which was quite difficult on a Saturday on the M25 around London with a lot of holiday traffic and an accident with two mobile cranes. At two certain points we left the motorway to make short cuts and got the first impression of the narrow streets. Cute!

        I will soon continue with more pictures of the Kennet and Avon canal.
        Last edited by Ralf__; September 25th, 2013, 14:41.
        Lofoten '07 ...... Nordnorge '11

        Comment


          #5
          Re: Brit Tour 2013: towing a caravan to Scotland and back

          To be strictly accurate, Mr PoloUK expressed a strong view about the current state of the short sea ferries. He also expressed a very strong preference for the longer crossings, especially the ones to Holland or various bits of France!!

          Looking forward to the K&A canal photos Ralf - it will be fun to see home territory through a different pair of eyes!
          Cheers,

          Mark.

          www.pologlover.co.uk

          Comment


            #6
            Sorry to let you wait for such a long time, but work has me back again and several business trips were just interrupted by short stays in the office.

            In Devizes we had the first real contact with the Camping and Caravanning Club, which i joined by recommendation of several people (from in- and outside the forum). We were booked in at the Club Site. It was a warm welcome, all staff at these sites are extremely helpful, even if a German Mastercard causes each time a major error in their booking and payment system. They insisted to try it also on other sites, even if i told them about the difficulties they might have to face with. A CCC-site is very well organized and once you visited one of them, you will know them all. They have identical signs, organisation, standards and habits. They even guide you to your pitch and help you to manoeuver the caravan onto it (which is not always a help). You get for 2 pounds a 24h voucher for the club site WiFi, which is fairly working, but a bit slow.

            During holidays we prefer to buy local food and so the friendly CCC people recommended to us to visit Melksham for shopping - there we should find more, bigger and newer supermarkets as in Devizes. I sent an SMS to Mark and off we went to Sainsbury's. First we filled up the car (which is quite expensive in UK, especially if you have a Diesel -> so the supermarket filling stations have the best prices), then we went inside. It is however better to make this the other way round, because in a UK supermarket you always get a discount voucher, mostly to save some additional money at the filling station.

            So we started our tour to get the things we use to need like milk and juice. We just have to find out the right version and size. Two pint bottles will fit in the caravan's fridge. A selection of ciders was bought to compare it to our French experience (don't buy cider if you love French cidre, only if you also like our German "Most"). Big fun is to buy cookies and also crisps.(they have strange tasts like vinegar, shrimps...). We were happy to get salted butter (this is available in Germany, but much more expensive than the other one) and not so happy about the bread selection. A lot of weak stuff... Beer was no topic this time, because i bought a box of Newcastle Brown Ale at the ferry, a good choice, by the way.

            When we returned to the car it was heavyly raining and that was commented by some of you in the "Ralf__ is on tour" thread. Back in the Caravan i checked the WiFI and had my first comments in the forum. The SMS to and from Mark weren't sent through by one of our providers, so we get in contact not until the next morning.

            In the evening we had a first walk along the canal (too dark to take pictures), turned a bridge and opened a lock gate to get the right feeling. A wonderful night followed with that cosy rain dripping on the caravan.
            Last edited by Ralf__; September 25th, 2013, 16:37.
            Lofoten '07 ...... Nordnorge '11

            Comment


              #7
              The next morning started with a shower. A lot of the CCC-sites have an access code to the wash rooms and toilets to prevent them to be used by unauthorized people. Everything is really clean and all people do mop their shower after use. For us this was quite funny, because we know the "Mopp" in German, but we wipe with it. The verb "to mop" is unknown. But we use the word "mob" to bully or harass someone, so we did our best to give the shower a hard time... Campers are early birds so mostly you have to queue, if you take a shower before 8 a.m..

              Finally i called Mark and we made an appointment for the afternoon. Time to have a longer walk along the canal. The houseboat prooved younger half of our family stated "boring" and stayed in the caravan. Since we crossed the lock flight in Brittany to Ivy's bridge they seem to be a bit allergic, we suppose.



              The weather was wonderful again and the narrow boats fit so perfectly in this scenery. Behind the bridge there was a huge marina full of them.



              This is the scenery below the first lock of Caen Hill lock flight. The wider boats are often quipped for handicapped people. There must have been a narrow gauge railway in the past. ( Berks & Hants Extension Railway??) But the bridge was removed nearly 60 years ago.

              Last edited by Ralf__; September 25th, 2013, 16:37.
              Lofoten '07 ...... Nordnorge '11

              Comment


              • Steve.B
                Steve.B commented
                Editing a comment
                Ah, i have been waiting for your full report to start, Ralf. Certainly looking forward to the rest.

              #8
              A very pleasant walk up the hill followed. It was very interesting to watch the various crew operating with their narrow boats in the locks. Since everything is about 50% smaller as on the continent, it is looking nicer and not so impressive. So most people dont really fix their boats in the lock. Someone is just holding the line from outside and the skipper tries to keep the position in the inflowing current with the motor. That you may not do in France: bigger locks and boats, more water, stronger current --> much more power on the ropes.



              The best solution is to find another boat, which is heading in the same direction, so you can share the work and accelerate your ride.



              If you look up the hill, you can imagine, how comfortable a companion can be here.

              Lofoten '07 ...... Nordnorge '11

              Comment


                #9
                Nearly up the hill, there is a nice cafe with an impressive view. Here you can imagine the height you've climbed up with a boat!!



                Here you can watch the ride with all possible variations in a time lapse video at youtube.

                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeKAuEuiO2o

                On our way back we had another look in the impressive and new marina. You can imagine how crowded this area is during vacation.

                Lofoten '07 ...... Nordnorge '11

                Comment


                  #10
                  There are so many wonderful picture in Mark's "This is Wiltshire" - thread, so i don't want to repeat too much of them here. We arranged our meeting with Mark on Bradford on Avon and had another nice walk along the canal, now together with the "boring" younger half of the family.



                  Since it was a sunday and nice weather, a lot of people wen't out and had fun on the canal. If you're about to marry, you can celebrate a stag party as pirates on a narrow boat. Not for everyones taste, but funny to watch at.




                  Lofoten '07 ...... Nordnorge '11

                  Comment


                    #11
                    I read your first thread about your trip Ralf.You had enjoyable moments with CVF's members.
                    We'll see later if we took the same pictures in Tobermory where I had a call in July.

                    Comment


                      #12
                      We followed the canal up to the Avoncliff Aqueduct. The canal is crossing here the river and the railroad. The long tour boat coming from Bradford is turning here after the aqueduct which is a nice task without bow thruster, The skipper needs a mate standing at the bow signing the distance to the banks.



                      By the way: A similar scenery can be seen a few miles further at the Dundas Aqueduct. The canal leads to Bath on a much higher level than the river. So later, when we made a little tour by car through Bath, we drove up a steep hill to find us there crossing the canal again. Very interesting scenery!



                      We walked back and said good bye to Mark, who had kitchen duties that day. We however decided to be lazy and had our first British pub meal at the Three Magpies, as described in the "on tour thread".



                      In the next posts we move on to Scotland and the Loch Lomond.
                      Lofoten '07 ...... Nordnorge '11

                      Comment


                      • yvneac
                        yvneac commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Gosh!What a team.

                      #13
                      This is really interesting, Ralf. I enjoyed reading about your initiation into British camping sites and supermarket shopping and also, although Mark has shown us many scenes at the Caen lock flight, it was good to have another person's remarks and see their photos of the same place.
                      So - I await your Scottish adventures.
                      Ivy

                      "To thine own self be true.......
                      Thou canst not then be false to any man."

                      Comment


                        #14
                        Enjoying the photos - except the ones of the large Englishman!! Yes, it was the Berks & Hants extension that crossed the line at Foxhangers - standard gauge (4' 8 1/2") spur off the GWR, when the line effectively ran parallel to the K&A for its length.
                        Cheers,

                        Mark.

                        www.pologlover.co.uk

                        Comment


                          #15
                          Nice start of a great trip, looking forward to read the continuation!

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