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  • Holiday planning help request
  • Premier Icon nbt
    Full Member

    Mrs NBT (aka Bunnyhop) and I are in the early stages of planning our holidays so I’m looking to the fountain of knowledge that is the STW forum for ideas on where to go and what to do.

    Normnally we’d have a couple of ski trips (that’s what we save up to do, MTB just fills the time when we can’t afford to ski) at the beginning of the year but Covid put paid to that so we have more holidays available this year. Later in the year we’d then take the caravan somewhere for a week and use it as a base for day rides on the tandem – we’ve done Kington in Herefordshire, Minchinhampton in the Cotswolds and Dumfries over the past few years, and already have a trip to the Forest of Dean planned for this year. I’m looking to plan one or two more trips as I have a lot of holidays that need to be used else I lose them – going away in the caravan is reasonably good enough value to allow for a few trips.

    We can take the road tandem or the MTBs, or even both. We also like birdwatching, and if we’re in an are that offers the chance to spend a day in a canoe we mnight well be tempted to do that too

    So far, we’ve been thinking of taking the caravan up to Scotland for a couple of weeks. Last time we did a two week trip, we did a week in Oban then the second week up in Kyle of Sutherland, so this time I thought we might head over to the other side. I was thinking of somewhere around Inverness for a week, but yet to decide if that’s final, and we’re not sure where to add a second week. Prior to getting the caravan we spent a couple of trips around Aviemore (late season ski weekends in good snow years) and Carrbridge (MTB trail centres trip) and enjoyed the area – Inverness is a nice compact city centre from what I remember, and staying in that area gives us access to Cairngorm, Loch Garten and so on for nature and birding (though disappointingly the wonderful Inschriach Tea Rooms are no longer open 🙁 ), there are plentiful natural routes and a few MTB trail centres dotted around, there’s Loch Ness, the Spey for canoeing etc etc. We could even head over to Applecross and tick off the Bealach Na Ba on the tandem, though that might be a better trip if we stay further north perhaps?

    So, where do you recommend we should go, and what should we do? If we do a 2 week trip, I’d prefer to move only once mid-trip, so which 2 locations should we look at? what are the local attractions in each area? Can anyone suggest GPX routes for MTB or road ride, or does anyone fancy joining us for riding and guiding? Suitable recompense at a local hostelry will of course be due 🙂 Note we’re prime candidates for RUCKUS membership,

    Where else should we consider for a second trip? For a one week trip, a day’s drive is about as far as I’d like to go but from our base (Manchester) that would take us to the Quantocks, or South Wales, or Northumberland. Or should we do just one week in Scotland and two weeks elsewhere, even?

    When should we go? Scotland in July or August is midge central so maybe September or even early October might be better? We don’t have kids so we can (and would very much prefer to) avoid school holidays

    Fire away with suggestions, sensible or otherwise – I can always discount the less realistic suggestions…

    Cheers!

    Premier Icon nbt
    Full Member

    Forum glitch bump…

    Premier Icon Sandwich
    Full Member

    Come to the mystic East and pitch up near to Minsmere for some avian bothering. Southwold for some beer and spirit tasting at brewery/distillery. The area down to the Deben along the coast will keep you busy and the minor roads are not busy.

    If you’re an aspirant RUCKUS member there’s Rendlesham and Tunstall to ride mountain bikes in and I can give you a steer on cafe stops for the road trips.

    Premier Icon aberdeenlune
    Free Member

    Why not try Ballater. Plenty of road and mountain bike riding options. Plenty of walking and nature watching options. There is a campsite there that takes caravans. Midgies shouldnt bean issue as your further east.

    Premier Icon dropoff
    Full Member

    Exmoor, Porlock specifically. Some fab (quiet) road rides for the tandem, superb off road for the mtb’s. Exmoor Adventures will hire you some canoes to use out in the bay, and theres some great twitching to be had both on the beaches and in horner woods.

    Premier Icon tuboflard
    Full Member

    Not a biking destination but a premier bird watching spot is Tiree in the inner Hebrides. Unbelievably nice beaches, lots of wildlife, super slow pace of life to unwind and the journey there is part of the holiday for me at least.

    Not sure if you can take a caravan on there to be honest but there is a campsite that may or may not have hook ups. There’s lots of self catering options though. Can’t recommend it enough, we go there every year and have done for getting on a decade and haven’t tired of it yet.

    Premier Icon nbt
    Full Member

    Ballater area is a good shout, we can visit @gavinb and MrsB who live nearby. 7 hour journey time from Manchester though suggests a trip would be split over two days for us (split the journey around falkirk maybe and drop in to see @akegata?) as we need regular stops to stretch legs these days so more like 10 to 12 hours travelling. That in turn suggests it’s part of a two week trip with perhaps another week somewhere further north? Again a two day split journey on the way home.

    Minsmere is left field but certainly an interesting suggestion. We’re not used to flat places, living in the edge of the Peak District. Just about doable in one day

    Porlock certainly sounds interesting, and should be a one day trip each way I’d hope

    Tiree is again left field but definitely worth considering. We’ve been to Mull a couple of times and been up the Outer Hebrides from Vatersay to Tarbert on Harris and Lewis, but i do want to go back. As well as day trips, we do point to point circular tours on the tandem (e.g. coast to coast to coast, whitehaven to tynemouth and back, or the tour of the Irish sea with ferries from Anglesey to Dublin and Rosslare to Fishguard) and one of the trips i have planned is a tour of the Inner Hebrides – though that doesn’t touch Tiree and Coll. Self catering for a week might be an option, but given covid etc I’m still wary about cycle touring and staying in a different b&b each night ( don’t do tents, I’m not camping now i can afford a decent night’s sleep in a proper bed 🙂 )

    Premier Icon scotroutes
    Full Member

     the wonderful Inschriach Tea Rooms are no longer open

    Aye, but the cake is available at the Kincraig Post Office Cafe. It doesn’t have quite the same ambience, though it is also delightful.

    I wouldn’t worry overmuch about the midge in the Aviemore/Cairngorms area. They are occasionally bad but not like Fort William. Smidge pretty much does the trick anyway. I bivvy all year round and cope.

    If you decide the Cairngorms are part of your holiday I can certainly come up with lots of routes.

    We’ll be over to Uist again in the summer, staying at Balranald camp site while there. It’s actually in the middle of an RSPB reserve, so ticks that box for you. Loch Druidibeg is a short drive/cycle and there are eagles about 5 miles away. If you’re thinking of the islands though, I wouldn’t hesitate regarding campsite and ferry bookings.

    Premier Icon n0b0dy0ftheg0at
    Free Member

    Somewhere in North Wales around Blaenau Ffestiniog, Bala, Dolgellau, Machynlleth etc. just inland from the west coast to give you more options of where to go each day.

    Loads of great riding around there, especially when it’s not raining!

    Premier Icon NZCol
    Free Member

    Rosemarkie would be a lovely spot for you – some nice road riding, dolphins, ace caravan site, mtb park within riding distance and good twitching over by Nigg bay

    Premier Icon nbt
    Full Member

    Wasn’t thinking of Islands for a caravan trip. We did pop in to balranald on the way past, and dropped to watch the eagles too. Great location

    Premier Icon Sandwich
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    We’re not used to flat places,

    Flatter! It’s not flat as many of my newbie clients find to their cost when they choose something that is a bit beyond them for their first outing. There are no big hills, there’s plenty of rollers though.

    Premier Icon susepic
    Free Member

    Here’s a left field one for you. You could head south to Sussex for a bit of road riding in the lanes of the Weald and ashdown forest, head up the Ridge of the south downs for some mtb loops, canoe on the Adur and Arun, and birdwatch at RSPB Pulborough Brooks.
    You could extend west to the new forest for some cycling over that way.

    Premier Icon nbt
    Full Member

    Rosemarkie would be a lovely spot for you

    CHeers, will check that out. I think we rode trail round there – is it Learnie Red Rock on the Black Isle? I’m a big fan of beers from the BLack Isle brewery too

    North Wales is an optiopn, though we’ve done a few trips there already

    Sussex hadn’t crossed my mind before but worth considering thanks

    Premier Icon konagirl
    Free Member

    Agree the Suffolk coast or somewhere inland works well for tandem road pootling and Minsmere. Equally the North Norfolk coast is great for the road riding and has RSPB reserves, although the birding is best for the Wash large flocks in winter, but you can do day trips to see the seals and pootle around the cideries and breweries and day trip to the sites in the Fens that have breeding Bitterns if that floats your boat.

    When in Forest of Dean do spend a day canoe trip on the River Wye, although it gets busy. You usually see kingfishers. If you have your own craft I can recommend Kenny’s Taxis as a very knowledgeable and helpful shuttle.

    Assuming you will spend 2 weeks in Scotland, the other week I would personally look for somewhere not well known. The crowds are going to be awful this spring and summer. So for example this spring (while the puffins are still nesting), Pembrokeshire for road pootling and cliff top walking with day trips to Skomer; or just south of the North York Moors (in the Wolds) so you can day trip to Dalby and to Bempton Cliffs and pootle on the quiet lanes inland of Bridlington on the road tandem with loads of day trip country estates / historic sites, the steam train from Pickering and the North York Moors coast.

    Premier Icon thegeneralist
    Free Member

    Why not try Ballater. Plenty of road and mountain bike riding options. Plenty of walking and nature watching options. There is a campsite there that takes caravans. Midgies shouldnt bean issue as your further east.

    Pretty similar to what I was going to suggest. I’m doing a week in Laggan followed by a week is Braemar (7-14 August) with the family. Despite having lived in Scotland for ages and studying geography, the lack of rain and midgies in the east was a revelation to us on our first family trip 3 years ago.

    Pitch up in Braemar and then come cycling with me/us. Currently mulling over the amazing choices of Lochnagar, MacDui, Keen and/ or some of the more mellow options round that area.

    And as he says above, Ballater is good, and nearby.

    If you do go to Applecross and take 3 bikes then do the Applecross MTB ride as well as BnB. It’s great and much more rukus orientated than Beinn Damh or Lolipop.

    Ooh I’m all excited. Holidays looming.

    Premier Icon Tracey
    Full Member

    Yesterday we moved our Lake Garda and Alps trip on to 2022, rightly or wrongly it doesn’t feel right to be risking it this year.

    After a couple of hours yesterday and finalising this morning we have booked some sites in North Wales, beginning of July, for the camper with a view of revisiting some of the trail centres and a day at Antur Stiniog and then down to the Malvern’s for a few days.

    Also booked a week up North in August taking in the Cairngorms and the Trossachs, if the weather is good we may extend it.

    Still hoping by Autumn that we may get to Finale, nothing booked, but at least something to look forward to.

    Premier Icon slowol
    Free Member

    In the way of recommending the places you know and live near what about North York Moors?
    Trail centre day at Dalby, other waymarked bike trails and skills track at Sutton Bank bike centre. Lots of lanes for tandem cruising, The Wolds just to the South are great quiet lanes for cycling, Castle Howard is a good destination, cinder track from Scarborough to Whitby was OK for the tandem when we did it with the kids, Moors to Sea routes on NYM national park website are good non-technical off road cycling routes (may be too entertaining on a tandem, tame on a full suss bike).
    For wildlife go rockpooling at Boggle Hole near Robin Hood’s Bay or bird watching on the cliffs near Filey. Day out in York if you need a city fix or the weather is too foul.
    Our favourite campsites are Stone Close in the centre of Dalby for middle of nowhere and dark skies, Prospect Farm in Thornton le Dale is 2 minutes from chip shop, bike shop, village shop and the village pond for evening duck watching or further North Beacon Farm near Whitby is 5 minutes walk from the pub and has an en suite ice cream parlour.
    Plenty for a week or more of holidays, just avoid Whitby at the weekend unless you like crowded bustle and hustle.

    Premier Icon IHN
    Full Member

    Popped in to suggest North Norfolk, I see someone has already. Lovely rolling countryside for inter-teashop roadying, opportunities for ice-cream and chips at the seaside, enormomahoosive beaches, recommended.

    We did Northumberland last September, that were lovely.

    Mid-Wales, Rhayader etc?

    Premier Icon nbt
    Full Member

    North York Moors and Wolds might be an option, spent time there as we had family there for years (same family who’ve now moved to Forest Of Dean which is why were going down there) but not done much riding. We did have a weekend in a tent once at a campsit by the gates of Dalby, and a week in a campsite in Rosedale Abbey almost 20 years ago
    Northumberland defintely an option, we’ve done a couple of weeks up near Alnwick but there’s so much more on offer

    Premier Icon chaos
    Full Member

    Well, if you do take up the Porlock option then for the second week you could head down to Dorset.  Great routes around the Purbeck Hills, walks / canoe along the Jurassic Coast and plenty of bird-watching / canoe trips in Poole Harbour plus a stop at the Hawk Conservancy on the way home.

    Premier Icon slowol
    Free Member

    The campsite at the gates of Dalby is still there, we’ve never stayed on it I think mainly because we found the Prospect Farm in Thornton first and like it so went back a couple of times. 3rd time we stayed bumped into some friends who live in the next street but bike a lot and they go there very regular. Small site but clean shower and you can borrow routes from the cycling guide book they keep in their tourist info shed / summerhouse. It’s a couple of miles to cycle into Dalby, saving big parking money and the direct Bridleway along the river from Thornton is really pretty and peaceful (and doable with child and toddler 3 up on the tandem).
    Wolds roll South from there

    Campsite at Rosedale is still there, and possibly slightly expanded. It is large and has lots of rules but beautiful place, plenty of space, well organised and toilets are kept clean. They used to have an aversion to anyone who dares turn up in a panel van so our friends who own a shop had to leave their Kangoo panel van outside the gate when camping there with the kids about 10 years ago. I think ownership has altered since.
    Rosedale is a picture postcard place, can be a sun trap as it faces South (don’t underestimate this on the Moors), handy for lots of moorland cycling, good cafes, village shop and pub but you will need granny gears to head any direction but down the valley, particularly on a tandem. Rosedale chimney heading West is allegedly 1 in 3 and often has keen roadies walking up it.

    Premier Icon ampthill
    Full Member

    I do think the North York Moors is a good shout. I feel I’ve only scratched the surface for mtb trails. Plus near the coast

    I’ll add Pembrokeshire as a suggestion. Almost no mountain biking. But…..

    It’s really scenic and reasonably quiet

    Fantastic cycling and coastal walking

    Water sports at Dale

    Surfing

    Coastering

    Pay some one to take you rock climbing. There age realy low grade sea cliff rock climbs

    If you go late spring 2 brilliant wild life trips. Skomar for seals and birds, particularly puffins. The puffins are so tame they’re taped off to stop you standing on them. Plus loads of other birds. We also did a rib trip out to Grasholme. The whole island is covered on Gannets. You can’t land but we had hundreds of birds circling the boat.

    My favourite town is St Davids. But that’s a longer drive for the boat trips. I think Caerfai farm would be the campsite to go for. Although one only walked through jt

    https://coolcamping.com/campsites/uk/wales/south-wales/pembrokeshire/st-davids?adid=4002&gclid=Cj0KCQjw-LOEBhDCARIsABrC0TnQ732jjz2nlVEGAvW13k8eht6V8nTjmtVX9ODKjc6VfQxPx64lQewaAtr0EALw_wcB

    Premier Icon nbt
    Full Member

    With the aid of the suggestions here, we’ve decided to book a week away just before the week in the Forest Of Dead – either Pembrokeshire or Dorset

    unfortunately it seems anyone who owns caravan, camper, test or scrap of material that could be construed as camping equipment has booked every half decent site in existence.

    Any recommendations for a 5-van CL in pembroke that we could try? Looks like I’m phoning round a lot of places tomorrow.

    Premier Icon tjagain
    Full Member

    Go to Kintyre and Cowal.

    Premier Icon burko73
    Full Member

    Some nice campsites nr st Justinians near st David’s.

    Also if anyone’s going to Northumberland with their bike try to get hold of one of Ted Liddles guidebooks. Road, off rd and soon gravel guides for the area.

    If you’re in the dean you could do a week before in the new forest. Lots of tame gravel off road trails, trip to purbeck area, nice coast, sea eagles, lots of wildlife and tea shops, pubs.

    The ca,ping in the forest sites are self contained only at the moment. I think the round hill site might end up self contained only all summer or at least 7ntil the June free for all.

    Lots of mini pop up sites opened last summer during hol period. There’s a site at new park farm that’s nice and right on the cycle trails. Plenty of lanes for pootling.

    Premier Icon duncancallum
    Full Member

    North Yorkshire is lovely. Drier than the lakes too…

    Premier Icon nbt
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    Result, found a place with nice reviews and space for us for the dates we want – and a serviced pitch too so we have 16a hookup, freshwater tap and grey water disposal on our ptitch. #

    Now then, next thread – road / mtb ride recommendations in and around Kilgetty

    Premier Icon konagirl
    Free Member

    Kilgetty – for easy to follow MTB Brechfa should be less than an hour’s drive. For the road, I really like the Carew / Cresswell / Cleddau area for something different to coastal, mix of woodland and farmland with very minor lanes, you could make a pub crawl meandering along the estuary. Similarly you could see Amroth, Pendine Sands and Laugharne (Dylan Thomas heritage) on the NCN4 out and back or loop back inland, just avoid the A roads.

    Pembrokeshire is great for walking, do take a good day and see Stackpole / Barafundle Bay and the cliff formations around St Govan’s Head but get there early for parking if your booking is summer. You can create circular day walks on St David’s Peninsula (and use the coastal buses) or around Dale. If you park at the Marloes Sands car park its usually less busy than Martin’s Haven, you can wander down to Marloes Sands bay (beautiful huge beach surrounded by steep cliffs), then on to Martin’s Haven for a trip to Skomer to see the puffins (presuming you can book ahead), and then back to the Runwayskiln cafe.

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