After packing up and leaving the Lake District in the best weather we had seen all week the drive back south to our next destination started off pretty hairy. Despite ignoring the satnav and picking the largest roads on the map out of Coniston the roads were still very narrow. I don’t know what it is about people but no-one seemed to want to get over and insisted on coming down the white line forcing me in to the vegetation and the stone walls on the near side. Even people in tiny little Citroen C2 and Fiesta sized cars refused to move over! I left Pier Cottage campsite pretty angry (I was majorly p****d off with everything) do after scraping my (very) expensive and two month old motor home down some vegetation for a Fiesta (worth about five grand) I decided enough was enough and thought I would drive like everyone else. Rather than crowding the Accordo in to the side to give oncoming vehicles the maximum amount of room (and some) I decided to drive down the white line (but still on my side of the road) and when I met oncoming vehicles I stayed put, slowed down and stopped as necessary. I got a few dirty glares, but given I was in a large vehicle I thought I was within my rights to command a little more road space, after all that’s what commercial van drivers do. Most of the traffic on route was slow but I did come across some other drivers (all of which were in commercial vans and small lorries) going like hell, I guess that’s locals for you.
Once out on the big roads the drive was pretty uneventful, however we did come across some quite a few showers. Great – we were taking the crappy weather with us. The drive involved skirting the Welsh border, going in and out of North Wales, before arriving at the campsite the English side of the Welsh border.
Driving on to the campsite we were confronted with a single grassy field on which there was a row of caravans to the left and a few caravans to the right. Even though there were several caravans down the left hand side only three of them had a car outside and the rest looked pretty empty, which smacked of seasonal pitches or storage – which didn’t bother me one bit. The campsite didn’t have the wow factor, and it looked pretty basic but then that’s the website showed so I it didn’t come as a surprise. To the right the river runs at the bottom of the campsite and over to the far right are a series of hills comprising Moel y Golfa, Middletown Hill and Breidden Hill amongst others. Once again, the view from our pitch is breath taking.
On our first trip out in the Accordo 120 to Walnut Lakes (If you’re interested in Walnut Lakes take a look at “My review of Walnut Lakes” and if you want to read about our highs and lows, trials and tribulations, tears of joy and tears of sadness together with what we learned please feel free to read my post “First trip out in the Elddis Accordo 120”) we couldn’t get the Kampa Air Pod Mini awning to fit the van properly however after the trip we were told we were doing it wrong and to have another go using a different method. We haven’t had a chance to try out the new fixing method since that trip, and our trip to Lake Coniston in the Lake District definitely wasn’t the place to try - it was not only just heaving it down with rain for almost the entire week but also very windy and gale force as well.
This was the first opportunity so we thought we would have another go. After inflating the awning, attaching the fitting kit to both the Dometic roll out awning and the tunnel of the Kampa Air Pod and pulled the awning away from the van until the roof was tight. So far, so good. When we tried the door it all started to go wrong……… The door would open (although it caught on the roof) but when we tried to close it the damn thing caught on the fixing kit and wouldn’t close at all! This confirmed that there was no way the Kampa Air Pod Mini awning will work properly with our motor home, therefore we will have to use it as a (very expensive) stand-alone storage tent.
Before taking the tunnel off the roll out awning we stood there looking, pondering and thinking if there were any ways around it, and there isn’t. My work colleague was adamant the awning would fit and work, because she had the same issues and sorted them with the method she gave me. The thing is, my work colleague has a VW camper van which has a sliding door. If we had a sliding door it wouldn’t catch on the tunnel roof and it would be “all gravy”. The thing is, we have a standard opening door and not a sliding door. Thinking about it, I have never seen a motor home with a drive away awning attached. I have seen loads of camper vans and van conversions (all with sliding doors) but not a coach built motor home. All the coach built motor homes we have seen use their roll out awnings or, where the weather is bad, no awning at all. Maybe that’s where we went wrong, i.e. the awning we bought simply doesn’t fit. Perhaps we should have done a bit more research before spending our hard earned money.
A bit of a problem we are having is with the water filler cap, which seems to have a mind of its own. Once unlocked the cap spins and spins and will then “pop out” on its own. I really don’t get it and because we weren’t shown how to operate the water filler cap during our handover from Brownhills I don’t know whether it is something I am doing wrong, the cap still a little tight or there is something wrong with it and I need to get it looked at. Given the teething problems we are having with the Accordo 120, the fact that I am a total newbie at this motor home lark and that parts of the Accordo have already gone wrong it could easily be any one of them. Hmmmm…. Perhaps I’ll have a look on Youtube when I get home to see if I can find out how it should be done, and if this doesn’t work I will have to have a word when I take the Accordo 120 to get the damage I did on day one of our two week vacation looked at and sorted.
As well as the issue with the filler cap another issue is with the chocks. In order to level the van we had to put it on the first level of the Milenco two step chocks, which is fine but once the Accordo was on the chocks it lifted the front of the right hand chock off the ground. I don’t really know why this happened or if it is doing any damage but surely it shouldn’t be off the ground. I had the same issue in the Lake District and on the same side. Unfortunately, I don’t know if it is the same chock but the fact it happens on the same side may be something I am doing wrong – although I don’t know what. I’m going to have to put it on the list with all the other stuff I need to research. Talking about chocks, one thing I did see on the campsite we stayed on in Lake Coniston was a motor home that reversed up the chocks rather than driving forwards on to them. Despite thinking about it and discussing it with the better half, I have no idea why the motor home was ramped up like this. I am going to have to research this too.
"A few snaps of Church House campsite - Now this is a site worth a visit"
After sorting everything out it was time to sit back and wait for Asda to deliver the grocery shopping for the week, although we had over ordered as we still had loads of food left over from the first week we took with us. If we had internet access we could have amended the order and deleted a few things, but we didn’t so we didn’t. Oh well……… The food thing is something we are definitely going to have to plan more carefully in the future because there is just too much wastage for both our liking. At Pier Cottage campsite the Asda delivery was dropped off right outside our pitch, but this wasn’t the case this time. The delivery van couldn’t find the entrance to the campsite so stopped off at the owner’s house, which is fair enough. Fortunately, we had some shopping bags with us to bring everything back, but we didn’t have enough. My wife turned on her feminine charms, wooed the delivery driver and managed to blag some plastic carrier bags for the remaining stuff, which supposedly the driver isn’t allowed to give us. I don’t usually like it women use their feminine charms on men to get things (this includes all women and not just my wife) but this time I didn’t mind because it made getting the groceries to the van so much easier. Even the campsite owner carried some bags for us, which is above and beyond the line of duty.
From the little dealings we had with the campsite owners at first they seemed very friendly, very helpful and they also told/showed us where everything was – something that Pier Cottage campsite never did. In fact, we only saw the owner’s daughter twice in the entire week – the first time by accident and the second on the last morning to pay. Oh well………….
On the first afternoon on Church House campsite the heavens did open up and it rained, but it was that light stuff and it only lasted an hour and a half, so it wasn’t that bad. During the rain we found a weather forecast which suggested it was going to be dry for the following four days. Twenty four hours without rain would do me, after all it had rained for the last eight days (some days constant other days a bit sporadic) so if it did remain dry for four days I would be more than happy!
It’s strange but I felt comfortable at Church House campsite within a few short hours, which is something that never happened the precious week in the Lake District. Yep, I was more than happy with the site, more than happy with the pitch (and so was my wife – or so she said) and I was looking forward to seeing what the week was going to bring for us……..
The first night at Church House campsite was significantly colder than all of our stay at the Lake District, but we were expecting that. Besides, it has been unseasonably warm over the last few weeks and the temperatures are now coming down to what they should be, it is October after all. We had to use the heating in the van for the first time, and I have to say it worked very well. Whist it didn’t take too long for the van to get nice and toasty, it didn’t take very long for it cool right down again either. Hmmmmm……. I think the trick is going to be leaving it on a low heat.
The first night was totally silent, which is something we never had during our stay at Pier Cottage. Yep, there was no wind, no rain and no sporadic bangs from large water droplets falling from trees and hitting the roof of the van. The silence resulted in the best night’s sleep for several nights, and I even slept in until gone 9.30 – which is unheard for me.
Waking up to the sun trying to come through the blinds was really nice and made a change. It is only now I realise just how down the time in the Lake District made me, and I didn’t realise a combination of the weather and an unsuitable campsite would have such an effect. Anyway, that’s all been however I will continue comparing everything that happens this week to last week’s disaster – which is only human nature.
Shaving in total privacy and having a shower in locked cubicle where I was totally on my own was great and something I have definitely missed. Being able to wash off in a clean shower that is powerful enough to get the shampoo out of my hair and wash away the shower gel without leaving a residue also made a welcome change. The only criticism I have about the shower cubicle is that it is small making getting dressed more of a mission than it should be. This is not a massive problem though and all I had to do was put my towel around my waist, walk in to the huge toilet cubicle and get dressed in there.
The final round of the British Touring Car championship was on TV, which given it was a glorious sunny day was bit annoying. That said, I had been following it all season so I was going to see it through, even though the sun was burning brightly in a cloudless sky (something we hadn’t seen for several days). I would have felt a bit better about chilling out in the rear lounge (I love the Accordo 120’s huge rear lounge) for an afternoon of motorsport if the weather had been drizzly though.
The other half thought it would be best to buy a week long fishing ticket, so I could have a few hours down the river bank when I felt like it. There was a time when I would have wanted to spend all day, every day drowning a maggot but those days are long gone, and I couldn’t think of anything worse. Don’t get me wrong, I like fishing but I can’t do more than four hours (max) without getting itchy feet. All of the campsites we have stayed at in the past with fishing have offered discounted (and some very heavily) weekly tickets, which meant I could miss a couple of days and it still worked out cheaper than buying a ticket for the days I did fish, and if I did fish every day it worked out cheaper. Church House campsite doesn’t do this, un-beknown to my wife, so she paid for six days upfront which is a bit of a faux pas because I never fish every single day. Oh well…………………
Before booking Church house campsite I had read the river contains a good head of barbel, chub and trout among other species, which sounded really good. It was the barbel and the trout that interested me the most though, since there are few opportunities to catch these at home. Barbel are present in the upper reaches of a river fifteen or so miles from where I live but you have to know the right people to be able to fish for them because the river banks are privately owned and there is no other way to get to where the barbel are. There is one day ticket water I am aware of with the fishing rights where barbel are present, but getting a ticket is nigh on impossible.
A few years back my wife and I stayed in a cottage on the River Arrow, another barbel river, where I spent several hours (I was a lot more dedicated back then) trying to get one in the net but it never happened. That was the last chance I had to catch a barbel. I am hoping to pull a barbel out of the river over the week, but I am not going to bust a gut to do it. I’ll put in the time and effort, but I am not going to spend hours and hours on the river bank doing so. I was also interested in having a go for a trout or two, and decided to use a small spinner. I just hope I don’t have too many issues with pike because I can catch them any time back home – the Norfolk Broads are full of pike and many anglers from all over the UK go there just for the pike fishing. Thinking about it, I live in the heart of the best piking location in the UK yet I don’t like catching the things – ironic isn’t it.
Anyway, I spent a few hours on the bank trying to tempt the barbel and didn’t get sniff. I decided to fish the spot just behind the church. It was a nice and peaceful swim until the church bells started ringing and the congregation started going in for one of the monthly services. My wife (who often accompanies me fishing on vacation – she is good at netting duties and also the fish photographer) decided to put down the book she was reading and go and attend the service leaving me on my own. Whilst she was gone I discovered the landing net pole head was broken, so it’s a good job I didn’t catch anything as I would have been stuffed.
The rest of the evening was pretty uneventful so after a few hours TV the day was brought to a close.
"The Royal Hill pub - quaint" "Stunning views from the Royal Hill beer garden - stunning"
After another silent and peaceful night we woke with the sun slowly burning through the mist which got me thinking we had more hours of dry weather over the last day and a half than we did over the entire of the previous week in the Lake District. This motor homing adventure is much more pleasant in the dry weather, although the campsite also has a lot to do with it. I really like Church House campsite, whereas I wasn’t too keen on Pier Cottage at first and by the end of the week I had a hatred for it and couldn’t wait to drive out of the gate.
With another day of glorious sunshine it was time to get the bikes off the carrier and on to the road. We had dragged them all the way to the Lake District (and didn’t get the chance to use them) and back down to Church House so we were going to get out on them. The campsite owner suggested a pub a few miles down the road so we thought going out for a light bite for lunch. The road to the pub was on part of National Cycle Route 81, which I thought was busy given it is October. By busy I mean a lot of other bikes, not cars.
The Royal Hill free house pub is a quaint building overlooking the river. The only light bites on the menu was jacket potatoes (with various fillings) or side orders, so a bowl of chips was the order of the day. At £1.50 a portion I thought the portion of chips would be a bit scant and not enough for two. I mean, back home chips are at least £2.00 a portion from a pub, and you hardly get any so I thought a £1.50 sized portion would be meagre. Boy, how wrong was I? The portion of chips was huge, and I had to not only eat my portion of cheesy chips (with mixed herbs sprinkled on top – something I have never thought of doing before but definitely will be in the future) but also half my wife’s plain chips. It was definitely top value for money, and the views from the tables outside was stunning. If you visit Church Farm campsite (and I highly recommend it) a trip to the Royal Hill should be on your list too.
Chips devoured it was time to carry on, and rather than going straight back to the campsite we thought we would take full advantage of the weather and being out on the bikes and go back via some smaller back roads.
Cycling in the Shropshire countryside is really nice, and it strange to be cycling on the flat and surrounded by hills. The cycling was easy going, the roads were almost traffic free and the scenery nice to look at. What more do you need? It’s strange because I thought cycling in a hilly part of the country would be difficult and hard going but the ride we did was flatter than riding around our home county of Norfolk.
Back the campsite it was time to fix the landing net pole so I could get back out on the river bank and try my luck with the barbel and trout, and also have a look at the damn water filler cap and try and work out what’s happening with that.
The pole was an easy fix, and whilst the gaffer tape doesn’t look neat or pretty it will do the job for the week until I can get another pole (and spend even more money). The filler cap, that is a totally different story though. I managed to get it back off – although I don’t know how. I unlocked it, twisted it a little and it suddenly popped off. Despite looking at the mechanics of it for several minutes I still can’t figure it out (I have never been a practical person) and to me, it should be such a mission to remove it. There are three lugs so, as far as I can see, it should be no more than a third turn (either clockwise or anti-clockwise) and a gentle pull – but I’ll be damned if I can make it work.
I think I am going to have to do a bit of research when I get home and try to find a Youtube or Videojug tutorial and see where I am going wrong, if indeed I am going wrong. Because we didn’t get shown how to fill the Accordo 120 with water at Brownhills during our handover I don’t know if it is user error, the cap is just a little stiff and needs bedding in or if the cap needs something doing to it. When I take the Accordo 120 in for its repair I will get it looked at and also ask for a demonstration too. For the time being we have agreed to leave it as it is, and if we need more water try to get it off again and then get it sorted back home.
With the landing net pole bodged together (it’s a good job gaffer tape is something useful we put in the van – we really are going to have to sort out a s mall tool kit) it was time to get back on the bank and have another crack at the barbel. This time though, I thought I would leave the halibut pellets in the bag and try some luncheon meat instead. Rather than doing battle with the very steep river bank, and the cattle in the far meadow I thought I would give, what the campsite owner referred to as the “Church pools” a go.
"Fishing the Church pools" "A hard fighting chub caught from the Church pools"
The Church pools stretch is great. It is quiet (other than the sound of the water running through of course), it is peaceful and it is tranquil. I forgot just how “out in the wild” river fishing is (I have only fished commercial lakes over the last twenty years or so) and being out behind Melverley Church fishing the “Church pools” reminded me of its charm, and also whetted my appetite for more.
River fishing is tough, far tougher than fishing commercial fisheries where you’re almost guaranteed to catch a fish or two. I say almost guaranteed because you won’t catch if you lose your hook bait during the cast, and it is something I have seen many times fishing the commercial waters. Make sure you get a bait in the water and you are 99.9% certain to catch something, even if it is only a small roach.
I get itchy feet more quickly nowadays than I did when I was really in to the fishing, so two or three hours in one go is more than enough for me. That said, I spent six and a half hours fishing the Church pools, during which I only caught one fish. The fish I did catch was a chub of around three pounds or thereabouts, so whilst it wasn’t huge it did put a bend in the rod and fought valiantly all the way to the net. I forgot how pristine river fish are, and the chub I caught was in mint condition. The scales were all present, the mouth wasn’t deformed, it didn’t have battle scars or anything like that. Fish in commercial fisheries get caught numerous times over and some anglers are brutal and do the fish damage, which is upsetting to see. I like to see fish out of the water for as little time as possible, handled with care and not bashed around and gently returned to fight another day rather than being ‘thrown back’. Fish in commercial fisheries are often in a poor state but these river fish are absolutely mint, and there was no evidence it had been caught before, although I couldn’t confirm this (obviously). I would have spent longer fishing the Church pools but as the sun started to set the midges came out and started getting too annoying, so it was to pack up and venture back for a shower, a bite to eat and a bit of crap telly. Perfect.
The curry we had for dinner (a jar of Bhuna sauce poured over some turkey chunks, with a red pepper thrown in (to use it up – my wife hates wasting food) was a little more pungent than the one we had in the Lake District last week, and I don’t know why. Last week we had a Balti (also a Pataks jar sauce) cooked on the hob and whilst it left a smell in the van it soon dissipated. The Bhuna was something else, and even though it was cooked in exactly the same way the smell was overpowering and lingered for several hours (well in to the following day). We even used the extractor fan, which we didn’t use in the Lake District, to try and get rid of the stench, but it did no good. Even though the curry tasted nice we both agreed that we were going to try each and every curry sauce we fancied before the next trip in order to gauge which ones are going to be too pungent to use in the motor home. As much as we like the taste (and smell) of a curry, neither of us want the van to smell like the inside of a curry house!
The following day I woke to grey clouds and a bit of wind, which was quite concerning. In the Lake District grey clouds and wind meant rain, and since we hadn’t seen any rain since a very light shower some four days ago, I was hoping our dry spell wasn’t going to come to an end. My concerns were ill founded as the grey clouds came and went, the sun broke through and hid and the wind speed varied, but it remained dry and warm.
When we bought the motor home our intention was, once it was parked up on a campsite, to leave it and go anywhere either a pied or en velo. Basically, if we couldn’t walk or cycle to the place (or get a bus if there was any public transport available) we wouldn’t go. With the milk starting to run dry, I blame those damn Angel Delights (which we only ever have when we are on holiday), it was time to try and find the local shop, which according to the campsite owner was just over a mile and a half away.
I have to say that the campsite owner’s mile and half is a lot further than mine, and according to the Garmin Edge cycle computer the shop is just over four and a half miles away, unless we went to the wrong shop that is. The nine mile trip wouldn’t have been too bad if I wasn’t saddle sore from the ride the other day. It’s my own fault, I haven’t been out on the bike I took on the adventure for many months, the seat is a racing style seat and I didn’t have my padded shorts with me. The journey to and back from the shop was murder in places and I felt every single bump and pothole resonating through me. Fortunately, some of the road surfaces were ultra-smooth proving a much needed rest bite between the bumpy bits. The better half wasn’t feeling her saddle at all since she took along her fold up Brompton, which she rides to work and back every day (which is a 13 mile round trip).
Despite being in pain the ride wasn’t too bad. The roads are ridiculously quiet with hardly any traffic, the area is pretty much flat (although there are some small inclines/declines – it is still flatter than our Norfolk cycle routes) and the scenery is nice. The un-seasonally warm weather also played a part and the combination of sun for warmth, and a slight breeze to make sure we didn’t get too hot and break out in to a sweat, it was all good.
With just one fish caught I thought I would give the Church Pools another go to see if I could get a barbel, a brown trout or another chub or two. Long story short, I spend five hours on the river bank, tried a three different baits lob worm, luncheon meat and halibut pellet) and didn’t get a sniff. There were no knocks, no bangs and no fish. If the Church Pool wasn’t such a pleasant place to spend a few hours watching the wildlife, soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the scenery I would have been annoyed, but as it was I wasn’t. Sure, I was disappointed I never caught anything, let alone a barbel or trout but that’s just the way it goes sometimes.
With the fishing over it was time to think about packing up for the journey home. The weather forecast showed rain was on its way so we thought it would be best to pack the awning away whilst it was dry rather than waiting until the day of departure. The morning dew on the awning had started taking longer and longer to dry out, and whilst the campsite owner said we can leave the pitch at any time (i.e. we were welcome to hang around until everything had dried out) we wanted to be on the road in good time on the day of departure to get home at a reasonable hour. On a clear run the journey home should take around four and a half hours, but how many times do you get a clear run? There is always a hold up somewhere, isn’t there.
We took our time packing up, after all it was dry and we had loads of time so there was no need to rush it and loaded everything in the front of the cabin or under the van as necessary. I have to admit the van did look a bit of a state on our final evening, but other than empty the tanks, deal with the electric hook up, empty the toilet and bring down the TV aerial there wasn’t much left to do other than have a quick shifty moving the stuff in the cabin to the back of the van.
The final evening was pretty uneventful, and after a spot of dinner it was time to set up in front of the TV and get ready for Carry on Caravanning. Even though we are not caravan owners we have really got in to this program and it does provide a little light hearted entertainment.
With most of the kit packed up the day before our last day at Church House was stress free, and with the sun shining it was a dry pack up for a change. The plan was to be on the road for eleven however we were good to go by 10.00am so we set off ahead of schedule. The drive across the country to Norfolk was uneventful, and other than a bit of traffic around Birmingham it all went very smoothly. The Accordo was running sweet (like it had done since we set off on our adventure) although keeping it below the wife speed limit was quite difficult. The other half doesn’t “feel comfortable” if we are travelling over 60mph in the Accordo, although she won’t say anything until I hit 65mph. The Accordo 120 will easily travel faster than 65mph, and it doesn’t start complaining at those speeds, it’s just the wife being a little OTT. Since the Accordo is registered in her name, and any speeding tickets will be addressed to her, I kind of see her point. Still………………………. One good thing is I won’t get caught speeding.
Once we got back in our home county of Norfolk I thought it was time to stretch the legs, grab a bit of diesel and have a pee stop. Unfortunately, we pulled in to a BP Garage with a Marks & Spencers and Wild Bean coffee shop. I say unfortunately because the toilets were out of action (as they always seem to be at BP garages), it was stupidly busy and diesel was 10p per litre more expensive than we had paid anywhere over in the West of the country. One good thing to come out of it was the sausage roll from the Wild Bean café was awesome.
As for the toilet stop, my bladder was fit to bust (my wife says it is the size of a broad bean), and the only thing to do was to use the van toilet. So, whilst still at the pump (my wife was queuing up to pay) I thought I would use the facilities in the van. It was strange having a pee on BP’s forecourt, but when you gotta go you gotta go. Owning a motor home is great for people with a broad bean bladder, like me.
With the van tank full and mine empty legs stretched and sausage roll consumed it was time to do the last stretch home, which as it turns out was pretty uneventful. The total journey home took a little over four and a half hours, which was pretty good going. With the Accordo back in the drive, cleared out and locked up the two week adventure ended, and I can’t wait for the next trip out in it. I am hooked!!
If you want to read about week 1 of our adventure in the Elddis Accordo 120 where we stayed at Pier Cottage Campsite, Lake Coniston in the Lake District feel free to take a look at "2 Weeks in the Accordo 120 - Week 1: Lake Coniston, Lake District"
About the author
A total motor home newbie with a six year camping background in a folding camper. A keen blogger sharing my experience of researching, choosing, buying and owning a motor home. and every thing that goes with it.
The Motor home