Friday, September 28, 2018


My wise friend Hayden once said "the hardest part is leaving the dock"
Those words have stuck with me as they rang so true....

He was talking about the sailing lifestyle.
So many people spend so much time trying to get their boat 100% ship shape
and ready for taking the plunge - that they never leave the dock.

Sooner or later you need to say "good enough"  cast off the lines, and head out
for that distant shore.

I've found that those words apply to so much more in this life.

Whether it is:

leaving the dock,
taking off in the RV,
changing jobs,
heading off to Europe for 5 months, 
or any other of lifes adventures.... 

the hardest point indeed IS simply leaving the dock.

Once you do cast off the lines and take the plunge - what follows is so much easier!
You figure it out as you go - and fix the problems as they appear.
That becomes your new normal.

But in the interim...  you are sailing!

And sailing we are!

Our last cruising ground was Wales where we left you last.
We only had 4 days to spend there, so we tried to make the most of our short time
before we headed South to The Cotswolds where we are now.

Travel Map Conwy Wales to The Cotswolds
From our base home on the Marina in Conway we took a day trip to visit
Along the way we crossed the interesting Menai Suspension Bridge.

Menai Suspension Bridge
Built around 1300, Beaumaris Castle was built by Edward I to strengthen his grip on Wales.

Arriving at the castle, you must first cross the moat while the defenders would protect
the castle from the outer wall.

This was the first line of defense for the castle.

Beaumaris Castle Moat & Outer Walls

After the moat, an attacker must make it thru the outer wall.
The picture below is taken from atop the outer wall.
On the left you can see the moat - on the right the inner wall.

Beaumaris Castle Outer Wall Ramparts
If you are able to successfully negotiate the moat, the outer wall, and then penetrate the inner walls
you will have make it into the castle courtyard.

The inner wall contains the living/working areas of the castle.
We were able to walk all throughout the inner walls.  It was quite impressive.

The view below is taken from atop the inner wall.

Inside the inner wall lies the Chapel

Beaumaris Castle Chapel
After leaving Beaumaris, we decided to take a Saturday afternoon drive and tour
Snowdonia National Park which lies just south of where we were staying in Conwy.

The scenery was varied from thick green forests...

Snowdonia National Park

To higher rocky terrain that is reminiscent of Alaska.

Snowdonia National Park

Snowdonia National Park
As we crossed the park from west to east we again descended to the lower
elevations and the greens began to reappear.

Snowdonia National Park

On Sunday we took the dogs and walked a few miles into town along the waterfront.

Conwy Castle from across the waterfront
Conwy is a medieval town which was protected by a wall which encircles the town.
one end of the wall ends at Conwy Castle - the other end in the sea.

Conwy Medieval Town Wall
We climbed up on the walls with the dogs and walked the ramparts around the town.
Below you can see across town to the castle (center) in the distance.

View from Conwy Wall into the Old City

Inside the wall lies the Smallest House in Great Britain. 

The Smallest House - Conwy
Like so many towns we have visited...
Its a beautiful quaint village.

Conwy Wales
Monday morning we were back in town, this time to tour Conwy Castle.
Like Beaumaris Castle, Conwy Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
and considered one of the finest examples of 13th & 14th Century Military Architecture.

Conwy Castle Walls
Looking into the courtyard from the walls.

The view below you can see the remains of the great hall (right) where the archways
supported the roof that covered the main banquet hall.

Conway Castle Banquet Hall

A view of the castle from the top of the kings tower. 

On Tuesday morning our quick visit to Wales had come to an end.
Our next destination, in the Cotswolds, was about 3.5 hrs away, but I wanted to stay on the
smaller roads and see more of Wales on the way, so we took A470 south thru
Snowdonia National Park which gave us another taste of this beautiful and varied area.

Traveling on A470 Snowdonia National Park Wales
We arrived at our home for the next 15 nights after about a 5.5 hr drive.
The Gate House of Sudeley Castle in Winchcombe, England.

Sudeley Castles prior residents include Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn and his final
wife Catherine Parr who outlived King Henry VIII and is buried here.

Our Current home:  Sudeley Castle Gate House
Our current home is one of our favorites this trip.

We have the place to ourselves, we've had a few wonderful visits from
friends of ours that we met on the QM2, and its been a great place to
take some walks and enjoy the country life as our time in England
starts to dwindle down to just a couple more weeks.

More about our time here and in the Cotswolds in our next post.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Lake District of England

It's been about 10 days since our last post which had us in Keswick, England,
a sizable tourist village in the northern part of the Lake District.

Since then we moved to a second home in a much more remote area in the southern
part of district where we spent a week, and then finally further south
to Wales where we are now.

Our spotwalla map below shows our travels from York, Northwest to the Lake District,
and then south to Wales and Snowdonia National Park where we did some exploring today.

Travel Map York to Wales
We only had 4 nights in our cottage in Keswick and that time flew by.
The photo below shows Keswick, sitting at the foot of Skiddaw Mountain,
and on the shores of Derwent Water.

Keswick - Courtesy Wikipedia
On our last night in Keswick, the sun cast a red glow on the lower slopes of Skiddaw.

Leaving in the morning, headed for our next home, we took some less direct scenic roads.
Our route took us over the mountain and down along Ullswater.

Ullswater seen from A5091
Then we crossed over Kirkstone Pass which is the highest road pass in the Lake District.
The narrow road with stone walls close on each side crosses the pass at 1,489' before 
dropping down to Ambleside on Lake Windermere

Kirkstone Pass - Lake District England
After a detour to Lancaster to resupply with dog food, we headed to our home for
the next week.   Called Coal Yeats, it is a cluster of buildings in sheep farming country,
several miles up a single track road about 7 miles north of Ulverston.

The white in the center building is next to our cottage.

Coal Yeats from the single track road
Closer - you can see our stone cottage to the right of the white building

Home sweet Home

Coal Yeats Cottage
This was a perfect place for some well deserved down time.
It seems like we've been on the run non-stop for 4 months.
This cottage had everything you could possibly need including a full package on
Sky Satellite TV.   I was even able to catch the opening weekend of the NFL!

In addition - our views were fantastic!

Great walks in our neighborhood.
Around every curve - an idyllic scene.

The neighborhood near Coal Yeats
Our neighbors were all of the 4 legged variety

Neighborhood Sheep
It was not all relaxation however...
Besides some local walks, one day we took a drive thru the Langsdale Mountains.

First passing by Coniston Water

Coniston Water from A5084
Then we turned off on the narrow single-track road that took us west to climb over
Wrynose Pass, and then Hardknot Pass.

Portions of the road follow the old Roman road built in the first century.

The view up on Wrynose Pass

The Fall color in the higher elevations was in full display along with the
waterfalls that cascaded down the sides of the valleys.

The descent from Wrynose Pass into the Duddon Valley is steep.

The the mountain valley the sheep grazed along the road.
In the distance you can see the road climb Hardknott Pass where we were headed next.

The road up Hardknot pass is the steepest in England with a gradient of 33%

The twists and turns up Hardknot Pass

Hardknot Pass Road
The view from the top looking back east towards the Duddon Valley

Duddon Valley from Hardknot Pass
Just over the west side of the pass is the Hardknot Roman Fort.
Similar to the Housesteads fort that we visited a couple of weeks ago at Hadrians Wall.

As it had been heavily raining the past few days and the ground was quite muddy, I did not
want to climb up to the fort and get soaked.

Over the pass and back down into the trees.
It was a day of contrasts in both scenery and weather. 

Eksdale Green Area on the Hardknot Pass Road
While in the area we turned north a tad and took a side trip up the Wasdale Valley
to Wast Water.

Wasdale Valley - Lake District England
The scenery on the small single-track roads is the best!

Pastoral Scene in the Wasdale Valley
Our turn around point for the day was Wast Water.
From here we headed south down the west coast and back to Coal Yeats.

Kate on the shore of Wast Water.

The Lake District is known for its "walks"
Although the Lake District is about 1/2 the size of Rhode Island (our smallest state)
the diversity of scenery is impressive, and the assortment of trails provides plenty for
walkers of all abilities.

One day we took a drive up to Tarn Hows and took the walk around the Tarn (Lake)

Tarn How
 The trail is only about 2 miles in length and with only gentle grades.

Tarn How Trail
A nice assortment of scenery on the walk. 
Tarn How Trail
The view of the Tarn from the high point of the trail.

Tarn How
Our 7 days at Coal Yeats came to a quick conclusion and on Friday 9/14 we packed up
and headed to our next home for 4 nights in Conwy, Wales on the coast.

Our view here is similar to the view from our old house.
Look familiar anyone?

Conwy Marina - Conwy, Wales

While in Wales our goal is to visit some of the famous castles built by Edward I in
to tighten his grip on Wales, as well as to take a taste of Snowdonia National Park and
perhaps a side trip to Chester.

More on that next time.