Tag Archives: Camper van

Friday Night @ Firle

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As i’ve mentioned before, there is something really quite nice about finishing a week at work, jumping in the van and buggering off away from the smoke for a night or two.

Lolly and I were new to the whole wild camping thing but once you get your head round it all then as Arthur Daley would say, “the world is you lobster”, especially if your life allows you the spontaneity to head out at a moments notice without having to worry about things that require your absolute care and attention, pets and children for example!

Our destination came about from a chat we’d had with a fella we met at a boot sale who complimented us on our van, a long conversation followed covering all sorts of van and boot sale related topics, one of which was about wild camping on the south downs and Firle, a favourite location for our new friend.

Neither of us had heard of Firle so Lolly did a little bit of investigation on the interweb and discovered a good spot for wild camping would be Firle Beacon, a Marylin (hill over 150ft) which is situated on the south downs between Newhaven and Eastbourne.

Soon as I got back from work, Lolly had the van packed and we made our way to the M23 and then on to the A27, traffic was average but we arrived in good time and parked up.

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From the picture above you can just about see the sea, you can also see a couple of of other vans, one of which referred to herself as a van dweller which for no explainable reason made me chuckle! At the very top of this post is a picture that says no overnight camping, this sign (amongst others) is located on the opposite side of the road to us with a couple more near the other vans and in the car park behind us that you can’t see from this photo. There are none on the side we parked on and I suspect (don’t qoute me) the odd night here and there is accepted and overlooked but any kind of semi permenant camp would attract the authorities. We did get a visit from the police, they came up, sat in their car for a bit probably checking registrations and then left, last we saw of them.

As with all our little excusrions, food and a few drinks were on the menu so we got our Cobb BBQ going and knocked up some Wagyu burgers Lauren picked up from Aldi, they’re massive and really quite nice. After some food  and lovely rocky road that Lolly made we went for a walk across the fields and took in the lovely view of the south downs, we also encountered Cockchafers.

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Mad as these things look they are in fact completely harmless and if you come across one you should feel privileged, they only come out of the ground every 4 years because thats how long it takes them to grow from a larvae and they have a lifespan of about 6 weeks, there are loads of them at firle and they really like vans !

After our walk we returned to the van, put up the thermal blinds, setup the bed, put a movie on and settled in for the night. Over the course of the evening a few cars passed us but we had no hassle and woke the next day to glorious sunshine!

The photo below is looking the opposite way to the coast and over the south downs.

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The field in front of us had also been besieged by cows.

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My funniest memory of this outing is Lauren telling me how calming cow watching was which she spent some time doing!

Alas time was against us and we had to leave at around 9 in the morning, other plans for Saturday meant we could only stay one night but we will definitely be coming back with the bikes so we can go on a proper explore!

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A trip down to Weymouth

The beginning of July is our wedding anniversary and due to a slight oversight by myself I spent the majority of it on a flight back from Moscow, I got to spend a couple of hours with Lolly on our actual anniversary and arranged to head out in the van and go somewhere for the weekend together to celebrate properly..

Our destination was Rosewall campsite in Weymouth, google said it would take us about 2.5 hours which I think is just far enough to drive for a weekend trip, we decided to take the A3 and then the A31, two roads I never wish to see again.

The first issue arose getting from ours to the A3, there is a route that Lolly’s dad takes that both of us are convinced we know, we don’t and had agreed not to try taking it, before we knew it we were trying to work out the route, we failed miserably and it took an age to get to the A3, one unimpressed wife, especially as the sun was blazing and we were stuck in a van.

The A31 wasn’t much better, there was traffic leading up to the A31 on the A3, for a while we were belting along before we hit the first roundabout, one of many all of which came with a queue to reach them, progress was slow, really slow, it was so bad we pulled off the A31 around the new forest area into a little pub for lunch, annoyingly I can’t remember the name of the pub which is a real shame as the food was excellent and I recommend a visit, if I remember I will update the post.

After eating we carried on to Weymouth in rubbish traffic and reached our destination just before Lolly was about to explode, she also made me promise no more weekend excursions more than an hours drive.

We booked in, found ourselves a spot with a nice view looking out to sea, grabbed the bikes and headed off for a ride, we made our way to the coastal path and it became clear very quickly that it was completely unsuitable for bikes, we headed back to the van, dropped the bikes off and went back the way we came on foot.

We followed the path down to the beach, the beach was a large pebble / stone beach with boulders thrown in for good measure. In Ibiza, along the shoreline, especially where there are rocks people build little stone towers, seems they do the same here so we decided to make a couple of our own.

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We spent a couple of hours clambering about the rocks, watching these weird things hop about out of the sea, they looked like wood louse and shrimps but weren’t either, very strange! We then followed the path up past the pub which gave us lovely views out over the bay. As the sun started to set we made our way back as cooking in the dark is always a bit of a challenge, we swerved into a pub just by the beach called the smugglers inn, we had a drink, contemplated eating as the food looked awesome but stuck with our plan and walked back to the van to cook some chicken on the cob.

Back at the van we got our chicken on the go, made some drinks and settled in for the evening, about 15 mins into cooking the heavens opened, prior to the rain there were loads of fire baskets alight outside campers tents or vans, they went out pretty quickly! Having a lid means you can leave the cobb doing it’s thing in the rain which to be fair stopped after 20 mins or so. Following the rain was a quite spectacular electrical storm, we sat up for about an hour after we ate watching the lightshow before turning in for the night, dinner was lovely, Harissa chicken with avocado salad and cous cous.

Next morning was a bit of grey damp affair but in no time at all the sun came up, perfect for a picture of camp mashley!

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Rosewall campsite is a bit like wild camping in the sense there are no pitches, you just find a spot and that’s you for your stay, there is a shop that sells all sorts of things, milk, biscuits, bbq food, camping supplies and local beer! The toilet and shower blocks are well maintained as are the washing up areas. There are two blocks, one at the top of the hill near the shop and one at the bottom. The bottom of the hill is flatter but at the expense of the view, we found a flat spot at the top of the campsite with a really nice view out to sea.

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We drank plenty of tea and got some breakfast down us whilst the campsite started to fill up. Our plan was to grab the bikes, head for a ride to Weymouth and possibly on to Portland, a small tied island which is the southern most tip of Dorset.

The ride into Weymouth took about 15 minutes and our first stop was the beach, we arrived just in time for a punch and judy show which is not something I woud bother with but Lolly wanted to watch it, while I went to get a couple of beers, Lolly found us a spot and put a couple of quid in the donations box.

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I’ve got to admit, the show was really funny, it’s main content was for children but there was quite a lot of stuff that was clearly for adults without being risque or offensive for the kids, i’m glad we stopped to watch it. From here we rode to the harbour, all around there are little coffee shops, restaurants and kids with their parents on the harbour wall fishing for crabs, they caught plenty!

You can see the beach and some of the harbour behind us in the picture below

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Just up from where this photo was taken is Nothe park and fort, we stopped for a delicious sandwich and then pressed on.

We followed the coastal path which for most of the way hugs the coastline but deviates between that and residential areas, this is where we came across Sandsfoot castle, a ruined castle set in a little landscaped park that sells amongst other things very nice ice cream which of course tried!

It had taken us about 2 hours to get this far as we kept stopping to look at things or eat, we were less than halfway to our destination, I knew we had a way to go and wasn’t looking forward to the ride back and in my usual style got a bit grumpy.

Next stop was Chesil Beach, we locked up the bikes and walked up the pebble dune to see what was on the other side, ferocious sea and wind with some nutters in a tent was what was on the other side! I think we lasted about a minute at best before we decided being blown to pieces wasn’t that attractive and headed back to the bikes.

At this point I really didn’t want to carry on and just wanted to turn back, i’d had enough riding bikes and we had a long ride home but Lolly really wanted to reach the island, reluctantly I agreed and we cycled over, when we arrived we cycled through a kind of marine industrial estate, past that we followed the path to a dead end, turning round we found a little pebble launch called scimitar wharf  which it turns out is owned by Scimitar diving, we both had a drink each so we sat down, drank our drinks and then started the journey back.

The ride back wasn’t as bad as I thought apart from the hill near where we were staying, it took about 80 mins and below is the strava output from the return leg.

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I didn’t realise we rode that far, a 20.6 mile round trip!

Back at the van we made ourselves a drink each, got the cobb on the go and cooked up some peri peri chicken with the rest of the salad from the night before, we were pretty shattered so put the latest episode of Penny Dreadful on and settled down for the night.

We had planned to get up early on Sunday, dodge the traffic and be home before the afternoon, we woke up about 10 am so failed massively on that front, I packed up the van, we showered and then went for breakfast which was lovely, then began the journey home which wasn’t that bad this time around.

There is so much more to Weymouth than we thought and we’ll be heading back there again, just not exactly sure when, if you are heading that way then I really would recommend the Rosewall campsite.

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