We wanted to have another bash at the Tissington Trail with a better bike (and more practice over the years) to determine her level of cycling proficiency compared to that first venture out in Oct 2011 (http://thebinkybus.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/ )). This time we stayed at Ashbourne Heights site, parking up in very high winds due to Storm Brian on a bit of tarmacked car park at the end of the site. The toilets and showers are warm and clean but certainly very dated. I wouldn't want to stay on this site at full price in peak season! Anyway, we parked up, having to move the van slightly over the pitch markings to enable the hookup cable to stretch to the power socket, and had a bit of a wander around to suss out the lie of the land.
On Tues we launched the bikes, cycling up along the Tissington Trail, stopping for a packed lunch near Hartington and then heading back down the incline to Ashbourne, then back up to Tissington and then home - a total of 25 miles.
On Wednesday 18th we went for a long walk along Dove Dale, and came back over the fields where the farmers had once again enjoyed peppering our route with liberal sprinklings of manure. Luckily the weather held off whilst we were wandering along the beautiful dale, and whilst we enjoyed a delicious cup of hot chocolate in Milldale, then, as we climbed out of the valley, the weather closed in and the drizzle started to fall. It was still a very nice long walk and the pub stop at the end at the Old Dog in Thorpe (lovely pub, but not cheap) was very welcome.
On Thursday it hissed it down all day. It didn't stop. It was dark, dank, wet and miserable and so were we.
On Friday we gave up on the Peak District and, in terrible weather and poor visibility, we moved onto the splendid civilisation of Cheshire Oaks MOTORHOME (and caravan) Club Site. Modern, clean warm loos, neat pitches, pub just around the corner, shopping centre 10 minutes away - what more could anyone want? There were a lot of shed-draggers already parked up there and the site was very busy. We even deigned to help manoeuvre a shed into position, but we made sure we washed our hand thoroughly afterwards ;-) We had a quick wander around the outlet shopping then had dinner in the local pub.
On Saturday it rained again, so we took the bus into Chester and wandered around the shops and walkways of this very pleasant city, trying to stay dry.
On Sunday the wind was blowing very strongly again. We used our bargain bus pass to go into Liverpool and wandered around my old haunts, blown around Albert Dock, ate Scouse in the Museum and spent a very interesting and upsetting hour or so in the Slavery museum. The City has certainly cleaned up its act since I used to visit!
We caught the bus again on Monday to go back into Liverpool and explore the awe-inspiring Anglican cathedral built on St James's Mount. Liverpool Cathedral is the largest cathedral and religious building in Britain and was constructed between 1904 and 1978. The total external length of the building is 207 yards (189 m) making it the longest cathedral in the world; its internal length is 160 yards (150 m). In terms of overall volume, Liverpool Cathedral ranks as the fifth-largest cathedral in the world. With a height of 331 feet (101 m) it is also one of the world's tallest non-spired church buildings. After climbing the tower and playing around in the whispering arches we wandered back down to the riverside to look at the Motorhome parking area and enjoy a lovely sunset. Later we met our niece, Katie, and her partner, Oli, for a lovely dinner, catching the last, and lively, bus back through the delights of Birkenhead to the caravan site.
Tuesday 24th saw us back in Chester - in the dry this time - to wander the City Walls and explore Chester Cathedral (no charge thank the Lord). We were very impressed with the Racecourse and, what was interesting, was reading the notice boards by the racecourse (The Roodee) which is the oldest in-use course in England and probably the smallest, the first recorded race being held on 9 February 1539 with the consent of the Mayor Henry Gee, whose name led to the use of the term "gee-gee" for horses. We had lunch in a delightful old pub, the Bear and Billet (built 1664) before braving the rain again. It's a shame that one of the buskers, a plukey-faced, baseball-cap-on-backwards, yoof thought that his amplified Rap (or is that crap) would delight the crowds, whereas in fact it was a bloody awful din.
The caravan site was packed this week, being half term so, despite the weather being good and there being so much to do in the area, on Wednesday 25th we reluctantly we headed home.