camper van

The Lake District with Another Place, The Lake Hotel

"You may leave the Lake District, but once you’ve been, it’ll never leave you…”- Anonymous

We were invited to come and stay at Another Place the Lake hotel perfectly placed on the bank of Ullswater which is England’s second largest lake in the Lake District National Park. Another place had organised a weekend full of activities for us and we couldn’t wait to get up there and see what was in store.

The drive to Another Place The Lake was just under 5 hours from where we live which is just North of London. We arrived in the evening and carried our bags through the beautiful doors of the Georgian main building. The staff were extremely friendly and and our first impressions was that we felt right at home.

We were shown to our room on the top floor of the new contemporary wing. It was beautifully secluded and peaceful. The double glazed doors backed out onto the gorgeous gardens and views out onto Ullswater and the hills surrounding it on the horizon. We had one of only two beautiful rooms on the top floor and the design details of the room were beautiful, functional and most importantly comfortable.

The next morning we had the best start to the day having breakfast with a choice of fresh waffles, fruit, yoghurt, cereal or even a full English if you felt like treating yourself! After breakfast, we went to explore the beautiful grounds and found some rabbits along the lakes edge. We then headed off full steam ahead on the Ullswater Steamers boat to take us to Howtown, as we were steaming along the water we watched the birds gliding low to the water just as the rain started to come down. On our way to the top of Hallin Fell we passed many sweet little lambs and we found an epic viewpoint over looking Ullswater. We got soaked to the bone (check out Hannah’s 6 pack in the photos below), but it was well worth it and we managed to get down and run to the pier just as the return boat was about to moor! We did a quick pit stop at the hotel and changed into dry clothes before heading back to Pooley Bridge town for lunch. We had seen a little cafe called ‘Granny Dowbekins Tearooms’ there which served fresh food and was a reasonable price. We needed a hot dish to warm us up and had tomato soup with some oven baked bread which was perfection and to top it all off they also made their own gingerbread so we had to give that a go.

We spent the rest of the afternoon in the pool and the outdoor hot tub. It was the perfect place to relax after a busy morning. Time for dinner and and we both chose the shepherds pie and it was honestly one of the best meals we’ve ever had. The flavour was perfection and the mash on top had a gorgeous crispy layer we couldn’t fault it! I could have easily eaten another dish of it but we had an appointment with the RSPB Haweswater to watch their Badgers; Beatrix, Porridge and Gremlin. The hide was dug into the ground so that you could see them much better and looking through the hole they got so close you could hear them munching, what an experience that will stick with us for a long time.

After another tasty breakfast, we ventured to Lowther Castle to hire some bikes. A hail storm hit just as we arrived at the Castle and for the first hour of our ride we were rained on by heavy showers. We were almost about to give up when we decided to follow another route. As we cycled along a river the sun came out and we explored the most beautiful paths which looked right out of a fairytale and made our way to Askham fell with dramatic skies and a fantastic ride downhill! We were very lucky with the weather and the riding was fantastic.

We were having so much fun on our bikes we’d almost forgotten the time and raced back to get ready for our paddle boarding lesson with Adrian at the Sheep Shed. They provide you with everything you need including wetsuits, life jackets and of course a paddle board and paddle. Adrian was awesome, laid back, the sun came out whilst we learnt to keep our balance and do a couple of tricks it was an amazing experience paddle boarding on the Ullswater with him - definitely recommend doing this even if you’re unsure which Hannah was!

We had been up since 7am and tiredness had started to kick in, which was perfect timing for our scheduled massages. The treatment rooms at Another Place were calm and very relaxing. We have had a fair few massages and once you have a great one it’s really hard to top it or compare but we can honestly can say that these were the best massages we have ever experienced, even the lady before us said the same thing! We both kept drifting in and out of sleep and we were so relaxed we sleep walked back to our room. It was such a great way to end a long day full of activities.

Our last evening was spent eating in the Rampsbeck restaurant for a 3 course meal. Hannah had lamb and I had venison, the quality and flavours of the food were fantastic. After dinner we went back to our room and reluctantly packed as we would be getting up early again in the morning. 

The morning light was soft and the water was calm and had a glass like reflection, it was so peaceful watching the birds dancing above the water. After capturing some video and photos we headed back for our last breakfast. For our last day we planned to hike Helvellyn and meet up with my mum and Derek for the hike as the weather was perfect. We met at the carpark (basecamp) in Glenridding and started out at 10 am and walked upwards towards Stridding Edge. As soon as we got up and over the first section we could see Helvellyn and Striding Edge. The walk had breathtaking views and walking over Striding Edge definitely got the adrenaline pumping. The views from the top carried on for miles with rolling hills, trees and lakes. The Lake District stole our hearts, it reminded us what we loved about Scotland and we will be planning our trip back soon!

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Iceland Expedition

"The Land of Fire and Ice"

Midnight sun in 2015

Midnight sun in 2015

In 2015, we had a 24 hour stopover in Iceland on our way to Canada. We rented a 4x4 and headed off to explore the golden circle under the midnight sun. It was a photographers dream, constant sunset colours for hours on end. We first stopped off at the blue lagoon which cost 30 euros each. Prices since then have more than doubled (the cheapest price I could find was 60 euros after 8 pm). A day slot would set you back 75 euros which includes the use of a towel and a premium option of 100 euros per person where you get the option to book a table at their restaurant. Iceland’s tourism has boomed over the last couple of years, creating a massive demand for it’s iconic attractions whilst trying to preserve this dramatic and beautiful landscape that we all came for in the first place. The increased pressure this has put on limiting tourists and restrictions in some areas comes as a reminder of the challenges from tourism that come at a cost and that we should always remember to leave the environment as we found it.

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Midnight sun 2015

Midnight sun 2015

After smothering ourselves in pure white silica mud, well-known for it’s skin care qualities including skin renewal and deep cleansing properties we explored the lagoon for the hot-spots of warm water. We were blown away by the beauty of the midnight sun and we vowed to return someday and make it a longer trip!

Blue Lagoon 2015

Blue Lagoon 2015

Fast forward 3 years to when that vow was kept to return to the island of Fire and Ice. It was our dream to explore the island by a camper van and CampEasy Iceland made it a dream come true. We took the Easy Big camper on an adventure of a lifetime and it was epic.

Day 1

Our flight was delayed by a day, which pushed our plans back giving us less time than planned and we couldn’t pick up the camper till the next day. We now only had 4 and a half days to explore this country as much as we could. When we arrived at Keflavik airport we travelled to the BMI bus terminal in the capital Reykavik where we stayed the night.

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Day 2

CampEasy were awesome enough to send a driver to pick us up from our hotel. We then waited in their very comfortable office watching videos of previous travellers on the TV which really got us excited to get going before a team member helped us get everything ready for the van and handed us the keys. CampEasy have this amazing idea in their office, it is a corner where on returning people can leave any food and other items (spices, washing up liquid etc) that they no longer need and new campers can pick these up. It saved us a fair bit of money because we were able to get all the pasta, rice and other essentials that we needed for free! It was such a fantastic idea, we loved it and also a great way to reduce waste.

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Our first stop was the Bonus supermarket  (drunk looking pig) to get the other items of food that we needed. We had brought some dry foods with us from the UK as it was cheaper. These were things like soup sachets, noodles, hot chocolate sachets, porridge sachets etc. Bonus seemed to be the best value for money.

The weather was beautiful and sunny and we were heading to the first of two waterfalls, Selijalandfoss. In comparison to 2015, the were so many more tourists, we aren’t fans of big crowds and only made a quick stop. Most car parks you have to pay and for this one we had to pay 700 Icelandic Krona. The sheer size and volume of water was incredible, we got a bit wet from waterfall spray!!

Skogafoss was the next waterfall and is famously featured in the movie Walter Mitty (one of our favourites). Flying the drone over the top of the waterfall was insane experience. The sheer volume of water coming over into the pool kept fogging up my lense. I must have wiped my lens so many times before the wind changed direction slightly to capture the moment. Being mesmorised by Skogafoss we had lost track of time and had one more stop before calling it a day. After making some dinner in the camper, we hiked to the Solheimasandure plane wreck before sunset (you used to be able to drive but there are concrete blocks in the track). We power walked and managed to do it in about 40-45 mins getting there just as the sun had dipped below the horizon. On the walk back the sky taunted us with a glimmer of the Northern Lights but the moon was almost full and bright which stopped a special show that night.

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Day 3

After being teased by a glimpse of the northern lights and full of excitement, I woke a couple of times in the night to see if they were there but the moon was just too bright. I set my alarm for sunrise to trek to the plane crash before the crowds. When my alarm went off I jumped out of bed and looked out of the window to see several groups of people already getting ready to hike to the crash. I switched tactics and decided to fly my drone from the carpark to the plane. It was a couple of miles away but fairly flat. I managed to get there safely and capture some footage of the plane with no one around and as I flew back to the car park I could see the groups of people on the trail with a fair way to go still, whilst I slipped back into bed.

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We made breakfast and cleaned up before heading off to a couple of black sand beaches and the small town of Vik. We made a pitstop at the local supermarket to grab a few snacks before hitting the road again and heading off to find some glaciers.

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We first aimed for one of the smaller looking glaciers on the map. We had to turn down a fairly rocky bumpy road but were eventually rewarded with the most magnificent glacier with crevasses running all the way through it, it was like a huge monster had dragged its claws along the ice creating massive beautiful scars. I was even tempted at one point to try and fly into one of the deep crevasses but Hannah was there to stop me loosing the drone. The light was falling quickly and we made our way into the national park to find a campsite and have a lovely warm shower and get into our comfy pjs.

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Day 4

We woke to heavy heavy rain and had to sprint to the camp site showers and back. Luckily we could leave the heating on in our van and so it was nice and cosy once we got back inside. That was the great thing having the camper that it was our refuge from the storms outside when the bad weather hit. After some breakfast we filled our water tank up and were on our way.

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We drove to the Ice fields where the glaciers would carve into the lake. We braved the wind and rain and watched the icebergs float by and also spotted some seals! I picked up a smaller lump of ice near the shore of what was probably a very old piece of ice. We then ran back to the van as we were now being battered by the weather. Hannah then drove the 10 minutes or so up the road to a larger ice field with huge icebergs which could make their way under a bridge and out into the ocean.

After about 10 minutes of being there the weather broke, the clouds blew over and blue sky appeared. We had lunch and then decided that we wanted to drive to a beautiful looking beach near the small fishing town of Höfn. However, we were a little bit annoyed at finding that we would have to pay to see this beach when we arrived. The weather was too windy to drone so we decided to head back west. That evening we made it back to the glaciers where we found an off road parking area with no signs saying we couldn’t camp. We closed the curtains, made dinner and jumped into bed.

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Day 5

I was always very wary of the new strict rules about no wild camping in Iceland that came into force in 2016 or 2017. This always led to a broken sleep as I imagined a police man knocking on our van door and slapping us with a big fine. This luckily never happened and after looking online and seeing plenty of people saying that in parking areas where there wasn’t any restrictions tended to be ok. I was lying there awake though and every now and then thought I heard another vehicle pulling in. Eventually one did pull in and I noticed it was a park ranger. We were right on the edge of the national park and I thought '“here we go!” I quickly got up and opened the curtains and made it look as though we hadn’t been sleeping there. After about 5 minutes they left and we quickly pulled away to escape.

Our plans for the day were to make it back to the town of Vic for a short pit stop to use the toilets, refuel etc. We’d heard of some hot springs in the river not far from the town of Selfoss. Instead of joining the crowds at the blue lagoon we wanted to find a more traditional way of relaxing. It was a little complicated to find, but after speaking to a few people we were on the right track. We hiked into the mountains for just over an hour and then we were rewarded with the most beautiful hot spring river with an incredible mountain back drop to relax in.

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The hardest part was being brave enough to get out of the water and stripping down in the middle of the mountains to put warm dry clothing on again. We then got caught in a hail storm on the way down the mountain and were totally soaked through and very cold. Our van was so inviting when we came over the hill and saw it waiting for us. We jumped into the back and got changed into some lovely dry clothes.

We found a lovely little campsite not far away for the evening and the owner even let us use the hot tub which we had all to ourselves. The rain picked up and once again we faced the same problem though of not being brave enough to get out because of the icy wind.

Day 6

We had passed by so many beautiful icelandic horses and found a herd on our way back to Reykjavik. Our morning was spent exploring the streets of Reykjavik snd trying out the local grub before heading back to the CampEasy offices to drop off our fellow travel companion.

We love this beautiful country and all it has to offer. It really is a photographers dream, if we return we would love to venture around the west fjords and find some less known treasures. The best thing to do is to hire a camper from a company like CampEasy and head into the wild.

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Scotland

"THE LAND OF LOCHS AND MUNROES"

Ask any traveller and they always have a place that calls to them and for us that place is Scotland. The fresh air and mist against your face, the vast Lochs and endless Munroes (mountains) always keeps us coming back for more. We love how we can drive 20 minutes to our local airport jump on a 55 minute flight and be on our way to the highlands within 30 minutes of landing in Glasgow. It is the perfect escape for us and we’ve often questioned why we just don’t pack up and move to Scotland.

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We have been to Scotland in the Spring and summer and this time we travelled to Scotland in the Autumn and it felt like the perfect time to travel to the Highlands. The weather was still very good and there were no midges at this time of year. On our recent trip we had 1 wet day out of 5, I would take those odds anywhere in the world. The autumn colours and moody skies created a colourful and dramatic backdrop. It really is a unique and wonderful place to explore. The Harry potter filming locations are fun to find and visit and if you have the time to visit Edinburgh it’s a city that has so much to offer.

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We wanted to be more mobile than some of our previous visits to Scotland. After our recent trip to Iceland where we had a campervan we decided that getting a camper for Scotland would also be the best option. We got in contact with Rockin Vans and they were willing to let us use their Midsize Motorhome (Fiat Ducato Swift). Their service was excellent and made the whole rental process a breeze.

The Midsize motorhome was the perfect choice for us being spacious but easy to drive. When we landed in Glasgow we were met by a member of the Rockin Vans team who dropped the van off to us. We then found a 24 hour Asda to stock up on food supplies and a quiet park nearby to pull in and sleep for the night. When we stopped it was super easy to set up for the night. We pulled all the blinds closed, set the bed up and we were all set.

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We woke up to a little wind and rain but as we were leaving Dumbarton, heading through Loch Lomond National Park on our way to Glen Coe it soon cleared up. Glen Coe is one of our favourite places on the entire planet. Nothing welcomes you to the Highlands of Scotland like Glen Coe does. We could spend months hiking and exploring this area as it is vast and feels endless once you get off of the main road. Down a single track we found a heard of deer. One of the Doe’s let me feed her grass while the others watched, the big Stag kept bellowing out a rutting call to another Stag that we could hear just down in the valley.

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We drove further down the road until we couldn’t go any further around the loch. Hannah took a nap for a while and I watched an adventure group finishing off a canoeing trip. Night was approaching and we didn’t really want to spend the night in our current spot. We didn’t really want to be driving our van on the mountain road after dark so we left to find a camp spot with a good view of Glen Coe for the morning.

We loved how easy everything was and after finding a great spot we soon had our dinner cooking on the stove.

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We had some wind and rain through the night and woke up to mist and low clouds over the mountains, it looked very moody and beautiful. We drove further into Glen Coe and hiked around where the 3 rivers meet. Once we hiked down from the road we were pretty much the only ones there. People stop off at the view points but don’t really go much further than than.

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Later that afternoon we drove and found the location where Hagrid’s hut in Harry Potter was filmed. It was a beautiful little spot over looking a loch. We managed to get back to the van just before a shower hit. We had beautiful weather for most of the day and didn’t mind the odd little bit of rain. Our van was warning us that our fresh water was low and so our mission became somewhere we could fill up the water tank.

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We found a small petrol station but the man said that their water was going to be turned off till Tuesday. He asked where we were going and we said Fort William. The man said the Morrisons petrol station in Fort William had water. The rain was now coming down pretty hard and then sun had set. We had a pretty fun drive to Fort William and when we arrived at Morrisons the staff at the petrol station were kind and moved their van to allow us to fill up with water. It was a slow process as we had to fill up a 10 liter jug with a small spout and slowly pour it into the storage tank. This would obviously be much quicker and easier with a hose. I decided to cut a hole in the top of the jug to stop gluggling and also the water wasn’t flowing due to suction. The hole made a big difference (sorry morrisons your jug now has a hole!)

We found a little spot just outside of Fort William to stop for the night. We’ve never ate so well on a camping trip. In Iceland we had a tiny single burner and the food there is so expensive that we took a lot of dried things to cook with us from the UK. On this trip we had cooked pies, fajitas, Chilli and other good stuff. It was just so easy in our Rockin Van.

We spent the evenings editing photos and watching season 2 of Making a Murderer (He’s gotta be innocent right?)

As soon as we closed the blinds in the van we forgot that we were in a camper and the world outside disappeared. We were nice and warm with our heating and slept well.

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Our plan for the day after waking up and having breakfast was to see Loch Shiel and the Glenfinnan Viaduct where they filmed several scenes in the Harry Potter films. The views across Loch Shiel were breathtaking. We love this area of Scotland and the Glenfinnan Viaduct is one of our top rated places to visit.

The sides of the mountains around the viaduct at this time of year are a burnt orange colour and look incredibly beautiful. Despite the good weather there wasn’t many people there which was great for finding clean back grounds in our photos. From walking around in the wet grass Hannah picked up a tick. This is the second time she has had one in Scotland. They are pretty easy to remove but its always worth checking yourself after walking through wet grass especially the longer grass.

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We had been in contact with Robbie from Portavadie resort and spa set on the shore of Loch Fyne. He had invited us to come and experience the facilities that they had. We were very excited as the remote setting looked like the perfect place to relax for a day.

We drove down from the Glenfinnan area during the night and found a mountain side spot to camp not far from Portavadie. The next morning we woke with beautiful views over the Lochs and after we had finished breakfast and packed up we headed to the spa.

We met Robbie and his team who showed us around before leaving us to relax and enjoy the beautiful setting and facilities. The downstairs section of the spa is open free of charge to the local residents which is a really cool idea. There is a large outdoor infinity pool overlooking the Loch and a couple of outdoor jacuzzis. There is also and indoor steam room and pool.

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We were told by Robbie that it would be fine to take some photos for this blog and Instagram. We are always very subtle and careful when taking our photos especially in this setting. As we were there early there was only one group of girls in one of the jacuzzis. We were able to quickly get some photos in the Infinity pool without disturbing anyone. There is a no photo policy at the spa which was not a problem as we had special permission. However, the girls saw us taking a couple of photos and for the next 30 mins they were jumping into the pool and taking photos of each other. They were disturbing a lot of the other guest (who had arrived by this point) and eventually someone complained. Just as we were taking a couple of photos in the jacuzzi one of the managers came and told us off. We tried to explain that we wernt’t causing the disturbance and that we had special permission from Robbie. At that point one of the guests said that “social media was just and excuse to be a peadophile” We were pretty shocked by this and quickly left the down stairs part of the spa for the limited access upper section of the spa (we are sure the guest didn’t understand the word he used as we were taking photos of each other as a married couple).

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The upstair section was beautiful with a steam and sauna room and a hydrotherapy pool. The views overlooking Loch Fyne were beautiful and the perfect place to sit and relax. We also had the entire place all to ourselves all day.

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We had a massage in the afternoon which was perfect. The heated massage table made us both fall asleep and we felt super relaxed after. It was one of the best massages we have ever had.

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We were invited for dinner at the marine restaurant over looking the harbour. The choices of meals on the menu had our mouths watering and we both ended up choosing the steak. The food was cooked to perfection and the staff were very friendly and made the whole experience enjoyable. We were both so full afterwards we had to be rolled out. We had had the perfect day at Portavadie. We loved our time there and both felt extremely relaxed and ready for our final day in Scotland.

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We woke the next morning to rain and lots of it. We had been very lucky so far that there had only been a couple of light showers over the previous few days. We had to drive back to Glasgow to catch our flight home. We stopped off a couple of times on the way to walk and get some photos. Our boots that Merrell UK had provided us had done very well with the conditions but eventually after one deep boggy puddle too many I felt my right sock starting to get wet. This was Scotland at its best. We stopped on the shore of Loch Lomond for lunch before heading back to the airport at our agreed drop off time.

We had a few hours to kill before boarding our flight and grabbed some food from the Tesco in the airport. We love Scotland, it is so beautifully rugged and it feels so vast. You really feel like you can escape when you head up into the highlands. Combining those feelings with the freedom of our Rockin camper van we truly could get lost and be a part of nature.

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