The Black Forest 

Our five week tour of Germany was coming to an end and the Black Forest beckoned. Above is Schiltach, pretty much in the centre and a good few hours drive through tall pine trees. Apart from the lack of gateaux it’s exactly how you would expect…

Of course the famous gateaux was invented elsewhere and was named after the local cherries. The pizza and wine were delicious though.

On the way we’d stopped a few nights at Bad Worishofen. Because of the spa and mainly because we were snowed in (absolutely nothing to do with the naked spa night every Saturday, honestly)

Ravensburg en route to the Forest also had a marvellous Christmas market…..

And then upwards to Gernsbach at the top of the Black Forest. Our stops have been lead by weather and car parks which have meant some great lesser visited towns. The lovely folk of Gernsbach asked several times why were there! More beautiful buildings, amazing views, friendly bars and Christmas lights of course…

A prankster did, however, put a dead fish up our waste drainage pipe somewhere in the area…. made us jump then laugh!

Van behind in overnight fish stop…

And now to France via Switzerland  (quickly as the weather was blizzard at best).

Merry Christmas, Doz and Elaine x 

Castles, lakes & snow..

Fairytale castle anyone? Well, if you could see it through the blizzard Neuschwanstein was impressive. It was also tourist central and overrun with camera wielding groups (like us just minus a dog)

As we could barely see the castle for the snow, never mind the beautiful alpine view, we decided to leave before getting stuck in the car park. Shame as it was quite a building.

We’d spent a couple of busy (and stein filled) nights in Munich before heading down to Lake Tegernsee and the small town of Bad Wiessee. We’d treated ourselves to a few nights in a hotel and, being Germany,  I was even allowed in the breakfast room. The lake and surrounding hills were stunning and everywhere so Christmassy. We loved it.

Dogs in Italians, bierhaus’, taverns and hotels – me and a couple of terriers in Munich! 


It seems that every town in Germany has a shiny, bauble filled Christmas market. And every market has lots of sausage stalls driving me nuts (so far I have managed to steal two much to Elaine’s embarrassment). Above and below is Ingolstadt…

Top left is the yellow Old Anatomy Building, the 1818 university setting of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. As is obvious Ingolstadt also had a rather pretty, and busy, Christmas market. 

Bavaria is one handsome town after another. Donauworth, above, was our next stop, it’s motorhome parking is free so more to spend in the very accommodating bars. Dogs can go almost anywhere in Germany and are made to feel most welcome.

Above is Nordlingen, a random town we chose but see what I mean about handsome towns… It has a circular medieval wall you can walk all the way round, countless timber houses, lovely hotels and, of course, a wonderful Christmas market. More hot wine and sausages…… 

Before we’d got this far we spent a noisy night in a car park in outer Nuremberg. Chosen because it was close to Luitpoldhain a lovely park that was once the site of huge Nazi rallies. Reclaimed and full of dogs and chatting locals (quite rightly)

 Dogs in Mexican restaurants – one…

A lurcher in Germany 

This is Dresden and what a splendid skyline it has, a credit to those who rebuilt the ruins after the war. The main centre is beautiful and hard to capture on photo. Below is my favourite as the brick detail shows the restoration and use of original brick (dark) on left and speckled with new…

On the way to Dresden was Colditz and being a bank holiday the empty ex-prison and deserted town was particularly eerie.

Heading southwest for an hour we stopped the night in a countryside campsite. Half shut down, heavy rain and a vague feeling of being in Deliverance (the man was very nice, it was just the darkness, wood axes and animal skins!) 

So swiftly onto Bamberg to baroque and breweries. The small town has 13 micro brew houses apparently. Obvs a night in one was essential.

Dogs sleeping in carpark – one collie and me #hardcore 

Bruges to Germany

There are few places that live up to their hype as well as Bruges, it’s rather lovely. Even on a cold damp day in November the cobbled streets and canelside houses are wonderful to potter around. Chocolate, bars and dog friendly boats, the perfect town!

We headed eastwards through Belgium towards Germany. The roads in Belgium are quiet and the traffic polite and non-rushed. Pretty, clean towns, friendly people and an impressive cycle network. All very civilised (well the bits we saw anyway). 

Skirting the sprawl of Brussels we visited Waterloo and the famous battle site. Napoleon behind me and Wellington in front. And, yes, we did play Abba when driving off….

A few hours east and we stayed the night in a holiday park in the middle of nowhere (although it was questionable whether anyone had holidayed there since 1978). Then onwards to Germany and Cologne, home of P’s grandmother Hedwig.

There is a caravan site just down the Rhine within an easy cycle along the river. I snoozed, they viewed. Elaine was quite disappointed with the cathedral as she’d glimpsed it briefly at night when interailing and always had a romantic (ie delirious from lack of sleep) vision of it. She much prefers Litchfield.

Unfortunately it was also raining cats and dogs by now so few photos. The next day’s 4 hour drive was also wet and a little hairy, the Germans generally drive very fast, even in sleet down an 8 percent Autobahn descent!

This, however, is the dramatic Schloss (castle or any large edifice) of Kassel and it’s beautiful grounds. A very handsome town. 

Dogs on site – none as we overnighted in the Schloss car park. It’s common in German towns so not as scary for us wimps.

Ben Nevis southward…

This, obviously, is not Ben Nevis but the Falkirk Wheel. A splendid and quite eerie feat of engineering. Sadly we didn’t see it move but it is a lot larger and more impressive than you can photograph.

Ben Nevis was covered in cloud for the 3 days we were there so sadly we didn’t see that either. Apparently this is quite normal. The Nevis range (Glen being above our van) is still arresting though, and rainy… very rainy.

The drive south took us via Glencoe and it’s rolling hills and dramatic valleys. And so another beautiful commute to our next home on the shores of Loch Lomond. The loch is the largest so more like like a sea than a lake. 

Staying in Balloch allowed us a train trip to Glasgow, a gritty, artistic, cool city. Elaine had been years ago but it’s no excuse for her lack of photos, grr.

Next were the Kelpies in Falkirk….

Fabulous 30ft sculptures but as it was raining again we moved on. I was also refusing to pose. Moffat was our last stop over in Scotland before leaving. A really nice old woollen mill town.

We loved Scotland. It was hard going at times due to the weather but always friendly. The Highlands are spectacular and the coastline ragged… just needs a few more dog friendly pubs and castles! 

Then just before we zoom south to Le Shuttle here I am on duty at Hadrian’s Wall! 

Dogs on site – none as no other vans. Lots of crazy animal noises at night though *shudders* 

Scotland’s NC500

From Stonehaven we headed further north along the coast to the shores of the Moray Forth. Burghead, a small fishing port for dolphin spotting…

This was to be our last stop off before driving most of the North Coast 500 route (as the obvious road round the top of Scotland is now dubbed). Next would be more fruitless dolphin spotting at Fortrose and a few hours drive up the A9 towards Dunbeath. Caravan sites were starting to close for the season so our stops were determined by where we could spend the night. Wild camping was possible on the west but not so easy on the east or top (especially for a larger van with an unreliable security dog) 

John O’Groats was a big tick moment but there was little there bar a non dog friendly cafe and some souvenir shops. Well it was October and you could see the Orkneys at least. 

The very top of Scotland is where the route really starts to become interesting. The roads are narrower and freight free and the scenery opens out. From Dunnet Bay to Durness the craggy winding coast was spectacular. But by far the most dramatic section was to come, south from Durness to Ullapool via Loch Assynt (with Ardvreck Castle in the photos). Around 70 miles of empty roads through the beautiful Highlands. 

It was ridiculously picturesque and exactly how you would expect the highlands to be. This section also had a lot of smaller and safer wild camping points for the more adventurous than us. It’s hard going at times but so worth the effort.

Dozza in Scotland

Toot toot we made it…

Our route up from Northumberland took us past Edinburgh (which they have previously visited) and over the newly opened Queensferry Crossing. Quite a bridge and not one Elaine could drive over without vertigo induced histrionics. Needless to say she was in the passenger seat.

Heading up along the North Sea coast our first stop was St Andrews for a few days. A small town that has everything; a castle, sandy beaches, a university, historic golf courses and, most importantly, dog friendly pubs. We liked it a lot.

A couple of hours up the coast, our next destination was Stonehaven…

The caravan site was on the larger bay and as normal we pitched up only having booked one night but ended up staying a week. This was fortuitous as it was also our first need for a Kwik Fit thanks to a puncture. Here I am offering my much appreciated guidance…

Stonehaven a lovely old fishing town, but by far the best thing around is the dramatic Dunnottar Castle. It was captured by William Wallace in 1297 and visited by Mary Queen of Scots and James VI in the 16th century. Whatever it was truly breathtaking…

Whitley Bay to Berwick

This magnificent beach is Seahouses and was absolutely perfect (apart from the howling gale blowing sand in your face!) In the distance you can see the imposing Bamburgh Castle…..

So 6 months in and our planned circumnavigating of the UK is finally less zigzag. We’ve worked our way up north to the fabulous beaches of Northumberland. Whitley bay was lovely, albeit bad weather, and Seahouses a gem of a town. Sadly due to high winds we couldn’t take the boat to the Farne Islands but I did meet up with some northern pals for a chin wag….

Lindisfarne was pretty but to be honest compared to Bamburgh it was a little disappointing. The most exciting part was the tide coming up over the causeway.

And then up the coast to the surprisingly splendid Berwick upon Tweed. An attractive old town with a castle, 3 bridges and quaint pubs. We spent several days mooching about and following the Lowry trail.

All in all Northumberland, and N Yorks before, gets a big paws up for beaches and pubs. 

Dogs on site – losing count, everyone, yep everyone, has a pooch. 

Oh and the daily robin visit had been back for a while so Elaine is pleased! 

Whitby, Runswick Bay and Staithes

I didn’t find Dracula nor did I see any black dogs but Whitby was fab. The abbey and it’s 13th century remains are high on the hill overlooking, well, everything…

Fish and chips and tourists abound, even on a murky Monday in September. It must be packed like sardines on a sunny Sunday!

The caravan sites were very busy so forced to move on we stayed at the very picturesque Runswick Bay just up the coast.

The weather was better and it was truly stunning. Needless to say the beach is amazing for a zoom and the one pub in the bay is doggy friendly.

A decent walk along the Cleveland Way path takes you to Staithes, a once thriving fishing village and now seemingly holiday cottages. Again very dog friendly and well worth a mooch as it’s an unusual looking village.

So a quaint and interesting section of North Yorkshire but a distinct lack of me so here’s a live action photo. It’s a dog’s life…