14. Blue Van Woman



I have spent most of my life living on the flat land of the Fens.  There’s not a hill in sight, you can see the horizon for pretty much all of the 360 degrees and we lived with the constant threat of flooding.  Imagine what it was like for me to venture into the Yorkshire Dales.

I booked into a campsite at Kettlewell and headed off.  As I got closer the hills got more terrifying.  To me, they looked like mountains.  My van is fantastic and tackled them happily.  I think that because its an automatic it just drops down the gears as needed.  The views were absolutely stunning.  Great expanses of green and trees.  And such fantastic changes in the horizon.

The site was all grass, the warden told me that really its just for tents but that they are ‘allowed’ to take a few small vans.  This changed the dynamic quite a bit.  We were not at the luxury end of vast motor homes, we were the real campers; tents, small vans and simple living.  Of course, people came over to see my van (I hadn’t fully appreciated just now unusual it is) and they were suitably impressed.  I love that, it somehow validates my decision making.

I’m getting quite slick with the setting up now and was soon sorted for the night.  I set off for a walk to get my bearings (and finish off my 12,000 steps for the day) and found the pubs and got an idea of where I was going to start from on the next day.  I largely don’t worry about getting lost these days – the apps I have on my phone tell me where my car is parked!

I cooked my meal – OK – it was baked beans, grated cheese and chopped ham – but it was warm and I could sit outside and eat it.   I never set out on my journeys without numerous books and the sheer luxury of doing nothing but reading is fabulous.  No TV, no washing to sort out, minimal chores to do – its great.

And then the bikers arrived.  Three men on their push bikes.  I learnt that they were off road bikes (or maybe mountain bikes) and they did explain the gradient that they had scaled – I nodded wisely and said ‘gosh’.  What was fascinating was watching them make camp.  From what seemed to be little pockets on the bikes they produced tents and camper stoves and made a brew.  The tents were incredible – tiny little things that just about covered their sleeping bags.  One of them put his bag on the grass and just popped up a little frame to cover his head.  That’s serious camping – but he slept well – I know this because he snored all night.

The next morning I set off on my trek.  It was steep and I had to work hard and the stiles required a degree of mobility that I was very glad I had been able to retain.   They also required you to be thin – because if you weren’t you would get stuck in them.  I saw only one other person on the higher slopes.  Luckily there were more people on the lower reaches – luckily because I followed them as my phone was nearly out of battery – note to self – don’t run the 360 tracker and share the route on another app – there really is no need!

When I got to the pub I asked for two gin and tonics – the kind bar man said ‘do you want a double?’ I explained that I wanted two – each with a full tonic in them.  (What do you mean that you’re not supposed to rehydrate with gin?  Worked for me!).  He started a tab.  I felt like I had done at least half of the Camino walk.  I got a grip, had some food and went back to my van for a lie down.  The bikers had gone – leaving not a trace.

I left the next morning, I left the magnificent hills and returned to the flat lands.

Another perspective gained on life.


Written by Marion, hosted by Carrie 

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