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 > Trip report: Short trip to Wales (with predictable weather)

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sabconsulting

High Wycombe, UK

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Posted: 09/08/11 12:54pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We didn’t actually get a summer here in England. However, when that happens (seems to be every year now) people always say “ah, yes, but we will get an ‘Indian summer’ in September". So with that promise ringing in her ears Sally booked several days in the Gower peninsular in South Wales for early September.

For those of you not familiar, Wales is the bit sticking out of the western side of the British Isles and in general it looks straight out South West into the Atlantic. Wales is hilly, and like Ireland is very green – there is a reason for this – as we shall learn.

We set out from home Monday morning after rush-hour – the truck still shows the mud of Salisbury Plain from the last trip – note it is sunny with some cloud:

[image]

Rather than take the six-lane highway we chose to take the two-lane roads and have a more scenic journey, stopping for lunch just after the Welsh border.

Happy to be going away again in the truck camper:

[image]

The route we were taking is called the ‘Heads of the valleys road’ as it crosses the heads of ‘The Valleys’ of South Wales, home to much coal mining in years gone by:

[image]

We detoured over the hills and along a couple of these valleys:

[image]

Many small towns and villages were built in these valleys, though times were very hard after the coal mines (‘pits’) closed – notice the change in the weather:

[image]

Rain-laden winds cross the North Atlantic and hit the hills of Wales with predictable results.

The housing in these towns is typically small terraced houses – rows of two-storey houses, often originally with only two rooms upstairs and two downstairs (called a ‘two-up, two-down’). You can see the rows of them:

[image]

On arriving at the camp ground the out-buildings looked very tidy, and some had been converted into cottages for rent:

[image]

The actual camp ground is a field on a cliff overlooking a sandy bay and the sea. An upper sloping part of the field is reserved for tents while the flatter bit is for RVs with electric hook-up. There were 2 rows – one at the front of the field directly overlooking the sea, the other at the back. Everyone wants a position on the front row, so they were all taken when we arrived. The camp warden said we should be able to move to the more scenic, but less sheltered front row the next morning when others left.

[image]

Below you can just about see us in the background conveniently close to the shower / toilet block (we don’t have a bathroom in our camper):

[image]

For those with a front row seat this is what they see from their RV:

[image]

An unofficial path leads down from the camp ground to the beach:

[image]

For those who debate how easy it is to park a dually in a tight spot:

[image]

Looks like the wind always comes from the same direction:

[image]

Who lives in a house like this?:

[image]

Being Wales you are never far from a castle (I think the Norman invaders found the Welsh quite a handful to control – there are castles everywhere):

[image]

[image]

Sally found a more overgrown path leading back down to the beach:

[image]

As we walked back up to the camp ground the heavens opened and soaked us. It then continued to rain most of the night. The real problem was the wind. As soon as we went to bed it got up to a force 8 gusting 9 (in yachting terms) – that is gusting up to 50 mph – it may have been more. The whole night the wind howled around the camper rocking the whole rig back and forth. It sounded like it was going to rip the roof vents out.

I considered putting the jacks down to stabilise us, but for travel I unbolt them and attach them horizontally so it would have been a lot of work. Plus I rather the truck suspension do its job than the jacks and their mounting points taking the punishment – a bit of rocking won’t damage the truck suspension.

The result was we didn’t sleep at all until the wind died a bit at 06:30 the next morning. I checked the tie-downs at 05:00 and I could barely stand against the wind and rain once out of the lee of the camper.

We were glad we were on the more sheltered back row, not right on the cliff edge. Talk in the toilets the next morning was that some tents were blown away, I also noticed an awning attached to a TT had been shredded. We aren’t very heavy, but we are half the surface area of the TTs in the camp ground and twice the weight. It felt like if it wasn’t for the tie-downs the wind would have sucked the camper right off the truck. How the TTs stayed in place through the storm I don’t know, but they did.

Once the wind had died down and we had got a couple of hours sleep we went for a walk. Below the camp ground were what I guess were little vacation shacks or beach huts, with strange mutant topiary:

[image]

Sally’s “single shoe hypothesis”: Sally noticed that at regular intervals along the highway near to where we live there were single shoes. They were always men’s shoes and always just one, not a pair. Were one-legged shoe-buyers visiting the retail outlet up the road from us and discarding the unneeded shoe on the way home? But here on the beach was another shoe, and a child’s shoe this time – what does it all mean?:

[image]

Those TTs sure look vulnerable when seen from the beach:

[image]

The next bay along had a beautiful beach:

[image]

We battled against the wind and headed for the sand dunes:

[image]

Hard to believe this is the back of a sand dune – is that an oak?:

[image]

Behind the dunes is a sort of swamp (thankfully no biting critters here though):

[image]

[image]

From here we climbed up to yet another type of ecosystem:

[image]

[image]

Met some local girls – a bit hefty – no super-models here:

[image]

The weather Tuesday night was much improved over the night before, so we actually got some sleep. There was no big agenda for Wednesday, so we enjoyed the luxury of staying in bed until around 09:00. My alarm clock has been set to 05:15 for many years and I am usually in the office by 06:30 if I’m not travelling. Maybe age is starting to catch up with me, but where-as years ago I couldn’t stand sleeping in late, I now look forward to the opportunity when it arises.

Tuesday we didn’t move the camper from the camp ground, but today we decided to take it out to explore further than we could on foot. We drove to the other end of the hill we walked along on Tuesday:

[image]

Certainly easier driving to the top rather than walking:

[image]

We were passed by this – when you count the truck it is on could you class it as a truck camper?:

[image]

I think this is called Arthur’s stone (as in King Arthur):

[image]

On to Rhossili Bay – a lovely long beach – as you can see it is packed with families enjoying the balmy summer weather:

[image]

At the south end of the bay is Worm’s Head, but the tide was coming in so we couldn’t walk out to it:

[image]

Over looking this is a small coast guard lookout station. My Aunt used to man (or should that be woman) this part-time in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Lovely views, but a bleak spot in winter:

[image]

The cliffs show their structure:

[image]

A rare event in Britain – we actually found another couple with a truck camper:

[image]

The owners have had it several years, but only now the husband has sold his business and is semi-retired have they had the time to use it. Unlike us he purchased it as a single unit (truck and camper together) – the truck is actually registered as a motor home rather than a pick-up, but that did mean that the people who sold it had already uprated the rear suspension.

European compact trucks may come with a 2500 lb payload, but you don’t get much load bed to put all that payload in unless you get a very basic spec single-cab. We have a Super-cab and the load bed is shortened to less than 1.8 metres. The truck on the right is a double-cab and to keep the same overall length has an even shorter load bed than ours, hence most of the weight of the camper is behind the rear axle. We still have stock suspension on our truck and it seems to work quite well, but with the CoG of a camper on a double-cab version their suspension upgrade must be pretty necessary.

Their camper also looks very high compared to ours. We have that domed moon-roof Shadow Cruiser used to fit which means the general roof line can be lower because you are typically standing in the raised moon roof section. They also have what looks like a yacht’s life-raft sat on the roof making it even taller – “In case of unexpected flooding exit through the roof hatch and pull the orange tape to inflate the raft”.

They also have the luxury of a bathroom. If we want to use the toilet then it is a case of “look the other way love, oh and you might want to open a window”.

We stopped for some fish and chips – “Sorry mate, fish will take 15 minute. You want a cup of tea? Sorry, we’re out of tea too” – ah, quality service. So sausage and chips it was and a bottle of Coke – Mmmmm, nothing like food served in Styrofoam:

[image]

We drove round to the middle of the beach. Being typical British weather it was mainly dog walkers who had braved the wind and rain showers. A word of warning to dog walkers – make sure you have your glasses on when you reach for the dog lead in case you get the wrong thing – “Here buoy, come-on buoy” (sorry - that only works with the British pronunciation of buoy):

[image]

There were some half-hearted attempts at surfing, but the cold and poor waves weren’t encouraging. One guy had the right idea though – why battle with the wind when you can use it:

[image]

[image]

Is this the beach equivalent of ‘road kill’?:

[image]

So back to the camp ground. I was hoping we would be early enough to get one of the spots on top of the cliff now the wind has reduced, but our friends in the other truck camper beat us by 10 minutes and took the last slot, so we returned to our old spot – handy for the toilet.

We were planning to stay until Friday, but I can’t face any more of this weather, and the Suzuki dealer left a message saying they had sourced yet another type of speedo cable for us to try on the Samurai so we return Thursday morning so I can pick up the part and get it fitted before the off-road event this weekend.

I filled up with diesel before the trip, and topped-up the tank on Wednesday afternoon. By then we had done 240 miles and used 35 litres of diesel which is pretty good (though that 35 litres still cost me £50 – I think that is 80 US$ at current exchange rates.

Finally we cross the Severn Bridge back to England:

[image]

Steve.


'07 Ford Ranger XLT Supercab diesel + '91 Shadow Cruiser - Sky Cruiser 1
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Sue Bee

NW suburbs of Chicago

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Posted: 09/08/11 01:04pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Beautiful. Even with the weather being, well, very typical [emoticon].

Wales is indeed lovely. Thanks for sharing.

silversand

Montreal

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Posted: 09/08/11 01:11pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Quote:

We didn’t actually get a summer here in England. However, when that happens (seems to be every year now) people always say “ah, yes, but we will get an ‘Indian summer’ in September"


Whadayamean? Aren't "they" transplanting the entire campaign grape crop from France & now olive trees to England (no kidding) ? [emoticon]

Reading through your trip report now...

On edit: "with strange mutant topiary:" Hah hah! I've got to remember this one [emoticon] Very nicely done! Breathtaking scenery. Wishing you and your lovely wife many great expeditions with your truck camper!

Cheers,
Silver-


Silver
2004 Chevy Silverado 2500HD 4x4 6.0L Ext/LB Tow Package 4L80E Michelin AT2s| Outfitter Caribou

weymard

NORMANDY

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Posted: 09/08/11 01:32pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Beautiful England (oh sorry : Wales !! [emoticon]) Thanks for sharing


FORD F250 LARIAT 4X4 DIESEL 2008
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France, Normandy

sabconsulting

High Wycombe, UK

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Posted: 09/08/11 01:44pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

silversand wrote:


Whadayamean? Aren't "they" transplanting the entire campaign grape crop from France & now olive trees to England (no kidding) ? [emoticon]


Thanks for the comments Silver.

Ha ha - I don't know much about growing grapes / olives. We have been having some nice weather much earlier in the year, but our summers have gone wrong. I found a vineyard just up the road from our house, you can visit and taste / buy wine. So I'll have to try some and let you know what it is like. I just struggle to see us competing with the levels of sunshine France gets, but maybe a tasting at this local vineyard will prove me wrong.

Steve.

RobertRyan

Australia

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Posted: 09/08/11 01:45pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Sabconsulting wrote:

European compact trucks may come with a 2500 lb payload, but you don’t get much load bed to put all that payload in unless you get a very basic spec single-cab. We have a Super-cab and the load bed is shortened to less than 1.8 metres

Steve, they either get a Utility tray in Australia which allows you to exploit the 2500-3000lb payload or some run an extra lazy axle.
[image]


Steve, I went to Wales fairly recently and there was glorious sunshine everywhere and very tight narrow laneways that they call roads. Very pretty part of the UK. Must admit I was taken back by all these English people walking past and not talking English!!! My Grandfather originally came from Wales and he originally spoke Welsh. Strange to see this in our Hotel Lobby.
[image]

* This post was last edited 09/08/11 02:06pm by RobertRyan *   View edit history

sabconsulting

High Wycombe, UK

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Posted: 09/08/11 03:43pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

RobertRyan wrote:


Steve, they either get a Utility tray in Australia which allows you to exploit the 2500-3000lb payload or some run an extra lazy axle.
[image]


Now I like that set-up [emoticon]

Steve.

joerg68

St. Ingbert, Germany

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Posted: 09/08/11 02:52pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hey, Steve, good to see you get some use out of your camper :-) Thanks for the great pictures - it looks like you had a nice trip and a good time.

Best wishes,
Joerg


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Camper_Jeff_&_Kelli

Seattle

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Posted: 09/08/11 03:18pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Beautiful. The wind and rain create their own sense of adventure. I'll go camping just to be it a good storm. Thanks for the great trip report and narration.
J


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Tiger4x4RV

Inland Empire, Southern California

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Posted: 09/08/11 03:24pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for sharing a part of the world that I have never seen. Gorgeous scenery!

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