Blog 181 Trip 50 (a landmark) Houghton Mill National Trust site 3 with Pals, fab times in the sun
by keef & annie hellinger 16 May 2022, 6.23 a.m.
Motorhome trip No50 : May 13th- 15th 2022
NOTTS->Waterclose Meadows Campsite, Houghton Mill, Cambridgeshire ->NOTTS 187 miles
This was our third trip to Houghton & Wyton staying at the National Trust's Waterclose Meadows campsite positioned right next to the River Ouse, Cambridgeshire and the still working flour mill aptly named Houghton Mill, indeed on the last day I finally saw it working, which was the first time in the 3 trips we have made there with our wonderful friends Pete & Joy.
Rather alarmingly I saw a young lad in his small inflatable canoe being drawn ever closer to the waterwheel by its current with his granddad working hard in his somewhat larger canoe with his oar motioning the kid back from the current, luckily all danger was halted. Bit worrying though especially as the NT posted warnings said no canoeing or paddle boarding whilst the wheel was in motion, for obvious reasons.
Just want to bank the drum once again to say this is our 50th trip in our lovely motorhome affectionately known as the "Wendy House", that is quite a landmark and as I said in Blog 180 means in our motorhome we have now effectively travelled to Sydney Australia, back home again and back out to Sydney, that's some use of the van, we will never sell it we love it.
What is it they say, more than 270 years camping experience around the table for this group of friends but we are still loving it and especially if you get such good weather as we did, suntan lotion, shorts, beer, wine and good food all cooked outside (well mostly apart from brekkies) what more could friends want?
This was our third visit to Houghton Mill with our dear pals Pete and Joy. The previous visits were in 2018 and 2017 (blogs 127 and 119 respectively) so because of the pandemic and various other things it was almost exactly 4 years to the weekend that we were last here, we did manage our usual yearly camping jaunt with Pete and Joy in 2021 however when we returned to the Bulwick site in Northamptonshire (Blog 156)
Friday 13th May 2022 Pete and Joy arrived before us about 1 pm, we knew we would be late as Keef had to take pals Laurence and Yvonne back to their campsite at Castleton in the peak district first thing in the morning however, we still managed to arrive by just after 3 p.m. having packed final stuff, food etc before travelling.
We were on grass pitches 21 & 20. The grass pitches had increased in price from £23 per night to £35 per night which over 4 years is a 57% increase which feels massive, but I believe the site has moved from private hands into being owned and maintained by the National Trust themselves which might explain it, but then again may not, who knows, all campsites since the pandemic and increase in energy costs have had to raise their prices.
After arriving and being greeted by the friendly NT staff we drove around to the motorhome service point where we filled up with water and were greeted by Pete who strolled up to meet us, so nice to see them both again. The site was very busy and whilst the one amenities block is good with 4 loos and 3 showers and a dish washing area plus chemical waste disposal (note no privacy wash sinks) is probably not enough for a weekend such as this, indeed on the Saturday when I went into the Gents every amenity was full, but when you are on hols you don’t mind the wait #justsayin #hintsandtips
Pete and Joy had been down to town for a drink in the Three Horseshoes, a very nice pub we have sat in the garden in the sunshine before as well as having a nice pub meal inside when the weather was more inclement. Anyhow after we had set up we put out the table and chairs and had a lovely catch up, such fun #chinwag
For the evening meal Pete used the BBQ and we had some lovely chicken kebabs Greek style with salad and pita, followed by Greek yoghurt, with pistachios and honey plus if you preferred and I did the traditional cheese and bikkie feast with the lovely Black bomber Joy had managed to get, note to self, look up where I can buy this from Snowdonia cheese locally. All very yummy washed down with some alcoholic beverages obviously, tee-hee
Saturday 14th May 2022 We slept well that night, must have been all the fresh air. Didn’t get up until about 9. Pete and Joy were already out in the sun so took our table and chairs around to join them.
Had a lovely leisurely breakfast that Joy did of scrambled egg and smoked salmon with toast, marmalade, tea, and coffee, yummy. Then after reading, relaxing etc we set off for a nice leisurely walk to the Axe and Compass in Hemingford Abbots, walking through the Mill itself coming out by the mechanical lock (you don’t see many like this) and then across the beautiful fields that once were used for grazing cows but now had a mass of wild flowers in full bloom, looked just like a Monet painting in the sunshine, buttercups and purple clover. Just magical #blooms We then crossed the bridge over yet another tributary of the Ouse into the posh area of Hemingford Abbots watching a man doing stand-up paddle near the Boathouse dwelling which had its own electrics to hook up a boat, rather like you would a motorhome on a campsite. It was then along meadow lane with some fab huge houses, small cottages with immaculate cottage gardens and the old schoolhouse with its new thatching but sadly scaffolding obscuring its immaculate visage, I remember it from before. Many of the houses are thatched. Then it was turn left past St Margaret’s church with posters supporting Ukraine (too right!) and onto the Axe and Compass pub which we have eaten in before. A lovely place, went out into the beer garden, found some shade for the ladies and had a few bevvies and nice assorted paninis and a lot of chat, #fun #sunshine #sunburn #regulo9
After that we strolled back to the site picking up an ice cream on route. In the evening Keef cooked halloumi burgers on the teppanyaki outside which we had with salad and warmed French stick, followed by salted caramel cheesecake for those that wanted it and the traditional cheese and biscuits and of course a few good bottles of wine, what an evening. As the temperature dipped we retired inside P&J’s Bailey and continued until we could no longer keep our eyes open, Keef had been up at 4.10 am on the Friday and it was all catching up on me.
Sunday 15th May 2022 All up a bit earlier today, there had been rain during the night so not quite so nice, Keef did croissants and / or cheese and bikkies for brekkie in our van , a bit of a squeeze with both tables up but eminently doable. After this we all chilled until about 12.15 reading papers, books, kindles, and phones. Joy had kindly paid for an extension for both of us to stay on site until 4 p.m. just s we could park the vans there as nowhere in Houghton nor were we allowed in the NT car park. Keef went for a stroll along the tow path to take some snaps as well. We had both mostly packed up before we walked back into Houghton and the Jolly Butchers pub at the far end of town left from the town square for Sunday lunch, all tables in the garden were taken as the sun had now come out again. There was quite a delay on the meal, but they kindly gave us complimentary breads, oils and olives as a starter to keep us quiet, good stuff , it worked he-he. Huge dinners we couldn’t manage the sticky toffee puds sadly, he-he.
After that we strolled back to the site said our goodbyes, K&A did dunny man and rubbish and final pack up and then travelled back home, we got back soon after 4, P&J a little later due to some traffic hold ups on the M11.
All in all, a very pleasant weekend. After 3 trips now to Houghton we probably won’t return but it’s a nice place made much more special as we shared it with our old pals.