Top of the Country and back 2018 “Glencoe”

ian ball
September 4, 2018

After our night of wild camping we walked back to Disco Doris loaded up and set off for Glencoe area, travelling north on the A82 from Crianlarich the scenery is stunning every mile you go, your breath is taken away at every bend in the road as you get a new view Scotland is such a beautiful place.

Progress was slow we had to keep stopping to take pictures the idea was to get to Ben Nevis.

We turned off the A82 and headed for Kinlochmore on the B863 following the shoreline of Loch Leven ,when out the corner of my eye I saw some deer ,pulling the car into a layby ,camera in hand I climbed a wall and slowly headed  back, downwind through thick vegetation stalking the deer trying to get as close as I possibly could.

I was so made up our first real close encounter with some Scottish Deer, we continued along the B863 and arrived at Kinlochmore where we found a trial heading for the Grey Mares Waterfall, parking in the car in the community car park off we set.

We headed back to the car, stocked up at the local coop and then decided to drive to Ben Nevis following the opposite shoreline of Loch Leven.

Arriving at Fort William we searched and searched for a campsite but it was so busy, to busy if I’m honest, no wild camping signs or overnight parking signs plastered everywhere ,  I made a decision to leave and get as close to the isle of Skye as possible before nightfall so we could wild camp in peace.

Off we set and we found the perfect place, pulling into a lay-by well hidden from the road with a large grass area to pitch the tents and we also set up a camp loo, we slept well that night on the shores of Loch Garry.

Next time we head for the Isle of Skye and beyond….

Top of the country and back 2018 “Welcome to Scotland”

ian ball
August 15, 2018

Leaving the rain of the Lake District behind us we entered Scotland and headed for the Loch Lomond area, the plan was to explore, so we parked up not free, later we would backpack up a mountain and wild camp for the night.

Loch Lomond is a lake in southern Scotland. It’s part of the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. The surrounding highlands area is home to red deer and oak woodlands. On the eastern shore, footpaths and cycle trails criss-cross craggy Ben Lomond mountain and the smaller Conic Hill. Across the loch, Luss Heritage Path winds through rolling countryside and ancient Luss village, with its stone cottages. At 36.4 kilometres (22.6 mi) long and between 1 and 8 kilometres (0.62–4.97 mi) wide, with a surface area of 71 km2(27.5 sq mi) this makes it the largest inland stretch of water in Great Britain by surface area.

It was really busy when we arrived ,coach loads of people so we had a coffee and lunch at the Coach House Coffee Shop
it was a well deserved break and you don’t have to pay for the toilet.. at the visitors centre a wee wee tax of 35 pence so make sure you have change.
After refreshments and bladder relief off we set for Falls of Falloch
Trout fishing

Time was ticking on and we had to find our mountain to sleep on ,next stop Crianlarich.Car parked for the night, the rucksacks packed off we set to find a overnight wild camping site.

Are we nearly there yet


camp for the night

Lily’s leg give up and i ended up with 2 rucksacks to carry and we camped just 300 metre’s shy of the summit, it was fine we had a cascading stream by us, and we also saw our first Scottish deer.

Next time Glencoe area …

Top of the country and back 2018 “The Lake District”

ian ball
August 14, 2018

We left the wonderful city of Liverpool and decided to stop off at Blackpool on the way to the Lake District to stock up on supplies and obtain some seaside rock and have some Fish and Chips, what can I say about Blackpool it is what it is a stag and hen hot spot, so enough said time to move on.

Blackpool Tower and Poundland ,fitting..

With the sights of Blackpool behind us thankfully, Next stop the glorious Lake district we arrived late so we head deep into the wilderness and sleep in “Disco Doris” this is when the heatwave up north ended and the typical British summer weather began…RAIN

weather was promising for a start

I struggled with rain on the lens

grim up north

Our first night we slept in the car and the heavens opened but hey no worries we are British if it ain’t raining we ain’t happy ….I have to confess our second night was in a premier inn, the warm shower and beds a lovely treat.

The plan was to park up at Wasdale Head and walk up Scafell Pike but the conditions were just awful, we tried two days on the trot but it just didn’t happen for us, if I had been on my own I would have walked it but I don’t think Lily would have enjoyed it and it could of put her off walking in Scotland . We still had a good time.

even the sheep tried to get out of the rain
British beach holidays 🙂 St bees

The Lake District was a wash out so we made the decision to crack on and cross the border into Scotland hoping that the weather would improve. It was a shame not to have done the things we wanted to in the Lake District but myself and Lily promised ourselves we would be back.

Heading North we enter Scotland………..and blue skies appear

Top of the country and back 2018 “The Mighty Reds”

ian ball
August 13, 2018

After coffee and cakes we set off under the Mersey, the ferry was not running due to the finish of the round the world yacht race, our eyes were firmly set on the football ground of the mighty Liverpool….. be rude not to.

We parked, which was free and made our way to the entrance to sign ourselves up for the tour which I have to say is well worth it the guides at various places are an asset to the club. The tour starts with the issuing of audio/visual devices that as you walk around give you information and history of the various locations you visit, first stop the top floor  of the Main stand.

After climbing the stairs to the top only one places to go, all the way down to pitch side.

Wow what a pitch you could play snooker on it, onwards to the dressing rooms home and away,

Its was time to head to the press conference room and give our in depth tactical description of the tour,

It was a great tour and I just hope I have converted my Daughter Lily to be a Liverpool fan….but no she cant have a season ticket ;), we also paid for the museum which is also a must Steven Gerrard has donated a wealth of memorabilia.

The rest of the museum has loads of vintage football memorabilia and cups 

Our time was coming to an end at Anfield a visit to the club shop, tops and other merchandised purchased it was with a sad heart we said goodbye to Liverpool and our quest would continue north to the lake district via a crafty fish and chip stop in Blackpool.

RIP to the 96 you will not be forgotten


I would like to thank everyone at Liverpool football club for an amazing day. Next stop the Lake District

Lake District..wet wet wet



Top of the country and back 2018 “U534”

ian ball
August 9, 2018


After a difficult year, I emerged from the dark tunnel and was  bathed in the light of freedom and adventure it was time to explore again, and introduce a new vehicle “Disco Doris” a Discovery 3 HSE.

This years summer trip was a simple trip, start at Westbury Wiltshire and travel to the most northerly point of main land Britain being Dunnet Head in Scotland stopping off at interesting places in between and  trying out some backpacking.

So off we set leaving Westbury on Friday 27th July, heading north towards the M4 and yes you guessed it, it was rammed but we were pleased when we joined the M5 north and it was pretty clear of traffic so with renewed vigour first stop Liverpool.

Arriving in Birkenhead quite late we managed to get a room at a Premier inn in the Wirral, we were lucky to get a room due to the Chester races being  on and Gay Pride in Liverpool. After a goodnights sleep first stop U-534 German WW2 submarine exhibition, we parked up and I realised I had no change for the parking meter, we located a petrol station a stones throw away with a cash machine, parking up I ran over to the cash machine to draw some money out my daughter joined me, I had asked to stay in car, she said I have locked the car……with the keys in the ignition and the engine running, OH NO with luck I’m in the RAC and they got us back in the car and we were able to get back to U-534.

On 5 May 1945, the U-534 was 2 nautical miles (3.7 km) north of the 56th parallel, and Nollau decided to form a convoy with two Type XXI U-boats, the U-3523 and U-3503, and continue sailing north on the surface of the Kattegat sea in an area too shallow for crash diving, when two British RAF Liberator aircraft attacked (G/86 George from Tain and E/547 Edward from Leuchars). The crew managed to shoot one bomber down, and nine depth charges from the bombing runs missed, but then the boat received a direct hit by a depth charge from G/86. The U-534 began to take on water as a result of the damage to her aft section by the engine rooms, and sank north-east of Anholt. The shot-down Liberator crashed 3 nautical miles (5.6 km) away, and all on board the plane were lost.
The U-534 had aboard a crew of 52 men; all escaped the sub, and 49 survived to be rescued. Five were trapped in the torpedo room as she began to sink, but they managed to escape through the torpedo loading hatch once the boat had settled on the sea bed. They planned their escape the way that they had been trained, exiting through the forward torpedo hatch once the U-534 had settled on the seabed and swimming to the surface from a depth of 67 metres (220 ft). One of them, 17-year-old radio operator, Josef Neudorfer, failed to exhale as he was surfacing and died from damage to his lungs. The other deaths were by exposure.





The U-534 lay on the sea bed for nearly 41 years, until she was discovered in 1986 by a Danish wreck hunter, Aage Jensen. Shortly afterwards, the wreck hunters’ group contacted Danish media millionaire Karsten Ree, who sponsored raising of the submarine, as rumours of Nazi gold caused intense media coverage. However, the ship turned out to contain nothing unusual.
The U-534 was raised to the surface on 23 August 1993 by the Dutch salvage company Smit Tak .

Transported to Birkenhead, England, in 1996, the vessel formed part of the Warship Preservation Trust’s collection at Birkenhead Docks until the museum closed on 5 February 2006. On 27 June 2007, the Merseytravel transit authority announced that it had acquired the submarine to display at the Woodside Ferry Terminal.
For technical reasons and to facilitate economical transportation to its new site, the vessel was cut into five sections, two of which were subsequently re-joined. It is now displayed in sectioned form to allow visitors better visibility without entering the U-boat.

Merseytravel said that preserving the hull intact would have created prohibitive transport costs. Engineers began a month-long operation to divide the U-534, using a diamond wire cutter, on 6 February 2008. On 10 March 2008, the sections, each weighing as much as 240 tonnes, were transported over several days by floating crane.
The U-Boat Story exhibition opened on 10 February 2009.

Next time under the Mersey to Anfield




Summer trip

ian ball
August 6, 2018

A full write up will be posted soon, for the meantime check out the Instagram  page.



Been a while

ian ball
July 1, 2018

Been a turbulent year due to a few life issues but the dark clouds have moved on and its time to start traveling and having new adventures unhindered.

The first update is that Kitty failed her MOT this year, not on to much track rod ends, O/S/F swivel joint, oil leak engine, yes it fell foul of the new MOT criteria and some wielding, I have had to move house and I don’t have the room to work on Kitty, I’ve had to make a hard choice……she has to go, Kitty will be missed but I have replaced her with a new vehicle Kitty 2 , a Discovery 3 TDV6 HSE , adventures in comfort.

Kitty 1 and the new Kitty 2

Got a few trips planned going to try and visit the places missed on last years calendar challenge ill keep you posted on them and any other adventures, going to add a roof rack so the roof top tent can be used if required but no majors changes.

Sorry its been a while.



National Trust Dyrham Park

ian ball
January 14, 2018

Day Visit to Dyrham Park which is part of the National trust, situated on the A46 north of Bath ,Dyrham house is set in vast undulating grounds and is famous for its Herds of deer.

Arriving at the car park you have two options walk down to the house through the grounds and hopefully see the deer or a shuttle bus service ever 10 mins to and from the house.

Being January its was bitterly cold but we didn’t let this put us off ,approaching the house look for the green head watching you.

The current house was built for William Blathwayt in stages during the 17th and early 18th centuries on the site of a previous manor house, with the final facade being designed by William Talman. It contains art works and furniture from around the world, particularly Holland, and includes a collection of Dutch Masters. The house is linked to the 13th-century church of St Peter, where many of the Blathwayt family are buried. The house is surrounded by 274 acres (111 ha) of formal gardens, and parkland which supports a herd of fallow deer. The grounds, which were originally laid out by George London and later developed by Charles Harcourt Masters, include water features and statuary.

In 1683, Blathwayt obtained by purchase the office of Secretary at War. This was originally merely the role of secretary to the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army but under Blathwayt the remit of the Secretary was greatly expanded to encompass all areas of Army administration. He effectively established the War Office as a department of the government, although he had very little input into the actual conduct of wars. Issues of strategic policy during wartime were managed by the Northern and Southern Departments (the predecessors of today’s Foreign Office and Home Office respectively). He was a witness for the prosecution at the Trial of the Seven Bishops in 1688.

“WILLIAM BLATHWAYT” portrait by Michael Dahl (1656-1743) oil on canvas, in the Great Hall at Dyrham Park.

He became a Whig Member of Parliament for Bath in 1693 (a post which he retained until 1710).

The house is heavily Dutch inspired with a great collection of Delftware Pottery.

this bed was purchased for a Royal Visit that never happened

With the tour of the house over, it was a small tour not sure if more of the house is open in the summer, we headed to the cafe for a coffee and some food.

The last port of call before leaving was the childrens play area and yes this is a nice climb up the side of a hill, with various thing for the kids to do and it also has a compost toilet!!!!!

We had a great couple of hours we saw the Deer being feed, the only negative comment i have is that the tour of the house did not show enough and was a very small part, not sure is this is due to the time off year.


ian ball
January 7, 2018

It been 6 months since I brought the RC1600 portable cooler, so I believe it’s time to give it a quick review.

When the planning started for the summer 2017 trip I a was in need of a silent fridge the 3 way option appealed (12v,mains,gas), this kind of covered all situations that we may encounter and the DOMETIC COMBICOOL RC 1600 was with in the budget I had set myself.

Powerful compression cooling and lightweight thermoelectrics, the Dometic CombiCool RC 1600 EGP gives you a multitude of options. Powered by 12 V supply from a vehicle, 230 V from the mains, or gas power in more remote locations, this cooler offers ultimate flexibility and freedom to travel. The robust cooler also excels with its perfectly silent absorption technology. A spacious cooling option with vertical space for 1.5 and 2 l bottles.

Whilst away on our travels we used it in gas, 12v and mains format with no issues what so ever, I found and this is stated in the instructions manual to start the cooler on mains for a couple of hours before switching to 12 volts it aids in getting the cooler to temperature quicker. When the cooler is in use it has to be level, I didn’ find this a real issue as most of the time you set up camp you need your vehicle level for sleeping, I did purchase some camping level ramps just in case.

Gas was only used when stationary for safety reasons if no mains was available and it did exactly what it said on the tin

12 volts,I have a leisure battery fitted to the LR and I have to admit this cooler can be hungry on Amps but most of the time we used mains power on the campsites we stayed at.

Mains no issues what so ever, currently being used in the home as a extra fridge with no problems.

All I can say is that the cooler will need to be level to work and that I’m 100% satisfied with this product.

RNLI College Poole

ian ball
December 22, 2017

Been a while since the last post, its close to Christmas so a weekend shopping trip to Poole, Dorset was organised not a camping trip to cold but we would be staying at the RNLI College in Poole, its a place I would never of thought of staying at but yes they have a hotel/conference centre its a 10 min walk from the train station and a short walk to the town centre.

Room with a view

We parked Kitty in the secure car park and she instantly made friends with these two chaps, so she was a happy little Defender. The rooms are beautiful with an amazing view, all unpacked off to Poole for a spot of shopping with a couple of cheeky ciders thrown in.




All shopped out and the light fading time to head back for a meal in the hotel restaurant, which I have to say was good, friendly staff good food.

After a goodnights sleep we set off for a day at Swanage with its little nik nak shops and of course the steam railway that was running Santa special’s. Swanage Railway



Next place on the bucket list was Durlston Castle that has a great little coffee shop, refreshed with a coffee and cake we explored the Victorian Castle and set off along the costal path to the light house

With time ticking by we decided to use the Bramble Bay Chain Ferry back to Poole which was cheap as chips.

To finish off it was a great weekend away The RNLI College its a great place to stay and an excellent base camp. Check out the links for more information.