Gibraltar Farm, Silverdale, June 13


 Gibraltar Farm, Silverdale, June 13

Alison was away for the weekend at our Static in Sedbergh with some girl friends (it was, as I predicted, carnage, apparently) so I decided to have a weekend away with Boris on our own in Absinthe. But where to go?

Initially, I was going to head to Yorkshire (why wouldn’t you?) and specifically Swaledale to see the hay meadows but after some thought I switched to the Red Rose county and the lovely village of Silverdale.

There’s a saying that you never need to ask a Yorkshireman where he comes from because ‘ere long he’ll tell you anyway and I make no apology for my pride in the White Rose county, even if I was born very close to its northern boundary. I often awake in a sweat imagining what life would have been like if we’d lived 10 miles further north on the other side of the Tees. Heaven forbid, I’d have been a borderline Mackem!

Still, and without betraying my G.O.C routes, there is an area of Lancashire that I love. Silverdale and Arnside are hidden gems just off the M6 and across the water from the Lakes. This is limestone country and therefore much like parts of the Dales, so maybe that’s why I like it so much.

Silverdale it is then, but where to stay. Holgates own a number of very nice sites but they’re £29 per night and not really what I was looking for on my own. A Google click took me to Gibraltar Farm, a place I’ve cycled past loads of time (usually on our way to the Wolf House Cafe) but never actually visited. I recalled that my business partner (and almost friend!) told me on a cycling trip that he’d stayed there as a boy.

I was able to get a spot in the camping field (no electricity though) and so I set off about 1pm to drive the 45 minutes to the site. Once you leave the M6 at Carnforth, the route is made up of beautiful country lanes and with the sun shining I was expecting a great weekend.

I was shown to my pitch by the campsite steward; right next to another T2 on a spot facing Morecambe Bay – perfect! Or was it? The couple in the 1979 Kombi next door were second time arounders from a relationship point of view, and had 4 children with them; a couple of teenaged girls, a boy about 10 and a baby who’s not yet started crawling.  They were from Liverpool and I was entertained by that lovely Scouse sing song lilt all weekend, as they guffawed together, rang all their friends and family to tell them what a good time they were having and were even kind enough to sing along all to most of the songs on their radio. To be fair their children were very polite and well behaved although Junior wouldn’t settle and cried a bit. Maybe they should have brought a cot or a pram so they could take him for a walk. I understand that he was to sleep on the floor of the van whilst the other 3 children occupied a pop up tent.

Anyway, back to the site. It has great views of Morecambe bay and there is a pub in Silverdale with a beer garden, which Boz and I occupied for half an hour on Friday afternoon. We walked for 90 minutes and it was so hot, I was worried for Boris’s health. He was panting profusely and I hadn’t taken any water with me. When we got back to the van he was fine though and slept for the rest of the night until we went to bed proper. Now Boz is a brilliant dog, and we wouldn’t change him for the world but he’s a bit of a pain when he shares the bed in Absinthe.

Even though there’s loads of room, particularly when there was only me, he insists on sleeping on top of us, or so close it’s impossible to move. We’ll have to sort something for the 3 weeks in France and Spain in the summer or I’ll end up sleeping outside!

In any event we were up quite early (Junior scouse had woken up) and after breakfast (buttered crumpets, no jam – I’d forgotten to get some!)  we set off about 11.30 to head to Arnside, a distance of about 4 miles going over the top of Arnside Knott. The walk was great, across flower meadows, beside the coast and then through National Trust woodland before dropping down onto the Promenade at Arnside.

Gibraltar Farm Campsite in the distance
Almost like Yorkshire…

The route from Gibraltar Farm to Arnside

As we walked along the Promenade into the village we saw a couple of fishermen and a young couple trying to catch dabs and flukes (the local name for flounders) the traditional way by walking barefoot in the water feeling for the fish on the sea bed with their feet. I stopped to watch for a while but they didn’t have any luck.

Feeling for flukes

We spent a couple of hours in Arnside on the Jetty people watching – there were lots of folks from Wigan strangely, and a few from Manchester. The train passed over the viaduct on its way to and from Grange over sands – a lovely trip on a day like this.

We set off back and after the Knott passed Silverdale cricket club – they were playing and what a place for a cricket pitch.

The club is just over border between Lancashire and Cumbria, on the Red Rose side.

We settled down on Saturday with a bottle of red and some crab ravioli before retiring to bed to read David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas (a bit strange but I’m getting into it).

We were all packed and away by 11 on Sunday morning but instead of going home I headed to a cove I’d spotted on Friday. We were amongst the first there so could pick our parking spot, get the kettle on and have a few biscuits. I did some Camper Chat with a few people and sat chilling for 3 hours watching the tide come in. It really rushes in here, a fact being used to their advantage by some kayakers and canoeists (sorry, I’m not sure of the difference).

Er, that’s not mine Dad, our bags are green..

All in all a good weekend but one which would have improved markedly had I not been on my own – next time I’m dragging Mrs B with me!

Things I’ve learned this weekend:

Crumpets are better with jam ( I bought some from a woman in Arnside selling things for the street kids of Brazil – seemed appropriate really)
Forgetting to turn your fridge down when you get to the site will result in no electricity by Saturday morning
Milk in a carton in a switched off fridge turns to yoghurt
Miniature schnauzers are not so miniature when they’re sharing your bed
Scousers really can talk for England
I’m better in a double act than going solo
Boris isn’t prepared to share the dogs water bucket in a pub beer garden – cue fight with cocker spaniel
Some parts of Lancashire are quite nice

There’s a full set of pics here: Flickr and a video:

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