After picking up our washing, roast beef & ginger sponge supplies (HUGE thanks to Mom, Dad & Hilary) we bade Yorkshire another teary farewell and started off on the next leg of our adventure.
We made our way down to Cambridge (via Lincoln due to the dreadful traffic) & were rewarded with a flypast from a Spitfire. We overnighted in the gloomiest spot ever on the campsite at Cherry Hinton but set off for Dover the following morning in high spirits – only to arrive around 6 hours too early for the ferry!
Unable to work out the car parking charges in & around Dover we headed up the hill out of town. A mysterious looking tunnel beckoned and within a couple of minutes we were at Samphire Hoe which has been created from the Channel Tunnel spoil, adding 89 acres of new land to the UK!
It was a great place to while away a couple of hours waiting for the ferry (if a bit windy) & I’d highly recommend it. We even understood the parking charges!
The crossing to Dunkirk was very smooth and the following day we headed to Bavay on the Eastern border. The town is so near the border that we were driving through Belgium for the most part. The roads there were awful (we’ve been thoroughly shaken but not stirred) and had our defrosting roast beef flying through the air & covering us and the van with gravy!
Happily the aire wasn’t full (my main worry about travelling in August) and was located just outside a walled park. Bavay is most famous for the Roman Forum remains which were discovered after a 1940’s bombing raid. Once again we’ve past loads of WW1 cemeteries, particularly along the Menin Road.
With the sun shining we left Bavay for our next stop at Lac du Valjoly near Eppe Sauage and WOW – what a gorgeous spot! The lake is a huge reservoir with a leisure resort skilfully built around the edges with swimming pools, boating, archery, horse-riding & forest adventure stuff. We were camped next to “Poney Club” overlooking paddocks and the lake. To stay it was stunningly beautiful is a complete understatement and it was completely free!
It was a fantastic place to spend a couple of days. When we arrived on Tuesday it felt like we had the place to ourselves there were so few people there. It was a Public Holiday in France on Thursday though and the place was jumping with families all coming together to spend the day or weekend there – just magic!
Three days of complete relaxation later we once again found ourselves travelling through Belgium and then through the Ardennes region. We passed through Chimay (famous for beer) and past a local market which was selling all sorts of livestock. Sadly John has vetoed the idea of a van rabbit.
We were originally going to stopover at Stennay but the aire looked really full so we carried on to Dun-sur-Meuse. Yet again we were next to water, this time at a “Port Plaisance” on the banks of the River Meuse. Pulling up next to the small boat jetty we were able to plug into the electricity & had use of a wc, shower, washing machine & wi-fi all for a bargain 7euro a night!
We spent the weekend here, visiting a “Brocante” (car boot/flea market) on a drizzly Sunday morning. I fell in love with a gorgeous wooden table (a bargain at 5euro) and all the enamel jugs and milk churns – if only we had a trailer. The Brocante was held at the municipal campsite based around another lake and a chap was performing on a “flying-board-thingy” over the water – it was brilliant!