This is the Results Show, Award show, 'Best Of' and 'Worse of' all rolled into one It took a lot of thought and I am only just completing it three years after finishing the trip. Having said that, it's a bit of fun and very subjective, so please don't take it as the definitive guide to what is best on the coast.
Executive Summary for those still working and pushed for time
On Easter Sunday 2007 we started going around the coast of mainland Britain. It was done in eight parts, returning home in between each. We finished three years and three days later having spent 100 days driving and covering 6512 miles, an average of 65 miles each day. We also drove 3120 miles between home and the start and finish points of each part. We enjoyed it.
Rules of Engagement
There have to be rules otherwise anarchy reigns, and without rules we might just have missed out the boring bits,
Rule 1: The journey will be clockwise starting and finishing in Southampton.
Rule 2: Where there are roads to do it we will stay within 5km of the coast and always use the nearest road to the coast even if it involves retracing our path.
Rule 3: Each segment of the journey will count if it starts from where the previous one ended. (ie can't do N Devon then a bit of the Cornish coast.)
The island question Rule 4. Summary of adjudication: So are we doing islands? Well no, its the coast of mainland Britain. But what if we want to? - ok if we want to but the mileage won't count. What never count? Well hardly ever. Is Mersea island an island? No, you've got to be able to sail around it at low tide. What about the Isle of Sheppey then? I give up. So rule 4 is we will not be doing islands unless we want to and we will sort out the mileages as we go.
The coast question (Rule 5) Summary of adjudication: So what happens when we meet a river? Well we will cross it by the first available and affordable means. What if the river is tidal, does that mean we are missing bits of coast? Probably, the Ordinance Survey define the coast including rivers up to the limit of their tidal range they also come up with a distance of 11,500 miles (which is going along the very edge ie not by road),. Look at the Thames, its tidal up to Teddington Lock 16 miles west of London. If we followed the OS ruling we would have to drive through places like Ipswich. Fair enough. Rule 5 is therefore first bridge, ferry or tunnel we meet, we cross over and sod the OS.
Rule 4, above, gave us the greatest problem when compiling statistics. We had holidays on the Isle of Man and Orkney on the way round. That was straightforward, those days and miles weren't counted. We also had mini breaks on Mull and Skye but in both those cases part of the mileage was shadowing the impenetrable mainland coast, so some island miles and some night stops were counted. On some parts the first or last night stop was while we were on or near the coast, so judgement had to be made on which we counted. Also we had to deduct miles spent driving to and from the coast to campsites our general rule was only to discount mileages to and from campsites that were a long way, say more than 2-3 miles from our route. I'm not a slave to statistics but how 'long did it take you?" and "how many miles did you cover?" have to be questions that we could answer honestly.
Coast miles travelled: 6,512 miles This is probably the most important statistic and even though I have tried to be as exact as I can be it is subject to minor errors.
Days driving the coast: 100. You would think this would be an easy total to come up with, well it isn't. For a time I made it 102 and for a while I had added it up as only 96. In the end I had to list all 130 days that we spent away from home and categorised each of them. It is only of academic interest but nice that it came to the round 100. Anyway what we finally come up with is:
Days driving: 100. Days mainly travelling to start or finish: 8. Days on holiday: 22. Average miles per day on the coast 65
Nights away from home: The same applies to nights away, remember we ended up in our own beds 8 times, giving us: Nights on coast: 95. Nights enroute: 5. Nights on holiday: 22
The Eight Part Picture Summary
I'm aware that in illustrating this section if I used start and finish points it would be mostly pictures of Bridges so I've tried to use ones that are illustrative of the whole part but generally not used in the actual Blogs. If you want to stop reading this and read the actual blog I have included helpful links.
Part 1 Redbridge Causeway (Southampton) to Lulworth (Camp) 91 miles of coast 64 miles out and back 1 driving day no nights. We started at 11.18 am 8th April 2007 Link to Part 1 Coast Part 1 2007
Fawley Power Station - World air-speed record
Part 2 Lulworth (Camp) to Avonmouth (M5 bridge), 878 miles of coast, 120 miles out and back, 8 coast driving day, 7 nights on coast, 9th to 17th November 2007. Note that the seven month gap between part 1 and 2 was due to us spending the interim period holidaying in Denmark and Ireland as well as many Motorhome rallies and meets. Link to start of Part 2 Coast part 2a 2007
Part 3 Avonmouth (under M5 bridge) to Preston, 935 miles of coast, 292 miles out and back, 15 coast driving days, 15 nights on coast, 26th April to 11th May 2008 Link to start of Part 3 Coast Part 3a 2008
Part 4 Preston to Erskine Bridge (Glasgow), 791 miles of coast, 668 miles out and back, 13 coast driving days, 12 nights on coast, 7th to 29th July 2008. Note dates includes nine days on Isle of Man. Link to start of Part 4 Coast Part 4a 2008
Fleetwood - Longhill Point (Ayr)
Part 5 Erskine bridge (Glasgow) to Forth Bridge (Edinburgh) 1924 miles of coast, 900 miles out and back, 30 coast driving days, 30 nights on coast, 2nd April to 14th May 2009. Note dates include seven days on Orkney and three extra days each on Mull two on Skye and a rest day at Poolewe. Note also that I've used the old county names in the photo labels. Link to start of Part 5 Coast Part 5a 2009
Near Craignish Point (Argyll) - Ardnamurchan
Loch Alsh Nr Skye Bridge - Castletown Harbour, Caithness
Tarbatness - Pettycur
Part 6 Forth Bridge (Edinburgh) to Sutton Bridge (the Wash) 770 miles of coast, 628 miles out and back, 12 coast driving days, 11 nights on coast, 3rd to 14th July 2009. Link to Part 6 Coast Part 6 2009
Seahouses - Saithes
Part 7 Sutton Bridge (the Wash) Dartford Crossing (Thames) 605 miles of coast 322 miles out and back 11 coast driving days 10 nights on coast, 3rd to 13th March 2010 . Link to Part 7 Coast Part 7 2010
Morston - Southend
Part 8 Dartford Crossing (Thames) to Redbridge Causeway (Southampton) 528 miles of coast 138 miles out and back 10 coast driving days 9 nights on coast, 2nd to 11th April 2010. Link to Part 8 Coast Part 8 2010
Folkestone - Portslade
The Start and Finish and some 'Corners'
The Start and Finish 50° 55' 12" N 1° 28' 42" W (11.18, 8th April 2007 and 13.49, 11th April 2010)
Farthest South Lizard Point (14th Nov 2007)
Bottom right Corner/Farthest West in England: 50.06598N 5.71255W Lands End Car Park Toll booth (15th Nov 2007)
Farthest West in Wales: 51.87840N, 5.3088W Lifeboat station near Rhosson (3rd May 2008)
Farthest West: 56.72668, 6.22554W Ardnamurchan Lighthouse (11th April 2009)
Top left corner: Cape Wrath (26th April 2009) You can't drive yourself there, the closest you can get in your own vehicla is Balnakeil near Durness
Farthest North: Dunnet Head (6th May 2009)
Top right corner: Duncansbyhead (6th May 2009)
Farthest East: 52.481183N 1.762761E The Ness, Lowestoft (6th March 2010)
Bottom left corner: We were tempted to say Dungeness (6th April 2010) but think instead the honour should go to a point just off the B2052 at the North Foreland, Cliff Promenade 51.37066N 1.44829E (4th April 2010)
The Best (and worst) of:
Best Coastal County
This gives me another chance to publish some more photos that didn't make it to the main parts of the blogs. Nominations are:
The winner: Wester Ross. From Applecross to Achiltibuie there was scarcely a moment or a view that did not delight although I have to say that many of the views that we enjoyed in the North of Wester Ross were looking across into Sutherland,
Town or City most wanted to revisit
On this coastal trip brief visits were the norm and the larger places needed more time to explore than we could spare. Nominations:
- North Berwick
- St Davids (Went back in 2012)
The Winner Dundee. We did Discovery but out of Jute Jam and Journalism only managed Jute plus I would like to cross the Tay bridge on a train.
Most Surprising Place
- Port Talbot
The winner Redcar. After passing the steel works and going on to the large expanse of concrete that forms the northern shore car park we weren't expecting much, but the RNLI museum, the prom, the rugby club and even the local Morrison's all exceeded expectations
Best Tourist Attraction Only places that we paid to go into on this trip are included in this category so no Gormley's 'Another Place' (part 3b) or Blackpool Tower (part 4), also missing are places off of our route like Dunvegan Castle (part 5a). It also means that this list is even more subjective than others as it only reflects our interests. Nominations:
- Eden Centre (part 2b)
- Ravensglass and Eskdale railway (part 4b)
- Inverewe Gardens (part 5b),
- North Berwick Bird Life Centre (part 6),
- HMS Trincomalee, Hartlepool (part 6),
- Chatham's Historic Dockyard (part 8).
The winner is: North Berwick Bird Life Centre but the Chatham dockyard came a close second.
Most Tacky Place.
To be honest these sort of places can have a 'charm' of their own and you will note that argueably the tackiest of them all Blackpool hasn't made the list, this is because of its redeeming features, the tower, the lights the trams etc. Nominations
- Chapel St Leonards
The 'winner' Leysdown-On-Sea. We didn't notice any redeeming features and we didn't take any pictures. Luckily as its on the Isle of Sheppey you won't go there by accident! Even its own website hardly makes a case for going there.
County Least Impressed with.
Its a pity to be negative about a whole county when I know that there are places within that are very good but this is taking an overall view and trying not to be swayed by one particular bad spot that blights the area or the weather when we passed through. Nominations are
- Essex. It has the poorest place in the land, Jaywick, plus Canvey Island, Foulness and Bradwell.
- West Sussex.It is full of height restrictions and gated estates.
- Caithness Flat and uninteresting
The 'winner' Essex. It was out of season, the weather was unremittingly dull and too many places were abysmal. There were few redeeming features but lets hear it for The Naze and Maldon.
Each day's journey was not preplanned and we only started looking for somewhere to stay towards the end of each day so we stayed at a lot of sites that we would not normally choose. Nominations are:
- Tresowes Hil, C&CC CS Nr Helston (part 2b)
- Sophia Gardens, Council Run Cardiff (part 3a)
- Ravenglass C&CC (part 4b)
- Garlieston C&CC CS (part 4b)
- Riverside Village Holiday Park Independent Nr Bradwell (part 7)
The Winner is: Garlieston, which that year won the best CS award.
Best Wild Camp
Most of our wild camping was in Scotland and again we didn't have anything in mind when we were on each day's journey. We haven't included the excellent wild camps on Mull, Skye and Orkney. Nominations are:
- Toscaig Sand, near Applecross Part 5b
- Latheronwheel Harbour Part 5c/d
- St Margarets at Cliffe (Patrol Monument). Part 8
The winner Latheronwheel Harbour. See for yourself! Quiet, not overlooked and comes with a picnic table waste bin and bench.
Place most wanted to revisit It will come as no surprise that the nominations mostly feature in other categories
- Wester Ross, just about anywhere
- Pembrokeshire North and West of Pembroke. (we have already been back)
- The Gower. We have been twice before and it rained both times.
- North Yorkshire between Redcar and Whitby
The winner Wester Ross, hoping to make in back in 2013
Best Day With a hundred days to choose from it clearly would be difficult to make a short list but we eventually got it down to fifteen before choosing the best three. So what makes a best day? Weather has to be good, scenery has to impress, places must be interesting, overnight stops either side good. What spoils that perfect day? Getting wet or cold, boring drive, unpleasant or unsafe camping, height barriers. I'm going to list all fifteen that made the short list because each of them has such merit. Oh and none of the perfect days on the IOM, Mull, Skye or Orkney are included.
- Day 5 12 Nov 2007 Part 2a Polperro, Gribben Head, Fowey, Doubletrees farm near Par.
- Day 16 01 May 2008 Part 3a Barafundle Bay, St Govan's Head, West Angle Bay.
- Day 17 02 May 2008 Part 3a Pembroke, Dale, Martins Haven, Newgale.
- Day 48 27 Jul 2008 Part 4b Ayr to Port Glasgow.
- Day 61 12 Apr 2009 Part 5a Fascadale, Ockle, Ardtoe, Arisaig, Rhu.
- Day 66 17 Apr 2009 Part 5b Plockton, Bealach na Ba, Applecross.
- Day 67 18 Apr 2009 Part 5b Torridon, Bealach na Goithe, Diabeg, Redpoint.
- Day 68 19 Apr 2009 Part 5b Charlestown, Gairloch, Melvaig, Rubha Reidh, Poolewe.
- Day 71 22 Apr 2009 Part 5b Dundonell, Ullapool, Stac Pollaidh, Culnacraig.
- Day 72 23 Apr 2009 Part 5b Reiff, Inverpolly, Kirkaig (bookshop), Lochinver, Stoer LH, Clashnessie bay.
- Day 90 11 May 2009 Part 5d Aberdeen, Gourdon, Montrose, Auchmithie, Arbroath.
- Day 92 13 May 2009 Part 5d St Andrews, Anstruther, Pittenween, Elie Ness, Kincraig.
- Day 99 06 Jul 2009 Part 6 Bamburgh, Seahouses, Amble.
- Day 102 09 Jul 2009 Part 6 Redcar, Staithes, Whitby, Fylingdale.
- Day 125 6 Apr 2010 Part 8 Dover, Folkestone, Dungeness, Rye, Winchelsey Beach.
In reverse order the winners chosen by Doreen were:
Third Day: 99 6th July 2009. Puffins were the highlight of the day and to be fair only half the day had good weather.
Runner Up: Day 67 18th Apr 2009. This day had fantasic wild camps to wake up to and to go to sleep in at each end of the day. Sunny all day with breath taking scenery. (it was my number one)
Winner: Day 66 17th April 2009. The Pass of the cattle in sunshine was fantastic, quite the equal of famous passes in Norway, it was sunny all day. Plockton was picture postcard perfect. A great day as the photos show. Note that when I was cutting the list down to 15 I almost just selected the sequence of 17th, 18th and 19th of April as the three best days without really considering the rest.
The winning Day
100 nights away in a small van could have been hard on our loyal companions, Jake and Lottie, who deserve to have a special mention I hope they enjoyed all those walks and beaches.