5th November 2019
A fine and chilly day dawned early in September when I (Zoe, aka @letsgoanddofunstuff) and my sidekick - Wanda the Wonder Pup - set off out of Bristol heading for the Brecon Beacons in the comfort of a snazzy Bailey of Bristol Alliance 59-2 motorhome. We were armed with kitchen cupboards full of tea and biscuits and a plan to go and do fun stuff with fun people in fun places.
I’d spent the previous 3 months cycling across Canada and so was mainly looking forward to spending some quality time with Wanda, seeing more of my local world at a pace slightly quicker than 30kph (especially hills), not worrying about bears eating me or my food, catching up with adventurous friends and drinking ALL the aforementioned tea. A decent cup of builder’s is yet to appear in Canada it seems.
The change from bike to #Moho on ‘The Alliance Adventure’ kicked off with picking up a friend Libby and her pup, Pip - having promised them both lots of walks, runs, swims, and sheep to stare at longingly in Wales for the next 5 days.
Wales, and therefore I, duly delivered! The weather was, well, ok it was weather. We had some sun, some rain, some hot and some cold. All of it. Our route started with the Sugar Loaf in the Brecons and after walkies/plentiful sheep staring, we found a lovely spot on the side of the hill with a great view of the rainy Brecons.
Luckily we’d stocked up with more than teabags in town. We spent the first evening catching up and getting used to #moholife - we were both new to motorhomes and so had lots of fun with the swivel seats, finding handy USB sockets and figuring out the best places to store things. And then moving them again, and again and again when we found more hidey holes.
My general plan for the three weeks was a figure of 8 out of Bristol and then head south to Dorset. And so after the Sugar Loaf we headed west, further into the Brecons to Llyn y Fan Fach with its beautiful lake and surrounding mountains. A walk, quick dip in the chilly glacial lake and MANY photos later, we warmed up and headed to a campsite near town where we promptly spent a couple of days/nights exploring the surroundings on foot.
I’d never heard of the Vale of Neath and Waterfall Country - I’m late to this party by the sounds/looks of it as whilst it was FAR from crowded, there were plenty of others enjoying the great weather Wales was kicking out. Running/walking around, hanging around the four (main) waterfalls and dipping a toe or getting soaked behind - the easy-for-no-one-to-say - Sgwd yr Eira was a day well spent for all.
Come Friday afternoon and it was time to say goodbye to Libby and Pip and draw the first loop of the ‘8’ back Bristol. The night was spent with fellow #vanlifers after a night at the Bristol Old Vic watching a suitably LetsGoAndDoFunStuff/’Alliance Adventure’ on-brand show, Wild Swimming. Which I highly recommend.
Saturday morning dawned and Wanda and I were joined by our friend Ade at Clevedon Marine Lake for a quick dip alongside other excitable swimmers, some wet-suited and some more hardy skin swimmers, brrrrrr.
Swimming always makes me ravenous so we promptly headed for late breakfast at Scarlett’s, a great little restaurant, popular for their plentiful cake options with cyclists and dog-walkers, opposite the pier. Luckily for me Ade remembered his wallet as mine was in one of the many handy cupboards, handy indeed.
I like to have an event to look forward to/train for every couple of months minimum and had participated in the Purbeck running festival a couple of years previously, a weekend of events of various distances. It’s a beautiful run, along the coast and back inland with incredible views of the coast, countryside and Corfe Castle. This time I had entered the 16-mile trail race and arranged to run with Charlie, a PT (personal trainer) in the local area.
After a beautiful drive down - including my favourite section of the drive near Maiden Newton (with great views either side of the road especially at Golden hour), I caught up with other friends and Charlie. Charlie had support me once before on a 24 hour run and although he was aware of my previous 3 months of cycling (no running… there’s a clue) he was still happy to run with me, LUCKILY for me! It was genuinely the second hardest thing I’ve ever done (the hardest being the first day of a Himalayan 100 mile stage race).
I’m usually pretty active and lead a life peppered with running, swimming and cycling but never training specifically for one thing - however, it seems this race isn’t best prepared for on a bike for me… It was a hot day and I struggled from mile 4 and was supported the rest of the way by Charlie who I now owe again, BIG TIME.
A couple of days of recovery consisted of much tea and vegan food at Happy River Retreat in Wareham and then Worth Matravers - again, one of my most favourite places in the world. I still managed to get in a couple of amazing sea swims (braved without wetsuits this time), not just because of the beautiful Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door but also because of how much it helped the MAHOOSIVE blisters that had appeared thanks to my lovely soft feet not enjoying the 16 mile pounding they’d taken previously.
Wanda also enjoys joining me for a bit of swimming - she’s now 11 with bad arthritis in her front paws and so I think cool temperatures and weightlessness is a relief for her. One of the cupboards was taken up purely with towels and blankets - ok, and treats - for her so I could Wanda-proof the Moho with this in mind!
I then met up with the lovely Nina and her dogs for a couple of days for some swimming and dog walks, where we ended up staying in a couple of Pub Stops - a great app that enables you to find cheaper places to overnight - sometimes with electric and water, sometimes just a safe and nice field with a view!
With the first part of ‘The Alliance Adventure’ done and dusted, it was on to part two and time to stick to the coast and head towards Dartmoor.