Wellies and waterproof trousers

We've had our first week-long campervan holiday in the UK, splitting the week between Cornwall on England's south coast and the Forest of Dean on the English/ Welsh border. There's really no chance of a sun holiday anywhere you can drive to in February and so a UK holiday was as good as anywhere, particularly with countryside as stunning as the Cornish coast and the Wye Valley.

I'm writing this on the last full day of our trip. We've enjoyed and endured a complete mix of weathers. We've had a day of blue skies and full sun, and several days of intermittent rain. We've enjoyed ourselves no matter what Mother Nature has thrown at us. Put on a pair of wellies, waterproof trousers and a coat and you can enjoy hiking or biking just as much in the rain as in the dry.

In Cornwall we stayed at Cosawes Park near to Falmouth. The campsite is immaculately kept and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it. It's only downside was the lack of footpaths or pavements in the locality and that you must walk in the road to get anywhere.

While there we enjoyed three varied days out in Falmouth, twice on our bikes and once on the bus. I don't recommend the bus which cost £15 for two adult returns, but we hadn't packed a bicycle pump and needed to visit Falmouth to buy one in order to use the bikes for the next two days.

We walked along the coastal path to Maenporth one day, laying on the beach in the afternoon sun for a mid-trek rest. If you're planning on doing that following a lot of rain I'd highly recommend wearing wellies as a large stretch of the path was a complete mud bath.

Another day we walked to Flushing on the other side of the river Fal, stopping for a pint in one of its two pubs before getting the ferry back across to Falmouth followed by another ferry over to St Mawes. We visited St Mawes Castle and enjoyed coffee in a cafe before hopping on the hourly return boat.

Our Cornish adventure also saw a visit to Pendennis Castle, the consuming of many Cornish pasties, and visits to numerous pubs. The best meal we had was a lamb curry at the Stag Hunt Inn at Ponsanooth which was every bit as good as the Trip Advisor reviews suggested it would be.

We left Cornwall in the driving rain for a four-and-a-half-hour drive to the Forest of Dean. Bracelands campsite is surrounded by trees on all sides and the whole of the surrounding countryside is criss-crossed with footpaths.

On our first day in the Forest of Dean we walked to Symonds Yat, a town divided by the river Wye, with a small ferry as the only connection between the two sides. We crossed the Wye on a suspension bridge near to our campsite walking along the river in countryside so beautiful it didn't feel like the UK at all. It was incredibly peaceful walking along the fast-flowing and wide river Wye, steep and wooded hills on both sides of us.

We arrived in Symonds Yat west at noon but decided to continue walking to where we could cross the river by road further north. We drank a couple of pints at the Saracen's Head on the east side of the town before our final return walk to camp.

We walked to Monmouth on day two, deciding the return walk was a little too much for one day and getting the bus back as far as Staunton where the White Horse Inn was a welcome distraction. This pub plays various roles in the village, also being its cafe and shop. It's cosy inside next to the roaring fire, and it's full of quaint furniture and antiques. From what we saw of the food being served around us, it would be a fabulous place to eat, particularly the burgers which were huge!

Today we've walked to Coleford where we enjoyed a pint in the wood-panelled bar of the Angel Hotel. It had started to rain when we came to leave. We each bought a battered sausage and chips and found a bus shelter as protection from the elements while scoffing it down. Our return walk took in the Gamekeeper's Inn which I wouldn't recommend. Service was ambivalent and the pub had no soul.

It's been an enjoyable week that showed us we can enjoy the UK just as much as mainland Europe. It's been cold outside but glimpses of sun and plants coming to life have demonstrated that spring is on the way. We even enjoyed an hour sitting outside the campervan on the chairs that have been stowed away since I can't remember when!

It's been nice visiting a little further afield in the UK than our weekend trips allow. But having said all that, we've got channel crossings planned for the rest of this year's holidays. The excitement of another country and certain guarantee of slightly better weather are likely to see France our holiday destination for the next few trips, and there's plenty more for us to see there.


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