The weekend started like they all should. Early. Thursday evening to be exact.
But first of all it’s admission time.
We abandoned her. Yes, we abandoned our beloved home from home on four wheels.
We left her all alone in a car park overlooking Ivinghoe Beacon and the Vale of Aylesbury. Well, not quite alone, there were a bunch of other cars in the car park for company along with some wallabies and something that looked like a cross between a rabbit and a deer. We callously picked up our overnight bags, locked her doors and headed off to our luxury camping pod, nestled between the reindeer and the rhinos. We may have mumbled some kind of apology as we wandered off.
Rosana had booked us an overnight stay at Whipsnade Zoo, but we’d be glamping in nordic pine rather than enjoying Betty Bus’s Germanic charms.
The deal goes something like this. Rock up at the zoo around the time everyone else is being chucked out. A small group of you then get the zoo all to yourselves for the evening, guided by a couple of enthusiastic keepers, enjoying a nice meal along the way. We’d expected a zoo to be pretty noisy overnight, but no, it’s actually very quiet. The next day, before the zoo opens and after we’ve been fed our breakfast we go and feed some of the animals. Then we’re released to enjoy the rest of the day at the zoo just before it reopens to everyone else. Sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it?
It was a fantastic experience.
We eventually felt guilty enough to rescue poor Betty Bus and take her for a drive around the zoo.
With the day at the zoo almost over we had a decision to make – what should we do with the rest of the weekend? Clearly we had some making up to do to our poor abandoned van, so a road trip was a given, but where to go? It’s this time of year that grey seals give birth to their pups, little balls of white fluff. Pembrokeshire has a large grey seal population, so we headed west.
The traffic slowed, then came to a halt. It was the the M4 on a Friday evening after all. Flashing blue lights whizzed past. Eventually we started moving again, but it was clear we weren’t going to hit the west coast tonight. A quick change of plan saw us heading for the Brecon Beacons. After chatting with a few people at the Adventure Overland Show we’d been inspired to try some wild camping. Proper wild camping, not service stations like we often use of long journeys. We knew of a few places that might be suitable and we rolled into one of them at around 10pm in absolute pitch blackness. The quality of an old T4’s headlights and reversing lights made parking fun, but we settled under the shadow of Pen Y Fan and a sky of countless stars.
Saturday dawned with beautiful blue skies so we plotted a route we hadn’t done before and headed into the hills.
Fantastic views in all directions, but we still had a decision to make. Stay in the hills for another day of walking, or head to the coast and try and find some seal pups? We decided on the seals, so headed west, spending another night wild camped, this time in a little cove by the sea.
We’d found some information on boat trips around Skomer Island that would be good for seal spotting. While we could see the little bundles of fur from the cliff tops on the mainland, the boat trip got us much closer to the seals.
A perfect long weekend of wildlife and wild camping.