Miles driven: 74
Overnight: Redesdale Arms, Otterburn (Britstop)
Well we're finally off - although not travelling too far today as I knew an early start was unlikely. All the final packing and prep of the van was finished not long at 1pm so we headed on our way out of Edinburgh and down the A68, which is one of the more scenic routes from Scotland and into England. After a pleasant couple of hours of driving through the Borders we ended up at our first nights stop, the Redesdale Arms which is just outside Otterburn. It's an old coaching inn and is also a Britstop - a location (mostly pubs & inns) where you can overnight for free in a motorhome in exchange for eating and/or drinking there. On arriving a little after 3pm we popped in to let the owners know we were there and check where to park, before I had a nice pint of an American craft ale they had and Fiona had a pot of tea. After that we retired to the van as travelling makes Fiona sleepy (in fact most things make her sleepy) so she wanted a nap before dinner.
Despite being at the end of the car-park I was still just about able to get onto the free wi-fi, which allowed me to do a bit of blogging etc. I'm also experimenting with powering the laptop from a spare leisure battery we've got with us. It's the old 75AH one (although not that old as we bought it in France last year) we had before upgrading it to the current 120AH AGM one. The plan is to top it up whenever we're on hookup then, via a 300W inverter, use it to keep the laptops charged without having to run off the main leisure battery. We had originally planned to run with 2 of the 120AH AGM batteries but ran out of time to get the 2nd on supplied and fitted so we're giving this a go as a compromise.
Taking it easy over the hilly roads gave 23.9mpg - which is about as good as I've had from our 2.4TDi Ford Transit based motorhome in all the time we've owned it (usually I'm in more of a hurry!). The weather isn't great - a bit overcast all the way down then raining a fair bit once we arrived, however it's just nice to finally get away!
The evening meal at the Redesdale was very decent - they do quite a lot of different pie options and we both went with the pie of the day, which was chicken, bacon, leek and mushroom - and that was excellent. Chased down with another of the American craft ale's was a nice end to the day.
Next to us in the car-park was the support for vehicle doing a "100 climbs challenge" (https://100climbschallenge.org/) which involves 5300km of cycling to do all the climbs in Simon Warren's book, "100 Greatest Cycling Climbs" (I have the book but haven't done many of the climbs in it yet). As they're averaging 110 miles of cycling and 2,800m of climbing each day I think they deserved their meal and a beer or two!