Storms Kyle and Ellen – We’re outta here!

We’ve just got back, a day earlier than planned, from our summer holiday in our caravan in North Wales.

Unfortunately, I hadn’t fixed the awning issues we had previously, but I did have new o-rings and silicone gel for the water pump.

So, what could possibly go wrong?

Greenacres Here We Come!

We had a fully serviced pitch at Haven’s Greenacres Holiday Park.

Pitched at the Campsite
These fully serviced pitches are a generous size and provide electricity, water, and grey waste.

We’ve stayed at a fully serviced pitch at Haven before, and this pitch didn’t let us down.

However, due to the Covid-19 restrictions, not everything is operating at Haven.

Kyle came with us

Unfortunately, Storm Kyle came with us.

We arrived in heavy rain. Set-up the awning in heavy rain. And I tried to fix the water pump, in heavy rain.

It was so wet, my waterproofs were no longer waterproof, with water running out of my sleeves.

The rain eventually stopped long enough for a quick walk down to beach.

Windy sand dunes at the beach
There are large sand dunes between Greenacres and the beach at Black Rock Sands

Greenacres has direct access to the beach, with a short walk up and over sand dunes, to the large sandy beach of Black Rock Sands.

We’ve stayed at Black Rock Sands campsite in the past, which is located just around the corner, but this time we wanted the additional facilities of Haven.

That night, Kyle decided to attack our caravan awning. With the slow air leak in one tube, Kyle won the fight and we woke up to a wet and flattened awning!

Our caravan awning collapsed after the storm
Storm Kyle vs our slowly-leaking awning. Kyle won!

No damage done though 🙂

Fixing the awning – do the valves need tightening?

Outwell advised me that a slow leak may be due to the valves needing a tighten, or muck stuck in the valve stopping it closing properly.

I checked the valve and could not see or feel any dirt blocking it. However, it did need tightening with the valve spanner.

A few pushes of the air pump and the awning was back up.

The awning re-inflated
The awning was soon up and running again.

Did it fix the slow leak? Unfortunately, no. However, the leak may have slowed down, so I need to investigate the valve a little more as that might be the problem.


We had brought with us a few things to do in the sea: stand-up paddleboard, inflatable kayak, and bodyboards.

The waves were two strong for the first two, but perfect for a spot of bodyboarding.

Sunny day bodyboarding
Sunshine and good waves 🙂

The beach at Black Rock Sands is very shallow, and so when the tide goes out, it is quite a walk to the water.

There are signs on the beach to watch out for the lesser weever fish, which hides in the sand and has a nasty sting in its spines. Make sure your kids have something on their feet when playing in the sand and paddling in the water.

Caravan Water Pump Issues

Although a picture of a collapsed awning might look shocking, it’s easy enough to re-inflate and there’s no damage done.

The biggest problem we had on this break was the caravan’s Whale water pump.

O-rings for water pump
I got through a lot of o-rings

Having found the issue to be the seal the last time we used the caravan, I ordered some new o-rings pluse some silicone gel that had been recommended.

Unfortunately, the new o-rings didn’t make a great seal, and the silicone gel just made everything sticky. It didn’t appear to help.

We had intermittent water, and going outside every few minutes to get the pump working was very frustrating. The bad news was that we found the pump leaking water on the inside of the van.

A bead of water would roll down the electric cable and onto the floor. Judging by how wet the wallpaper is, this has been going on for some time.

Leaking Whale water pump in the caravan
The Whale water pump is leaking water into the caravan from the electric cable

A pump that does this doesn’t look like a great design in my book.

Hose pipe into the caravan
This improvised water supply proved to be too messy.

In the end, we tried the fresh water hose directly into the van from the pitch’s water supply. This proved too messy. Fortunately, we had a Colapz water carrier with us that saved the day.

The Colapz water carrier saved the day.

Meet Ellen. Kyle’s Sister.

That night, Ellen came to play.

We had been expecting Storm Ellen all afternoon, but the winds and rain were much less than predicted.

But at 1 am in the morning, like a baby with teething problems, Ellen got us all up, and she wasn’t happy.

56 mph winds were the forecast, and the caravan and awning were shaking.

Our awning hadn’t collapsed, but it was dancing, and tent pegs were being pulled out of the sandy ground with each gust of wind. So, we packed everything up and got it down. At 1 am.

Packing up the awning at 1 am.
Packing up the caravan awning at 1 am.

We later learnt that just around the coast, at Portmerion, a tree had blown down and crushed cars. Luckily, no one had been hurt.

Should I stay or should I go?

Despite the wind and the rain during the night, the next morning was sunny, even though the wind was still blustery.

The big worry was the following day’s 10 am departure. The forecast predicted 57 mph winds.

Weather Forecast
The weather forecast for our departure time didn’t look good.

What’s worse, is that by the next day, the strong winds will have reached home. We have a very high bridge at Chirk, which is notorious to cross with a caravan in strong winds.

We had two choices: either being stuck in the caravan all night in the storm, packing up the next morning in the wet, with a dangerous drive and large detour home. Or, leave a night early.

We took the sensible option and came home a night early.

It wasn’t all bad

Stormy weather is becoming the norm, and we’re used to the odd blustery day or rain when staying in North Wales.

It’s just unfortunate, after all the sunshine we missed in the summer while working, the week we get off ends up having two tropical storms.

It was good weather in between the storms though, complete with the fantastic sunsets you get on this coast.

Sun setting over Criccieth

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Gav Grayston
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Gav Grayston Contributor

Father to 3 kids, who loves getting out and about (hiking, running, camping, cycling, canoeing...) Co-founded Get Out With The Kids to help other parents enjoy the outdoors with their family.

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