A house sitting adventure – Derbyshire to Ayrshire

By 31st March 2015LIFESTYLE, TRAVEL
A beautiful small holding, large driveway and a valley beyond

It’s the last day of March. I sit in the upstairs lounge as wind and snow whips around the house. I say house – but who has a full-size sauna in their house?

I wrote my last post from Derby, noting our upcoming adventure to Scotland. Now we’re here, and a few of you have been asking how we’re getting on. So here it is; a wee insight into our fleeting Scottish fling.

Firstly, let me give you a brief summary of our journey from Breaston to Darvel…

Our last move

We left our Breaston house sit on 14th March at 5:45am to cycle to Long Eaton.

Catching our first train to Derby, and our second to Crewe without a hitch. It was all going to plan. Then we missed our connection in Crewe, so had to kill an hour. But what a joy to ride 5 minutes from the station to find this little gem…

Lyden tucks into a bacon and egg sandwich and tea

A great 8:30am breakfast at Harvey’s in Crewe

We missed a second connection in Carlisle, but somehow it was still more fun and exciting than travelling by car. It was all part of the adventure and we happily chatted to passengers along the way. They couldn’t quite believe we were so lightweight – moving house with just our backpacks and bikes…

Janine holding hers and Lyden's bike on a train platform

No, my hat isn’t sponsored by ScotRail

Five train journeys and one minor injury later (I knocked the skin off my shin as I negotiated my bike and pannier off a train), we arrived in Kilmarnock. Now there was only an hour left – to cycle.

We battled busy roads and hit steep hills on cycle tracks. With my 15.5kg combined baggage weight, the hills were hard. I got off half way up this one, but Lyden toughed it out.

Lyden and Janine with their bikes looking out of breath

These hills are going to get us fit – or kill us!

We felt lucky; the skies remained clear and it was still daylight. On this occasion, Google Maps didn’t take these hills and our baggage into consideration…

An open single track road, green fields and blue skies

The road to Darvel – beautiful in parts!

Two hours later (ten hours after our journey began), we arrived at our new home. We greeted our new house owners with champion arm waves and laughter – we made it! Our sense of achievement was massive, and we were knackered. Friendly faces and warm handshakes guided us into the fold for bacon quiche and tea. What more could we ask for?

A beautiful small holding, large driveway and a valley beyond

Our new home in the valley!

Our home

Our home for 8 weeks is ‘up the Glen’ in a little Ayrshire village called Darvel. It’s a trek over a couple of fields to get to one of the 3 neighbouring farms, but we can get to Co-op in 5 minutes of adrenaline-fuelled downhill cycling. It’s beautiful here.

The wild life

We have two cats who bring us mice. Some dead, some alive – they like to mix things up. The bullfinches are nesting in the roof, jumping up from the balcony like puppies on a work surface. Hundreds of birds come to the feeder each day, and a pheasant sits beneath to catch the falling seeds. We often see deer on the slope just metres from our bedroom window.

Deer crossing the pathway  to Darvel village

Deer crossing the driveway

Our job

The night we arrived, we gained insight of a different life in the armed forces. The house owners have a family history as engineers and pilots in the RAF. We’re looking after their house while they travel in India, Australia and New Zealand. The exchange for living here is to keep the house clean and safe, to look after the cats, and to enjoy.

It’s a fair deal!

And I wasn’t joking about the sauna. In fact, I think it’s time for our little workout and sauna now… who says you can’t keep warm in the snow?


  • Rocco says:

    Impressive, from ey up me duck to ock ay the noo 😉 and in a backpack

    What more can I say 🙂

    I am happy to see you have moved to a more beautiful part of the country and maybe even more remote than Derbyshire

    But eight weeks is not long and I hope you guys find somewhere just as awesome soon 🙂

  • Tara says:

    You two have a great writing style and your journey sounds fabulous! I have long wanted to be more nomadic, but with teens in school and with jobs, we are putting all that on hold for “some day.” In the meantime, we do take lots of adventures, some lasting months at a time, and we’re always looking for a bit of inspiration to keep us dreaming.
    Thanks for sharing your story with the world.

    • Janine says:

      Thanks for the compliment Tara. If you’re taking trips for months at a time, you’re doing more than most. How do you manage it with your kids and jobs?

      Before we were self employed we found it nearly impossible to get more than two weeks off at a time from work.

      We’ll certainly have a look at your blog, thanks for connecting!

      • Tara says:

        My husband is a teacher, so he gets the summers off. I make most of my money from freelance copywriting. My goal is to be able to do what you’re doing by the time our kids leave the nest.

        Have fun in India. I’ll be following along.

  • Garreth W says:

    What a liberating experience, leaving behind any literal baggage.

    I know you talked about the cool train ticket splitting trick before. If you miss a connection are you all out at sea in terms of ongoing ticket portions?

    • Janine says:

      Hi Garreth,

      We did have that panic when we missed our first connection. Amazingly, if you miss trains due to delays, you just get the next available train to continue your journey!

      For us, this included the use of three different rail companies within England and Scotland, and the staff were really helpful at each station. For longer train rides, you have to get a reservation for your bike (if you were thinking about taking it), but there is no extra cost there either.

      Pretty good show for rail travel these days!

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