|10th September 2021||Woodbury|
|10th September 2021||Huntisbeare CL Site||5 miles / 20 mins|
|12th September 2021||Devizes Camping and Caravanning club||87 miles / 2.5 hrs|
|19th September 2021||Henley Four Oaks CMC||82 miles / 2.5 hrs|
|27th September||Woodbury||176 miles / 4.0 hrs|
Saturday and tomorrow is time to move on from Devizes. We have had a good time here, the site is at a stunning location.
One final evening out – our first visit to the “Brewery Inn”. Head west along the Kennet and Avon Canal towpath and at the Barge Inn, it’s 200m along the road towards Seend.
The Brewery Inn Seend.
We had booked a pod for the evening. The landlady was welcoming and whilst the food was perhaps a little basic, it was traditional pub grub. Washed down with a couple of pints of Inndependence American Pale Ale from the Plains brewery.
Sunday was a mid-morning departure, destination Oxfordshire.
Thursday morning and we caught the bus departing close by the campsite, destination Devizes. There were a large number of campers from our site waiting for the bus which on arrival, was standing room only. Not ideal given most of the passengers would have received their Covid jabs much earlier in the year. Out of 20+ who boarded the bus at Seend, Moe and I were the only two who paid! We figured maybe one other person on the bus was of an age where free transport wasn’t provided.
Once in Devizes, we realised it was market day, hence the full to capacity bus.
We headed for the Wadworth’s brewery, hoping for a tour,
Lunch was at the Black Horse which is pretty much at the top of Caen locks – 29 locks in total over a distance of 2 miles and a change in altitude of 237 feet. We spoke to someone leaving the upper lock and she said the fastest she has been through the locks was 2 hours and 20 minutes but every lock was in the correct position. Otherwise it can be the best part of a day.
We walked the 4 or so miles back to the campsite from Devizes, capturing a number of pictures along the way.
Friday we returned to the National Trust “The Courts Garden” at Holt near Bradford-on-Avon. This classic early 20th century garden is laid out in a series of yew-hedged “rooms” with a neo-Georgian temple and conservatory. We strolled through the shade and tranquility of the arboretum before finding the tea-room.
Dinner will be at the Three Magpies – again!!
Wednesday morning and it’s a stunning day. Weather is forecast to be sunny with temperatures in the early 20s. We set off for a visit to The Courts Gardens (National Trust) in Holt near Bradford-on-Avon. We have subsequently learnt that this quintessential English country garden is open every day of the week, except Wednesdays.
Plan B (which was originally Part II of Plan A) was to visit the manor and gardens at Great Chalfield Manor which is a couple of miles walk from Holt. Actual distance was 3 or 4 miles as we performed endless detours to avoid the roaming cattle!
Great Chalfield Manor is a medieval manor built around 1465 by Thomas Tropenell, a wealthy business man who built and acquired several large estates around this time. In 1905, Major Robert Fuller restored and refurnished the house to its former glory and in 1943, gave the house and gardens to the National Trust to care for it and his grandson and family still live in the manor.
Over the years various films and TV shows have been filmed at Great Chalfield, including ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’, ‘Tess of the d’Ubervilles’ and ‘Wolf Hall’ (where it starred as Austin Friars, Thomas Cromwell’s house).
Great Chalfield Manor has an ever-evolving romantic garden with an orchard, pond, unique yew houses and a variety of flowers, plants, colours and styles.
There are some exquisite pieces of Topiary.
We rounded the afternoon off with a drive to Bradford-on-Avon. This is a pretty town with its canal, historic buildings, shops, pubs and restaurants making it a popular tourist destination. The history of the town can be traced back to Roman origins.
Bradford-on-Avon is also home to St Laurence’s Church which is one of very few surviving Anglo-Saxon churches in England, that does not show later medieval alteration or rebuilding.
Documentary sources suggest it may have been founded by Saint Aldhelm around 700, although the architectural style suggests a 10th- or 11th-century date.
It is the most complete Anglo-Saxon survival from this period, and follows what seems to have been a typical monastic plan at the time, though in miniature. In particular the decoration including fragments of large reliefs gives a hint of richness seen in monastic churches. Although the existing church seems all or almost all Anglo-Saxon, it has clearly been altered in a number of ways, apart from the modern restoration, which included removing the stairs inside and filling in windows.
St. Laurence’s stands on rising ground close to the Norman parish church of the Holy Trinity.
This larger church also bears similarities with the church of its namesake in my hometown of Skipton, North Yorkshire.
For dinner, we headed to the Three Magpies which is situated just outside our campsite. This is another Wadworth’s pub of which there are many in the area – the main brewery is based just along the road in Devizes. The food and service was excellent.
We arrived on Sunday for a few days at Henley-on-Thames. The weather has remained remarkably settled, dry and warm for all of this trip and this theme continued throughout our stay at Henley.
It was warm enough for the “boys” to meet up at the Alehouse in Reading and enjoy a long lunch, outside, at the London Street Brasserie.
Moe and I visited the National Trust property at Greys court for lunch in the gardens. It’s a few years since our last visit but we remembered pristinely kept typical English gardens and finely mown lawns. Covid has certainly taken its toll here and the gardens were far from special. Rather disappointing. As we visited on a Monday, the house itself was closed so do check opening times before your visit.
On our way through Twyford, en-route to Reading, we stopped outside the old station house. This is one of the places where Moe grew up.
On another day we walked through Henley along the Thames to Marsh lock. One can while away hours watching the boats heading through the lock.
This is a very popular and pleasant walk along the banks of the river Thames. We passed a pretty Old House.
On Sunday we travelled from Aylesbeare to Seend, near Devizes, for a week at the Devizes Camping and Caravanning Club site – a 2.5 hour drive of some 87 miles.
From Huntisbeare it is a short drive to the A30 near Honiton which then becomes the A303 which we followed all the way to the A350 which runs South – North from Blandford Forum to Trowbridge. We headed up the A350 and then took the A361 towards Seend and as far as the Bath Road. Turn left on the Bath Road and the site is right behind the Three Magpies public house.
The campsite was recommended by some friends of ours from a Spanish trip, as one of the nicest sites they have stayed on in England. The wider area isn’t particularly known as a tourist trap but the site is excellent and the location is good. The site grounds are beautifully maintained but the toilet block whilst clean, is starting to look a little jaded in places.
We were watching this strange looking bird from the awning yesterday. We were wondering if it was some kind of escaped exotic bird – apparently not as it is an Albino Magpie! Perhaps it’s time for the pub, located just outside of the site to change its name to “The White Magpie”!
The site is two minute walk to the Kennet and Avon canal. Head West along the canal and after half an hour or so is the Barge Inn. A little further from the canal past the Barge Inn is the Brewery Inn which we haven’t visited – yet!
Head East and it’s a few miles to walk along the towpath to Devizes. We walked as far as the Caen Hill locks which dominate the landscape on the approach up the hill to Devizes.
This is the longest flight of locks in the country – a total of 29 locks with a rise of 237 feet over 2 miles. To keep the water balanced, a back pump at Foxhangers returns 7 million gallons of water to the top of the flight each day.
This steep incline at Caen Hill was the reason which caused Brunel to route the main London to Bristol line through Chippenham and Swindon rather than taking the line through Devizes. Devizes was served by a single branch line opened in July 1857 but retired as part of the Beeching cuts in 1966. One can still see remnants of the old line on the walk from the campsite to Devizes.
There’s also a large marina near to the locks – Caen Hill Marina.
We collected the van from the storage site at Woodbury on Friday morning and drove the short distance to the CL site, Huntisbeare, close to Ottery St Mary. Things have been somewhat hectic so it’s kind of handy to pitch somewhere locally for a night or two, such that it isn’t too much of a trauma fetching all the stuff we’ve forgotten. Despite endless lists, there’s always a few forgotten items.
As a Certified Location site, it’s restricted to five caravans – adults only / dog-friendly site – and appears to be very busy and is well run my the owners Mark and Lynda.
Arriving on the Friday, we would just stay two nights before heading off to our next site which was a rebook due to Covid issues.
More details about Huntisbeare CL Site here.