|30th June 2022||Woodbury, East Devon|
|30th June 2022||Longleat Caravan Club Site||80 miles / 2.5 hours|
|04th July 2022||Newton Grove CL site, South Newington, Banbury||82 miles / 2.5 hours|
|11th July 2022||Broadway Caravan Club Site||30 miles / 1.0 hour|
|15th July 2022||Devizes Caravanning and Camping club site||61 miles / 2.0 hours|
|17th July 2022||Old Oaks Touring site, Glastonbury||40 miles / 1.5 hours|
|19th July 2022||Woodbury, East Devon||61 miles / 2.0 hours|
Today, after an even shorter drive from Devizes, we arrived at Glastonbury. We will be spending the next few nights at one of the best campsites in the UK. Old Oaks Touring and Glamping park is an adults only site situated a 1.5 mile walk from the centre of Glastonbury and a shorter walk to Glastonbury Tor. It is extremely popular and very challenging to secure a booking – we had managed just two nights!
First impressions are excellent. Large spacious pitches, separated by hedges and large grassed areas, this site eludes space, privacy and tranquility. We didn’t figure out all the pitch options although ours was fully serviced and only the second rung up the ladder of luxury. Plenty of space and nice and secluded with hedging on either side.
The shade was perfect for surviving the extreme heatwave which is now upon us.
The amenity blocks are just the best we’ve seen in the UK – tiling and facilities one would be proud to have at home. A sofa and chairs at the entrance to the amenity block to relax while you wait for the washing to finish or the other half to finish washing the pots!
There’s also a well-stocked shop and fishing lake.
We don’t expect to be doing too much over the coming days as the daytime forecast is closing in on 40 degrees. We had early 30s today and then a rain shower on our walk around the woodland, fishing lake and chicken pens.
After a relaxing few nights at Old Oaks, we headed home to East Devon, bringing our July tour to a close and a busy time ahead to sort out our somewhat neglected garden.
A couple of hours drive south from Broadway and we arrived at the Caravanning and Camping club site at Devizes, spot on 1pm.
This is our third visit to this site and on both prior occasions we’d been allocated the same pitch – not today though!
We were quick to set up with the sun canopy awning and then I caught a bus into Melksham to meet Paul at the Wetherspoons.
We continued refreshments into the evening with a trip to Holt and a BBQ plus music at the Tollgate Inn, Holt.
Saturday was another lazy day, spending most of the afternoon catching up with Paul and Andrea at their place in Melksham. In the evening, we had a great meal at the Three Magpies, just outside the caravan site.
Tomorrow we head still further south, to stay in what is perhaps considered one of the best campsites in England.
A leisurely start to Monday and we left Newton Grove sometime after 11:00am. Google Maps was spot on and we arrived at our new site just a couple of minutes early, having been un-successful in finding anywhere nearby to delay our arrival a few minutes.
The Broadway CAMC site was close to, if not an actual, sellout. A very hot and sunny day and we popped up the sun canopy for our few days here.
In the evening, we ordered wood-fired pizza from a visiting catering firm. The pizzas were however, a little disappointing – they needed to have been left a little longer to crisp-up.
Tuesday was Joe’s birthday and the entire day had been meticulously planned by Moe.
Making the bacon butties for breakfast was Joe’s only contribution to the day.
Around 11:00am we headed to the GWSR railway station at Broadway with day rover tickets each.
The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway is a volunteer operated heritage railway in Gloucestershire and Worcestershire offering a round trip of 28 miles. It uses part of the route of the former Great Western Railway’s main line from Birmingham to Cheltenham which used to run via Stratford-upon-Avon.
It now operates steam and heritage diesel trains between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway through some of the most spectacular scenery in the Cotswolds. The line commands wonderful views of the nearby sleepy hamlets and villages, with outstanding outlooks across to the Malvern Hills and beyond
Our train took us to Toddington where we joined a complimentary tour of the workshop and yard. All the GWSR engines are kept here in one of two sheds – the diesel shed and the steam shed.
As well as the engines on duty for the day, there are more in the sheds at various state of readiness and re-construction.
Our second train (again steam) took us down the line to Winchcombe where we had lunch at the station cafe.
Finally, we headed to the end of the line at Cheltenham racecourse before the return journey to Broadway.
As is often the case now, many pubs and restaurants are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, so tonight, Moe had booked a table at the Swan Inn, Broadway. Food was good, service average – again struggling to find enough workers.
Thursday we headed to Tewkesbury and spent a few hours looking around the town and the Abbey, in excess of 900 years old. Tewkesbury Abbey is also the Parish church, an impressive building and one of the largest parish churches in the country. The square Norman tower is reputed to be the largest in the world.
The 14 gigantic columns are Norman and the elaborate vaulting is 14th Century. Masons’ marks can be seen on some of the pillars.
The Abbey’s font has a 13th century base. The bowl and ornate wooden canopy were fitted in Victorian times.
The gigantic cast iron heater used to run on more than gas. In bygone days, these would glow red from the coal fire within.
Here you can look up and see the sun, an emblem of the House of York. It was put there as a memorial to their victory over the House of Lancaster in the battle of Tewkesbury, 1471.
There are some remarkable and intricate stone carvings to be seen.
There are many alleyways and passages around Tewkesbury. Sadly these aren’t as interesting or picturesque as one might imagine. We did stumble across allegedly the oldest Baptist Church in England.
It was a nice sunny afternoon and evening and we had a BBQ and salad for dinner.
Tomorrow we hope to leave at 11:00am for the next leg of our journey, somewhere south of Broadway.
Well, Sunday is our penultimate day at Newton Grove. Have to say we have had a wonderful stay at this site and a full 7 days off-grid. I’ll post another entry in the Caravan blog to summarise how we got on with the off-grid elements.
We think this is the nicest part of the Cotswolds. Very unspoilt and not one of the tourist honey pots like Bourton-on-the-Water. There are loads of lovely walks and an endless array of Cotswold stone pubs in which to while away the odd hour or two.
The off-grid stay has been a fraction of the price of staying on a Caravan and Motorhome club site and the remarkable thing is we probably enjoyed it more. No row upon row of endless white boxes each marking out their own bit of territory. We had a large 1 acre site (I’m guessing), with neighbours some considerable distance away. The situation is idyllic and the guy who runs it, John, a great host.
Not only that but Newton Grove has a trailer mounted solar unit from which you can replenish your battery and charge the laptop or toothbrush – but not supply the van… We also made use of the on-site picnic tables and on one evening, the Chimenea
We’ve already signed up to the Caravan and Motorhome Off-Grid Group which has a plethora of information about how to survive off-grid and where to find the best sites. it turns out that the one of the two guys who set this up is John, from Newton Grove and the group has 20k members. This site will be hard to beat!
Today (Monday) we head off to another town in the Cotswolds, just an hours drive away…
There are so many unspoilt, chocolate-box villages in this northern section of the Cotswolds. None more so than the village of Great Tew.
A 3 mile walk from our campsite at South Newington we arrived for lunch at the Falkland Arms in Great Tew right on opening time. We spent a good few hours watching the world go by before returning to the campsite for a well-earned evening BBQ. The minted lamb burgers from the specialty shop in Deddington were excellent.
A short drive from Newton Grove is the Rousham Park House and Garden.
Tucked alonside the river Cherwell, Rousham represents the first phase of English Landscape design and remains almost as William Kent left it, one of the few gardens of this date to have escaped alteration. Many features which delighted 18th century visitors to Rousham are still in situ, such as the ponds and cascades in Venus’ vale, the Cold Bath and seven arched Praeneste, Townsend’s building, the Temple of the Mill and in the skyline, a sham ruin known as the Eyecatcher.
Whilst we only visited the gardens, the house, built in 1635 by Sir Robert Dormer is still in the ownership of the same family.
Rousham is uncommercial and unspoilt with no tea room and no shop. We brought a picnic and comfortable shoes for a long afternoon in the gardens.
If our off-grid experiment was to work, we needed to sort out the battery and solar controller. This took most of the morning to sort out.
Here’s a link to the work we carried out.
In the afternoon we headed out for an LPG top-up and found A E Prentice (between Banbury and Bicester). A very helpful chap topped up the bottle for 0.95 per litre.
In the evening we had food and a few drinks at the local pub in South Newington – Duck on the Pond. Another lovely North Cotswolds pub and a great idea for comfort – the outside tables and benches came with a sheepskin rug to sit on!
Tuesday evening and we headed for tea and coffee near Banbury at my cousins, Martyn and Anne. They had booked a table a little later at the Red Lion in Bloxham. A fine choice of pub / restaurant but we realised afterwards, we had been so engrossed in conversation, we hadn’t taken a single pictures. Groan.
On Wednesday we headed into Oxford. A two mile walk to the village of Milcombe where we caught the bus to Banbury and then the train to Oxford.
We would arrive at the Old Bookbinders Ale house shortly after noon for a very long lunch with Paul and Andrea and also their friends John and Moyreen. It was great to catch up with old friends after so many abandoned Spanish winters and fantastic to make new ones.
This pub is well away from the tourist honey traps and we spent much of the afternoon there, almost until the evening reservations commenced!
A mighty fine selection of real ales.
We managed to catch the train back to Banbury and then the last bus from Banbury to Milcombe, leaving just a 2 mile walk back to our campsite.
We visited Newton Grove some years ago for an overnight stop and were struck on the peace and quiet of this CL site. We returned today for 7 nights off-grid – there is freshwater and toilet disposal facilities but no electric hook-up.
It had been our intention to visit the final Cornbury music event next weekend but the organisers have deemed they can charge grotesque prices for this final festival. Maybe if there are tickets left over there might be some last minute special offers. Fingers crossed!
John, the owner of the CL dropped by for a chat and explained he has a solar battery unit if we run out of power. It has a small inverter attached so looks like I’ll be able to charge up the laptop every once in a while.
At the moment, all is working off the leisure battery and we are keeping an eye-out on the voltages. The leisure battery is some 7 years old so is already beyond its life expectancy. If it doesn’t survive, I’m eyeing a Lithium leisure battery replacement…