Our next little ‘adventure’ happened quite by accident. A Twitter follower of Caravan Chronicles ‘tweeted’ about an article that I’d written a while ago that appeared on Caravan Talk about towing, which I subsequently expanded into two articles and posted on Caravan Chronicles (Understanding the Dynamics of Towing), and I ‘tweeted’ back a quick thanks for promoting it. Out of curiosity I had a look at their website – The Old Oaks
They were the 2012 runner-up to Caravan Talk’s Campsite of the Year award and from the website, it looked like a place to include on the list of “must visit”. Within an hour I’d booked us in for four nights and so we wouldn’t have two long tows I also booked us in at the Caravan Club’s Warwick Racecourse site for a couple of nights on the way home.
In anticipation of good weather and being able to deploy the Cadac… and on instructions from my alter ego “One Hairy Caravanner”, I took our Safefill cylinder to our local Morrisons petrol station to fill up with LPG. It took a whopping 5.45 Litres (or 2.77Kg) of gas totalling a wallet emptying £3.54. Which wasn’t bad really as the last time we filled up was just before we went to France last year… and that was only £5.31 worth for 7.6 litres (3.87Kg) of the smelly stuff!. Fortunately Sue wasn’t on call over the weekend, so we had chance to load the caravan ready for a prompt getaway on Monday morning.
Monday 24th June
We were all hitched up and pulled out of the storage compound at 9:05 and according to the Sat Nav we had 215 miles to go with no holdup indicated. The signs were flashing 40 MPH as we joined the M6 at J19 but by the time we cleared Knutsford services the traffic was moving and we were soon at ‘cruising speed’. The M6 through the outskirts of Birmingham was unusually quiet and we coasted onto the M5 without any delays.
At 11:15 we pulled into Michael Wood Services for a break. We last stopped here on our way down to Devon last year and found that Welcome Break has catered for caravans and motorhomes by providing easy access parking bays and not just simply marked out an area where HGV’s and coaches park, which can be a bit unpleasant. So I think it’s worth supporting the good service stations… even if it is only buying a couple of cups of coffee and a snack. As it seems popular with caravans and motorhomes and not wanting to hog a parking bay too long we were back on the road again by 11:40. We passed through the M4-M5 road works without any holdup and sailed through Bristol finally leaving the M5 at J23 to follow the A39.
We pulled into the drive of The Old Oaks at 2:15 in sunshine and parked up outside reception. We walked through a small and very neat garden to the reception to check-in, which was a quick and simple process. We were asked if we required WiFi access which was free (why can’t all sites offer free WiFi?) and given a small card with our WiFi access details. We were also given a handy booklet with details about the site, walks, local attractions and which pitch we had been allocated – No 3, Lower Oaks. One of the wardens then showed us to our pitch. Well when I say pitch, that is a bit unfair as the ‘pitches’ are mahoosive and clever planting between pitches provided a natural screen between them… they really should be called small garden plots!
Within an hour of arriving, we were pitched, levelled, hooked up and plumbed in and sat outside with a beer and a wine.
(If you want to see how we “plumbed in” I have added a couple of photos at the end of my post “Connecting your drainage on Serviced Pitches…“)
That evening my alter ego “One Hairy Caravanner” donned his apron of disguise, set up the Cadac and rustled up pan fried salmon with garlic potato slices and asparagus…. how does he do it?. (I wonder if he’ll ever become famous like the Two Hairy Bikers?).
Tuesday 26th June
The sun was shining and it was going to be a warm day again. We had originally planned to drive over to Bishops Lydeard station on the West Somerset Railway and catch a steam train to Minehead for a day at the seaside, but as the weather was so nice we opted to walk into Glastonbury via Glastonbury Tor instead.
There is a public footpath from The Old Oaks that takes you out of the site and onto Stone Down Lane (there is a handy map in the site guide book), and then west towards the Tor. It’s signposted as 3/4 of a mile to the Tor and 1.5 miles to Glastonbury. What it fails to tell you is it’s 3/4 of a mile vertically up… well not quite, I exaggerate, but not much. Somerset is famous for it’s Levels… there is bugger all level round here!. The lane is a compacted stone track so is suitable for wet weather and gives some fantastic views to the east.
As you climb you have to keep looking back at the ever changing view. As you continue up, Stone Down Lane becomes paved and eventually meets up with Basketfield Lane and becomes a tarmac road where you get your first real view of the Tor. The path up to the Tor is a mixture of steps and short inclines with a few places to sit and admire the view. The climb up is definitely a cardiac workout but worth it when you get to the top, the views are spectacular.
The path down the Tor into Glastonbury was easy going and as it was market day we wandered along some of the stalls on Magdalene Street. By now it was beer o’clock somewhere in the world and there just happened to be a table free outside The Crown just where the road turns into High Street. We sat there for over an hour watching the world go by, and I think half of the eclectic collection of people going the the festival wandered past at some point while we sat. We were later told that this eclectic mix of folk was the norm for Glastonbury…. not just at festival time.
As we are from the north and used to our sunshine in a more humid form, it was time to move on before we became desiccated. Our handy map in The Old Oaks book indicated a walk that took us from Glastonbury around the north side of the Tor back to the camp site… so we set off up High Street past shops with names like “The Psychic Piglet”, “Gothic Image”, “Yin Yang” and “Enlightenment”. At the end of High Street, we crossed over Wells Road and headed up Bove Town. By now the temperature had exceeded all expectations and the steady climb up Bove Town seemed hard work. As we hit the fork at the top of the road, the map indicated we take the right fork and follow this until a small crossroads. At the crossroads we were to carry straight on down Paradise Lane…. aptly named as it was paradise… it was flat!. The ‘lane’ was more of a footpath slightly overgrown in places but every now and then it offered glimpses of spectacular views to the north. It was easy going under foot, but in wet weather I would imagine the path could be rather muddy and a bit slippery in places. We followed the path as it meandered along the top of the hill until it opened out into a large field with the the campsite just visible below.
I guess the whole circular walk was around 5 miles but there seemed twice as much “up” as “down”.
That evening “One Hairy Caravanner” donned his apron again, deployed the Cadac and treated us to medium rare Peppered Steaks with spicy chilli potatoes accompanied by a green leaf salad (for Sue).
After we had cleared everything away, we wandered round to reception to call in the well stocked shop. I just fancied an ice cream and we wanted to get some eggs for breakfast the following day… as the chickens were local… well in a field near the fishing lake. There is nothing better than fresh scrambled eggs for breakfast. We could also check up on the information about the shuttle bus that runs from the site each day to various local destinations.
Wednesday 27th June
The bus was due to go into Wells today, but when we asked about it in reception, they had been told that there might be some delays in getting back as today the Glastonbury Festival opened its doors for arrivals and as they were expecting over 180,000 people for the festival there might be a bit of a traffic holdup here and there.
We decided instead to have a lazy day… and do another walk !. After we had cleared away the mess I’d made doing scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast we had a wander round the site, visiting the ‘ladies’ that had provided us with the eggs for breakfast, before taking a turn round the fishing lake.
We had seen a number of other caravaners setting off at various times with tackle boxes and rods so decided to take a stroll round the fishing lake. There were a number of fishing pegs, but knowing absolutely bugger all about fishing that’s the limit of my knowledge on the subject. We wandered round the lake and set off towards the main drive to follow one of the walks outlined in the site book…. Ahh the site book… Sue had it in her pocket when we went round the fishing lake…. a quick backtrack and Sue did another lap of the lake to search for the missing booklet (I think she just wanted an excuse to visit the ducks again…. which always seemed to make a hasty retreat when Sue approached).
End of Part One
In Part Two:- A Tornado over the site, Wells and onward to Warwick and we do some more walking!