Caravan, Caravanning, Caravans, Glastonbury, Somerset, The Old Oaks, Touring
A bit late but here’s a round up of our last trip down to Glastonbury…
Monday 20th June
As we’d been able to pre-load the caravan we had chance to get an early start on the 215 mile run south down to The Old Oaks just outside Glastonbury. Generally we have been lucky with the traffic on all our trips and this today was no exception. The M6 was smooth flowing and after leaving the caravan storage facility at 7:45 we pulled into Stafford Services around 9:30 to collect a couple of take-out coffee’s from Costa and have a leg stretch. By 10:00 we were back on the M6 and the easy traffic meant we could fairly breeze along at 55 all the way down to Birmingham, only slowing down for the four lane high level sectioned roadworks just after the start of the M5. It had been on and off light rain all the way until we passed over the high level bridge at Avonmouth when blue cracks started to appear in the overcast. Having been down to Glastonbury when the festival was on several times before we noticed that the signs for festival traffic had changed slightly and there were more of them. Winding our way around the outskirts of Glastonbury, which was now in bright sunlight was almost second nature… to the point Sue was commenting on things that had grown in peoples gardens since we were last here. I finally pulled the handbrake on out side reception at 13:20…. a total time of just over 5 hours if you take off the 30 minutes stop at Stafford Services.
Tuesday 21st June
Tuesday started out cloudy but bright and we decided to walk into Glastonbury. From the site there are a few paths you can choose. A good idea is to pick up an OS Explorer Map (Number 141) as it shows not only the paths into Glastonbury, but if you want to walk the 1.6Km across to the festival you can do so using public footpaths across the fields.
Leaving the site via the footpath that runs up to the two old oaks, at the gate turn left and follow the path to Stone Down Lane, At the next gate turn right up Stone Down lane for the steep pull up Stone Down Hill heading directly towards the Tor.
Once you reach the top, and have regained the strength to carry on, bare right at the junction and continue to follow Stone Down Lane past the base of the Tor (photo). Follow this road for a few hundred metres and at the next junction bare right following this as it climbs up slightly for a couple of hundred metres. At the next junction you are at the top of Bove Town where it joins Paradise Lane (you can follow Paradise Lane back to the campsite). Turn left and head down hill, down Bove Town and it brings you out on Wells Road, just at the top of the High Street. I think it took us around 50 minutes to do the walk. All the walking meant it must be time for some form of snack… brunch maybe…. and we wandered down the High Street towards our favoured Heapy’s Cafe. Sitting outside enjoying brunch we could keep an eye on the local market and all the comings and goings of the very popular (and cheap) veg stall….. and a few of the craft stalls too!
After doing our usual saunter round the shops and sights we decided to head back following the Main Road and up Wicks Lane. This is not a route I’d recommend if you are nervous about walking along the side of a busy narrow road. It is however a much flatter route if a bit longer.
Wednesday 22nd June
As it was arrivals day for the festival, it’s always prudent to either stay local or go somewhere miles away. We opted for the stay local and headed off to the Clarkes Outlet Village in Street. Setting off early…. just in case!
Turning right out of the site into Wick Lane didn’t hint at the chaos unfolding on the roads. However at the end of Wick Lane…. it was stationary traffic heading towards Pilton on the A361. Thankfully we were heading in the opposite direction and it was clear. We continued to pass standing traffic… that by now had festival revellers wandering about… in one camper van they were cooking bacon… I could smell it as we drove slowly past and in another it looked like the bar was open and a group were all sitting down in the road between the vehicles. The traffic was still stationary as we went round the roundabout on Magdalene Street and still standing traffic. By the time we reached the roundabout at the A361 – A39 junction it was just a mahoosive car park. Following the A39 past “Burn’s The Bread’ bakery and over the river it was still stationary and looked like it had been for a while. As we got to the big roundabout where the bit of dual carriageway is… still a car park and at that point we turned into a very quiet Clarkes Outlet Village.
Arriving early the shops weren’t open yet…. but the local Frankie’s & Bennies was and they were serving breakfast.. it would be rude not to wouldn’t it!
Several hours (and shopping bags) later it was time to head back… the A39 car park from earlier was still a car park. Ok… plan of action. Having the OS Explorer map in the car was handy and after a bit of finger tracing…. Cue the music…. we set off like we were in The Italian Job navigating round Milan. 25 minutes later we were back at The Old Oaks having crossed standing traffic on the A39/A361 three times. Navigating like a local….. DONE!
Having never been to Cheddar Gorge… well Sue had when she was about 12 or 13…. it was time to correct that. Thursday started out well…
Lets say we had 110% humidity and 10% of that was falling… it never rains on holidays. The local weather report following the morning news was upbeat and the rain was expected to clear, which it did almost as soon as the forecaster said it, it stopped.
Firing up the Freelander we punched the destination into the Sat-Nave and trundled off hoping the previous days traffic had now cleared, which it had.
Arriving in the village we parked at the first car park at the bottom of the gorge, donating a large slice of my wallet to do so to the young woman in the small office. Never having been here and to be honest not doing any research beforehand we did not know what to expect. Following the signs we wandered in the general upwards direction towards the entrance. On arriving we were a bit stunned to see the admission price… OK we wanted to visit but hell I didn’t want to invest enough for a 10% equity stake in the place. Deciding we needed more info before committing…. and caffeine to overcome the financial news forecast on the state of my wallet, we wandered in search of coffee. Passing the cheese factory shop and always on the hunt for nice cheeses we hopped in and out again. Now that was just taking the… £6.50 for something that was more wrapping than content. (Note… go to Wells market on a Saturday and you can get huge blocks of local hand-made cheese for half the price). We spied a tea shop – The Wishing Well Tea Rooms, that had a raised vantage point and a free table….
… and ordered coffee and scrambled eggs on toast while we contemplated our next move… which it turned out was a leisurely round-about drive back heading up the gorge and going cross country.
Our route back took us past a couple of the entrances to the Festival, which by now were full of very soggy revellers….
That evening it was Cadac time…. unfortunately One Harry Caravanner forgot his apron of disguise… so I had to step up to the plate and came up with a Tex-Mex…
Yes… it’s all under control dear…. yes I have stirred it…. no its not burning….
… doing nicely…..
… add the sauce and more spices….
… and serve on a wrap….
…`waddya mean… where’s the salad?
Friday 24th June
Clouds on the horizon greeted us when we got up, but sun was forecast for most of the day with a shower or two later. Deciding we needed some exercise we decided to do a circular walk round the site and so headed off along one of the many footpaths that are around the site, heading off first to visit “the girls” (the chickens) and to see how the pond work had being going over the closed season.
A lot of effort had gone into tidying up and clearing weeds from the pond… not that it really needed tidying up in the first place mind you…
We set off past the two old oaks and along the track that looked down on to the site, which is actually quite hidden from the surrounding areas…
… and you do get a view across the valley of the festival site… yep it’s just over there…
Turning back onto Wick Lane the sky started to darken and we picked up the pace as we could see the rain slowly moving towards us from the hills to the east. By the time we turned into the site spots were falling and we just made it as far as the little hut with the elsan point… unfortunately this picture doesn’t show the torrential downpour that had us trapped there for about 10 minutes…
The rest of the evening was damp to say the least!
Saturday 25th June
Saturday is Wells market, and definetly worth a visit. There are some excellent little craft stalls and some really good local food stalls with everything from fresh local veg to French and Italian olives, locally cured meats, a rather delicious smelling bread stall and one of those stalls that when you want one you can never find one…. a great stall selling every type of shoe and boot lace you could possibly imagine. Enjoying the scrambled egg on toast a couple of days earlier, we found a suitable place to sit overlooking the market and ordered the same again, complete with two large coffees. We just about managed to finish or brunch and coffee when the rain came down again briefly.
As we were due to head home in the morning, the afternoon was spent tidying up, generally pottering about and watching this guy…
It’s always a welcome break coming down to The Old Oaks and it always seems no sooner than we arrive than we are packing to leave. Better start planning the next trip then, which might have a few changes in the setup… lets call it “Project Wolf”. Stay tuned for more!