Camping in the cold

We were both getting itchy feet again and both felt the need to have a break and spend a few days away in the ‘van, but not too far away. I’ve wanted to visit Caen Hill locks on the Kennet and Avon canal ever since I saw it in photos so booked a stay (Sunday to Wednesday) at the Devizes camping and caravanning camp site which is halfway between Melksham and Devizes, is adjacent to the canal and within a mile or two of Caen Hill.

We packed our warm clothes, fleecy sheets, winter duvet and headed off on the Sunday afternoon, first stop at the Shell garage to inflate the tyres and to fill up the gas bottle. No need for any diesel as ‘LC was still full of cut price French fuel. Our journey to Wiltshire was quiet with very little traffic and we arrived at the camp site within 2 hours of leaving home. Needless to say we did not unpack the BBQ table etc as the temperature was around 5C and it was very dark.

We decided to avoid cooking on the Sunday night and instead visited the Three Magpies pub right outside the campsite gate. Here we drank and feasted until late(ish)

Monday morning was sunny and very cold but we did get the BBQ out and started the day with a cooked breakfast, a full English but without the eggs.

A great way to start the day, BBQ breakfast and fresh coffee. The first cooked breakfast I’ve had for years.


Following breakfast we walked into Devizes along the canal towpath in the bright morning sunshine for a good view of the system of 29 locks that allow the canal to rise 230 ft over a distance of 2 miles.

Canal boats moored at the top of the lock system a short walk of Devizes town centre.

We had a wander around Devizes town centre with a stop for lunch at Brogans where, apparantly, they have hand cream and tissues in the ‘ladies’ toilets, I can’t even begin to imagine why. Then we decided to head back to the van while it was still daylight and not too cold. On the way back we spotted a Kestrel perched on an overhead wire, and a Barn Owl fluttering silently over the canal right by our campsite.

Monday night the temperature plummetted to around -7C, but we didn’t worry. We had brought a home made Chilli Con Carne with us and had a film to watch so we put the heating on and only ventured out to the toilet block a few times before bed.

No cooked breakfast on the Tuesday morning – it was too damn cold!.

We caught the 10:38 bus outside of the camp gate and were off to visit the Bath Christmas market and have a look around this lovely city as well as to visit the Abbey. Here are a couple of photos of the big window and the ceiling.

Off to The Three Magpies for dinner once again.

Wednesday morning was very frosty and freezing but it was nice and snug in the van. The campsite showers were nice and warm despite the -7C outside temperature. Cooking breakfast was a little more arduous as our BBQ’s butane didn’t want to perform, but we managed it in the end.

We had a brilliant time at the Devizes camping and caravanning site. The facilities were first class; its showers were clean and warm. There is a good pub/restaurant on its doorstep; there is a handy bus stop for easy access to Bath, Melksham and Devizes; and the site has easy access to the canal tow path so you can walk or cycle to Devizes, Melksham or further afield.

Our ‘van was also brilliant; it kept us both lovely and warm despite the freezing outside temperatures. During the day while out and about, our gas heating was set to its lowest setting. We also have a small (1Kw) electric powered oil filled radiator running on its ‘medium’ setting which is about 500W. The electric heater kept the van from getting too cold especially on the Tuesday when the outside temperature hovered around freezing all day. On our return to the van in the early evening we would turn the gas heating up to half way and leave it there until bed time. During the night the gas was turned to a lower setting (2) and the electric heater was turned to about 250W. This was all we needed to keep the van nice and snug.

Where shall we go next Fiona?

East Somerset Railway

For Christmas, Louise had bought us a ‘cream tea on a steam train’ experience for the East Somerset Railway which runs a couple of restored steam engines and some carriages on a few miles on disused GWR track from Cranmore which is near to Sheptom Mallet in Somerset.

Although we booked our cream tea in good time back in early May the only date available to us was the 10th August which, coincidentally, is the date of our wedding anniversary.

We travelled up to East Somerset the day before our arranged visit, having booked two nights at the ‘Old Oaks’ campsite which was about 1 1/2 miles from Glastonbury and about 3/4 mile from Glastonbury Tor. We arrived early at the campsite, the weather was good, we donned our walking boots and 20 minutes of uphill walking later we arrived at the base of the Tor.

Looking up at Glastonbury Tor,  one of us ventured to the top.

Click on the link to see more images

Departing the Tor we headed for Glastonbury town, thankfully it was downhill all the way. Glastonbury is a nice old town with rather too many tattoo/henna/hippy shops for my liking. Rather than just head back for the campsite we decided to take a look at the Abbey ruins and the Abbey visitor centre.

Click on the link to see a few more images of the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey.

We stopped in the town for some refreshments before heading back, OK, we went to a pub. It was a long walk back to the campsite, 1 1/2 miles, most of which seemed to be uphill, up very steep hills in fact.

The next day, after wishing each other a ‘Happy Anniversary’,  we headed off to Cranmore which is where the East Somerset Railway excursions are run from. We arrived in good time to catch the delayed 11:30 train (sounds like Southern Railways, ha) and then had a good wander around the engine shed and railway yard.

Click on the link to see more of our East Somerset railway photos.

So, we spent our 31st wedding anniversary playing on steam trains in the summer sunshine of the West Country, and enjoyed a cream tea in a ‘first class’ old BR dining carriage. Superb! We followed this with an Indian takeaway for dinner accompanied by a bottle of Champagne.

All in all it was a brilliant couple of days.