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Wyke Down Touring Caravan & Camping Park

A 40 minute drive south west from Reading would take us to the outskirts of Andover and Wyke Down Touring Caravan and Camping Park. Sorted.

We left at 2pm Friday following what is now our favourite route, the A4 out of Reading, the A340 through Aldermaston then smaller A roads through Kingsclere and Whitchurch.

A great drive through some amazing countryside with fabulous views and 40 short minutes later we arrived at Wyke Down.

As well as the touring and camping site, Wyke Down is also a working farm with cows, chickens and ducks, a fair sized pub and a well regarded restaurant – book early to avoid a long wait.

The site itself is well laid out, reasonably flat and has good, clean, well maintained facilities that include everything you would expect plus a good (although small) children’s play area and an outdoor swimming pool.

Oli’s bike was the first thing unloaded so while he went exploring, Tallulah was levelled, plugged in and attached to her awning. It was a gloriously sunny day so after all the hard work we relaxed with an ice cold cider – so glad Tallulah has a fridge!

We had booked ourselves a table in the pub when it opened at 6pm and enjoyed a very nice meal, then relaxed with more cider – this time from the bar – while Oli made new friends in the children’s play area.

The site was almost fully booked so it was noisy until quite late, not helped by the owners deciding to empty the bins after 9pm and wheeling them along the road, the grass would have been much quieter choice. Not the best with a 5 year old who is trying to get to sleep, but he eventually fell silent so after a few games of cards and a read of a good book we turned in ourselves.

After our usual bacon and egg breakfast we went for a wander to check out the swimming pool. Still a bit chilly for anything more than a paddle, but we would come back later when the sun had warmed everything up and have a proper swim.

We have friends who live nearby in Whitchurch so they came to meet us late morning for a catch-up and kick about with a football, then we had a late lunch in the pub and went for longer walk.

The weather changed in the afternoon, becoming increasingly windy and cloudy, the weather forecasts were changing every few minutes and not looking good, so we decided to make a head start on the packing up. It’s easier to pack a dry awning than a wet one even when windy and it would help us get away earlier in the morning.

We ate nice meal in Tallulah while watching others struggle to pack up their tents in the increasingly stormy conditions, played a few games and settled in for an early night.

Our first thunder storm! Lots of lightning, plenty of very strong winds, a bit of thunder yet no rain. Not that it mattered, we were snug an warm in Tallulah.

Coffee, light breakfast and finish the packing and we were on our way at 8.30 in the morning, heading back to Reading to unload, freshen up and head out again to the VW Rally at Stoner near Henley.

A great campsite only 40 minutes away with good facilities, definitely a place to go back to.

Newton Mill Holiday Park

Our next adventure was once again taking us west, but this time to Bath in Avon & Somerset, or should that be Avon, or Somerset or Bath & North-East Somerset, to visit friends and family.

We set off around 11am on Saturday and headed west for a gentle cruise along the A4 passing through the  several beautifully quaint market towns and villages, any or all of them worth a ‘leg-stretch’ pit stop – Marlborough, Beckhampton, Calne, Box and lots of others – and arrived in Bath around 1.30pm.

We pulled into the first of two sites we had planned to visit (Bath Marina & Campsite) for a quick look round to check facilities and prices and while it was certainly very well equipped we decided we would prefer a more rural setting for the night that was promised (via their website ) by Newton Mill Holiday Park just a few miles away.

Newton Mill also turned out to be the much less expensive option (£17 vs £27.50 at Bath Marina for 2 adults, a child of five, Tallulah the VW T2 and an awning) as well as being similarly equipped in terms of electric, water and toilets etc.

Within an hour or so everything was setup including our awning – although not a new awning it was only the 2nd time we had used it and the first time was a practise run in our garden! – so we went exploring. Newton Mill has lots of things to explore, great open spaces and woodland, a babbling brook, an excellent children’s play area (unfortunately not open when we visited due to some additional drainage work being done) and a pub!

After a quick kick around with a football and a nice meal with friends (all cooked in Tallulah although the pub was tempting…) it was time to test the showers and settle in for the night (it still gets pretty cold at night in March…) so with the awning all zipped up and our new heater plugged in we watched a DVD then had a wonderful nights sleep.

In the morning we woke to another beautifully sunny day, stretched, showered and went for another quick walk before cooking and eating breakfast and starting the ‘packup’. Everything went back into Tallulah in much the same way as it had come out the day before and after a short pause for a cuppa we were ready for the next leg of our journey into Bath for lunch.

The Hop Pole serves excellent food and happens to be opposite The Royal Victoria Park which has an amazing children’s play area so when we eventually persuaded our 5 year old that it was time to head home we loaded up and retraced our footsteps heading east back along the A4.

We saw the ‘white horse’ on the hillside east of Cherhill and stopped for a stretch at Silbury Hill, the tallest prehistoric human-made mound in Europe, and covered the 76 or so miles back to Reading in a little over 2 hours.

For anyone who might be counting that’s another 180 or so miles covered and a running total of 2 nights in our camper.