Campervan Kitchen, Campsites, family campervan hire tips, Inspiration, Journeys
Campervan weekend Adventure
A campervan weekend adventure. Our Secret Somerset.
Traditional family camping trips. What a chore! So much packing, and unpacking. Just thinking about it makes me break out in a sweat. It is not really the ideal relaxing weekend away. But the kids love it, in fact they thrive on it.
Discovering the VW California has changed all that. A campervan weekend adventure offers off grid comfort and luxury for hard working parents who want to give their kids the freedom of a camping holiday.
Everything you need is ingeniously fitted & we have carefully filled the cupboards ready to go. All you need to think about are your clothes, toiletries and food. The campervan is a dream to drive and enviously easy to set up on arrival.
Find the best pitch.
Rotate the front captains chairs to create a living room vibe.
Push the button to raise the powered pop-up roof.
Unwind the awning.
Arrange the outdoor rug, table and chairs.
Lay the table cloth, tinker with the lanterns and relax with a glass of wine.
Our Secret Somerset.
When we want to escape for a campervan weekend adventure, we have quite a few favourite spots. Due to our eight year olds obsession with the beach, our family camping trips so far have been to the coast. However he’s recently become very keen on climbing trees, giving us a chance to revisit an old haunt, hidden deep in Exmoor National Park.
Not far from the village of Porlock, Pool Bridge Campsite is a two and a half hour drive from Bath. You have to drive up onto Exmoor before descending into Horner Woods. If you are looking for a digital detox, this is the place. Once on site the only quick way to contact the outside world is via the campsite pay phone.
Pool Bridge Campsite
It’s been over 15 years since we last visited Pool Bridge and we were very pleased to find that things hadn’t changed much at all. The steeply wooded valley briefly opens out into two decent level fields, just big enough to let the sun in. Several more smaller secluded pitches are dotted about. Most pitches sit right next to the wide shallow stream which runs through the campsite. This is the real star of the site and is a kids paradise. Its pebbly bed is a dam builders dream and the high raised riverbanks just perfect for games of hide & seek. Our boy was absorbed for hours!
When he wasn’t knee deep in the pure Exmoor water he was busy scrambling up the wooded hillside looking for more adventure. It is a quiet field, so our neighbouring campers had a good giggle at the occasional call from the trees of “Mum, Dad…I think I’m in a bit of a situation”.
There are rope swings galore and each pitch by the side of the stream has its own stone circle campfire. Pitches further away from the water are encouraged to use raised fire pits. By early evening the sweet smell of wood fires permeate the fields.
The toilet /shower block is a little tired, but it’s clean and there is plenty of hot water.
Cooking on Fire
Even though we bagged ourselves a waterside pitch, I still opted to use our fire pit & grill. I’ve been perfecting cooking on it for a while now and with the kiln dried wood from our new suppliers Certainly Wood it works a treat. It’s easy to move the embers and lump wood around to manage the heat or create a trench for foil wrapped baking potatoes. Once the flames have died down you can pop the grill on top ready to bbq. As soon as the food is cooked I always load up the logs again to keep the fire going into the night. Later on when the flames die down again I like to repeat the process, with a few prawns, maybe cobs of sweetcorn or some other tasty morsel. It takes about an hour or so from putting new logs on, till they are ready to cook over.
Horner Woods is a magical ancient place to go walking, the footpath roughly follows the water, sometimes you are right next to it, other times meandering away further up the valley. The trees are ancient and the moss growing on them looks even older!
On Saturday we decided to have an adventure. To the boys’ delight, we squeezed him into his wetsuit and set off along the riverbed, down into the shaded valley. The stream in the campsite is pretty shallow, mostly calf to knee deep. But as the waters descend into the valley there are deeper pools, created where miniature waterfalls plunge over stratified rocks. I figured it was all but inevitable that he was going to go under before the day was over, so we went out dressed appropriately looking for it, rather than trying to avoid water over the wellies and the day ending abruptly in a cold wet puddle. You can pick up kids wetsuits for next to nothing from seaside charity shops and are amazing for extending play time in the sea…or stream, as it is on this occasion.
You are never too far from the footpath but you’re in a totally different environment when walking through the stream. Looking up at the riverbank our boy was so excited by discovering tree root structures exposed in the water. He was fascinated by just how fine the tiniest roots became. If you forgive the pun, it was a truly immersive experience, so much so it was quite a shock when the occasional walker or cyclist popped up.
Sturdy sticks were definitely the order of the day, to test how deep the water is and keep your balance. Our boy took great delight in sitting on edge of small pools with water gushing all around him. He was often up to his waist in water, as happy as could be, with his wetsuit doing a fine job of shielding him from the freezing cold Exmoor water.
(Word of cation if you are feeling inspired: be aware that as the steam flows deeper into Horner Woods it slowly gets bigger, and the plunge pools get deeper, so please don’t let kids race ahead.)
Chilled Evening by the Campfire
Adventure over, the boy freshly peeled from his wetsuit cosied up for a well earned bit of screen time, choosing his favourite spot in the camper – the boot, on top of the folded memory foam mattress surrounded by bedding. Jan chilled out in the last of the sunshine with a glass of rosé, while I enjoyed myself making another campfire fish supper.
After a leisurely Sunday breakfast, We quickly cleared up and headed off, leaving fellow campers taking down their tents and packing their cars.
Dunster Castle, Burrow Mump & Still home in time for Tea
We had plenty of time to explore Dunster Castle on the way home and grab some lunch in it’s medieval village. The wonderful thing about visiting this part of Somerset is that the satnav tends to choose various routs back to Bath. This time we went right through the Levels past Burrow Mump. As a fan of the BBC series “Last Kingdom” I couldn’t resist pulling into the National Trust carpark and racing the boy up the bank to pretend to be King Alfred hiding out in the Somerset Marshes.
And we were still home in time for Tea. Relaxed and rested. No camping gear to pack away, just wonderful memories of another campervan weekend adventure.