Corona Stops Play

17th March 2020

We had a clear plan… Two days with just me and Michelle on a site, then one night Wild(!) Camping then two days with the grandkids on a site with pool, bar, restaurant and entertainment. Easy….

However this was just the start of the Coronavirus Lockdowns. The world was aware of the virus well before now, things were getting serious. But it was someone else’s problem and would not really affect us in the UK. Right?

So…we pre-booked a site on the Mendip hills in Somerset as it was close enough to Weston super Mare so the grandkids Emma (nearly 7) and James (almost nearly 4) would have an element of stability. This left us free to make last minute decisions on the first few days on our own dependent on the weather. We decided on visiting the Bath area mainly as we only had a few days so it needed to be close and we wanted to be near to larger areas so we could walk around on solid footpaths and not just get covered in mud whilst out walking. We have already done a bit of that!

We pitched up at the Bath Marina and Camp site in Newbridge, west of the city to find a decent location. Site was a bit run down, needed a good brush up and polish but it was fine. Not cheap to be honest, (£27 per night inc electric) but location, location, location. It presented us the footpath into Bath alongside the river and the handy Bristol to Bath cycle track immediately nearby. We didn’t have any bikes with us but hey… Over the three days, two nights we made the most of dry sunny (cold) weather and did the walk into the city and around the canal and locks alongside. Despite numerous trips to Bath over the years we weren’t really aware of the wonders of that part with all the locks, barges, and terrific houses in the area. Just head east from the main Bath railway station to find the canal. Coronavirus was getting a grip so the shops and cafes were strangely empty and people were keeping distant but we coped and enjoyed. Many locations were closing their doors but there is plenty to see just walking through the city. We managed to grab a cheeky pint at the Locksbrook Inn a mile from returning to Ruby.

We have always promised that we would make the motorhome travels ‘activity’ based and following that theme we both took an early morning run (jog) along the cycle path, (without any cycles…) on both mornings. It turns out the camp site was fine, the older toilet/shower block being much better despite its age. More space and less people made it easier I guess. The site needs a bit of TLC though.

Our next challenge was to Wild Camp because we are rebels…and because I am from Yorkshire and don’t like spending money! We wanted to remain kinda local so we checked the area around the beautiful Chew Valley Lake, still in Somerset but in the middle of nowhere. Surrounded by green grass, trees and farms and stuff..We had a few plans from local knowledge and a bit of help from Mr Google but then headed out and did a lap of the lake along the narrow lanes and parked in one of the main car parks. We did attempt to do a decent walk around the edge but glorious mud held us back. I mean deep yucky, sticky type mud. We had read an article online about a camping opportunity and so approached the Bristol Water folk at Woodford Lodge alongside the lake. ‘Are we able to park our motorhome here overnight?’ says me. ‘Yup’ says the nice man. And that was it. Dead easy. There are two parts of the ‘Lodge’ area, one is the Fishermans (women’s) area around the cafe area which is locked up overnight at the main gates. However the drive is half a mile long and we could park on a lay-by on that private road, looking across the lake. Brilliant…Free.. (more brilliant). It is one of those places that we will selfishly keep to ourselves as we may go again. (Shhhhhh…!). Although this qualified as Wild Camping in our book, it wasn’t very Wild to be fair. Tucked away where no-one could see us from the road, and with permission. But when you consider that our previous Wild Camping experience was parked in the middle of a housing estate then this is a step in the right direction eh…? We both slept surprisingly well. (I guess not too surprisingly when you think we had a few glasses of wine for supper).!

Next we headed into Weston where we first picked up the grandkids bags, bedding and stuff from a car park at B&Q (don’t ask..) then we later picked up both kids from school before heading out to our new site on the side of the Mendips. Bucklegrove Holiday Park, Westbury-sub-Mendip (£17.80 per night incl kids (no…we supply the kids not them!)). Our joy on arrival…Swimming pool, no. Bar, no. Restaurant on site, no. That nice Boris Johnson bloke had just shut the UK down and our entertainment too. Bugger..! Things were getting serious. It proved to be beneficial to be fair. The pool would have meant us sitting down in a small draughty, dark building watching the kids try to drown each other however we decided to take a long walk along the Mendips on the second day and absolutely loved it. Took a picnic, including a sexy tartan rug, and after a strenuous walk, chasing sheep (correction..sheep chasing us!) we sat in brilliant warm spring sunshine looking across the Somerset levels and pushing the kids over and down the steep grassy hills. Twas great. The kids loved sleeping in Ruby and I won’t lie, we loved their company too. (Don’t tell their mum and dad or we might get a bad reputation..). What happened with the sheep was..we had a big pink plastic bag (containing the aforementioned sexy tartan rug) that must have looked similar to what the farmer uses to bring tasty snacks out to them. They thought it was food so ran across to us in a big gang. (flock..but they looked like a gang!) As we walked though the field shaking this bag the sheep ran behind us. Lots of laughing.. (us and the kids, not the sheep!). The Campsite was pretty good, nice and clean and well kept. The only thing available was a dinosaur trail (real dinosaurs!) and a small park but we enjoyed it. Didn’t think it worthy of demanding a refund despite me being from Yorkshire!

Sorry about Emma’s eyes…damn sun!

Anyway final Sunday we had to dump the kids back with their mom (Happy Mothers Day)and dad and pack Ruby away. We knew that Covid19 Lockdown was happening and our next trip could be some time away. And to think, we did consider running away to Scotland in Ruby, until we started to understand the reality of the new way of living…. So she is parked back up in storage and we await the next big adventure. After Mother Nature has finished with her own big adventure that is…

You can also blame the Coronavirus for this long gibbering blog. I am sitting on my balcony during Lockdown with little else to do!

Did you know…Chew Valley lake (reservoir) is the fifth largest artificial lake in the UK and mainly supplies the water for nearby Bristol. The work to flood the valley was completed in April 1956, although it was not full until February 1958.- (See, it never used to rain much in the olden days!)

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