4 Days Driving Around Southwest England

A while back Will had some built-up holiday days at work, so he took them and we went on a road trip to the south of England. We own a VW Passat and with the back seats folded down flat, we can fit a queen-sized air mattress perfectly. So that’s what we did, and we just camped along the way.

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We left Tuesday and headed for The Cotswolds. It had been on my list of places to visit in England for ages and it did not disappoint. The Cotswolds is a national park with a bunch of cute little villages, some of which date back to the 11th century and earlier. For example, in Bibury, Arlington Row is a row of houses that date back to the 1100s, and Chipping Campden, is a market town dating back to the 14th century. Although these villages have long been modernized, hints of their history have been well preserved.

Late Tuesday afternoon/early evening we wandered around Bourton-on-the-Water and visited the Motoring Museum. We then stopped at Bibury to see Arlington Row.

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Our first night on the road we had trouble finding a free place to sleep, so we opted to look for actual campsites. We found a campsite that was behind a pub, somewhere just north of Tetbury and slept there for the night.

 

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We spent Wednesday morning wandering through the village Castle Combe.

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In the afternoon we headed for Bath for a quick walk around. However, we ended up deciding we didn’t have the time that we wanted to really explore Bath, and that we would come back another time and maybe spend a weekend in the city. So we jumped back in the car and headed for Newquay.

We got to Newquay late and looked for a place to camp. Newquay is a surfers paradise and therefore very popular among backpackers, travelers, and vanlifers. This meant it was impossible to find anywhere free to pull up and park because everywhere had signs saying ‘no camping’, so we ended up having to find a campground (again).

 

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Thursday we walked part of the Southwest Coast Path, walked around the town of Newquay, went to Fistral Beach, and then made the last-minute decision to drive down to Lands End.

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{ Talk about a great place for a hostel. This YHA is at the head of the Southwest Coast Path in Newquay. }

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{ Happy beach bum }

Originally we weren’t planning on driving any further south than Newquay. But once we were there we figured we were so close to Land Ends that we might as well make the drive down just to say that we’ve been there.

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Lands End is the most southern tip of England. It’s the furthest south you can drive in the UK and the next piece of land you’d encounter if you set off on the ocean from there would probably be the United States.

We got to there at sunset. All of the shops and stuff that are there were already shut and not a lot of people were still around. It was great. If you too are planning on visiting Land’s End and aren’t too bothered about having the shops and whatnot open than definitely go for sunset or after everything is closed. It’s so quiet and you’ll have it mostly to yourself. Plus, if the weather is in your favour, it’s a great place to watch the sun set.

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After Land’s End, we drove towards St. Michaels Mount and found a place to camp, in a pull over on the side of the road. It was just a rest stop, didn’t have any toilets or privacy of any kind, but it was free and off the main highway.

 

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In the morning we drove to St. Michaels Mount for low tide. If you’re planning on visiting St. Michaels Mount make sure to check the tide times, because the only time you can actually walk out to the island is during low tide.

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St. Michaels Mount was built by the same monks who built Mount St. Michelle in France. It’s built on a small island with a cobblestone causeway and has a history that dates back 4000 years.

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This was Friday morning, and by lunchtime, we were on the road heading north again. We drove just over 4 hours straight, to get to Stonehenge for the last entry, which was 4:30.

I had done some reading on Stonehenge and read that, because it is a very popular day trip from London, it gets quite busy, and the best times to go is first thing in the morning or last entry in the late afternoon. I don’t know what it’s like first thing in the morning when it opens, but going when we did was a pretty good time. It was a little busy, but nothing crazy, we could walk around and have a lot of space just to ourselves. Plus the light was perfect for photos.

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Stonehenge was our last stop, so after we finished up we decided to just drive straight home. It was a long drive and put us home well after midnight.

 


Where We Camped

The Thames Head Inn – campsite behind the pub. Washroom, shower, power.

Treago Farm Caravan & Camping Site – toilets, showers, kitchen area, decent views, open space. £18 for a shower, clean toilets, and a nice view was pretty acceptable.

A394 roadside rest area – free, next to high way, no privacy or toilets. Just outside of Marazion, near Goldsithney. No signs saying no overnight camping. Only signs saying 6-hour maximum stay.

 

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