The first stop on My UK South Coast Circular Camping Adventure was Devizes, which is a little market town in Wiltshire.
Truth be told, there was nothing in Devizes that I was particularly excited about seeing, as I ideally wanted to be on the south coast, but rather than have an exhausting 6-hour drive down to Cornwall, Devizes was a convenient halfway pit-stop.
April is COLD!
I had booked 4-nights from the 12th-16th April 2021.
For some reason, as soon as the month of February is completed in any given year, I automatically assume that it’s going to be bikini weather!
However, APRIL IS NOT SUMMER! (Let me get this tattooed on my hand for future reference)
The nighttime temperatures were as low as -2°C!
For those that are not familiar with celsius, 0°C is the freezing point of water. In other words, there was ICE on my tent and on the ground when I woke up!
On a full campsite with over 100 pitches, I was the only person staying in a tent and I was frequently met with comments such as, “gosh, you’re brave!”
Related Read: How to Stay Warm When Camping
The key to camping in cold weather is to not let yourself get cold in the first place! Once you’re cold, it can be very difficult to warm yourself back up again.
You need to preserve your heat. So, make sure you have adequate clothing on in the day, and once you’re in your sleeping bag for the night, you zip that baby up tight and don’t come out of it again until morning.
…It also helps if your dog enjoys sleeping inside of your sleeping bag with you. They make excellent furry hot water bottles.
The campsite I stayed at was a Camping and Caravanning Club site, and I have to say, it was immaculate! (Although that could be because I arrived on their first day of opening after being closed for a rather long time due to coronavirus restrictions.)
The staff on site were exceptionally friendly and cheerful. From where I was pitched, I could hear them welcome caravans and motorhomes every afternoon, and they were going above and beyond to make sure everyone got a pitch where they wanted.
When booking, I had noted in the special requests box that I would prefer a pitch out of the way and in the quietest place possible, and they gave me exactly that.
I was given a rather large and spacious pitch on the end of a row next to a caravan that was not in use, and on a secondary exit path that hardly got used. In other words, only a few people would be coming past my tent.
Overall, I really enjoyed my time at this site and I could have happily stayed longer.
I also applauded the fact that they had an off-lead area for dogs!
It really bothers me when campsites advertise that they have a “dog walk” but then demand that the dogs must stay on a lead on said walk. I find this pointless. If I wanted to give my dog a walk on the lead I could just walk him around the campsite.
Having an area where my dog can run around and enjoy a bit a freedom whilst on site was a big plus.
There is also a twice-weekly fish and chips delivery service that goes to the campsite. Near the reception, there’s a menu on the board along with a telephone number. Give them a call, place your order, and they’ll bring your food to the campsite.
Sadly, by the time I found out about this service it was too late, so I can’t comment on the quality of food. But if you ever visit Devizes campsite and take advantage of this, do let me know what you thought in the comments below.
Settling into camping life
Since this was my opening camping trip of the year, the first night was a bit difficult, not only because of the cold but because it takes a bit of time to adjust to camping life.
However, after the second night, Winston and I had fully settled back into our ‘living in a tent’ routine.
The cold outdoor showers, however, definitely took a little bit longer to get use to!
In the morning, I would fill my portable shower with cold water and leave the bottle out in the sun to fractionally warm up a bit.
The best time to have a shower was just after midday, somewhere between 1pm and 3pm, when the day is likely to be at its warmest. Early morning or late evening showers we’re an absolute no-go!
The trick here is to not think about it and to just get on with it!
Get your clothes off, have a rinse, soap up, rinse again, get dried, and get dressed. No messing about.
Although this wasn’t the most pleasurable experience, I always felt great after my daily shower. Either because this was some form of cold water therapy, because I was cleaner, or because I had gotten it out of the way for the day.
Whatever the reason, you certainly do feel revitalised after throwing cold water over yourself!
On the canal
The reason I chose Devizes as my pit-stop was because it was conveniently located right next to the Kennet and Avon canal.
I packed my inflatable kayak, paddles, flotation vest, and all the other stuff I would need for a day on the water, into the roofbox of my van.
Sadly, we didn’t use it.
Although the campsite is practically ON the canal, in order to access the canal you had to walk out of the site entrance and around. This wasn’t a particularly long walk, in fact, it was rather short, but it was still further than what I would be wanting to carry a two-person kayak (along with the rest of the gear) on my own.
In hindsight, I should have asked a member of staff if they would kindly grab one end and help me. It would have only taken a few minutes and I’m sure they would have happily obliged.
I did, however, still managed to enjoy the canal, and Winston and I explored it in both directions.
At one point, Winston decided to roll in what I can only assume was fox poop, and in doing so, he rolled himself over the ledge and into the canal! 🤣
I grabbed his harness handle and quickly fished him out before laughing hysterically at his supreme misjudgment. He shook himself off and then carried on down the canal path with his tail wagging in his typical Winston style!
Another memorable moment came about thanks to an overly aggressive swan! It was very adamant at keeping my dog away from the water, which seemed very odd since the swan appeared to be on its own. Winston, however, was oblivious to the swan swimming towards him with flared wings.
After calling my dog back to prevent upsetting the swan further, we carried on walking down the canal when I noticed this…
Mr. Swan was just being a good daddy and fending off “predators” to allow his Mrs. to nest in peace. Suddenly, his behaviour made sense.
One of the sights to go and see when staying at Devizes is Caen Hill Locks – a flight of 29 (twenty-friggin-nine!!) locks.
To put that into perspective, it takes a canal boat about 15-20 minutes to pass through a lock.
Therefore, it would take between approximately 7hours 15minutes (435 minutes), and 9hours 40minutes (580 minutes) for a canal boat to pass through all the locks, and that’s not including lunch breaks.
So, in other words, it’s going to take a whole day for a canal boat to get from one end to the other.
The White Horse
Introducing the Bratton/Westbury White Horse.
This attraction gets it’s own featured paragraph because Winston and I visited it and I’ve got a few photos that I would like to share.
The White Horse is located on Bratton Camp, which is an Iron Age hillfort that was built to protect roundhouses, stores, workshops, and granaries.
Records suggest that the horse was originally cut into the chalk the 17th century and had to be regularly scoured to keep it white. It was later preserved in the 1950s by covering it in concrete and painting it white.
My first impression of the White Horse is that it was big! Much bigger than I expected.
To help give you an idea of the size, here is a photo I took containing people. (The little things on the top of the hill.)
On the other end of the scale, here’s a much smaller White Horse which can be found near the Devizes Camping and Caravanning Club entrance.
That was my first stop successfully completed.
I then had to dismantle my whole set-up, load it into my van, drive 3.5hours south, and then re-pitch everything again.
I was a bit apprehensive of the timing and how exhausting it would be but surprisingly the move went smoother than I anticipated, and although I was tired at the end of the day, it was still manageable.
My next stop is Veryan, in Cornwall.
Stay tuned, the adventure continues…
- Camping at Hayfield, near Kinder Scout
- Camping at Youlgreave, Bakewell
- 13 Essentials for Working Whilst Travelling
- 19 Tips for First-Time Campers