Autumn leaves in Wiltshire
An October break in the van
Mike and I take Ethel the campervan out for the weekend about once a month from March to October and it’s a great way to get away from work when you’re self-employed! The wildflowers are often looking a bit tired at this time of year so I thought I’d write about camping instead.
In early October we took the van to a Camping and Caravanning Club Site near Old Sarum in Wiltshire. Old Sarum is an iron age hill fort near Salisbury and you can see it in the distance in the main pic.
About Ethel the campervan
Ethel is a silver Renault Trafic that had been a mobility vehicle before becoming a campervan a few years back. We bought her in winter 2019 from a Dad who’d bought it newly converted in order to take his teenage son surfing in Spain – sounds fab! We haven’t got abroad in her yet but hope to soon!
2019 was a perfect time to buy her. Mike had been trawling the internet for months dismissing vans left, right and centre: too expensive (mostly!); too big to park; too small for two people to sleep in comfortably; wrong layout… Luckily we managed to buy her just before Covid when prices skyrocketed. We managed one outing over Valentines weekend in 2020 pre-covid, but we were ready to roll for weekend trips as soon as restrictions eased.
The grey awning you can see in the pic is a really handy addition. Sometimes we use it as a windbreak for sitting outdoors, but mostly its great used for storage. We dump everything out of the van that we’re not currently using, be it the BBQ, camp chairs, firepit or walking boots. It’s a freestanding tent with a connecting flap so we can just zip it up and drive away for the day if we’re booked into the same pitch for a few days.
Cold weather camping
In cold weather from autumn to early spring we don’t go as often. When we do go, we make sure we bring extra bedding and book a pitch with electric hook-up. This means we can warm up with our tiny ceramic heater if necessary or microwave a wheat bag. I never would have put a microwave in a camper van but as it’s there we might as well use it! Most of the year we don’t need an electric pitch as we have a great solar panel, but firstly it can’t cope with large power drains like heaters, and secondly there’s less light to charge it October to March.
The Salisbury campsite
So this grass pitch with electric at Old Sarum was great as we could cross the playing field to the hill fort which had free footpath access, or we could walk about 45 mins along the river into the medieval city of Salisbury itself. We were lucky with the weather and it was even warm enough to eat outside.
What I like about Camping and Caravanning club sites is they’re always clean and well organised, and this one even had a pizza oven one night. Being the end of the season we had plenty of space, but it was dry enough that driving across the grass wasn’t a worry.
Old Sarum and Salisbury
The ancient site of Old Sarum was only a 15 minute walk away across a playing field and offered great views towards Salisbury. Old Sarum is a hill fort and the ruined site of the earliest settlement of Salisbury, which was deserted in the thirteenth century. We saw that there is also a Norman castle on the site which you can pay to look around.
We loved the bakeries and pubs in Salisbury and the Saturday market was vibrant with food stalls and lots to look at. We particularly enjoyed stopping for a couple of pints in the Haunch of Venison pub which was both tiny and historic, dating from 1320!
This wasn’t our last trip of the year – we also went Christmas shopping in Bristol in early December and it even snowed a little!
Ethel gets a few mentions throughout this blog, for example we took her to the North of England for a couple of weeks one June.