Sunday, 31 August 2008

In pursuit of the Derbyshire panther

According to Glynn Harthorne at Standcliffe House CL, the Derbyshire Panther is definitely not a rural myth. This, and other stories about the local area will be related to visitors who stay on this delightful 5 van site in the shadow of Crich Stand, near Matlock, Derbyshire.

Always at the cutting edge of new technology, a few years ago, Glynn set up a webcam from the back bedroom of his house, focussed on Crich Stand, originally so he could keep an eye on arrivals at the CL from his computer at work. The Law of Unexpected Consequences came into play, and he found that people from all over the world were logging on to look at the Derbyshire weather, study cloud formations and homesick expats wanting to see a little corner of home. Apparantly, the viewing figures per week run into the thousands. Well I never! Take a look for yourself using the link at the end of this article

Crich Stand, situated immediately behind the site, is a memorial to the 11,000 men of the Sherwood Forristers Regiment killed in the First World War. It is 1,018 feet above sea level at its tip. To reach it is a gentle (uphill) stroll, and what better way to watch the sunset than from such a vantage point?

Standcliffe House CL is situated right at the top of the Derbyshire village of Crich (Peak Practice’s Cardale), next to the Crich Tramway Museum. On a clear day, the views from all pitches are far-reaching and panoramic. The area can be explored on foot direct from the site. Alternatively, buses go from just down to road to Matlock, Alfreton, Chesterfield and other Derbyshire towns. Within spitting distance is a village shop, newsagent, pubs and a fish and chip shop, which means you don’t need to take the car out at all if you don’t want to.

The site is slightly sloping and all 5 pitches have hook-up. Pitch One is a flat hardstand, ideal for motorhomes, whilst you can take your pick of grass pitches anywhere on the field, if your cable is long enough. There is a recently refurbished WC and hand wash basin and a small tourist information area and Glynn is planning to install a power shower over winter, which will make this site just perfect. This is a popular site, and current pitch availability is shown on

This site is great for us, being just a 20 minute drive from home, yet far enough to be “on holiday” for the weekend. Now – do we believe the panther story or not………?

PS: Big cat experts believe there may be as many as 100 leopards and pumas roaming the British countryside.

Labels: ,

Friday, 22 August 2008

Atherstone Stables Certificated Location

Living on the edge of the Peak District, we often head into Derbyshire for our weekends away in the motorhome. However, we'd had our eye on Atherstone Stables CL, Warwickshire, for several months but had struggled to get in as it's a very popular site - and with good reason.

Site owner Vicki Garland wasn't around during our stay, so we can only report on what we experienced, rather than getting interesting background and gossip straight from the horses mouth (so to say).

Immediately you arrive you feel safe, and slightly regal, as you enter through huge electric gates (code supplied on booking) and drive up an immaculate gravel drive, past the stables and holiday apartments on the left, through to the large camping area at the back. Access is great, so it's ideal for people less-experienced in towing. Horses are grazing in fields all around, including to the rear of the site, which gives lovely views from your caravan or motorhome. Being so far away from the road, there is no noise at all, and although the site was full, we can honestly say we never heard any noise from our neighbours at all (in fact we were probably the noisiest there!).

The site feels brand new. There are 5 huge gravel hard standing pitches with hook-up and one grass pitch (this one has the best views, but no hook-up) all level, backing onto hedgerows and overlooking a large open grassed area and beyond to the fields. The toilets (2) and showers (2) are a 2-3 minute walk back to the stable block and there is a £1 charge for showers (coin in slot). These are shared with the livery clients. The marked dog walk is actually a peaceful circular walk around the owners' fields and takes about 20-30 minutes. Proceed past the horses with care though, as a couple of them were quite frisky.

Yes, there is a slightly horsey smell around the stables/toilet block (not in the camping area though), but you wouldn't expect it to smell of anything else, really, would you? And everywhere is so clean and well-looked after. There is a room at the other end of the stable block which the friendly livery folk use for tea and coffee and resting, and tourist information is available there too.

Atherstone is a 1.5 mile walk, or a short drive away, and what a smashing town this is. Atherstone was once an important hatting town, and became well known for its felt hats. The industry began in the 17th century, and at its height there were seven firms employing 3000 people. Due to cheap imports, the trade had largely died out by the 1960s, and ended completely in 1998. Also nearby is the delightful Hartwell Country Park, Twycross Zoo, and many, many other places of interest.

Back at the site, walks are possible in the surrounding countryside (remember to take the gate code with you though ……. and watch out for the occasional fast car on the lane outside). If peace, quiet and relaxation are your bag - this site will be perfect.

If you have your own horse, you can even take Dobbin along for a holiday by prior arrangement with Vicki. How good would that be?

Labels: ,

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Perfect Penlan Caravan Park - Hay on Wye

Without doubt Penlan Caravan Park is one of the most picturesque and peaceful sites we have ever stayed on. Located on the border between England and Wales, and against a sheltered backdrop of mature trees and hedges, the 270 degree panoramic countryside views from every pitch must be amongst the best in the UK.

This small site has everything you want - exceptionally spacious pitches, modern, clean toilet/shower block, fields for walking dogs or children to play (if no animals grazing) and a personal and friendly welcome and attentive service from resident owners Peter and Margaret Joyce (and their little spaniel Charlie), who both work extremely hard to keep this site special. There is an information shed, with maps and walks in the area which campers/caravanners can borrow, barbeques to hire and and fridge/freezer for camper's use.

Come to this site for a couple of nights, or a week, and you will leave relaxed, refreshed and already planning your next visit.


Monday, 4 August 2008

Camping Boom as credit crunch intensifies

The following article is courtesy of Ellen Widdup, Evening Standard - 10 July 2008:

"Holidays under canvas or in caravans are making a comeback thanks to the credit crunch. Sales of camping equipment - including sleeping bags, picnic hampers, torches and paraffin stoves - are on the increase, with major retailers reporting rises of up to 40% in the past year.

Charlotte Tookey, senior marketing manager for Tesco Direct, which has seen a 38% rise in camping equipment sales since July 2007, put the surge down to the financial squeeze, which is forcing families to consider alternatives to holidays abroad. 'Summer camping trips are a great British tradition, so it is wonderful to see that more holidaymakers are choosing to go camping this year,' she said. 'For families feeling the pinch, camping can be an affordable solution.'

Last month Canvas Holidays said it had seen a 20% rise in bookings between May and June. One of Britain's biggest caravan break companies, Haven Holidays, has also reported a 30% rise in bookings. The National Caravan Council recorded a 20% rise in campsite bookings for July and August and a rise in the number of people purchasing caravans. Its spokesman said many people were choosing to camp because it gave them a sense of adventure and reminded them of childhood holidays.

Environmental concerns about aircraft emissions are also contributing to the camping renaissance, but price is thought to be the main factor. A two-week holiday in Malaga could cost a family of four up to £3,000 for travel, accommodation and transfers. By contrast, camping in Devon would set the same family back around £17 per night - a total of £242 plus travel costs for two weeks.

Most campsites charge roughly £15 a night for a caravan, £1 for power and water and 50p to put up an awning. Tent-dwellers are charged about £5 a pitch per day, plus another £3 per adult and £1 per child.

Ian Peet, from holiday specialist Go Camping UK said it was a sensible choice for those who wanted to get away without breaking the bank. 'Everyone is tightening their budgets so it appears there is no better time to get back to nature and discover the joys of camping.'

Some of Britain's grandest estates also welcome campers. In Norfolk, the Queen's Sandringham Estate and Holkham Hall, the home of Viscount Coke, both run caravan parks, as does Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, the seat of the Duke of Devonshire.

A spokesman for the Cool Camping guidebook said these destinations were among many now offering a range of high-end camping holidays. One of the most expensive 'boutique' campsites in Britain is Glastonbury's Camp Kerala, which charges £7,000 to stay in a shikar tent - kitted out with a double mattress, fur throws and down duvets - to the likes of Kate Moss during the festival".

Image above: Hayfield Camping & Caravaning Club Site, Peak District Copyright 2008