This year we decided to go to the British GP for the first time. (Well apparently I’ve been before but I was too small to remember.) I booked tickets for all three days of the racing weekend, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It is possible to drive there and back each day from our’s but it’s a lot easier to stay near Silverstone as the traffic can get bad. We opted for the Whittlebury Park Campsite which is right next to the circuit.
Here’s their description:
“Whittlebury Park Golf & Country Club is set in over 600 acres of picturesque parkland, designated a site of special landscape beauty with magnificent oaks that are hundreds of years old, and over a dozen fresh water lakes. We are situated next to the world famous Silverstone Racing Circuit and have our own private paths into the circuit. Being the closest campsite to the circuit, our regular guests have been enjoying our facilities for many years.”
The cheapest plot is a ‘farm’ plot at £125. Each plot is available from 2pm on the Tuesday prior to main race day until the following Monday and entitles guests to an area of 6m x 7m which is sufficient for either a vehicle and tent, a vehicle and caravan or a mobile home and awning. Occupancy is based on 4 adults or 2 adults with children. As this equates to £5.20 a night per person it’s not really that pricey. However if there’s just 2 of you and you’re only staying for 3 nights like we were it’s a bit more expensive.
We were staying in ‘Grandstand’ field. We arrived on the Thursday night and left on Sunday afternoon.
- The info pack they sent out contains some fantastic directions to avoid the heavy traffic that can build on the A43. We got into and out of Silverstone with no problems at all.
- They’re very organised and when we arrived we had no wait at all at reception.
- Our tent was 10 minutes walk from the circuit down a country footpath. You don’t get much closer than that!
- There’s a small shop selling basic provisions open pretty much all day and night over the weekend.
- There was an ice cream van that visits each evening driving up and down the rows between the tents.
- The campsite staff are plentiful during daylight hours, helping campers and managing the site.
- They have a beer tent that was open each evening selling hot food (burgers, hog roast, chips), alcohol, with live bands and even some of the Red Bull team came down Saturday night to say hi.
- The atmosphere is friendly and welcoming from staff and other campers.
- The views from the campsite are beautiful. Especially when you’re up at dawn to get to the circuit early to get a good viewing spot.
Not so great:
- The toilets were portaloos dotted in groups around the site. I appreciate that there are a very large number of people staying there over the GP weekend but I think Nev summed it up when he said, ‘people are animals’. They were about as clean as rock festival loos.
- The campsite literature says no fireworks and no noise after midnight. However both of these are ignored by the campers who let off fireworks, hooted their vuvuzelas, and partied til the wee hours of the morning. It’s a festival atmosphere which is fun, but don’t expect to sleep. If you want to get up at 5am (like we did) on Sunday then I recommend ear plugs. Not for the racing but for the campsite!
- There ARE showers but I have no idea where they were. Quite a walk from what people were saying and very busy. We just washed in a billy can and used a lot of facial cleansing wipes to keep clean. Luxury camping this is not.
- When we arrived there was a bit of rubbish on the ground. Toilet roll, beer bottle tops, remains of plastic bags, bent tent pegs. Expect to do some cleaning up before you pitch. Warning: Don’t pitch next to the corrugated iron fenced off bits, those are open bins.
- There was no shade or shelter in our field where we were and it was blisteringly hot. So hot in fact that the anti-glare coating on Nev’s glasses melted when they were left in the tent during the day. Who knows how hot that tent got but it’s a miracle we didn’t have a gas canister or beer bottle explode. When we got back to the tent each afternoon we huddled in a little meter square patch of shade next to the tent til the sun set at 9pm.
So much about whether something is perceived as good or bad is about expectations. With the expectation of a Summer festival, beer filled, party atmosphere site with a very very short walk to the circuit we would have probably been perfectly happy. However the literature and the price gave us the impression it was a quieter countryside campsite filled with dedicated F1 fans primarily there for the racing. Most of the people there seemed to be primarily there for the lager. We’re not convinced the people next to us left their tent over the whole weekend!
I can’t deny that the crazy hot temperatures seriously distorted our view of the world. Nev and I are not hot weather bunnies and we honestly nearly came home Saturday after a very long walk, sunburn (despite repeatedly applying factor 30 and covering up), sunstroke (despite sun hats and plenty of water), and the prospect of a third day with little shelter from the blistering sun. Aside – it was cold and rainy Sunday morning and we LOVED it. However it must be said that the weather at Silverstone is notorious for being rainy, hot, cold, or windy, or all four in the same day. There’s little shelter being in a tent on the top of a hill in the middle of a field.
My advice. If you’re mentally & practically prepared for the above, go for it. Take a bucket to wash in. Take another bucket in case you don’t want to use the loos. Take earplugs and an eye-mask to sleep in. Don’t take anything you care for, it’ll get dirty and maybe ruined. Expect a party atmosphere and, if you’re up for it, join in. The people are friendly and having a blast. Maybe even go with a bunch friends and have your own party. Then take the advice of Alan too, who we met on Saturday with his wife Babs. Get to the circuit early in the morning, plonk down a camping chair, and sleep til the racing starts.