Camping: #miniholiday in Watlington

Last weekend we snuck away for a night’s camping in Watlington in Oxfordshire.

We were all geared up to go wild camping on Dartmoor. However Winter had other plans and we watched the forecasted nighttime temperatures for the weekend drop as the weekend got nearer. In the end the decision was made, with heavy hearts, that it would be unwise to go out onto the moor for a freezing night under the stars. Friday we spent at home, popping out to a local pub for lunch, dropping into our local farmer’s shop, and buying a few plants at the local garden centre. However by the end of the day we were sad that we weren’t further afield. It was turning into a long weekend of more of the same four walls. So we hopped onto Camping Ninja and booked a one night get-away at White Mark Farm campsite.

Watlington Hill:

Watlington has a big hill with a white chalk mark carved onto it. After setting up the tent we took a stroll up to the top of the hill, just as the sun decided to show her face, and caught an eyeful of the amazing view!

There were a crazy number of red kites up there. They’ve been very successfully reintroduced after having been exterminated in England in the late 18th century. We normally have a few round our home but I’ve never seen so many hunting in one place and we climbed high enough to look down on them.

The Campsite:

The campsite itself is a Camping and Caravan Club site, although not exclusive to club members. The pitching field was soft, grassy, and clean. With a nice view out of the far right corner across the valley. It’s position so close to the Ridgeway and Watlington Hill is fab and they have a small area set aside for backpackers only.

Apologies for shaky-cam.

The toilet/shower block is open to the air (although covered) so was a bit chilly! I’m sure in the Summer it’s fine but there were only 4 loos so might be a wait. Dogs are welcome but must be kept on a lead and walked off site. There are lots of signs around that say what you shouldn’t be doing (“No smoking”, “Stop and report to reception”) and then a sign saying ‘Camping and Caravanning Club, the Friendly Club”, which did make us giggle. There’s a little shop that sells eggs, frozen homemade cakes, and other essentials. I imagine it’s idyllic in the Summer but probably also very busy with regulars with their caravans.

The Kit:

Once again we used our Quechua 2 Seconds III tent and once again it did the biz. Five minutes to pitch, about ten minutes to put it away. It’s a bit cosy but we can now confirm it’s shower proof (we had a slight drizzle during the night and we hadn’t used the guy ropes) and warm enough on a cold night. Perfect for a short camping trip with the car. Original review here.

Another item that I appreciated greatly was my Mountain Equipment Xero 550 sleeping bag. I feel the cold easily but snuggled up in this thing I’m happy as a bug in a down sleeping bag!

Our Primus ETA Express stove with a 4 season gas canister was the surprise fail of the trip. In the cold it really struggled to heat water, something I hadn’t imagined would be a problem unless it was much colder. This was more a lesson learned for us though as it’s our first trip in these kind of temperatures.

Other mentions should go out to the clothes that kept me warm: down jacket, merino wool leggings, merino wool long sleeved shirt, merino buff, and a home knitted merino wool hat. Nev was grateful for his double layered Rab fleece. Dogface sported his Equafleece black jumper which keeps him warm (but not too hot) and dry. Also we made use of our favourite short walk rucksack, my blue Osprey Talon 22 litre. Had this a while now and it’s wearing really well despite the mud, rain, and occasional pub spillages.

All images except this one taken by the awesome @nevillefenn. Check out his pics at http://fenn.smugmug.com/


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One thought on “Camping: #miniholiday in Watlington

  1. Nice camping post – shame about your Primus, I’ve used a Primus ETA Power in minus 10 and it cooked my meals brilliantly. With the high-tech saucepan, vents on the bottom like radiators, it you leave it on a frozen surface it will stick. I had to put hot water into to release! The fun of winter camping.

    Kind regards
    David

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