We do it every year, on the August Bank Holiday weekend – go camping in Sparkhayes Campsite, Porlock.
This year, because of the damp Summer, we decided to buy a larger tent at the last minute so that any enforced time inside would be more comfortable. I’m talking two hours before we went camping!
Putting up a tent in the dark is never a great idea, but when it’s a new one and it’s the first time you’ve erected it…..well, thank goodness for friendly campers who put their car headlights on for us to see by.
This campsite is the same one that I’ve been coming to for over forty years and, I’m happy to say, little has changed in that time. It’s a very basic site which now has showers (!) and a covered outdoor area for checking your map in the rain before embarking on one of the numerous walks in this stunning part of Somerset.
This is the view from our tent which shows remarkably few tents considering it was August Bank Holiday.
I think the changeable weather forecast had a lot to do with that, but we weren’t complaining. It meant more room for The Boys to play cricket. Tess looks decidedly put out at not being allowed to join in.
To put the campsite location in perspective, this is a view from a nearby walk to Hurlstone Point.
The coastguard lookout shelter at Hurlstone Point marks the boundary between Porlock Bay and Blue Anchor Bay. The Boys were keen to climb even higher whilst I rested and got my breath back.
The whole area is in the Exmoor National Park which is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and is the reason it is my favourite destination in the entire world.
Yes, really, although Venice and Bali are close runners up:)
Every single time we do the walk from the campsite to Hurlstone Point, (a round trip of 4 miles) we have a cream tea in the gorgeous gardens at Kitnor’s tearoom in Bossington, leased out by The National Trust.
We walk A LOT when we go camping, whatever the weather.
A good breakfast is essential, so we started every day with a Full English in the Whortleberry Tearoom in Porlock.
It was sunny the day we walked Tucker’s Path to Webber’s Post….
….until we climbed into the clouds.
A glass of wine or two (who’s counting – no one’s driving) are well earned after a walk into the clouds and back!
There’s nothing quite like the relief felt after removing boots after a long walk and they make pretty good makeshift wine glass holders too.
Well, you can’t drink wine out of an enamel camping mug, can you?
The Boys sleep well at the best of times, but when we’re camping they’re out like a light as soon as the sun goes down!
The Boys played Poohsticks at Robber’s Bridge, just like we did as children.
Poor Tess thought all her Christmases had come at once with all the game birds that were around and hated being on the lead whilst Fifi walked sensibly off the lead, ignoring them completely.
Our destination is finally in sight, just half a mile to go.
A welcome break from the rain in the pub before starting on the return journey.
It might be wet, but Exmoor is still stunningly beautiful – just look at those heathers.
Back to Robber’s Bridge again for another game of Poohsticks before going back to the tent to dry out.
Two exhausted boys, fast asleep in the back of the car on the drive back to the campsite.
We certainly appreciated the bigger living space in the new tent when rain stopped play and we played games inside.
Anyone remember Beetle Drive?
A quick drive took us to Malmsmead in the Doone Valley, where you can drive over the ancient packhorse bridge, but why would you when you can go through the ford?
Here we are in the middle of it.
After another cream tea, we popped into the Lorna Doone farm shop next door which had a black lab on sentry duty.
Mr. H-L came out with his wallet over a hundred pounds lighter after buying these two cushions for me:)
Hand painted designs in watercolour are then printed onto velvet and linen – simply stunning and I couldn’t resist them!
They are handmade in Britain using only the best natural fibres and I looked up their website as soon as I got home (sorry, Mr. H-L!).
As a craft person myself, I appreciate skill like this and am happy to pay for it.
On the drive back we spotted a group of stags on top of Exmoor. This was the best photo I could get and made me wonder why we didn’t bring a camera on holiday with us, as those taken on a mobile are sometimes totally crap!
Our final day saw us nipping down the road to West Lynch Farm in Allerford, home to the Exmoor Owl and Hawk Centre. Built in 1456, it is typical of the architecture of the region and also offers B&B and horse riding.
Unfortunately, only one horse was available so The Boys had to take turns.
This also meant that I couldn’t join them, which was probably a good thing considering my still-not-completely-healed broken ribs from horse riding in Spain!
No.2 Son rode out first, over the bridge at Bossington and up through the woods.
No.3 Son took to the saddle on the return trip.
Back at the farm, a couple of pretty bantams guarded the door to the stable.
Another trip to Kitnor’s tearoom for yet another cream tea, only this time inside because it was raining again. Even though the wood burner wasn’t lit, it still felt warm and cosy and was the perfect end to our holiday.
So that was our Bank Holiday weekend – what did you do?