This review of our visit to the Longleat Caravan & Motorhome Club site in Wiltshire is based on our visit in July 2018 when we stayed for one week.
Firstly – and extremely importantly for this site – arrival. There is only one way to reach the site and that’s from the A362 between Frome and Warminster. You cannot access it via the famous safari park – if you’re arriving from the east go past the park entrance at the roundabout and continue on the A362 following the brown tourist signs for the site. The turning is easily spotted thanks to a public house on the corner – once the White Hart and renamed the Longleat Tavern. From the there the road narrows in places so take it easy and bear in mind that arrivals at this site are from 1pm. Check out our Site Arrival video below to show the route in.
Right, to the site itself. There is a Late Night Arrivals area with space for two units on the left as you drive in and a small parking area for visitors on the right. New arrivals keep to the left and pull up outside the reception and shop to the left. Entry and exit through the barriers is by key fob issued once you have selected your pitch.
The site is open from roughly the middle of March to the first week in January and welcomes tents and non-members although the latter will pay a pitch supplement (£12/night as of July 2018) as is per usual. Stay more than four nights and it’s worth joining though ( £51/year as of July 2018) as you’ll save the membership fee by not paying the supplement.
Longleat is one of the larger sites on the network with 164 pitches, 151 of which are hardstanding, and 6 additional pitches for tents. It’s a mature site having been on the club network since around 1986 with plenty of trees providing shade – much sought after during our stay – and it’s been designed so it doesn’t feel or look too big, particularly to the left of the site. It wasn’t busy during our stay admittedly but it never seemed cramped – pitches are nice and wide and there is plenty of room for the car to sit alongside your caravan even with an awning up.
The usual club’s service point for your water/waste/rubbish and recycling are dotted around the site and there are two motorhome service points, one of which is – in my opinion – very handily placed just after the barriers. I don’t have a motorhome but it seems a sensible place to put one – you get to fill your water tank without going on a tour of the site – ditto with emptying the waste water when you leave.
In addition to the two facilities blocks there is a third comprising of the information room, wash up area, laundry room, baby & toddler room and two unisex toilets. It was nice to see lowered sinks in both the laundry and wash up areas for wheelchair users.
To the back of this block there is also a family room. In here is a pool table, table tennis table and large screen tv with plenty of charge. Outside is the Family Area with picnic tables, a large chessboard and boules pitch, all the equipment for which can be borrowed from reception.
Four legged friends are catered for with access to the exercise area between pitches 29/30. The first section is open to the road so obviously dogs must be kept on a lead here but another gates leads to an area in which they can run free safely.
For kids there is a play area with climbing frames and so on towards the right hand corner of the site behind pitch 99. Check out our Site Tour () video for a look around.
Whilst the obvious draw here is Longleat Safari Park and rightly so, it’s not compulsory and there is plenty to keep you occupied if you have a few days spare as we found during our stay.
Nearest is Heavens Gate – follow the signs to Longleat but carry on past the entrance and up the hill. Immediately after the Spa resort on your left is a free car park. Cross the road and a fifteen minutes walk or so takes you through lovely woodland to a terrific view of the Longleat estate. A cracking spot to read, picnic or just take in the view.
The towns or Warminster and Frome are close by. Frome is perhaps more of interest to the tourist and we had a pleasant couple of hours following a Treasure Trail and learning a bit about the town in the process. It’s quite hilly though in places so be prepared. Your nearest supermarket to the site – an Asda, complete with petrol station – is on the outskirts.
In nearby Westbury you can view the famous White Horse, follow the B3098 Bratton Road for one of the best view points. Continue up the Bratton Road and you can walk to the White Horse itself but even staying by the road there are some lovely views of Wiltshire to be had.
Another recommendation and one I’m happy to pass on is Shearwater Lake – about a 15 minute drive from the site just off the A350. A popular spot to fish, walk or even run, a cafe by the entrance is a handy place to refuel after such exertions.
Trowbridge is handy if retail parks are your thing but a bit further on is Bradford-on-Avon, real picture postcard stuff – the view of the town across the river as you arrive from the south is gorgeous.
Further afield and around half an hour away is Lacock Village & Abbey, under the stewardship of the National Trust although the village is free to walk around anyway. Just try and imagine it without the cars and it’s beautiful. There’s plenty of opportunities here to rest and refuel.
Lacock is where, in August 1835 a chap by the name of William Henry Fox Talbot captured the world’s first photographic negative – of a window at his home – the abbey. More recently it has been used for a number of films including Harry Potter.
There was no pub within walking distance of the site – unless you’re really keen – but the Royal Oak served up a nice Hunters Chicken and Gammon on our visit. Two other pubs we visited – the Horse & Groom and Cross Keys were both community run and very well patronised. Well worth a visit if you’re in the area.
Most devotees of caravan breaks love talking about the spring, summer and autumn. That’s because these are all seasons most of us would like to think we can get out and about in.
By contrast, mention winter and many owners flinch. For many of us, it’s a time of year for securing our caravans and saying goodbye to them until the better weather arrives again in spring.
However, it’s important to take winter seriously and think about what it might mean in terms of risks to our caravans. There are important things to consider when you are quietly bedding your caravan down for the worst of the weather.
No responsible caravan owner should seriously consider “do nothing” as a viable option here.
In the British Isles, winter tends to bring violent storms more often than bitterly cold and snowy weather, with all the risks that high winds and excessive rain can mean for a caravan.
So it’s important that your vehicle isn’t just parked up somewhere and then ignored for several months.
The exact steps you might choose to take with a given caravan depend a lot upon your individual situation. It may be that you have extensive land and sheltered ground which is ideal for longer-term storage of your caravan. Remember though that under local planning laws, simply parking it longer-term on your driveway might not be acceptable to the authorities (and possibly not your neighbours either).
It’s also important to take certain systematic close-down steps relating to the shutting off of various supplies and electrical systems. The exact nature of those will typically be specified in your owner’s manual.
It’s also only sensible to remove any portable valuables you have in the vehicle. Examples that come to mind might include electronic equipment and any higher-value appliances, providing that they can be easily removed.
Some of these steps may be formally stated requirements of some touring caravan insurance policies.
Ideally, your caravan should be stored somewhere that is as insulated as possible from the elements and also subject to security surveillance.
There are such special sites and here at Cover4Caravans, we will be pleased to offer a discount of up to 15% on your touring caravan insurance if you choose such a CaSSOA-approved site over the wintertime.
Even if your caravan is professionally stored, it’s a good idea to try and periodically check it out to make sure that all is well. You might spot tiny problems, perhaps weather related, then nip them in the bud before they become something more serious.
It might only consume a relatively small amount of time on an infrequent basis but it could prevent a lot of heartache when you retrieve your caravan ready and eager for the first journeys in spring.
In fact, for many caravanners, winter is no longer a no-go time.
There are plenty of opportunities out there for you to use your caravan through the wintertime and that brings with it a number of advantages including quieter sites and tourist attractions.
However, if like many, you still prefer to consider winter as your shutdown period as far as caravanning is concerned, do take a little time to plan how to secure your vehicle.
We’re here to offer advice and help as required in terms of your options.
This month is National Home Security Month (NHSM) which is a timely reminder that static caravans have one major thing in common with more conventional properties – they are both potential targets for burglars and other criminals.
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to deter these criminals.
A quick review of burglar’s psychology
Before looking at some of the concrete measures you might be able to take to better protect your property, it’s worth thinking a little about the typical burglar’s inclination.
The vast majority of such criminals are opportunist. That means they are looking for spontaneous opportunities to easily access a static caravan in order to steal the contents.
As a result, they are always on the lookout for things such as open doors and windows, tools left lying around outside (which might be used to gain entry) and potential access points that appear to have no or only limited security.
Anything you do to visibly secure your caravan is likely to deter large numbers of potential burglars. They will typically move on, looking for caravans that are more vulnerable, meaning less risk of discovery.
So it only makes sense to install approved professional locks and bolts on all of your doors and windows and to make sure that you don’t help burglars unintentionally by leaving tools lying around outside which they might otherwise use against those same security bolts.
You also have the option of installing (or having installed), solutions involving a combination of burglar alarms and cameras.
Burglar alarms have been around for a long time and are now very sophisticated. More recently, cameras and video technology have been added to them.
Today the cameras are very small and easy to hide around your caravan. Some such as Blink (an Amazon company) can link directly to the internet and will notify you on your phone if they’ve detected someone moving around your property when it should be empty. They may even be able to use infrared sensors to detect movement in the dark and to film the intruders!
These types of solutions may be installed on a DIY basis or by a professional security solutions provider. Some solutions providers might augment their provision of security systems with regular patrols and rapid response services.
Some static caravan insurance providers may require you to take certain minimum security precautions.
Requirements for you to fit locks and bolts to certain minimum standards might be regularly found in policies. In some cases, policies might also require you to use more advanced solutions and in and some instances they may also extend their specified security conditions to include aspects of the services provided by the site’s owners.
Few if any static caravan owners wish to consider trying to turn their property into an impenetrable citadel. However, a balance must be struck between avoiding doing so and making it terrifyingly easy for thieves to enter.
The level of the measures you choose to adopt will be driven partly by any requirements that might be specified in your static caravan insurance policy and perhaps the extent to which you wish to ensure that the contents of your static are protected.
If you have any doubts about the potential solutions available to you, it would be worth speaking with a local intrusion prevention specialist.
For many owners, their touring caravan is almost like part of the family. It’s indispensable in helping to get out and about and making the most of that precious leisure time.
That’s why many wish to protect their caravan through appropriate touring caravan insurance. However, insurance isn’t a subject that everybody naturally takes to and as a result, sometimes it’s nice to have a little assistance in finding a suitable solution to your touring caravan insurance needs.
This is an area where we at Cover4Caravans can assist.
Just what is touring caravan insurance?
When you own a caravan, you’ll typically face a number of potential risks. Broadly speaking, they will fall into one of the following categories:
- someone doing something illegal to it – that might include unpleasant things such as burglary or the theft of the entire caravan;
- damage caused by forces of nature beyond your control, such as storms, floods and so on;
- being involved in an accident of your own making;
- compensation-seeking claims from third parties that have suffered injury as a result of your caravan or experienced damage to their property for similar reasons.
The upshot of all these types of circumstances might be that you will be left facing some very substantial bills. There are touring caravan insurance companies who offer special policies providing cover for these sorts of eventualities.
Choosing an appropriate policy
Although there are large numbers of touring caravan insurance companies, their products may be very different.
Some caravan owners might be inclined to simply choose between them based on the advertised cheapest price. In our opinion, that’s typically a mistake.
It’s a simple fact of life that in the event you have to call upon your insurance cover for help, the last thing you will be thinking about under those circumstances is how much it originally cost. Instead, you’ll be 100% focused on just what your policy covers and whether or not you will be able to get your claim approved.
Therefore it seems logical that’s what you should concentrate on when initially selecting your policy rather than the headline price.
Interpreting caravan insurance policies
It isn’t a question of one policy being good and another one bad. It’s more about matching your exact circumstances and requirements to a suitable policy.
To give an illustration, consider what might happen should your caravan be stolen.
Policies might differ significantly in how they will respond, including:
- new-for-old caravan replacement for vehicles that are no more than two years old and which have had a single owner since new;
- new-for-old replacement for caravans up to five years old but again, only if you have been the sole owner since new;
- offering only market valuation compensation;
- as we provide, new-for-old replacement for caravans up to five years old, irrespective of how many previous owners they may have had.
That is just one example of many such considerations that might apply when you are reviewing the policies offered by touring caravan insurance companies.
Do you feel comfortable reviewing different insurance policies?
In our experience, not everyone has the time or inclination to conduct an in-depth review of a number of competing policies. As a result, selections can sometimes be rushed and that might be something that you’ll regret at your leisure in the event of a claim.
There is an alternative – and that is to allow us to assist you in selecting cover that is suitable for your situation and which balances pricing against the appropriateness of the cover provided.
Why not contact us to find out more?
Go on admit it – if you own a caravan, you’re as likely to be fascinated by the all the latest nifty gadgets as the next man or woman.
Each year sees the launch of a new crop of accessories and devices that many a caravanner regards as a gadget to die for. Some stand the test of time and prove their usefulness – or even indispensability – for many years to come; others might turn out to have been little more than a passing fad and brief flash in the pan.
So, here is our pick of the nifty caravan gadgets which appeared on the market in 2018 – if you missed any of them this glorious past summer, new, improved versions are almost certain to hit the stores next season.
BioLite Camping Lamp
The BioLite Camping Lamp is no ordinary torch – though it is that too. It also doubles as a lantern that can be used inside or outside your caravan, made into a string of fairy lights or provide a power-hub for re-charging any number of gadgets and devices via its USB plug.
The company also makes a range of solar-powered energy packs – designed to provide lighting and power in any emergency.
Portable solar panel
With their Nomad 7 solar panel, Goal Zero have produced a lightweight and ultra-portable power pack to delight even the most fiendishly nerdy electronic gadget freak.
The foldable system is designed to make the most of solar energy charging for your mobile phone – and a host of other electronic gadgets – even when sunlight is variable or unpredictable. There is even an inbuilt LED indicator to tell you the strength of prevailing solar conditions.
For ease of use, the Nomad 7 also comes with a detachable kickstand.
Portable washing “machines”
Few touring caravans are likely to have the space, design capacity or energy supply for an electric washing machine – but don’t despair, you can still keep your clothes washed and odour-free a more traditional way with the Laundreez washing kit.
The kit is no more than a space-saving collapsible bag into which you place your dirty clothes, fill up with water and washing powder, and gently swash around until they appear clean enough.
The tableware you use when you go caravanning might have been chosen for its durability, unbreakability and lightness – but that inevitable plastic feel probably does little when it comes to conjuring up sophistication or fine-dining under a starry summer’s night.
Kampa may have come up with the ideal solution – melamine tableware that has all the light-weight durability you need, but which looks and feels every inch the genuine terracotta deal.
Just because you’re taking your holidays in a caravan doesn’t mean you have to forego that early-morning cup of freshly-brewed fine coffee.
The Cafflano Klassic range of all-in-one coffee makers is for the connoisseur.
Into just the one vertically-stacked gadget just add your favourite coffee beans and the ceramic grinder grinds them to your taste. Add water, and the coffee filters through an etched, stainless filter dripper, ready to pour from the machine itself – you can almost smell the aroma just from the description.