Are you wondering where to go in your campervan and looking for some ideas for trips out? Then maybe we can help. After thinking back to the places we’ve visited, we’ve put together a list of some of our favourite days out. Hopefully you will enjoy them as much as we did. Let’s kick off with our most recent trip, shall we?
IDEAS FOR DAYS OUT IN YOUR CAMPERVAN – UK
Bridgnorth, Blists Hill Victorian Town and The Ironbridge Gorge Museums:
We spent a few days in Shropshire, visiting Bridgnorth, and the Blists Hill Victorian Town and Ironbridge Gorge Museums. Not too far from the M54, these museums give you some great days out, and if you buy a passport ticket you can access all the museums for a year.
Tip: if you collect Tesco Clubcard points you can swap them for the passport tickets, which makes it even better value.
We stayed at a touring site just outside Bridgnorth (Stanmore Hall – not cheap, but a nice site in beautiful surroundings) which was only a ten mile drive to all the museums. The first thing we did after finding our pitch at the campsite was to visit Bridgnorth.
Bridgnorth is a lovely little town on the banks of the river Severn. It is split into a Low Town and High Town by the Severn Valley, the upper town is on the right bank of the river and the lower on the left bank.
After driving across the bridge, we caught sight of the entrance to Bridgnorth Castle Hill Railway which is a charming little funicular railway that takes you up and down the steep cliff, and connects the two parts of the town. A little further on, we saw (what we now know was) Lavington’s Hole and wanted to pull over and have a look around. But parking was tight, so we carried on up to High Town.
High Town, Bridgenorth:
Here we managed to find a parking space and locked up the camper and headed out explore. We walked up and down the main street, past the Town Hall – a lovely half-timbered building (with market stalls underneath) but by now we felt in dire need of refreshment. So we made our way to the eye-catching building that houses a branch of a ‘well-known coffee chain’.
After we were suitably revived, we crossed the road and went along a side street to High Town’s entrance to the cliff railway – and were almost blown away by the spectacular views of the Severn Gorge from the path by the side of the railway’s entrance. It really is a must see!
We decided we’d like to have a ride on the funicular railway, so we went inside the delightfully old-fashioned station, paid our fare and boarded the carriage. Everything about it was fun: what a great way to get about! At the bottom, we turned right and walked along to see Lavington’s Hole and the caves dug into the red cliff (read the story on the information boards) before returning for the steep ride back up High Town.
Tip: If you want to experience the funicular railway, we’d recommend boarding in High Town and coming down the cliff (£1.60 return trip) to see the river and Lavington’s Hole (turn right as you come out from the railway, it’s just a short walk).
BLISTS HILL VICTORIAN MUSEUM
Blists Hill Victorian Museum:
The next day, we headed up the road to visit Blists Hill Victorian Museum. It had been recommended to us by friends, and I can tell you we weren’t disappointed. After parking up the campervan in the car park, we bought our ticket and went through the door and found ourselves in another world.
Blists Hill is a vast open-air museum, complete with authentic period shops including a wonderful old chemist full of weird and wonderful things – we were fascinated, and loved the notices in the windows too. There was a bank where you could change money into old currency to spend in the shops. We changed some money and bought ourselves some pear drops in the old-fashioned sweet shop, and we also had a go on the coconut shy at the fairground too.
It is a good idea to download the Blists Hill Attraction Map as there are all sorts of shops and buildings to explore, including a fried fish dealer, a post office, and a milliner and dressmaker. We also found it very interesting to visit all the workshops and industrial buildings where you can watch people in period dress at work.
The whole place plunges you back in time giving you a real taste of Victorian life in the late 1800’s. It was an excellent day out, we thoroughly enjoyed it.
Tip: We particularly enjoyed the old-fashioned singalong around the piano in the pub. Check times so that you don’t miss it! And don’t forget to visit the squatters cottage and listen to the occupant’s stories. (Check your attraction’s map for its whereabouts).
THE IRONBRIDGE GORGE MUSEUMS
We only managed to visit a few of the ten museums that the passport ticket gives access to, so we plan more days out to visit the ones we missed. Luckily the ticket is valid for 12 months, so we can take the campervan and have another weekend break in the area and catch up on them.
We did manage to get to The Museum of the Gorge – which is a small museum on the banks of the river Severn. It is housed in a pretty gothic-style warehouse and uses archive film to explain the sheer scale of the area’s historical significance – the Gorge is the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution!
Though it was interesting and we enjoyed watching the film in the small theatre, the highlight for us wasn’t the museum, but the Iron Bridge itself – it was worth the short walk along the road to see it up close.
Tip: It is very picturesque along near the Iron Bridge and there are some nice shops too. Take a walk onto the bridge, see the Tollhouse and admire the view of the gorge. Or just sit on one of the benches and take in the atmosphere.
We also visited Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron. The Museum of Iron tells the story of iron smelting right up to the Great Exhibition of 1851 where they showed off their best work. The museum has a collection of fine art casting, and displays of domestic and decorative ironwork and functional cookware all made from iron.
We loved all of the sculptures, and enjoyed listening to the old recordings (pick up the telephones on the wall) of people talking. The building itself (with its restored and decorated clock tower made of iron) is the former Coalbrookdale Great Warehouse.
Tip: Don’t miss the wonderful life-sized dogs on the Deerhound Table! And when crossing the green between the two buildings have a look at the lovely Boy & Swan Fountain.
Opposite the Museum of Iron is the stunning modern building that covers the original old furnace used by Abraham Darby. It was here that he first smelted iron ore with coke to produce cheap and plentiful cast iron. Go over the green and have a look at (and a walk around inside). We thought the setting was wonderful and loved the impressive railway viaduct too.
While you are there, you might want to visit Enginuity (especially if you have kids). Enginuity is a science-based museum with plenty of interactive exhibits. We had a walk around and can just imagine what fun it’d be for youngsters. All three of these places are very near each other and all share the same car park.
Stratford-upon-Avon, Leamington Spa, and Warwick:
Each of these towns is great for a day trip. But as all of these are within just a few miles of each other, it’s a wonderful area to pick for a long weekend or week away. There is so much to explore!
STRATFORD UPON AVON
Aside from Stratford’s obvious William Shakespeare connection (he was born in 1564 in the half-timbered Tudor house in Henley Street and is buried in Holy Trinity Church on the banks of the river Avon) Straford-upon-Avon is well worth a visit whether you want to see the Shakespeare sights, or not. It is a lovely historic town with so many good things to explore.
The first thing we always do is head toward the river. The wide green space of Bancroft Gardens and the waterfront area is always a gorgeous place to visit. It has a real holiday atmosphere and usually some very good buskers/open air entertainers too (from magicians to opera singers).
Sit on the benches near the Swan Fountain, admire The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, or wander down to the river itself and look at the swans and the boats – or better still, hop on board the cruise that runs regularly. Or if you are feeling brave, hire a boat and explore the river yourself.
Tip: Visit the waterfront area on a Sunday (or Bank Holiday Monday) and you can peruse the Upmarket which has over 70 craft and food traders. There is usually steel band music playing (and you can even see owls at the stand occupied by Midland Bird Rescue.) The market really adds to the atmosphere and we usually try to visit on a Sunday because of it.
The Royal Shakespeare Theatre which adjoins both Bancroft Gardens and the river, is also a nice place to go inside have a look around. While you are there, why not have a drink, or cup of coffee on the terrace overlooking the river.
Also, every Sunday between June 4th and August 27th (check dates just to be sure) the Royal Shakespeare Company’s outdoor theatre The Dell, plays host to a range of student, community, and semi-professional productions. The Dell is just along from the main theatre and entrance is free.
Tip: While walking along the road to the Dell, be sure to look up at the lamp posts.
Now, we couldn’t write about Stratford without mentioning Hobsons (at the bottom of Henley Street). No visit is complete without popping in there; we are regularly overwhelmed with the sheer choice of delicious looking cakes and cheesecakes on offer!
Do yourself a favour and give them a visit. They do all sorts of other food too, but it’s the cakes that keep us coming back.
Tip: Towards the end of the afternoon Hobsons set up a stall outside and sell off cakes for a pound. Take some back to your campervan with you for an evening treat.
Throughout the year Stratford has some really good events on. Here are a couple of our favourites…
Stratford Festival of Motoring – it is always a good day out with streets closed to traffic and some wonderful cars (more than 200 classic and special interest vehicles) parked throughout the town. They usually have a rock and roll band playing in the middle of the main street too!
Stratford River Festival – is their annual free two-day festival down by the river. Bring a blanket or a deck chair and enjoy the music.
With its fabulous Regency architecture and broad boulevards, Leamington Spa is a stunning place to visit. There are some marvellous shops and eateries and the side streets are a joy to explore. The town centre is only around a third of a mile square, so getting around couldn’t be easier. All areas are easily accessed on foot within a ten-minute walk.
But when you’ve done your exploring of the town centre, then take a wander down to the bottom of the main street and check out Jephson Gardens.
Jephson Gardens is a beautiful formal Victorian park in the centre of Leamington (they are listed as Grade II on the English Heritage register of historic parks and gardens) and it’s the perfect place for a relaxing stroll, especially on a sunny day.
Walk around the lake and feed the ducks and geese, enjoy the colourful flowerbeds and look at the sculptures (watch out for the elephants). If you fancy taking to the water, you can hire boats at Leam Boat Centre in Mill Gardens (and walk across the Mill Bridge, over the weir, and see all the padlocks!)
Another lovely thing about Jephson gardens are the trees; there are around 140 species of native and non-native trees.
There is so much to enjoy:
If you are visiting the park you must go inside the Glasshouse. (The Glasshouse is a gorgeous building and admission is free.) Inside you’ll find as sorts of tropical and temperate plants, including banana, pink powder puff and bird of paradise. There is even a little stream running through it, complete with fish.
Tip: Most Sunday afternoons throughout the summer there are free afternoon concerts outside the glasshouse. It is always pleasant on a sunny day to relax in the splendid surroundings and just listen to the music.
Opposite the main entrance to Jephson Gardens are the Royal Pump Rooms which is a Grade II listed building and the most famous of the several spa baths opened in Leamington between the late 18th and mid 19th centuries. People would travel from all over the country (and as far away as Europe) to benefit from treatments using the town’s healing waters. There is a cafe, a public library and art gallery inside. The exhibition on the history of the Spa town can be accessed from inside the art gallery.
Tip: Don’t miss the Turkish Bath inside the Pump Rooms. It has been carefully restored and has some lovely details. Check out the stained glass window.
Throughout the year, Leamington Spa hosts a variety of free events in both Jephson Gardens and the Pump Room Gardens. These are a couple of our favourites…
Leamington Peace Festival – is one of the UK’s longest running free festivals. It takes place every year on the weekend before the Summer Solstice. It fills the green space of the Pump Room Gardens with a great mix of family-friendly activities. There’s free workshops, live music, healing treatments, stalls, plus a wide range of vegetarian food.
Art in the Park – this too is an annual event (held over two days of an August weekend) where Jephson Gardens gets filled with fabulous art, music, dance, craft and food. There are lots of local artists with their work, and plenty of food and drink stalls. There is also musical entertainment all day from a variety of artists. Bring a blanket, sit on the grass and enjoy!
If you’ve packed up your campervan and are heading to Warwick, it’d be a good idea to download this Warwick Visitors Guide. It will tell you about all the main sights and where you can find them.
Meanwhile, we’re going to concentrate on Warwick’s crowning glory – Warwick Castle. Set within 64 acres of beautiful grounds and gardens, the castle itself is magnificent! If you are feeling fit you can climb up to the top of the towers, take in the view from the ramparts, or just sit and observe from the courtyard. The interior of the castle is stunning too: we loved the suits of armour in the great hall and enjoyed exploring the grand rooms of the castle interior.
Tip: If you collect Tesco Clubcard vouchers, they can be exchanged for Warwick Castle tickets.
One of the highlights of Warwick castle for us was watching The Flight of the Eagles, which is a spectacular birds of prey display (including vultures, eagles and even a condor with a giant wingspan). It was awe-inspiring to see the birds flying free in those fabulous surroundings. Another highlight was the Trebuchet and watching it launch a fireball over 150m in the air.
Tip: Check the times of the Flights of the Eagles and the Trebuchet and other shows and organise the rest of your activities around them. You really don’t want to miss them, especially the birds.
If you don’t want to actually visit the castle, but would still like to see it – then you can get a view of it from the bridge on the opposite side of the road to St Nicholas Park (just past Warwick Boat Club).
During the year there are plenty of events held in Warwick, here is one of our faves…
Retro Warwick – enjoy the ambience of Warwick’s surroundings and see all the cars parked up on the market square and the surrounding streets. We really enjoyed this event. It was great to see all the cars, and we especially loved the big old American ones. And best of all the event is free.
If you’d like to read more of our suggestions of where to go in a campervan, then check out our post: Cornwall in a Campervan – our favourite places.