On Friday evening we drove to Cheddar in Somerset for camping at Bucklegrove Campsite with the kids. Their first request when lockdown was easing was to go camping! We also went to see Cheddar Gorge for the first time. Neither Ben or I had been before, even though we only live around one and a half hour away. Read on to learn things to do in Cheddar Gorge with kids, see the walk we did in Cheddar with absolutely amazing views and also check out where we ate.
But first, things didn’t really get off to a great start for our camping trip away…
A bad start
We had planned to head down right after school, but I had stacks of work to do and was nowhere near ready. The weather was awful – heavy rain most of the day – a boiler service we were having suddenly changed at last minute and he wanted to come round Friday dinner time, and we found out at about 3.30pm that we had five house viewings on the Saturday as we’d just listed our house for sale! So we were not ready to leave straight after school at all, and were manically trying to clean and tidy our home ready for viewings the next day. Oh and the estate agent didn’t even have a key yet, so we had to give them a key before we went!
Then it just didn’t stop raining. The M5 had delays so it took us twice as long to get there and the kids argued the entire way!
The rain was really putting me off going anyway. I really don’t like camping, at least not in tents, and Ben had bought an awning to put up for the first time with the Bongo. One main reason we got the Bongo was as a compromise. I really don’t like camping in tents. I don’t like sleeping on uncomfortable grounds, I don’t like having to use public toilets when they are gross or having to go to them in the middle of the night when it’s cold and dark and I need to pee, I hate being surrounded by other people as I’d rather some privacy and I definitely don’t like arriving on holiday and having the chore of putting a tent up, especially in the rain! The thought of camping in the rain is also super off-putting as everything gets soaked and there’s no warm, dry house to return to after a day out in the rain getting soaking wet. I don’t mind exploring in the rain, but I want to be able to return to a warm house and dry off and have a warm shower and relax in comfort!
So, anyway, when discussing years ago Ben’s love for camping, we decided to get a Bongo. I’d get a more comfortable night’s sleep that wasn’t in a tent and we’d not have the faff of putting up tents. Ben had bought an awning and it felt like all the faff I couldn’t be bothered with. It’s basically like putting up a tent!
However, the Bongo and awning still didn’t solve any of the camping in the rain issues. With the rain chucking it down I half felt like staying at home as I knew camping wouldn’t be much fun in the rain!
We went anyway, with our heads all over the place as we suddenly had so much last minute stuff to do and left much later than originally planned.
Oh, and I started my period that day too. Not ideal timing which affected my mood and made the using public toilets and not having a private toilet even more inconvenient and less appealing!
So not a great start.
It was also freezing cold. Once there and Ben set up the awning, I literally wrapped up in the duvets in the bongo, fully dressed, and tried to get warm! It’s the end of May, but you’d think it was autumn! We’ve still had the heating on at home and the real fire.
We didn’t get a great night’s sleep either! Not me or Ben.
The night we camped was around 5 degrees Celsius and it did warm up slightly in the van with four of us sleeping in it (we have a pop-top section for the kids to sleep in), but I did need to go to toilet twice in the night in the cold and the wet and the dark. Plus the kids decided to continue arguing and couldn’t sleep nicely together in the pop-top section, so Reuben ended up down with us sleeping diagonally on my side. Thanks Reubs! I worried about squishing him, even though he’s six years old, and I couldn’t stay asleep!
So we had a rubbish night’s sleep, the weather was crap and my mood wasn’t great!
Luckily things could only get better!
A family day out at Cheddar Gorge
Thankfully once we got up and out to Cheddar Gorge at around 9am in the morning, my mood started to improve. The weather dried up and we even had some sunshine. My body is craving sunshine and warm so badly right now!
We also wondered what was going on as there are several carparks through the gorge and we were the only car there. It was like a ghost town!
We soon realised all the shops open from 11am and everyone else must know this.
Cafe Gorge was open and we stopped for a coffee, sitting on a balcony next to a stream, admiring the pretty cottages across the road and the views of Cheddar Gorge.
We saw wild goats on the steep hill behind the cottages which the kids were excited to see.
They were also excited the café had vegan pasties (we’re a vegan family) and so we ordered two to share as a pre-gorge-climb snack!
We had coconut lattes which were really delicious and I recommend the vegan pasties too. It’s a lovely little cafe and even better if you can get a spot on the balcony.
Stunning scenery in Cheddar Gorge
Once refreshed and fuelled up, we took a path that started pretty much opposite the café and climbs quite steeply up high into the gorge to see the views. The views are great, but I think my favourite part is walking along the road through the middle of the gorge after coming down on the other side.
We walked up to the top and back down again, then to get back to the row of Cheddar shops we had to walk along the road. It’s a but scary in places with the kids as it’s a super bendy road and there aren’t paths. You can walk along many of the car parking bays, but every so often there’s a blind bend and no path at all, so it was single file, quick walking and hoping the cars aren’t speeding!
When we walked back down through the carparks, and past our car, there were so many people. The carparks had filled up and the place was bustling with tourists!
We hadn’t thought our 9am arrival was particularly early, but in Cheddar it was! However, it was good to see Cheddar Gorge with less people about.
Although you must be careful walking along the road back to the shops in Cheddar, it’s a really lovely walk to do. You are at the bottom of the tall, steep, rocky cliffs of the gorge and it’s amazing to be surrounded by them. The views and scenery are stunning. It makes a great road to walk, drive and cycle down.
It’s a National Trust site and you can find out more about the walks and facilities at https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/cheddar-gorge
Crazy golf in Cheddar Gorge
After our walk we popped to a giftshop where the kids loved to browse and spend some of their pocket money. We always encourage them to keep their pocket money for our holidays and days out as they always want something from the giftshops!
Next to the giftshop was a crazy golf and the kids were keen to have a go!
They had great fun trying to get the balls in the holes and we gave up scoring them as they simply had fun hitting the balls about, sometimes multiple times before getting it in the holes!
It was pretty much £10 for the kids to play and us to watch. Well worth it for them to have some fun after making them walk up part of the gorge and back!
Here’s the crazy golf website: https://www.cheddarcrazygolf.co.uk/
It was past lunchtime at this point and the campsite was only ten minutes away, so we headed back for a camping lunch. We’d bought some plant based Wicked mac and cheese pots from Tesco that needed boiled water to make and we had our camping stove and kettle with us.
By now it was nice and warm when the sun stayed out, so we enjoyed an al-fresco camping lunch next to the van. Our camping spot was also pretty quiet at this point as I guess everyone was on their days out, so perfect for me!
We stayed at Bucklegrove Campsite which Ben found and booked on PitchUp. We really didn’t use any of their facilities, aside from the toilets, so I can’t comment on the campsite as a whole, but it was fine for our short stay – we only stayed one night. We didn’t even use the showers, so I’ve no idea if they are any good!
There is a small kids playpark which the kids played in for ten minutes before we headed home, as well as a pub/restaurant which we didn’t use. They have a pool, but due to the timing of our visit it was still closed because of coronavirus restrictions.
The campsite seemed very clean and tidy. The staff members we saw walking about were extra smiley and friendly.
Ben always looks on satellite view on a map when we stay anywhere, and he discovered Cheddar Reservoir which looked, from the aerial shot, like there might be some sort of beach there. Being only ten minutes drive away, we decided to go after lunch for a walk around the reservoir.
The reservoir is huge!
We have a reservoir near our home, but it’s pretty small and you can see the whole thing easily. Cheddar Reservoir, however, is really big and they even have water sports on it!
It wasn’t a beach that we could see on the satellite view, but a large paved area for the water sports to get in and out of the reservoir.
We walked the entire path around which is 2.2 miles. It felt like being by the sea as it’s so windy there and the water is lapping on to the edge with waves.
We were also surrounded by countryside, the Mendip Hills and Cheddar Gorge views. The fields next to the path had sheep and cows. It’s a really great spot with beautiful views, an almost seaside feel and a paved walk all the way around.
The sun was shining and we could walk around next to the water. It almost felt like summer!
There are carparks dotted about and we noticed an ice-cream van parked in one. Luckily they had several vegan options so we all got an ice cream or lolly and sat next to the water to enjoy.
I really love being by water and if you do too, then I’d recommend the walk around Cheddar Reservoir.
Chippy chips for dinner before heading home
For dinner we first went to a pub located along The Cliffs in Cheddar, but it was so busy and hectic and the kids didn’t want to play in the outdoor park, so we went to find chips instead.
We got takeaway chips from Tuckers and sat on a bench in the sunshine in peace and quiet as no-one else was sat at the tables near their takeaway hatch. Perfect!
After this we went back to the campsite where we packed up and decided to come home early. We were meant to stay one more night, but decided we had seen everything in Cheddar that we could (there are caves but they were still closed) and we’d rather a decent night’s sleep in our own bed!
Keep an eye on my travel diary for our next adventure in Cornwall 🙂