Categories
Things to do

How an Annual Memberships Helps a Holiday

Travelling and holidays can get expensive, with most visitor attractions charging a fee.  Often when you buy a ticket the price of entry is priced such that you wonder if you would be better off buying annual membership.

We’ve picked The National Trust and English Heritage in this post as they both have properties and sites spread across the whole of the UK.  Membership of one of these could give you more options of places to visit during your holiday without worrying about the cost building up every visit.

The National Trust

The National Trust has over 200 properties throughout the UK, mainly these are country homes with a historic significance, usually these have beautiful gardens and a good tea room too!  Many of these homes contain artworks, furniture and other pieces on display.

Additionally the National Trust own many Parklands, part of National parks and coastal paths.

 

Scotney Castle in Kent
Scotney Castle in Kent

Some of the highlights include Stourhead, Wakehurst Place, Polesden Lacey, The Giant’s Causeway but there are many more, and in fact some of our favourites are the smaller local properties that give a real insight into a piece of history.

Use this handy National Trust Map to find a property near your destination.

What does it cost?

An Annual Membership at the National Trust costs

  • Individual – £60
  • Joint (2 Adults) – £99
  • Family (2 Adults) – £104
  • Family (1 Adult) – £65
  • Young Person (13 – 25) – £30
  • Child (5 – 12) – £30

(Based on 2015 Prices)

As an example an individual visit to all of Stourhead will cost £15.20, different properties vary in prices, but to give a guide we think you need to visit 7 properties in a year to make membership worthwhile.

Find out more about the National Trust

English Heritage

When you think English Heritage, you think castles.  In fact English Heritage have over 400 of England’s historic buildings, monuments and sites.

Some of the more famous of these include Stonehenge, Hadrian’s Wall, Battle Abbey, Dover Castle and Tintagel Castle.

See the English Heritage Locations on this map.

What does it cost?

An Annual Membership with English Heritage costs

  • Individual – £50
  • Joint (2 Adults) – £88
  • Senior (60+) – £41
  • Joint Senior (60+) – £63
  • Family (2 Adults) – £88
  • Family (1 Adult) – £50
  • Adult & Senior – £74
  • Student – £41

(Based on 2015 Prices)

As you would expect there are significant differences in price between different locations, Dover Castle will cost £19.80 to visit as an individual so it would only take 3 visits to be worthwhile, though many properties are much less.

Find out more about English Heritage

What are your favourite Memberships?

Do you have a membership card which is pulled out each time you go camping or travelling, or one place you keep going back to?  Share it with us in the comments.

Categories
Things to do

The North Downs Way

The Start

The North Downs Way is a 153 mile route from Farnham in Surrey to the Coast at Dover in Kent. The route is one of fifteen National Trails in England and Wales and a great one for weekend walkers or campers as it is easy to split up into sections ending at train stations which serve London, but equally it’s possible to walk in one go stopping off at campsites or B&B’s.

A brief history of the North Downs Way

The North Downs Way was created in 1978 running through 2 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Surrey Hills and the Kent Downs.  The route is often compared to the Pilgrims Way as the route goes West to East with the opportunity to go through Cantebury Cathedral but although it follows much of the Pilgrims trail it is a different route along the ridge of the North Downs which is more scenic.

The route was updated to create a split east of Boughton Lees allowing the walker to choose two routes to Dover.  Either East through Canterbury past the Cathedral or South and East through Folkestone taking in the White Cliffs of Dover in the final miles.

The Route Sign at Farnham
The Route Sign at Farnham

 Planning your journey

Although the route is well sign posted its worth taking a map or guidebook with you to ensure you are on the right route and to see where you can cut off route to a local town or village.  I recommend the National Trail Guides: North Downs Way which I used, this was updated in March 2013 and it contains detailed Ordnance Survey maps of the route complete with local information and turn by turn instructions.

Many including the guide book recommend splitting the route into 15 stages (if you are to complete both routes at the split to Dover).

Start Finish Miles
Farnham Guildford 11
Guildford Westhumble 13
Westhumble Merstham 10
Merstham Oxted 8
Oxted Otford 11.8
Otford Cuxton 15
Cuxton Detling 12.5
Detling Lenham 14.9
Lenham Boughton Lees or Wye 11.1
Wye Etchinghill 18.1
Etchinghill Dover 12
Boughton Lees Chilham 5.9
Chilham Canterbury 7.2
Canterbury Shepherdswell 10.4
Shepherdswell Dover 8.5

Though the Guide book is sufficently detailed that you are able to plan your own stages.  The suggested 13 or so miles a day is easily achievable with an average walking pace of 2.5 – 3 mph in 5 hours allowing you time to stop and take in the sights or enjoy various tea rooms and attractions along the route.  However keener walkers may want to create their own route as some of the days are a little short.

At the end of each section the guide lists Public Transport, Refreshments and Toilets, and Accommodation.  The accommodation is predominantly Hotels, B&B’s and Hostels but there are a few campsites scattered along the route.

To do the full 153 North Downs way you need to complete both paths where the route splits at Boughton Lees/Wye.  For this you could either do the second leg in reverse once you get to Dover or return to Wye by train to start heading to Dover again on the other spur.

Your Say

Have you walked the North Downs Way?  Leave your tips in the comments, what was your favourite part?  Know a good tea room?  Leave a comment.

North Downs Way Guide

Categories
Things to do

The Ramblers Association

The Ramblers

When I was at the Outdoors Show it struck me as to how many great Outdoor Associations, charities, clubs and communities existed in the UK, this gave me the inspiration to start a series of articles on ProCamping featuring different associations.  If you have one that is close to your heart go to the about page and drop me an email.

First up is the Ramblers, “Britains Walking Charity”.  The Ramblers give their mission as “to protect the ability of people to enjoy the sense of freedom and benefits that come from being outdoors on foot… that we protect and expand the infrastructure and places people go walking”

The Ramblers campaign to improve and extend access to national trails, and to beat funding cuts to footpaths.  Some of their recent past acheivements have included the One Coast for all campaign which sees the Ramblers campaign for a coastal path around the whole of England, in 2012 they achieved the first step in this with the England Coast Path opening in Weymouth.  The current plans are that by 2017 we’ll be able to walk from Hull to Dorset (the long way round, via Wales).

Joining the Ramblers

Annual individual membership to the Ramblers is currently set at £31, there is a £10 discount if you sign up with annual direct debit.  Joining the Ramblers you are not only supporting their work you also get access to a range of Ramblers benefits…

Benefits of Joining

  • The ability to join one of hundreds of organised walks every weekend.
  • Quarterly issues of Walk Magazine
  • Access to the Ramblers extensive map library
  • A Members Handbook
  • Discretionary discounts from Cotswold Outdoors
  • Holiday offers from HF Holidays
  • Competitive insurance rates with UIA
  • 5% on every booking with cottages4you

Tell us your experiences with The Ramblers!

Are you a member of the Ramblers?  Leave a comment and tell us why, what has been your favourite part of membership, is there a particular group walk or an event you loved?  Let us know!

Categories
Things to do

Tour of Pembrokeshire

Tour of Pembrokeshire
Image from Tour of Pembrokeshire

The Tour of Pembrokeshire is an annual road cycling event starting in St Davids.  The ride is open to anyone and has three choices of routes, 50, 75 or 100 miles.  St Davids has several coastal campsites and in 2012 I enjoyed a long weekend camping and cycling the Tour of Pembrokeshire.  2012 was a great year with glorious sunshine and I’m hoping for the same in 2013.

The 2013 Tour of Pembrokeshire takes place on Saturday 27th April 2013 or for families there is a shorter 8 or 16 mile ride on the Sunday.  The route starts at Oriel y Parc, St Davids.  In 2012 I found a very efficient registration process, and included a free Torq energy rhubarb and custard gel.  Normally I hate the flavour of energy gels but I have to say this one was the best I have tasted.

The ride itself starts by taking in the coast, as you crest a hill you get a magnificent sight of the bay below… and the next hill to climb, for 50 miler’s it works its way as far as Fishguard, 100 milers go as far as Cardigan.  Along the way the route is extremely well signposted (though if you own a GPS you can also download the route from the Tour Website) and there are several feed stations offering energy drink refills, bananas and other energy foods.

Then once you’ve finished the ride why not stay in St Davids and spend the Sunday exploring the coast and the UK’s smallest city!

Camping – We stayed at the Porthclais Farm Campsite which is right next to the coast in St Davids, in 2012 we found the campsite almost deserted so no queues for the showers!  It had a basic but ample shower and toilet block.  Priced at £7 per person per night, and only around a mile away from the centre of St Davids it was easy to cycle to the starting point of the event or after in the evening walk into the city for a pub supper!  Also from the campsite you can directly access the cliffside walk which is nice to walk down to in the evening and watch the sun go down.

Have you done the Tour of Pembrokeshire or are you considering it?  Leave a comment and share any memories or tips!

Categories
Things to do

What is Geocaching?

 

Image Source: Wikimedia

Today’s article is on Geocaching the GPS Treasure hunt craze which is sweeping the world.  Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Players navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.

Anything could be a Geocache, on our caching expeditions we often find Tupperware lock boxes, camera film pots, or even Ammo crates.

How do I get involved with Geocaching?

There are several Geocaching websites but the most popular is Geocaching.com, here you can sign up for free (premium memberships are also available) account.  With free membership you’ll have access to everything you need for basic caching.

Ideally though you would want to get a Geocaching app for your smart phone.  Again there are several available but we recommend c:geo as a good all round free app.

To start off we suggest you view the geocache map to see what’s around you.  A basic geocache gives you a GPS location and some information about the area or the cache itself.  If you have a smart phone with a Geocaching application you can then save this in your app.

Once your off out looking for the cache the app will provide a compass showing your distance from the cache, when your within a few metres keep your eyes open and look for anything that could be a hiding place.  If you can’t find it check the app/website for a clue.  When you’ve found the cache there will be a logbook that you can sign and an online logbook.  Fill out both and you have found your first Cache!

So you maybe asking from that description, well whats the point!  Some people use it to explore new places, it helps get children out walking as it adds the treasure hunt element, and for some they just want to have found the most caches amongst their friends!

Types of Caches

There are several types of caches, these can include but are not limited to –

  • Basic caches – Go to a place, find the logbook, sign it and your done!
  • Cache Walks – These are our favourites, a series of basic caches laid out in a walking route, a great walk to get children (and adults!) out walking,
  • Puzzle / Mystery caches – To find these you must first solve a puzzle to get the GPS coordinates, this could be a brain teaser, or it could be finding numbers on a local landmark to make up the GPS location.
  • Multi Caches – To find some caches you must go to a series of locations, this may be to solve a clue at each location to find the GPS number, or it may be a series of caches each with a clue towards the final cache.

So next time you’re looking for something to do while outdoors why not try Geocaching, leave a comment and let us know how you get on, or if your already a geocacher share your most memorable caching experience.

Categories
Things to do

Hogs Back Brewery Tour

As part of our Things to do series we bring you The Hogs Back Brewery Tour in Tongham Surrey, if you’re camping or walking nearby it’s well worth a visit.  Brewery Tours are run at selected times 5 days a week for £10, booking is highly recommended. The Brewery is a small craft brewery in Tongham Surrey.  It was formed in 1992 and today produces 57,600 pints each week.  The Hogs Back are most known for their Beer “TEA” “Traditional English Ale” an award-winning English Ale with a deep gold colour.

The Brewery Tour starts in the Hogs Back Brewery Shop where you are presented with a half pint Hogs Back Brewery Glass for your tasting.  The glass is also yours to keep.  The first beer we sampled was HBB Hogs Back Bitter, while we drank this our guide for the afternoon explained to us the ingredients of beer, we sniffed the malt and hops and heard about the process.  There was no shortage of sampling with 5 large jugs between 20 of us, this meant at least a pint, maybe 2 of each beer.

The tour continued around the rest of the small Brewery, stopping off in the Mash room, the fermentation tanks, the boardroom and the cask room.  In total across the tour we tasted 4 different beers, for us this was Hogs Back Bitter, TEA Traditional English Ale, Hop Garden Gold and Rip Snorter.

Our visit was in mid November as the Brewery went through a rebranding, so it was especially interesting hearing about the new logos, changing trends with Ale drinkers and the fortunes of the Brewery.

As all good tours should the tour ends in the Brewery Shop, and what a shop it was!  As well as a full range of Hogs Back Beer there is an impressive selection of both British and International Ales on offer, Brewery Fayre, clothing and other products like cakes, mustards, sausages all made with Hogs Back beer.

In all it was a fantastic tour lasting just under 2 hours, there was great beer, an informative, insightful and humorous guide, and a great shop.  Even if you can’t get a booking on the Brewery Tour the shop alone is well worth a visit.

If you’ve been on the Hogs Back Brewery Tour leave a comment and let us know how you found it.  If you have another suggestion for our Things to do series email us a writeup to hello@procamping.co.uk