Travel back in history in rural Warwickshire. Prepare to explore ancient castles, stunning gardens, and military re-enactments and live theatre near William Shakespeare’s birthplace. All this is possible while staying at a secluded island caravan park within easy driving distance.
Plan to spend an entire day exploring Warwick Castle, with spectacular walls and towers plus diverse entertainment for the whole family. The Good Britain Guide 2003 listed it as Britain’s best castle. Defences such as Caesar’s Tower extend beyond the walls, permitting a clear view around the foot of the castle. Walkways atop curtain walls allowed archers to move into position wherever a threat was found. Openings in the wall called machicolations gave the garrison access to drop boiling pitch on attackers below.
If anyone managed to cross the drawbridge and pass the portcullis, they faced a rainfall of bolts and arrows through the narrow gatehouse passage.
The castle’s history crosses many centuries. William the Conqueror began construction at the site in 1068 to secure his northward campaign. Its constable, Henry of Beaumont, became the first Earl of Warwick. Development continued, with extensive additions during the 14th Century. The original mound and keep became enclosed within the walls. Later the edifice became a country house, but as late as 1642 it withstood a civil war siege.
Merlin Entertainments now owns the site and operates shows devoted to jousting, archery, birds of prey, dungeons, live music and ghosts. The world’s most powerful trebuchet, a giant catapult, fires ammunition twice a day. The new Dragon Tower exhibit recreates the magic of Merlin, the TV series.
The Mill Garden
For a change of pace from military might, a tour of peaceful gardens can begin at the castle itself. Near the foot of Caesar’s Tower where a medieval bridge once crossed the River Avon, the Mill Garden is famous for superb plantings with an incredible view of the castle. The plants were collected over 40 years by Arthur Measures. The garden is privately owned but open to the public. Garden lovers will also want to visit Anne Hathaway’s cottage and Kenilworth Castle’s reconstructed Elizabethan garden, among many others around the area.
Be sure to stroll around Warwick Village with its remarkable mix of medieval, Tudor and Georgian architecture. The nearby town of Royal Leamington Spa provides excellent shopping and dining. The Royal Pump Rooms let modern visitors experience a Victorian spa. Enjoy a performance by the Loft Theatre Company. Explore the ruins of Kenilworth Castle, home of Elizabeth I’s favourite suitor, Robert Dudley.
Island Meadow Caravan Park provides a welcome retreat on a seven-acre island in Aston Cantlow. They have a well-stocked shop with disabled and laundry facilities available. Guests may fish for free in the millpond and weir. Dining can be found nearby at the 15th-Century Kings Head Inn or at the village pub.
The park won the David Bellamy Conservation Award in 2012, for providing wildlife habitat balanced with human use. The site offers 24 touring and motorhome pitches with electric hookup and is home to 55 holiday homes, with 5 for sale or to let. The park provides a perfect base for trips to Warwick and Stratford, or for excursions by twitchers, walkers and cyclists.
The Warwick Racecourse Caravan Club site is another place to go, if you fancy something a bit different. With 22 hardstanding pitches and 33 grass, it is ideal for tourers and motorhomes alike, and located within the racecourse grounds. A 6 minute walk from Warwick, a place worth a visit for the wonderful medieval castle, which is said to be the finest example in England. Adjacent to the Park are the Victorian Gardens, as well as 9-hole golf with a driving range, walking paths along the riverside or canals and areas for model plane and glider flying.
Hampton Street, Warwick, Warwickshire, CV34 6HN
Harbury Fields Farm Touring Caravan Park is a quiet, family run touring park, set in 3 acres of landscaped paddock lands, the site contains 33 hardstanding pitches (24 of these fully serviced) and 3 grass pitches. Electric hookup is available as is disabled access. The shower blocks are heated and dog walks are readily available on-site. The nearest bus stop is a 600m walk away and it is only 1 mile to Harbury Village, where you can find 5 local pubs and 6 shops – ranging from a newsagents to a hairdressers. If you wish to travel further afield, the Wonderful Warwick Castle and City is only 4 miles away, Stratford-on-Avon is only 11 miles away and the jaw-dropping NEC in Birmingham is only 30 minutes away by car.
Harbury Fields Farm Touring Caravan Park, Harbury, Warwickshire, CV33 9JN.