Cotswolds Camping at Holycombe
Whichford, Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire CV36 5PH
The historic county of Warwickshire is geographically and culturally (as birthplace of the Bard) at the heart of England, boasting some of the country’s most quintessentially English towns and villages. Unfortunately, for enthusiasts of the very British pastime of camping, it has tended to offer (Much ado about) nothing. The village of Whichford, however, is harbouring one of the county’s best-kept camping secrets; but with its mash-up of the medieval, middle-eastern, and the mystical, Holycombe is unlikely to stay a secret for too long.
The six-acre site is built in the grounds of a Norman castle, the legacy of which is a splendid water-filled moat harbouring carp among the bulrushes. Local mystics have it that Holycombe was a sacred Neolithic site, evidenced by six converging ley lines, so it would have been a shame not to add a stone circle to venerate that unusual spiritual asset. The irony is that this rich heritage lay beneath a scrapyard until Sally and Andy Birtwell built their eco-home and holistic retreat centre, overlooked by an alternative campsite perfect for purists and – with a yurt, treehouse and a pair of furnished bell tents – part-timers.
Holycombe (taking its name from combe ‘valley’ and the nearby Holy Well spring) has a natural beauty to match its rich history, adjoining Whichford Wood (a wildlife-filled designated Site of Special Interest). It’s also handily located a short walk from the Norman Knight, a classic Cotswold pub. So after a long ramble, or a pint up the road, you can light a campfire as dusk settles on the valley, and banter long into the night about whether ley lines really do exist, or ponder on what might be lurking at the bottom of that mysterious moat.
The Owner Says
Cotswolds Camping at Holycombe, Whichford Castle Moat, is situated in the beautiful North Cotswold village of Whichford, near the Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire borders. We are in the Heart of England, in the middle of everywhere.
We would love to welcome you to our campsite, which is situated in close proximity to many beautiful Cotswold towns and villages.. 1.25 hours from the M25. With plenty to explore in the vicinity, this is an excellent place to base yourselves on your camping adventure.Our beautiful five-acre camp site is situated where a Norman castle once stood, the legacy of which is the splendid water-filled moat, ducks, moor hens, and Canada geese. Before the Normans, we know there was a Roman settlement as a Roman conduit leads from the wood to the moat. There was an excavation of the site in 1954 and a plan is in the camp kitchen.
Holycombe Holistic Retreat Centre and campsite is situated adjacent to Whichford Wood, which boasts a wealth of flora and fauna. There is access through the lane that runs parallel to our moat which ends up in the field where you can see a track that leads to the wood – there you will find many paths. You willdefinitely need your wellies for this. In early May there is a sea of bluebells, in autumn there are chestnuts and hazelnuts and quite often, if you are quiet, you will see muntjak and deer. It’s also located a short walk from the Norman Knight a classic, award winning Cotswold pub, which serves excellent grub and has great live music nights. Last orders for food 9pm but they like to know in advance if you are thinking of eating with them that late (01608 684621). It is open every day except Monday lunchtime. There is a childrens playground on the village green opposite the pub. Also the famous Whichford Pottery and Straw Kitchen Cafe selling delicious food. So after a walk in the woods, or a pint up the road, you can roll back here, light a campfire, and enjoy this peaceful and charming place. Enjoy stargazing the dark night sky, watching the meteor showers without light pollution form our ancient stone circle.
Other Local attractions include Hook Norton Brewery and The Cotswolds Distillery in Stourton
Bring your own tent (no minimum stay) or hire one of our structures: Yurt Yami, Gypsy Caravan Carmen, Airstream Ana or Bell Tents (minimum of 2 nights at at weekend and bank holidays)
Our campsite is designed for those looking for a peaceful, rustic, outdoor experience, surrounded by nature and history. In order to ensure that all our guests have the quiet, peaceful experience they expect from Holycombe, we have designated our site a “Quiet Campsite”. We limit our campsite to adults and children of 12 and over only. No groups, so a maximum of 5 people per booking, and you are only able to make one booking per party. We do not allow people to play music, so, no radios, CDs or ipod docs, drums or other instruments. Limited use of acoustic guitars is permitted, preferably well clear of the sites periphery. Bring your earplugs if you are sensitive to the sounds of church bells. Anyone disturbing the tranquillity will politely be asked to leave
At Holycombe, all our facilities are centrally heated.(except the compost loos.) We have 2 hot showers, 1 flush and 2 compost loos, as well as a log cabin kitchen. For people glamping in one of our structures there is an exclusive shower and loo.The kitchen is equipped with an electric cooker, sink and a fridge, table, 3 chairs, a wicker sofa and enough cutlery and plates for 12 people, and basic pots and pans. Outside is a picnic table. There are plenty of places to have fires and you can purchase wood from us at £4 a bag and put the payment into the honesty box. No camping on the right side of the moat (as you come in) where there are clear signs saying "no camping on this side of the moat"
Camping Fees are £10.00 per adult per night, £5 per child (age 12-18 years only) per night. The camping fees include the space for your tent or van, and use of the camping kitchen, the hot showers and the compost/flush loos. There is no minimum number of nights stay for camping.
Glamping fees vary according to the structure you would like to hire. There is a minimum booking of 2 nights at weekends and bank holidays for all our glamping. Airstream Ana is our latest addition. It has been completely rebuilt and renovated for your comfort. It has a kitchen equipped with cooker, fridge, sink, kettle and many kitchen utensils/crockery. It has a double bed and a separate flush loo/basin. The dining and seating area can be made into another double bed. It has a wood burner too and a table, benches and firepit outside. It costs from £80 a night (Midweek, low season)Yurt Yami is from £65 per night (low season) and sleeps 4, and the possibility of 2 more in the bed shed boudoir for an extra £25 per night. It is centrally heated and comes with a log burner, futons, a rug and soft furnishings, as well as a sink with hot and cold running water, kettle and small hob. Our new Gypsy Caravan Carmen (£60 weekday and £65 weekend) is proving very popular, with a cosy set up, it has a wood burner and seats and it's own fire pit. This includes all fees and use of the camping kitchen, the hot showers and the compost/flush loos. You need to bring bottom sheets, duvet cover (to go over ours) pillow cases and towels.
You see photos and more info on our website www.cotswoldscamping.com where we also have a booking page where you can check availability and prices.
There is no shop in the village, but there are some very good shops nearby. The village shop in Long Compton has basic foodstuffs and sells papers. Wyatts Farm Shop near Great Rollright has a good selection of meat, vegetables, gifts and plants, wine and a cafe. The Village Shop Hook Norton (3 miles) is excellent and open from 8am-8pm
Coming soon....Please check our website for updates on our glamping structures, which are currently being built, including The Boathouse and The Showman's Wagon.
Soent a lovely couple if. Ights here last year so have booked another visit this year. Excellent site "no children? Perfect!" (Shame about the Rave going on somewhere in the Valley but thats out of control of Holycombe owners. Hopefully it wont be going in this year) and I'll be taking earplugs to ward off the evil spirits emanating frim the church bells in the wee small hours. Loved the overall atmosphere of the place, and its idyllic setting. Just wondering about musical instruments, can I bring my fiddle (I do have a 'mute' if necessary)
A lovely site with either pitches around a (modern) stone circle near the woods or on the hillside overlooking the owners' very nice house and garden and the valley beyond. We were looking for a quiet site after a harassed camping trip previously where there was barely space to move and lots of noise and this was exactly what we wanted. Facilities are rustic but kept clear. There is a really nice kitchen area with seating etc. The nearby pub the Norman Knight was nice for lunch and the area was very quiet and peaceful. We would return here.
Beautiful location - shame about the facilities
We have just returned from a three night stay at this campsite. This is a review of two contrasting halves! First the positive! The site is beautiful and the fact that the number of campers is limited means that we were spoilt for choice when selecting our pitch. It is probably the most tranquil place we have ever camped and we began to relax from the moment we arrived. The site is very conveniently located for walks in the Warwickshire countryside (although beware of little-used paths which are hard to negotiate due to nettles, bee hives and other obstacles) and the local pub is a delight. Now for the not so positive. Firstly, there was no warm welcome, in fact there was no welcome at all. During the four days we were there we didn't come across any of the owners and this made us think a little about security. Secondly, the facilities are in desperate need of updating. We are quite happy to 'rough it' but the state of the showers, toilets and washing up facilities fell far below any we have come across before. Clearly they were lovely when they were first installed but they are now very tired, dirty and neglected. There are no separate facilities for men and women and although there are two showers for campers, they are in a communal area so really only one person (or a couple) can use them at once. The kitchen is warm but with only one sink for washing up. The large fridge is useful but filthy. The outdoor washing up sink is in a terrible state being dirty and dilapidated and attached to the side of the wooden loo shack. We went to have a look at the more 'luxurious' glamping facilities but these are not impressive. They consist of one shabby bathroom. The paving stones around the kitchen and washing facilities are loose and dangerous. To be honest, it really wouldn't take a lot to improve the facilities. A bit of an update, a good clean on a regular basis and some simple additions like handsoap would suffice. To sum up - a stunning location but the poor facilities would put us off going back.
Thanks for flagging up our strengths as well as our weaknesses. That dirty washing up station is defunct- it was replaced by the camping kitchen and needs to be removed so people don’t mistake it- so glad you pointed that out, we’ll remove it. The showers definitely need a re-fit, you are right, and we intend to make it a priority over the winter, we have been busy replacing the plumbing up to that building prior to the refit.
The paving stones have only just become loose after torrential rain and we will put them right next week. But everything is cleaned every day and we take exception to your criticism of our new glamping shower and loo, which is exceptionally nice by anyone’s standard.
The fridge is a tricky one. We ask people to take their food home but with new people arriving and departing all the time, it is difficult to know what food to throw and what to keep – we got into deep trouble last week by getting rid of some tired birthday cake and a 10th of a bottle of wine.
The owners were around all week and live on site, and we try and talk to everybody, but we deliberately don’t have a registration process and the rest of our customers think this is a positive, rather than a negative attribute. That said, the most common remarks written on our feedback sheet is “This is the nicest campsite we’ve ever been to” and in answer to the question “What would you like to change? The answer is most often “nothing”. We have also been voted to be in the Guardian top 10 glamping sites and the Observer top 5 glamping sites this year.
An English Summer
In a typical English summer of sunshine and rain we visited this beautiful site and felt very welcomed even though the owners were getting ready for a family wedding. The facilities are good, and do not distract from the beautiful setting. Lots of lovely places within walking distance including the local pub, and beyond the village a distillery. Definitely coming back.
Charming stay, will be back!
My partner and I stayed here in the treehouse Tara for the weekend.
The treehouse was rustic and charming, just as described. Great facilities( the new glamping showers were lovely).
The first day there we took a long walk around the closeby whichford woods, passing many locals who greeted us kindly. We also walked around the holycombe site itself, which is beautiful too.
In the evening we went to eat at the norman knight pub which is within a ten minute walk. I can see why it has won awards, the food was fantastic, our newly "best meal ever".
We were forwarned of the church bells before coming but they didn't bother us atall, we actually really missed them when we got home.
Overall, a lovely peaceful place to escape from it all, in beautiful surroundings. Would recommend highly, we will be back.
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Lovely campsite. Just got back from 3 nights over the Bank Holiday weekend. Beautiful surroundings and lovely places eat eat near by in the pub or at the lovely Pottery Cafe. The church bells did not bother us and we sleeps well. Can highly recommend this lovely place.
I recently stayed at Holycombe with a few friends for a weekend break and had a great time. The site is easy to find following the sat nav and really well kept and tidy. Not having a designated pitch allows you camp where you choose and the site is split by a moat and lots of trees giving you more privacy. It is a very idyllic setting with the moat, stone circle and apple trees, very relaxing! I was especially impressed with the facilities, the outdoor kitchen which is more like a summer house (with fairy lights!) has a cooker, kettle, fridge, sink, cups, plates etc, which was especially handy as we were only staying for one night so didn't bring much. There is also lots of info on the local area and things to do. Although we didn't try the showers they looked very clean and the compost loos were pleasant to use. The local area is gorgeous with a local pub just down the road. We also did the walk suggested in the info book at the campsite which was lovely, although a small part was overgrown! I would definitely recommend Holycombe and can't wait to visit again!
Get away from it all with a great pub nearby!
This site was highly recommended by a colleague and we weren't disappointed. We visited the week after the school holidays finished and were the first campers on a Friday afternoon. Just 3 more families followed and so we all had plenty of freedom to choose our pitches. There are braziers around to use and firewood which can be bought using a trust box. Beautiful site - fairly small and surrounded by trees and a moat, (the site of a Norman castle) and has its own standing stones. It looks down over the valley and the Holycombe retreat at the bottom of the hill. All the info you need is on the notice board by the showers and loos (compost loo for the brave*, flusher for the wimps). There's a great little shed kitchen available to use. Showers are in a shed too and fairly basic but fine for us. A short walk into the very picturesque Cotswold village and a great pub (The Norman Knight) where we reserved a table as suggested by other reviewers and ate very well. Good beer there too and live music some nights. Back at camp we sat and gazed at our campfire till the flames died right down - wonderful. So dark so bring a torch. Next morning we did a 5 mile circular walk to Hook Norton across the fields, had a coffee at the brewery (what?) and then a last beer at the Norman Knight before dragging ourselves back to the city.
We felt refreshed, relaxed and hope to return next spring.
*Husband advises compost loo is fine. Church bells chime 24 hours so bring ear plugs if this might bother you. Otherwise all is tranquil.
Lovely site, very peaceful and great to be able to light a fire! We were concerned that a weekend in August might be busy and it was, however because the numbers are limited it was still peaceful. The church bells are pretty loud and continue all night every 15 minutes though, so bring earplugs! You do get used to it after a bit. It was a shame that the flushing toilet broke early in our stay and be aware there is no hot running water in the kitchen and no facilities to wash your hands after using the compost toilets if someone is in the shower (the compost toilets are absolutely fine, not smelly at all in case you wondered!). The entrance is also potentially very muddy in wet weather although the owners had warned us about it and took precautions with some straw to limit the possibility of getting stuck. Full recycling facilities available, but we could not find the trailer to put our other rubbish in when we left.
In summary, lovely peaceful site but be aware of limited facilities!
Just a quick note to say a big THANK YOU for providing us with such a lovely camp site on Saturday night. It was absolutely beautiful and both us adults walked around saying it was the best campsite we'd ever been to. An even better accolade is that the kids loved the fact that the chickens were walking about, that there were little cabins to explore (loved the compost loos especially!) and that once it got dark and we got the bat detector out there were SO MANY BATS!!! It was tremendous and totally perfect. PS, I think it set the scene that payment was simply done on trust.
Just stayed 5 nights in the tree house, we had a lovely experience. It was 1st time in a tree house. It rained heavily a few times overnight and not one leak. A few creaky noises can be expected as you're up in a tree so took a little getting used to. Took sleeping bag/duvet and pillow for the double bed and we also took a few bits for our own use in the kitchen- plates, cups and knife, fork, spoon, otherwise everything else was provided for. We had a private area for our own use which included a fire pit, covered kitchen with seating and wood burner, which was great for the wet weather we had. We were left alone to enjoy the tranquility of the area we had which was great as it was good to get away from it all. The 2 electric showers worked well. There are 2 composite loos or 1 normal one. The tree house bedroom has electric connection and small wood burner or electric heaters to use. Lovely walks, Whichford Pottery (new cafés opened up so worth a visit too, local pub The Norman Knight is superb & nearest shop ( farm shop 3 miles away) also has a vast selection of fruit, veg and a butcher counter. The campsite website really doesn't do it justice! Book and enjoy this wonderful,experience. M&M
Calm and relaxing
Lovely campsite where there is enough space to be by yourself or with others. Lovely walks and pubs for food. Get there early to find a flat spot but it is idilic place to spend a few days.
An Island of Calm
This campsite is a bit special I think. Firstly, it is wonderfully positioned, sitting on a former site of a Norman Fort, and nestled on one side of a sweet valley, with lots of trees and horses, and a small lake to boot. It is a very charming location. It is quiet. The church bells ring intermittently, of course, but they only emphasis the peacefulness of this sleepy valley.
There is a bit to do locally too, of course. I recommend visiting the local pub (The Norman Knight) and Blenheim Palace (birthplace of Churchill).
A great atmosphere, family friendly and surprisingly uncrowded. Beautiful location, chickens wandering around under the apple trees. Definitely one to visit again! Other than that I think the other reviews have captured things pretty well!
We camped here over early May bank holiday and had a wonderful time. The campsite is beautiful and tranquil and is located next to the lovely village of Whichford. The facilities are great and being able to have a real fire makes this campsite extra special. There are wonderful walks directly from the campsite through woodland and open countryside, and a fantastic pub in the village. We are already planning our next visit!
This was our first outing in our new campervan and what an excellent introduction it was. The site was everything I was hoping for, which was a great location, not too big and most important of all relaxed. This place is just soooo laid back it could fall over. Everybody was very friendly and where else can one have an open fire next to a Norman moat, just fantastic. The compost loos do not smell at all and the facilities do the job perfectly, in fact the basicness really adds to the charm and experience. We only had one snag, the plan was to eat and have a couple of drinks at the recommended local pub before returning to a night in front of the fire. Unfortunately they do not serve food on a Sunday night (even though it was a Bank Holiday weekend). We spent a while driving before finding another lovely pub which serves great food. So if you plan on staying on a Sunday then I recommend you bring your bangers. Thanks for the experience, we will return for sure, I just hope you do not get too popular, at the moment it's just perfect.
Yep! very Cool!
A nice tranquil spot (after a while you don’t hear the church bells, but you know the time by magic) no disco, no supermarket, but real camping. hedge rows teaming with life,communal kitchen & an excellent pub (with micro brewery) nearby, couldn’t have found a better spot! as I was in the area for a (yearly) fair I will come back and then a bit longer so I can see more of the stunning surroundings.. Here’s a satisfied customer! Gerard.
Quiet and pretty
Nice to be able to drive in and pitch where you like with the car right next to the tent. Beautiful location in a quiet village. The local church bell really doesn’t stop - every 15 mins it chimes away 24/7. So if you’re a light sleeper make sure you bring your earplugs. Other than that there’s no noise around at all! The facilities are lovely, a little kitchen hut with fridge, oven, hobs, toaster, kettle and washing up facilities. Didn’t use the shower block, but the toilets were clean and have electric lighting. Remember to bring your own toilet paper though. We were lucky enough to be there for the Whichford Village Fair, which was a traditional style fair. Really welcoming and with plastic glasses being used by the Norman Knight, cold beers to take over onto the green to enjoy classic games (coconut shy & aunt sally), hog roast and the dog show. Will definitely be putting time aside to go and visit again. Not a place to come for a busy, activity filled, party weekend, but a break to get away from everything (including phone signal) and relax is great.
Mid August peace
We wanted a bit of peace for a couple of days before a festival. Amazed to find we were the only ones in the moat encircled meadow. Zone out the church bells (every 15 minutes) and there is perfect peace. We had a lovely long woodland walk and spent lots of time watching the wildlife in the meadow and moat.
Lovely place - great pub nearby
Holycombe is a great little campsite a quick drive from London but feels a million miles away. It is very relaxed there. You can light fires and do you cooking or there is a very sweet little kitchen you can use if it’s raining or you’re feeling a bit lazy! The campsite is situated in the sleepy village of Whichford. There’s some great walking to do around the nearby villages. Overall there’s not that much to do and life slows down a bit. There’s a fantastic cotwoldsish pub in easy walking distance which overlooks the village green, there’s a kids play area too to keep them busy for a while, so you can watch them play while you have a few cold beers. There’s something lovely and mystical about this site - enjoy.
Great relaxing getaway...
We booked our stay to celebrate our first year anniversary and what a treat! We were the only campers in the entire field for the 3 days we were there - probably because we stayed during the week rather than weekend. Even the weather was on our side! Peaceful surrounding, stunning views all around and pretty villages near by if you fancy a bit of a road trip of the surrounding area. The local Norman Knight pub is very convenient with great outdoor seating overlooking the village green but unfortunately do not serve food late Sunday and Monday. The compost loos were interesting! My first time using them :) Don’t worry, there is also a flushable loo (thank goodness!) The shower hut is quite basic but perfect for what you need, at least the hot water works! The kitchen cabin is a luxury addition - working fridge, pots, pans, cutlery, crockery provided. My husband was adament in getting a fire going which we managed to do on the night of our anniversary day. Yes the church bells do ring every 15mins but this is in no way disruptive, in fact it was quite nice learning the different chimes for every quarter hour. By the end of our stay I didn’t have to look at my watch and knew what time it was. Thank you Sally, we would definitely come to stay again, hopefully next time the weather will be even better!
If it’s peace and tranquility you’re looking for then this is the place for you. A beautiful setting with fantastic views, the church bells never seem an annoyance but a rhythmic soundtrack to the countryside. The camping field is far enough away from the main house so it feels like a rural setting and not a back garden as some campsites can seem. The facilities are amazing including a fantastic summerhouse with a full electrical kitchen set up for rainy evenings. Alternatively the friendly local pub is 5 minutes walk away. We stayed at Holycombe as a couple looking for a weekend escape from the city to unwind and enjoy the countryside, and it fitted the bill perfectly. Highly recommended!
We just came back from this lovely campsite. As first time campers we could not be happier. Everything was nice and clean, simple but nice facilities (kitchen, toilet and showers) and a beautiful location. Lots of things for the kids to do in the campsite, walking distance from a pub with playground across the road. What else can we say? We loved it! The weather was good (a bit windy sometimes) and even the bells sounded pituresque. We would go again, definitely!
We have just spent a couple of nights at this idyllic spot in Warwickshire. After having sought shelter in the car whilst a thunder storm passed over head, the beauty of this little spot was evident once the skies cleared. We camped beside the little pond which encircles the camping field and were greeting in the mornings by the calling of the resident ducks newest offspring. As detailed the facilities include kitchen shed, shower shed and toilets, all constructed in a quintessentially English DIY style – but are great. The nearby church bells are omnipresent throughout the day but you soon get used to their tolling (though do watch out for Saturday morning ringing practice!). We also enjoyed a great meal in the nearby Norman Knight Pub, so go and relax………… Post by matt – www.wasteddesign.co.uk
I’m really reluctant to write a review for Holycombe - because more people will go there and from my perspective it’s a secret best kept! However I did promise Sally at Holycombe that I would write a review - so here I am. My partner, our young daughter and a group of friends have just come back from camping over Easter and what a lovely time we had. Holycombe was everything I’d read about and more. Sally and Holycombe resident Christophe were extremely welcoming and their dedication to the site, it’s success and commitment to meeting campers’ needs was formidable. Holycombe is a really small, pretty site in an extremely pretty part of Oxfordshire. We were impressed by it’s laid back feel and good facilities - 2 compost toilets, 1 normal and 2 showers. Best of all was the camp kitchen which is available for people to use should they wish - normally we wouldn’t but following a problem with our gas stove we did use it for the last day and it’s a great facility with stove, fridge, washing up and indoor seating area as well as some picnic tables outside. Holycombe also has some pre-pitched yurts and tents that can be hired and used in conjunction with the camp kitchen - a great option for people who want to try out camping without buying all the kit or if you just can’t face packing up your kit. I’d highly recommend Holycombe to anyone and I hope we’ll be going back either this, or next year.