Wednesday, March 30, 2005

A Jurassic Coast Oestra

Late last evening we returned from East Devon, where we spent the Easter (Oestra) Holiday camping at Salcombe Regis. We've been there before but this was the first time with the new big tent and, regardless of such an early season foray into camping, we decided it needed a good shake down. The site must rate as one of England's best and after getting to know the owners, we think we know why - they have done their research! A family friendly site, it caters to caravans, tourers and tents with lost of open space for children to run around, excellent facilities for showers, toilets, laundry, etc., a shop and, most important of all, close proximity to our favorite beach, Weston Mouth.

The shake down went well and we were subjected to a wide range of weather for our tent, aptly named the Coleman Weathermaster, to master. Friday night was very cold with a heavy dew under a full moon and stars. Saturday was unseasonably hot. Sunday was cloudy but dry. Monday was the same but with the threat of rain. Tuesday morning at 3 a.m. the heavens opened and the rain did not stop all day. So we had a full range of experiences, including striking camp in the rain (ugh!). Some highlights worth recording:

The Weathermaster was easy to set up; the inner bedroom "tents" were already in place. I think we had everything up and in place in about an hour from arriving. The tent itself took about 10 minutes to position and erect.

We still lack a few pieces of camping equipment, even after all these years. This is mainly a reflection of the change from small tent in a warm climate to large tent in a cool climate. For example, we never needed a space heater before Friday night!
We need a new stove for base camp type cooking. Our back pack burners are great but can be top heavy. The selection of camp stoves and grills seems to have shrunk over the years - or maybe it's because of EU regulations?

We are going to try placing our Kelty Tarp over the top and front of the Weather Master to see if we can get better wet weather protection when entering and leaving the tent during a rain storm. Note to Coleman: a second door would be useful so that the existing door could be left as an awning.

Our Coleman Extreme Ice Chest (designed to keep ice for 5 days in 90ºF conditions) works really well in England!

We drank a lot of tea.

And hot chocolate!

We walked down to the beach every day, though on some days we walked much further than that. The area is blessed with a dense pattern of footpaths so we never moved the car until Monday evening. It was a joy to be so far from roads most of the time. The camp site is about 500 feet above the beach so the hike back up is an effort - all the better for increasing our appetites!

At this time of year Weston Mouth is relatively quiet. A few brave Naturists were in evidence on Saturday but none seemed inclined to enter the water. Weston Mouth is Naturist friendly and it is a joy to be able to skinny dip when the water is warm enough (which it was last September).

Another local attraction is the Donkey Sanctuary, a well-endowed charity that owns a farm that is now used to look after retired donkeys saved from all over Europe. Access to the Sanctuary is free and they have provided numerous additional footpaths alongside the various paddocks.

On Monday evening we splashed out on dinner at a nearby pub, the Fountainhead. This establishment is undergoing a change of direction we are told, from spit and sawdust pub to up-market restaurant. Judging by the attitude of some of the nouvelle clientele the locals must be dismayed at the change! The food was good, though, if expensive.

Here are the pictures