I know I’ve said it before, but every now and then, you just need to stop and do a little bit of nothing very much. Normally, weekends away in our motorhome are full of activity – exploring and sightseeing. We do plenty of walking, drive to neighbouring towns and nearby attractions, and squeeze every last drop out of our breaks.

But this time, it was different. Over the past months, my husband Ro’s work has seen him traipsing around the country, so when we had the chance of a springtime weekend away, we decided it was time to switch off for a while.

Leisure time at Riverside Caravan Park

Cue a short break at the delightful Riverside Caravan Park, a campsite that we decided was the best motorhome site for a tour to Stratford-upon-Avon. We’d have nothing to do but relax and enjoy the weather and the beautiful scenery.

Riverside Caravan Park
Riverside Caravan Park from the bridge

Don’t get me wrong – there is plenty to keep you busy in this part of the world. You could visit the National Trust’s Charlecote Park and Packwood House estates, or explore historic Warwick and its stunning castle, for example. The pretty villages of the Cotswolds are all within easy striking distance, too.

But we just wanted to relax and unwind for a change. We’ve been to this area before and are fairly familiar with the local towns and villages, so we didn’t feel the need to rush out and explore the surroundings, or that we were missing out on anything by not venturing far from the site.

All that said, we can’t just sit on camping chairs for a whole weekend. Chilling out for us involves gentle strolls – nothing strenuous, just enjoying a spot of fresh air and the great outdoors.

It also invariably includes a good meal, dining out or perhaps a barbecue onsite, possibly a spot of window-shopping to while away a happy hour or two, and don’t forget the local pubs!

Happily, Stratford-upon-Avon has all of this and more, and could provide plenty to occupy us for an afternoon of wandering.

Half-timbered house in Stratford-upon-Avon
One of Stratford-upon-Avons iconic half-timbered houses

But for now, having arrived onsite with the afternoon sun set to ‘high’ and in full relaxation mode, even the crazy golf seemed too strenuous an activity. Instead, it was clearly time to let the cares of everyday life start to drain away and do exactly what we had set out to do – a little bit of nothing very much!

Avon calling

Riverside Caravan Park, as its name so clearly suggests, lies on the banks of the beautiful River Avon, making it an ideal campsite if you like river and canal walks. It’s also a pleasant 30-minute stroll away from the town. Alternatively, it’s a campsite near public transport, but with a difference, as you can also embark on a short river-taxi ride (the water-taxi runs directly from the campsite and there is a small fee) to Stratford-upon-Avon too.

There is also an onsite restaurant and bar, and while we’re usually not too bothered about campsite restaurants (we enjoy sampling the delights of the locality), on this occasion, since the name of the game really was relaxation, this got the thumbs-up from us.

Having spent our first afternoon at the site simply unwinding and enjoying the sunshine, once darkness fell, we strolled along to The Galley Kitchen (part of the onsite Riverside complex).

Here we enjoyed a couple of steaks, cooked exactly as we like them thanks to a sizzling-hot lava stone brought to our table, washed down with a glass or two of red wine – bliss.

Next day, after breakfast al fresco (prepared by Ro, breakfast chef par excellence), we decided to take advantage of that river-taxi service to carry us into the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon.

Bard business

We found a charming, bustling market town with plenty more to offer than its Shakespeare connections, although of course, we did visit some of the places where the Bard lived and worked – it would be remiss not to.

We first stopped at the Visitor Centre by the river and picked up a walking tour leaflet to help plot our route around town. There are a couple to choose from, and guided tours can be booked.

Stroll around to discover the historic buildings in the town

We started our own tour with the house where Shakespeare was born, in 1564. This is attached to the Shakespeare Centre, an excellent place to begin any exploration of Shakespearean Stratford. Following the death of his father in late 1601, William Shakespeare inherited the house and the cottage next door, both of which he leased out.

The main house became an inn and much later, a butcher’s shop. In 1846, the house was put up for sale and a public campaign to restore it was launched, supported by one Mr Charles Dickens.

It was eventually bought by the Shakespeare Trust, which has cared for it ever since, along with Anne Hathaway’s Cottage (childhood home of Shakespeare’s wife, a 20-minute walk outside Stratford-upon-Avon) and New Place, the Bard’s final home, where he died in 1616.

New Place
Sculptures at New Place include this strongbox holding property deeds

House and gardens

The house itself is no longer standing, but the Shakespeare Trust maintains a beautiful garden there in his memory.

Wandering around the garden, as well as enjoying the charming selection of plants and flowers, we found a fine sculpture, The King’s Ship (a reference to The Tempest), a splendid Terrestrial Sphere (representing the world as Shakespeare would have known it) and a huge strongbox, whose contents include a copy of
the title deeds to the famous house.

We later called in at William’s schoolroom, housed in an important building which served as the town’s Guildhall. Sad to say, despite receiving a highly entertaining lesson from Master Thomas Jenkins, Shakespeare’s teacher, and even using a quill pen and ink, I find I still cannot write plays or poetry!

By now, we felt the need for refreshment, so it was time to call in at The Garrick Inn, apparently the town’s oldest pub, dating back to the 1400s, and possibly the origin of a 1564 plague outbreak.

We couldn’t resist the steak ciabatta and a pint of the Bard’s Best, all the while watching out for anyone with boils or a nasty rash! We were lucky to find a table at this very popular pub; if you visit in the summer, I’d recommend booking ahead.


Hunger sated, our afternoon consisted of a spot of window-shopping, a visit to the Canal Basin, which hosts regular street markets, a pause for ice cream, and then a spin on the big wheel.

There are also a couple of museums to explore, including Tudor World and the intriguing MAD (Mechanical Art & Design) Museum, but as the main aim of our weekend was decompressing, we gave them a miss on this occasion.

We later came across a restaurant called Lambs, on Sheep Street – and because this rather amused yours truly, we decided to book a table there for dinner the following evening, it being Saturday and likely to be busy even early in the season.

And then it was time to step aboard our floating taxi to return to our pitch, for camping-chair relaxation and novel reading, followed by a pizza and a drink at The Muddy Oar to aid another excellent night’s sleep.

The following day, after making a late and lazy start, we decided to see if we could walk to the monument that we had spotted standing proud on the landscape above the site, which we had admired while we relaxed.

It turned out that in doing so, we were entering the Welcombe Hills and Clopton Park Nature Reserve – good decision!

Welcombe Hills
The Welcombe Hills obelisk is a local landmark

There is an audio trail you can follow, imparting such facts as the origin of the name – it seems there was a historic well, in which the daughter of William Clopton sadly drowned in 1592. Some historians believe that this might have been the inspiration for Ophelia’s death in Hamlet.

We reached the monument, which is actually an obelisk, to discover that it was erected in 1876, to commemorate Mark Philips, a local politician who was instrumental in setting up the first free public library in England, and in founding the Lancashire Public School Association.

He became High Sheriff of Warwickshire in 1851 and purchased Welcombe Manor, rebuilding the property as his family seat. It was after his death in Stratford in 1873 that his brother Robert had the memorial erected.

Today it remains a landmark that can be spotted from miles around. The views from up there are superb and there are plenty of pathways to stroll through woodland and grassy areas, providing good places for birdwatching and picnics. The trail is a little hilly, but still easy going.

We also found ourselves following part of the Monarch’s Way, which is based on the route taken by Charles II in his escape from Oliver Cromwell. This long-distance footpath extends for 625 miles in total, but we only walked a small part – after all, we were on a mission to rest and relax! Besides, we had dinner to freshen up for.

Evening entertainment

Lambs Restaurant dates all the way back to the time of Henry VIII and still looks very much the part, with imposing white timber-framed walls and heavily beamed ceilings.

We thoroughly enjoyed the delicious rack of lamb (I must admit, it did amuse me, eating lamb in Lambs of Sheep Street) – a great treat.

Other popular evening entertainments to be enjoyed in Stratford-upon-Avon include ghost walks and of course, a visit to the theatre.

Maintaining our aim of rest and relaxation, we didn’t indulge on this occasion, but I smiled to discover that we could have seen a production of Much Ado About Nothing, since doing nothing was precisely what we were there to do.

Sunday dawned warm and sunny, and we whiled away a pleasant couple of hours outside our motorhome, just watching the world go by, before strolling into town for lunch (an indulgent trio of roasts followed by strawberry cheesecake) at the Pen & Parchment. This charming hostelry has a very tempting Sunday lunch menu and in good weather, a welcoming beer garden.

Caravan park at Riverside Caravan Park
The delightful beer garden at Riverside Caravan Park

Taking to the water

Later that day, because Stratford is indeed upon the Avon, it felt only fitting to spend some more time on the water. We had enjoyed our water-taxi rides, but now we wanted something more.

There are a couple of options, including hiring a rowing-boat, but we were far too lazy for that this weekend and opted for a leisurely guided cruise. This gave us a different view of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and passed Holy Trinity Church, where the Bard is buried beside his wife.

Next day, all too soon, we were heading for home. A big thank you to Stratford-upon-Avon and Riverside Caravan Park, for helping us to do a little bit of nothing for a while!

Looking for more inspiration for your next tour? Then take a look at our guide to the best motorhome sites in Dorset for ideas of where to stay at when touring the picturesque region.

Planning a tour to Stratford-upon-Avon

Way to go

The campsite was just under 1.5 hours from our home in Buckinghamshire, travelling via the M40, B4087 and B4086.

Public transport

With the river-taxi operating from the campsite, there is no need to take your motorhome, even if you don’t fancy walking into town. If you want to explore further afield, buses and trains run from the centre to various destinations.

You could also hop on an open-topped bus if the weather is suitable, to enjoy an informative guided tour of the town, or if you’re visiting on a summer Sunday, take a heritage steam train trip on the Shakespeare Express.

Find out more

Where we stayed

Riverside Caravan Park

This family- and dog-friendly site offers grass pitches on the banks of the Avon. Facilities include a bar and restaurant, crazy golf, fishing and children’s play area.

Address: Tiddington Road, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 7AB, avon-estates.co.uk

  • Open: 1 April to 31 October
  • Pitches: 65
  • Price: From £36

Image: Susan Taylor

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