This area includes England's smallest county, longest river and oldest continuously inhabited castle
Things To Do
Go cycling in the Peak District to enjoy fabulous views during your caravan holidays. Go off-road on the many off-road cycle tracks, especially around the Upper Derwent Valley reservoirs. Bicycle hire is available in the Upper Derwent Valley, too.
Visit Hereford to see the Norman Hereford Cathedral, where the famous Mappa Mundi – the largest surviving known medieval map of the world – is housed. The cathedral’s Chained Library also houses the oldest book (the Anglo Saxon Gospels) dating from the 8th Century.
Visit Windsor Castle and look up to see if the Royal Standard is flying. If it is, then Her Majesty is ‘at home’; if the Union Jack flag is flying then the Queen is not there. Watch the Changing of the Guard at Windsor, the world’s largest and oldest, continuously inhabited castle in the world.
Go canoeing while taking in the beauty of Herefordshire’s Wye Valley, a densely tree-covered gorge. There’s a choice of gentle paddles or hair-raising white water.
When To Visit
For such a large region as this, it’s impossible to mention every last big event but here’s a selection to whet the appetite.
Ashbourne (Derbyshire) goes footy mad with the Royal Shrovetide Football match (with goals three miles apart!), while Stratford-upon-Avon (Warwickshire) celebrates William Shakespeare’s birthday every 23 April.
You’ll find numerous Well Dressing events take place throughout the summer months in the Peak District. Then head further south for major sporting events at Royal Ascot (Berkshire) and the Henley Royal Regatta (Oxfordshire) in June followed by the Formula 1 Grand Prix at Silverstone (Northamptonshire) usually in July. Major festivals include the V Festival (Shropshire) and Reading Festival (Berkshire), the Robin Hood Festival (Nottinghamshire) and The Big Feastival (Oxfordshire), all in August.
And, of course, let’s not forget the Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show plus the Motorhome and Caravan Show, held in February and October respectively at the NEC, Birmingham, when you can pick up a brand new ‘van!
The M1 runs north-south like a spine through the middle of this Central England area from north London to North Yorkshire, while the M40 is a fast route from west London to the Midlands. The M5 (and M50 spur) helps to connect to Herefordshire and Worcestershire, linking to the M6 to reach the West Midlands, Staffordshire and Cheshire.
The east and west extremities of this large region can also be accessed using the cross-country section of the M6 – from junction 19 of the M1, through Birmingham to the M5/M6 intersection. To avoid congestion through the city, an alternative is to take the M6 Toll road. Prices vary depending on whether you are travelling in the day (6.00-23.00), the night (23.00-6.00) or at the weekend, although the fee is significantly more expensive (averaging £4-5 more) when towing a caravan than the price paid by standalone cars.
Care should be taken on unclassified roads throughout the region as what appears perfectly wide for two-way traffic can suddenly become uncomfortably narrow when towing a caravan if travelling too fast. Even main routes through Herefordshire and Shropshire can be twisty, so extra time should be allowed for journeys through these counties.
Few routes within the region are inadvisable when towing caravans except a handful in Derbyshire’s Peak District, most notably Winnats Pass between Sparrowpit and Castleton, and Mam Tor to Edale (approach the Edale Valley carefully via Hope). Snake Pass (the A57) and Woodhead Pass (A628), also in the Peak District, are usable when towing during the summer, although care should be taken – during the winter months they are often closed in bad weather and would be worth avoiding.