Casting aside any superstitions about Friday the 13th (of July), we found ourselves in the lucky position of having a van available to take to a friend’s 40th birthday camping trip. The working day couldn’t go fast enough - especially with constant group messages reminding me that some of our group had already arrived, pitched their tents, and had started on various forms of liquid refreshment. So, after the last customer had headed off on their adventure, it was our turn to load up Raleigh with everything we needed for a weekend by the lake. And there was quite a bit. With a 4-year-old and two adults on board, the various internal and external lockers, and the big fridge/freezer swallowed up our supplies, bedding, toys, chairs, and event shelter with ease. And there was even room for a very tiny bike on a very big bike rack. With a suitable playlist on the iPod getting us into the vibe, cruise control was breezing us up the M5 towards the party at Wimbleball Lake in Exmoor.
From their website:
Experience a day out like no other at Wimbleball Lake, nestled in the hills of Exmoor National Park. Discover our nature paths by foot or bring the bike and explore our off-road cycle trails. A short distance from the main centre is the majestic Wimbleball Dam, watch water cascade down this megastructure and spark your children’s imagination for nature and engineering. There’s plenty of open spaces providing the perfect setting for a family adventure, let your children run freely in our play area, build dens in our woodlands, climb a tree and spot an amazing range of wildlife. Wimbleball is the perfect spot for dog walkers on Exmoor, explore the National Park and become our top dog!
Whether you want to visit Wimbleball Lake in the day or night, there’s plenty of fun things to do with the whole family. At night – look up and see the amazing stars, Exmoor National Park is designated as a dark skies reserve and it was the very first in Europe to become one. Hire a telescope and enjoy the superb stargazing opportunities at Wimbleball.
Our onsite Cafe, The Duck, offers great food, and is the icing on the cake on your day out at Wimbleball. Enjoy the stunning views of the lake whilst enjoying your lunch and a cup of coffee.
Now, I have to admit, that I was careful in my choice of vehicle. At 6m long, Raleigh is a shorter motorhome. But he is just as wide as his bigger brothers. The final part of the journey to the lake was on quite small roads, but because of the shorter length, we were able to utilise most passing places and arrived at our destination without much drama. (The Fiat Tribute/VW vans would actually be the ideal choice for these lanes).
The actual view from our van…….
We had an amazing private part of the campsite at our disposal - uninterrupted views down to the lake, with long meadow grass all around. It didn’t take long to level the van, switch the fridge over, and pitch the event shelter for a sun canopy. Party on!
T-Line 590 (Raleigh), and Coleman Event Shelter
What a fantastic place to visit. We had uninterrupted sunshine for the duration of our weekend. The numerous children in our party loved the big adventure playground in the woods. For the more daring, there was a high rope adventure. The lake water was beautifully warm after a fantastic summer of sunshine. On the shimmering water we could see people on all manner of craft enjoying the beautiful weather. We hired stand up paddle boards (SUPs), kayaks, and even one enormous paddle board (MegaSUP), upon which we had 5 adults and 6 children at one point! Terrific fun, even when everyone ended up overboard (life jackets supplied!).
Back to the van, hot shower, change of clothes, ice cold beer, barbecue. Fire pit. Chilled tunes on a portable bluetooth speaker. Sun goes down, stars come out. Drunken ramblings, embers rising into the sky. Back to the van, child fast asleep. Quietly drop down the electric double bed, comfy and quiet night’s sleep. Wake up at eight, refreshed and ready to do it all again.
We didn’t have any mains hook up at our site. The boiler generated piping hot water to meet all of our needs. The fridge kept the beer perfectly cold and the ice cubes as ice cubes. The solar panel on the roof kept our leisure battery recharged. The hob and cooker gave us fresh hot coffee and toast. The combination of roof vents and side windows/blinds kept the van beautifully cool. The event shelter gave us some really useful shaded space outside, under which we could keep our chairs and picnic table. We even managed to run the awning LED lighting strip out of the van to give us lighting outside at night.
Opening Panoramic Roof standard across all or our large motorhomes. Gin not provided.
We were quite sorry to have to leave this lovely place. We decided to stop in a shady spot near the former Black Cat Garage on the A396 for final onboard picnic before the cruise home via Tiverton and the M5……and the big unpack. What a fabulous way to spend the weekend.