December can be a challenging time, with the weeks prior to the Christmas holiday being jam-packed with shopping, parties, visits to Santa(s) and festive light switch-ons. It is no wonder that once we get to the new year we are often left feeling tired, with not much on the horizon in the way of fun!
With the weather in January often appearing dreary, grey and cold, you may not even have considered booking a break during this period, preferring instead to ‘tough it out’ until the first snowdrops of Spring start to appear. However, here at Southfork we believe that January is actually a great time for a break, it often signifies a period of change, self-reflection and wellbeing for many, after the over-indulgence of December.
Taking time out by surrounding yourself with nature is a great way to start a new year, although, we know it would take a lot to convince even our most hardened tent-goers to camp out during one of the coldest months of the year. So, don’t let the darker days put you off, with the right preparation we know you will come love camping or touring in the post-Christmas period.
Camping and Touring pre-travel checklist
Motorhomes and Caravans
Ensuring that your vehicle is in good working order is a must for any camping trip, regardless of the time of year, however the colder months can make travel slightly more problematic and so it is good practice to perform a few simple checks before setting out.
- Tyres - Take time to inspect all tyres for any sign of wear which may have an impact on performance, especially in wet weather. Ensure that there are no bulges or punctures and that they are at the correct pressure (this can usually be found in the user manual or online via the manufacturer’s website). If you are planning to travel in areas known for snowfall then research the best tyres and consider snow chains if appropriate.
- Lights - Check all lights are working - including high beams, fog lights, indicators and brake lights. If you are towing a caravan, check that your lights are connecting properly to your car and are relaying signals correctly.
- Windscreen Wipers - Firstly ensure that the windscreen wipers on your motorhome work! It is a good idea to gently wipe the underside of the blade to remove any dust and dirt, if that doesn’t help, then it may be worth replacing the wiper blades to ensure that visibility remains good in wet or severe conditions.
- Oil - Check oil levels before departing and ensure there are no leaks from your motorhome - this should be easy to detect if parked up as you will notice any oil spots on the ground. Almost all modern motorhomes will have a warning light on the dashboard if the oil is low - if this is on, it should always be checked by a qualified mechanic to determine the cause.
- Battery - Ensure you have a good battery fitted and that it is functioning correctly. Colder weather can have a detrimental affect on older batteries, causing them to drain their charge more quickly.
- Screenwash - Make sure you have also topped up your screenwash - muddy and wet conditions can make visibility extremely poor. If you are travelling somewhere on the colder side, invest in an ice scraper for those frosty mornings!
- Servicing - Before embarking on any winter adventure, we would advise booking your caravan or motorhome for a winter service. Always make sure that you use an approved workshop to carry out servicing and repairs to your vehicle. Southfork Caravan Park has an approved workshop on-site where we will service and repair your vehicle - more information can be found on our Servicing page. We also run a wash and wax service to make sure your vehicle stays looking its best and our onsite shop is the ideal place for parts and accessories and to stock up on consumables.
Regardless of the time of year, your pre-departure checks for your tent should be the same for every camping trip, however, there are a couple of extra points to take note of if travelling in the colder winter months.
- Tent - Prior to departing, check your tent for any damage or wear and tear. Check all seams and repair any rips beforehand to ensure that your tent is watertight.
- Extra Equipment-Remember that the ground will be harder during the winter months so you will need to make sure you have a sturdy mallet to get those tent pegs scurely into the ground. If the weather is particularly stormy you may need to consider taking extra ropes and pegs to ensure your tent stays firmly rooted to the ground.
Winter Camping and Touring kit check-list
Camping in the winter months does require a little more planning due to the colder weather, shorter days and reduced facilities (shops, transport etc), so whilst we don’t want to repeat anything you already know, there are a few pointers to take note of and a few pieces of kit that we feel could be ‘winterised’.
Even during the warmer months, it is not unusual to get chilly at night and camping in winter, without the correct kit can be miserable.
- Sleeping Bags - Take the correct tog/weight for the weather conditions - we would always advise to go higher than you think as it is easier to cool down when hot than warm up when cold and damp. Take time to research what you need, check reviews and get one with a hood, this will cover your head, helping to minimise heat escaping!
- Portable heaters - There are now many options when it comes to heating your tent, motorhome or caravan. However, before using any heater in an enclosed space make sure it is labelled as ‘indoor safe’ and is suitable for use in your tent, caravan or motorhome. If you already have portable heaters, ensure that they are in good working order and if appropriate, have been checked by a professional to minimise risk.
- Appropriate Clothing - Again, like our advice for sleeping bags, when it comes to clothing go thicker than you think. Pack a good supply of base layers and consider investing in a good quality set of thermals. If possible, take spares for the wet weather - depending on where you are staying you may not be able to dry items out thoroughly. A decent hat, socks and waterproof boots will also help to keep the chill out.
- Blankets - Whether you are adding layers to your sleeping bag after a hard days hiking through the Somerset Levels, or wrapping them around your shoulders whilst stargazing by the campfire, you cannot go wrong with blankets. We have concluded that there is never an amount that is too many.
- Condensation - Although it may sound counter-intuitive in the face of keeping warm, keeping an air vent or window open in your tent, motorhome or caravan ever so slightly will help air-flow, reduce condensation and help prevent a damp atmosphere (which makes the air appear colder).
Other kit to consider
- First aid kit - It is good practice to take a first aid kit whenever you go camping for all minor scrapes and cuts, however, in winter you may want to add an item or two. Consider adding a foil blanket - these can be purchased fairly cheaply from any good outdoor supplier - in the event of falls/trips/slips they can provide some heat whilst waiting for assistance.
- Good quality torch and plenty of batteries - A torch that won’t succumb to cold and wet weather is a must-have item for winter camping when the days get shorter and darker. Ensure you take a good supply of batteries as they can lose their charge quicker during the colder months.
- Waterproofs - We all know the importance of a decent waterproof coat, however investing in some waterproof trousers and rain-covers for rucksacks is not only a great way to keep clothes dry but will also reduce the amount of wet items needing to dry out in your tent (think condensation!).
- Hot chocolate - Ok, so technically it’s not essential, but we can guarantee that a hot chocolate after a winter walk is a super way to feel cosy and indulgent without taking up too much space!
Have we convinced you yet?
You will need to consider a few more things and put slightly more effort into planning a winter camp or tour, but despite this, there are huge advantages that we think are definitely worth the (minimal) effort.
Somerset is a fantastic and beautiful place to visit at any time of year and the winter months do not disappoint. Often taking on a complete change of character, visiting Southfork Caravan Park during the colder months allows you to experience completely different scenery and wildlife than the Summer months.
Visitor attractions and sites of interest are often a lot quieter and parking is much more accessible in some of the more remote beauty spots. The cost is also a great factor in deciding to go away during the winter months, with prices being considerably cheaper during off-peak periods. Listed below are just a handful of all the best, year-round events and attractions nearby.
- Just a short drive from Southfork Caravan Park, the house and gardens at Montacute (National Trust) are spectacular at any time of year and are often illuminated during the festive season.
- Combine your visit to Southfork to coincide with the Martock Farmers Market which takes place on the second Saturday of every month. Here you can purchase some delicious local produce.
- East Lambrook Manor Gardens re-opens this year on Feb 1st 2023 with fabulous festival of snowdrops. The cottage garden was created by the renowned 20th-century plants-woman and gardening writer Margery Fish and is beautiful to explore.
Alongside some top attractions there are also some beautifully scenic amazing walks, bike rides and fishing spots within a short distance of Southfork Caravan Park. We even have The Ranch Cafe & Deli on-site offering delicious hot and cold local food. The warm and inviting atmosphere makes it a great place to relax and unwind after a winter day out.
For any queries regarding staying at Southfork Caravan Park please contact us online via www.southforkcaravans.co.uk or on 01935 825661. Booking and availability can also be viewed online.