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Through the power of social media you will probably know that we have just returned from our very first camping trip with Winnie & George, our 1 year old whippets. So, what else would I write about today but our adventures of Four go Camping in the Cotswolds! 

We decided this year that we would venture to parts of England that we hadn't previously visited and having consulted our go to place to find a great campsite The Cool Camping Guide we settled upon Thistledown Farm, a very rural campsite with campfires, a cafe, eco loos & showers, nestled on the edge of Woodchester Park near Nailsworth in Gloucestershire - a fantastic place to walk your dog with plenty of shade.

Of the three fields we chose the Elderflower Orchard and even though it was a bit of a trek to the showers/washing up facilities it was secluded with some shade - they plan to install eco showers and loos in this field at some point soon.  We had a huge pitch and for most of the week we enjoyed the space mostly to ourselves. The other two fields are very beautiful, you will get  a view to wake up to, be nearer the loos/showers but you can't take your car in, you have to wheelbarrow your stuff  down a very steep hill - we have A LOT of stuff when we camp, so decided against it!

When we go away we like to do 3 things, walk, eat & explore.

Where we went to WALK

From the campsite we walked into the woods on the edge of the farm then down into Woodchester Park - a beautiful area managed by the National Trust. We didn't meet anyone and walked around for over 2 hours, the whippets ran for most of that, and loved the shady spaces down near the lakes, as well as the bog that cooled them off resulting in characteristic black boots being worn until it dried off - luckily the smell evaporated too!

We ventured out to Haresfield Beacon for another walk and were rewarded by the most stunning views across the River Severn to the Black Mountains beyond. We sort of followed the paths - we always go a little off piste, and luckily the day was overcast so walking the 4 miles was managable for all. Plenty of water breaks and a sit down on the way up to the Beacon made for a most enjoyable walk. The climb up is quite long and steep in places but the paths are good and the signage is mostly ok!

One other place worth a mention is Rodborough Common, but beware, cattle roam free in this area, we managed to avoid them most of the walk, which being so hot we cut short. The view of Stroud it lovely as is the castle, now a private house that dominates the common.

Where we went to EAT

We spent a lot of time around our tent, relaxing, reading and generally recharging our batteries. We cooked on our campfire as well as our new, flash camping stove!  For years we have managed with a one hob gas canister type of stove, and I just don't know why we haven't considered investing in a better stove until now! Breakfasts were SO much easier on this one, we even have a grill, so we had TOAST!!

On recommendations we chose to eat at The Bear in Rodborough - a lovely pub, very dog freindly, the gluten free scotch egg was calling to me! Food was lovely, but I was a little disappointed in the scotch egg - bit dry, tasty, but dry. Such a shame, you have no idea how much I miss the odd Scotch egg!!

The food at The Amberley Inn however, did not disappoint on any level. To me this place is heaven - not only do they give your dog the same welcome they give you, virtually all the menu is gluten free! They have awards in the gluten free world and I haven't had such a wonderful meal since being gluten free. The sticky toffee pudding was a high point for me! I couldn't resist taking a photo, and frankly any pub that provides dog biscuits is good in my book!

There is just one other place worthy of a mention, The Canteen in Nailsworth. An amazing cafe that is part of a wonderful shop, Domestic Science, a warren of rooms rammed with items from candles to dishcloths. There are vintage and reclaimed items too, and it is all beautifully curated in a way that makes you 'need' to buy something! The Canteen is dog freindly, in fact Winnie discovered the jar of dog biscuits before we noticed she had her nose in them! Gluten free brownies are sublime, and the other food looked yummy too.

Where we went to EXPLORE

Stroud - a town with many small indie shops, mostly dog freindly, we spent an enjoyable couple of hours mooching around the vintage shops and enjoyed lunch at Dinner at Six - dog friendly in the bar area, they do a delicious omelette and very fresh salad.

Minchenhampton - what a delight - a very typical Cotswolds village. The houses are all beautiful, the small high street has a few shops and a couple of cafes. It really is a very pretty place, and every other year they host a Country Fair in September, well worth a visit we are told. The town is surrounded by common land, also with free roaming cows, we didn't ivestigate but I suspect the walks would be good.

Bradford on Avon - around 45 minutes drive away, but well worth a visit. We booked ourselves into Timbrells Yard for our last night, so that we could meet up with some friends and pop into our lovely stockist, the Doghouse BoA. This little town is simply beautiful. There is a lovely walk along the River Avon, which is mostly shady and a great place where dogs can go in the water to cool off if hot. Timbrells Yard is fantasically dog friendly, with dog beds, bowls and goody boxes in the room - we felt very spoilt in room 106 - just what we needed at the end of our week in a tent! Winnie & George approved too! They had a fuss made of them by the attentive staff and the food is pretty awesome too.

All in all we had a very successful week camping with the whippets - we won't dwell on the collision George had with my knee resulting in a trip to A & E, or the meeting he had with a wire fence cutting his nose, neck and narrowly missing his eyes! We are going to get him to Specsavers for a check up!

I was going to tell you what I have learnt from this trip, but that is a post for another week!

Debbie x

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