Barnard Castle in the Van

18th November 2021

My pitch at the Barnard Castle Camp Site with the beautifully built amenity block in the distance

I was up in Oban working on the boat with Tilman – our Parson Russel Terrier – and decided that a 12 hour drive back to London wouldn’t be fair on the dog, or me for that matter. I had managed to break the northbound journey in half by staying with my sailing buddy Ray in Wetherby, so I was looking for a stopover about half way between Oban and London when Barnard Castle sprang to mind. My eyes had been feeling a bit fuzzy and it seemed the ideal place for a little drive to test them out (I realise in the few years time, that comment may appear very weird).

There is a Camping and Caravanning Club Site a couple of miles outside Barnard Castle and it is open at this time of the year. I booked a pitch online and arrived the next day in the little VW Beach Camper Van to a super friendly welcome. Then it occurred to me that in order to actually see Barnard Castle, I should really book another night, which I duly did. I then parked up and rolled out the awning only to realise it was rather gusty, so I guyed it down with big pegs and, thank goodness, it stood up to the blasts of wind that rather kept me and the dog awake.

There are a couple of observations regarding comparing these campsites with marinas. Firstly, I wonder whether it is only the more experienced ruffty-tuffty campers venture out at this time of the year, giving possibly a better general experience. Everyone there was very friendly and looked super organised. Secondly, I was the smallest vehicle on the site with my VW Beach Camper Van, and the only camper van. All the others were rather cavernous motorhomes, some even towing little cars. It is the same with sailing, all the boats seem to be getting bigger and bigger! Or is that just me?

In the morning, I asked the lovely reception staff for directions to walk into town without going along the road – Tilman barks at every car! They handed me a pre-prepared instruction sheet and off we went.

Just around the corner I saw a horse throw off its poor rider and gallop down the road heading straight towards me, whereupon it skidded on the tarmac and shot off down another road. The rider had hurt her elbow but was otherwise more concerned about the horse. It eventually arrived back at the stables and all was well. The two mile walk into town takes you through Deepdale Woods with a steep wooded valley and a beck running through it. There would be a variety of options to lengthen the walk but a map would be handy. I really must download the Ordinance Survey app.

The town is rather wonderful with lots of independent shops and even a hardware store – a rare sight nowadays. Specsavers is doing a roaring trade now that “eye test” is linked via a Google search to “Barnard Castle”. There were two interesting blue plaques which are shown in the pictures below. It is a strange coincidence that the Murchison Range happens to be near the Stauning Alps in Scoresby Land where I am hoping to sail to next year. I’m not sure if he ever actually went there?

Plenty of horses to admire before entering the woods. Keep your dog on a lead around here as there are some working farm dogs around who might not enjoy a chase.
Into the Woods
The wooden bridge over the beck
The beck
Barnard Castle from the Silver Bridge over the River Tees
The town centre
The High Street
The Bowes Museum is just on the edge of the town. Hampered by the dog, I didn’t venture in but enjoyed a stroll around the gardens.
How very true!
The Murchison Range is named after him in the Stauning Alps in Scoresby Land.


  • Barnard Castle Camping and Caravanning Club Site, Dockenflatts Lane, Barnard Castle DL12 9DG
  • Phone 01833 630228
  • Closed December, January and February (2021)
  • Dogs allowed and plenty of walks
  • 2.5 miles from Barnard Castle – a pleasant walk off road.
  • Facilities spotless. Laundry, dish washing area etc.
  • Pricing varies but I paid only about £13.00 a night which seemed a bargain.

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