Monday 19 January 2009

Tour 2008 - Banbury, Oxfordshire - Twilite Leisure Park, Banbury

One the the most fascinating campsites we’ve visited is Twilite Leisure Park, near Banbury, Oxfordshire, owned and carefully run by Jim and Barbara Thomas.

The site has a fascinating history, which is told pictorally on a “storyboard” at the entrance to the site, and Jim is happy to talk about the hard work which has been put into converting this historic site into a truely thriving leisure park. This is a genuine family business, with three generations of the family living and working on the site.

In the 1940’s Jim’s parents were farmers, and bought the land and properties for £500, the centre of which was The Red Lion pub which they ran from 1940 until the mid-50’s, as well as continuing farming. After they died, the site fell derelict and remained so until 2000, when Jim commenced an ambitious programme of regeneration of both the site and the adjacent wharf on the Oxford Canal.

At the heart of this site is an unusual industrial heritage feature - two original brick kilns. Indeed, part of the site was originally a brick and pipe works, and the unusual bowl shape of the site is a direct result of the extraction of clay. This provides a well-sheltered and atmospheric campsite. There are 17 pitches to choose from, of which 12 are used at any one time. The pitching area is all hardstand, in a curved shape around a grassy central area which can be used for recreation activities. Tents are permitted to pitch in this area, however, as the soil is heavy clay, it can be quite damp in certain weather conditions. The site has a separate male and female WC at the moment, but there are plans to convert one of the brick kilns into a shower and loo block at some point in the future.

A lovely feature of thie site is it’s canalside location, with up to 5 narrowboats in residence at any one time, providing a friendly mixture of “outdoor folks" using the site together.

Banbury is approx an hour's flat and gentle walk along the canal, past fascinating bridges and many narrowboats, both moored and chugging along, until you arrive right in the heart of Banbury, with its history, canal heritage and shopping centre.

Located within very easy distance of the M40, this site is ideal for a weekend break or longer stay, and the hardstand pitches and electric hook-up make it perfect for out-of-season and all year round camping.

Image above: Twilite Leisure Park, Banbury, Oxfordshire. Copyright 2008



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