Home » QUIRKY ROUTES – THE ULTIMATE FESTIVE UK ROAD TRIP – Southern Edition
Are you a festive fiend or a grumpy Grinch? This season no matter what mood you’re in, escape the normal and take yourself and your loved ones away on a roadtrip with a festive twist. With two routes on offer, one for the North of the UK, and one for the South, there’s something for everyone, adventurists, Christmas lovers, or cosy campers, to get you on the road this festive season.
How long does it take to complete the route?
The route has been organised to start before Christmas and end on New Years, but that is just a guideline. If you drove from start to finish it would take around nine hours, although we don’t recommend that! Each location is just the tip of things to explore in the local area, so take it at your own pace, make it your own, stop off to visit friends or family along the way and enjoy the festive spirit of these spectacular Christmas locations across the UK.
How much fuel will I use and how much will it cost?
A typical campervan will average around 20-35 miles per gallon which equates to about 4.39-7.69 miles per litre. To complete the whole roughly 400 mile long route, you’ll be looking to spend anything between £90-£180 on fuel, however, we always recommend setting aside an extra £50-£100 in your budget as there are some roads and rough terrain which may equate to a lower mileage per litre. RAC has a useful mileage calculator, so you can work out the cost for your specific vehicle.
Start your road trip right in the heart of the UK, London. Richmond is on the outskirts, but a perfect stopover if you’re picking up a van in the city. Richmond is a quintessentially British town, with beautiful houses, cobbled streets, cafes and shops galore and at Christmas the whole town is lit up like a giant Christmas tree. Take a stroll around Richmond Park to see the famous Royal deer, then when the sun goes down finish your day with a trip to Kew Gardens for their winter illumination display. A stunning show of lights that incorporates the natural beauty of the arboretum. There’s plenty of mulled wine stalls along the way to keep you warm and cheery.
This stunning castle is set in 125 acres of gorgeous grounds, worth exploring at any time of year, but at Christmas the whole site comes alive with festive cheer, there is so much on offer here, it will feel like Christmas has come early. Start with the little ones at Santa’s grotto for a meet and greet with the big man himself, take a break to explore the castle and grounds along the Christmas trail, followed by a cosy trip across the lake in one of the rentable boats. Then when the evening dusk draws in, head to the Christmas illuminations, a stunning walk filled with glorious colour and light. Finish the fun filled day browsing the festive stalls, with a hot cider in one hand and a mince pie in the other.
Where better to get away from the mayhem of Christmas in towns and cities than by visiting the serenity of The New Forest. Driving into this woodland is a breath of fresh air. If you’re looking for somewhere quiet and away from the crowds to spend Christmas day, this is the place. There are walking and cycling trails aplenty for long Christmas walks, and plenty of Christmas events. Feeling like a Christmas Canoe to meet Santa up the Windsor river? Or taking in the lights at Glow Marwell for a Christmas light display? There’s something for everyone to enjoy. The quaint villages in The New Forest are picture perfect and filled with bakeries and cafes for cosy coffee and cake on a cold day. You’ll never forget the experience of waking up on Christmas morning to the sound of clopping hooves on the frosty ground, so why not share your Christmas with shaggy New Forest ponies and adorable donkeys. If you want a full Christmas dinner, and you don’t fancy the home-cooked van version, there are cosy pubs aplenty filled with Christmas cheer for a festive feast.
Get ready for Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol brought to life. Mompesson House in Salisbury is decorated every year for Christmas, as you enter the house you’re taken through the tale of a Christmas Carol, starting at Marley’s front door and ending with the Cratchitt’s Christmas feast. Once you’ve satiated your literary appetite head to Salisbury Town for Christmas markets, live music, Christmas fairs and their Christmas on the square pop up event.
Beautiful Bath is one of the most charming cities for a Christmas trip. This is one of only two cities that holds the title of a UNESCO world heritage site, both for its gorgeous Georgian architecture, and for its historic Roman Baths. History aside, this fascinating city is a Christmas gem, with plenty of shops for Christmas shopping, places to relax, like the Thermae Bath Spa, stunning festive light displays, Christmas markets and maybe even a trip to see the one-of-a-kind Longleat Festival Of Light, this year displaying the magical tale from CS Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, all in fantastic illuminations. There’s plenty to do, see and eat for all the family!
Cheddar Gorge is a spectacular natural wonder, a limestone gorge in the Mendip hills, and over the festive period, the mystical site of Santa’s Grotto. A wonderful and magical day out for a family adventure. Let your inner explorer take the lead as you venture through the spectacular caves and wonder at the stunning stalagmites and stalactites. Over the festive season parts of the gorge are transformed into an elves workshop and Santa’s grotto experience, so don’t forget your Christmas letters and stay on the nice list!
Step away for a quiet day to explore the beautiful surrounds of Christmas on Dartmoor National Park. After the mayhem of Christmas the wild open moors are a balm for the soul. The Dartmoor National Park at Christmas is a joy to behold with Christmas fairs and markets, food festivals, Santa’s grottos, art festivals and carol concerts. Whether you’re looking for peace and quiet or country merriment, The Dartmoor National Park will be your festive haven. Highlights of the moors include watching the wild Dartmoor ponies, taking in the majestic history of the Tors, and visiting the enchanting villages that are scattered throughout.
The bustling town of St Ives is the most idyllic spot on this list, if you still need to do some Christmas shopping, this is the place, filled with adorable independent shops, selling arts and crafts, books, ceramics and homeware just to name a few. We highly recommend checking out the St Ives Bookseller for some excellent Christmas reads. Festive events abound in this cosy town, watch the unique arrival of Father Christmas by boat, visit the Etsy Made Local Christmas Fair, or just soak up the atmosphere in the cafes and bars of the town watching the Christmas bustle. St Ives is also the location for a famous boxing day swim, nothing like the frigid waters of the Cornish sea to blow away those post Christmas cobwebs!
Mousehole may feel like the very end of the world but its world famous Mousehole Harbour light display will blow your mind. The whole village lights up during the festive period, and the harbour sparkles with delight and laughter. There’s a variety of festive events throughout the month, everything from live music to festive markets, everyone is catered for in this adorable village. Finish up at Mousehole to see in the New Year, to watch the fireworks from a cosy spot on the beach, with blankets and champagne as the fireworks explode over the harbour, the display reflecting in the water around you as you cheer in the New Year with locals and visitors alike.
Christmas Markets to Visit En-Route
A festive list of all the very best Christmas Markets en-route, selling everything from homemade crafts, mulled wine, magnificent hot chocolates, and of course classic mince pies!
When – 16th November – 31st December
Where – Ancient Market Place, Kingston KT1
Times – Sun-Wed 10.00am-6.00pm, Thur-Sat 10.00am-8.00pm
When – 21st of November – 22nd of December 2023
Where – Winchester Cathedral grounds
Times – 10am – 6pm
When – 23rd of November to 10th of December 2023
Where – Bath Centre at various locations.
Times – Monday-Wednesday: 10am-7pm. Thursday-Saturday: 10am-8pm. Sunday: 10am-6pm
When – 17th of November to 17th of December 2023
Where – Exeter Cathedral
Times – Monday-Wednesday: 10am-7pm, Thursday-Saturday: 10am-9pm, Sunday: 11am-5pm
When – 11th – 17th of December 2023
Where – Healey’s, Penhallow, Truro, Cornwall, TR4 9LW
Times – 9am-5pm
Campsites Open Year Round
Location: Bridge Road, Chertsey, Surrey, KT16 8JX
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and stay on the banks of the thames, just a short drive from London.
Facilities; Open Year Round | Disabled Facilities | Internet Access | Drinking Water | Games Room | Showers | Electric Hook-up | W/C Disposal
Location: Setthorns Campsite, Brokenhurst, New Milton, The New Forest, Hampshire, BH25 5WA
Nestled in the trees, this beautifully secluded campsite is perfect for a Christmas break. Perfectly located for exploration of the New Forest, you’ll stay surrounded by ponies, deer and the other flora and fauna of the forest.
Facilities; Battery Charging | Chemical Disposal Point | Drinking Water Taps | Electric Pitches | Pet Friendly| Seasonal Pitches | XL Pitches
Location: Salisbury Camping and Caravanning Club Site, Hudson’s Field, Castle Road, Wiltshire, SP1 3SA
Located in Hudson’s Fields, the Salisbury Club Site has a stunning view of Old Sarum, the spectacular Iron Age hill fort. The campsite is light and open with plenty of space over two fields and great facilities.
Facilities; Toilets | Showers | Pet Friendly | Wifi | Disabled Facilities | Shop | Laundry Facilities
Location: Tuckers Grave Inn and Campsite,A366, Faulkland, Bath, Somerset, BA3 5XF
A highly recommended campsite for families, this campsite is right beside a charming local pub with plenty of live events, and is surrounded by scenic countryside views.
Facilities; Disabled Facilities | Wifi | Open Year Round | Toilets | WC Disposal | Cafe/Restaurant | Drinking Water | Family Friendly | Showers | Pet Friendly | Electric Hook-ups | Fires Allowed
Location: Cheddar Petruth Paddocks, Labourham Drove, Cheddar, Somerset, BS27 3XW
An escape from modernity, this campsite takes you back to basics, where everyone can roam free and enjoy their holiday at their own pace. A great spot to bring your furry friends and have a sing-song around the campfire.
Facilities; Open Year Round | Pet Friendly | Family Friendly | Electric Hook-ups | Toilets | Showers | Drinking Water | Fires Allowed
Location: Cannamore Camping, Cannamore, Avonwick, South Brent, Devon, TQ10 9HA
Pitches at this delightful campsite are set amongst a wildflower meadow. With stunning views out over the rolling hills, this site is as close to wild camping as you’ll get at a campsite!
Facilities; Open Year Round | Toilets | Showers | Family Friendly | Pet Friendly | Drinking Water
Location: Troon, Camborne, Cornwall, England
A tiny campsite with bucket-loads of charm, this smallholding in rural Cornwall truly takes you away from the tourist track, book ahead to avoid disappointment!
Facilities; Fire Pit | Compost Toilet | Semi-outdoor |Hot Shower
Location: Cadgwith Wild Camping, Ruan Minor, Cornwall, England
A small but relaxed and friendly campsite, with clifftop sea views from every pitch! Park up for a taste of the great Cornish outdoors.
Facilites; Fires Allowed | Toilets | Portable Water | Pets allowed | Showers
Campervans for the trip with heating
This super stylish, rustic chic luxury campervan conversion which has been kitted out with a top-end finish. If you are seeking a rolling boutique hotel, then we think this campervan for hire in London is perfect for you. This freshly converted 2-berth camper has a fixed super king bed at the rear, complete with a hotel-grade Hypnos mattress. If you do manage to drag yourself out of this snuggly space, you’ll love living and chilling out in the rest of Esteban’s fresh, cosy and cool interior.
The Alpine detailing on the outside of this unique campervan is just the tip of everything it has to offer. As the mountains suggest, stepping into Zack’s interior feels like stepping into the warmth and cosiness of a mountain lodge retreat. With gorgeous wood panelling, and an intuitive thermostat that sets the temperature in the van just right, you’ll be snugger than a snowboarder in a hot tub.
Get a taste of the tutti frutti family experience in the lushest, most colourful campervan out there. She may be sleek and stealthy on the outside, but inside Blackberry oozes fun and games for all the family, her bright vibes will be keeping everyone cheerful, even on the dullest of days. A fully equipped campervan that can fit up to 4 adults, or 2 adults and 3 teens or children, Blackberry has been built with the big adventures in mind.
Welcome to the lap of luxury, Mahale is your tranquil sanctum made real. Nothing could better encompass a getaway from the busyness of day-to-day life than a trip in Mahale. The interior has been lovingly created with peace in mind, everything from her smooth design, her soothing colour palette, to the cosiness of the wood-burning stove, is made for a calm, relaxing retreat.
Meet Yonder, the ultimate adventure campervan that will take you on a unique journey. Once a plain old work van, Yonder has undergone a transformation to become the van of your dreams. With her unique design and ample storage space, she’s the perfect choice for any road trip.
You won’t find a more stylish and modern campervan than Cat Bells, this stunningly designed long wheelbase van has plenty of space for up to 3 people to take a voyage into adventure. The interior design of this very special van will be the envy of everyone you meet, everything has been created not just for looking great, but with the very best campervan experience in mind. From the indoor shower with running hot water, the spacious double bed, cosy seating, gorgeous wooden kitchen area, and wood-burning stove, there will be no need to check the weather before you leave, this is truly an all season campervan.
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