Website: bridgevilla.co.uk | Phone: 01491 836860 | Postcode: OX10 8HB
For a weekend of camping with friends we chose Bridge Villa for its convenient location between the two families. We took the Friday off work and travelled down during the day. After an uneventful journey, the last few miles after leaving the M40 took us through some rural picturesque Oxfordshire villages. Unusually for most campsites, at Bridge Villa you just turn off the main road and you’re straight into the site among the pitches. There’s no long single track driveway winding through fields to approach the site, here you stay right in the heart of the village.
There are no marked pitches at Bridge Villa, but when we arrived and checked-in we were shown to an area of the site and told where the boundary of our pitches were. On the weekend that we visited there was a bit of a heatwave that had brought out all of the campers in their tents and caravans and the site felt a little overcrowded. Little corners of grass alongside the entrance gate had a motorhome on one side and a couple of tents squeezed into the other. Often on a campsite you might have neighbours on either side but an open field in front with expansive views of the surrounding countryside but there isn’t space for that here and in every direction are other campers.
The facilities on-site are very good with plenty of toilets and shower cubicles housed in a modern building designed to look like a barn conversion (or maybe it did used to be a barn). Because the site doesn’t cover a large area, no pitch is very far from the facilities. Our one criticism of the facilities is the over-complicated showers – so complicated that signs have been put up with instructions on exactly how to wave your hand in front of the sensors to turn on the water and adjust the temperature.
Across the road from the site is an outdoor municipal pool which provided much needed respite from the soaring temperatures. There are a couple of fountains and splash pools for younger kids which are free and a larger pool which costs a few pounds per person (currently £4.45 for adults, and £2.85 for juniors & seniors).
The River Thames also runs close to the site (and alongside the pools) and there’s a single lane bridge over the river into Wallingford. On one side of the bridge there’s lots of activity on the water, with boats for hire, and The Boathouse pub which looks right out onto the river (though we didn’t try it). On the other side of the bridge the fields are open to walkers and the riverbank is accessible. All weekend there were people swimming in the river and launching dinghies and kayaks (making me wish I’d thought to bring our – as yet unused – inflatable kayak).
Beyond the river the village is full of cafés and shops with plenty of choice for some fresh local barbecue supplies. There’s also a large Waitrose supermarket.
After our leisurely drive down to the site on Friday we were setup and ready to pop open a couple of beers as soon as our friends arrived in the early evening. On Saturday we spent the morning relaxing on the campsite while the kids played together before meandering into Wallingford village. We managed to find a shaded corner of the courtyard at The George Hotel for lunch. Coincidentally we visited on the weekend of the annual Wallingford Carnival so there was lots going on (and hordes of people!). Then in the afternoon we all went over the road to cool off in the pool before heading back to the site to light the barbecue. On Sunday we packed away the trailer-tent and picked a café at random in Wallingford (Bean & Brew, with a large lunch menu and a tempting selection of cakes) before starting the long drive home.
We really enjoyed our weekend in Wallingford, lazing around the village and catching up with friends. We didn’t explore further afield, but there was plenty in the immediate area to keep us occupied for the weekend. While there’s nothing specifically wrong with the campsite, its less than rural location and crowded feeling mean that Bridge Villa wouldn’t be top of our list of campsites to return to.