Wednesday, 21 July 2010

2010 British GP at Silverstone -- Woodlands campsite

2 weeks ago, me and my husband were excitedly packing our camping gear ready for the British GP. We had decided to head over to Silverstone Thursday afternoon after work "to beat the rush", or so we thought! We had been assured by the bloke on the campsite helpline that if we arrived Thursday evening we would be almost guaranteed to get a pitch with electric hookup.

So we rolled up to the Woodlands campsite at 6 pm on Thursday, to find an almost completely deserted site. Oh no, that was just a dream. There must have been thousands of motorhomes, caravans, and tents already pitched. We were both overwhelmed, we've never seen such closely packed tents before (and I've camped at several music festivals). Flags on massive fishing poles were dotted about the site, campfires were sending smoky plumes up, and the atmosphere was buzzing.

We headed to the family/quiet area, which was located to the far side of the site (we were in G area), through a little wooded area. It was actually located by Stowe corner if you know the circuit at all. We drove around searching for a pitch and finally found an empty piece of grass behind someone's tent. I wasn't sure we should pitch so close to someone else (I'm very polite!) but since we'd seen how close people were on the other campsite, we went ahead and got ourselves unpacked. Just as well we did because the site rapidly filled up and people were camping three rows deep in places. (In fact, by Friday evening, campers were being turned away the site was so packed.) Of course, we had no electric hookup, so we were reduced to slumming it with our gas stove and warm beer.

Later in the evening, we ventured over to the lively camping area to check out the facilities. We found what we thought was a large shower and toilet block (but which proved completely inadequate). There was a seating area with big screen, stage, several food outlets, and a large beer tent selling real ales and ciders. We had three fabulous evenings in this area, chilling out to live music (The Red Bullets on Friday night were excellent) and enjoying cold beers.
The circuit was about a 15 minute walk from our tent, down some very new but hard-to-walk-on gravel paths (most people chose to walk on the grass to the side of these paths). The BRDC are obviously working hard to improve facilities for the future, a purpose built shower and toilet block is planned for 2011. Part of the lively camping area is set out in regimented rows separated by gravel roads and with generators for electric hookups and water standpipes at regular locations. More of the site will probably be similarly arranged next year.

The main downside to Woodlands were the facilities. The showers had massive queues, in fact my husband had to abandon all hopes of a shower and make do with a bucket of cold water and kettleful of hot on Saturday night. On Saturday night at about 9 pm, we were rather bemused when campsite staff turned up in the family area with ten new portaloos and a generator-powered light, boosting our meagre facilities from six loos to 16. Only 3 days overdue for most campers. We were grateful for our posh loos in the Club Silverstone hospitality area!

The food outlets were totally overwhelmed; the three venues had queues that snaked through the entertainment zone, and portions of fish and chips that started large in the afternoon were half the size by the evening when stock was dwindling (but priced the same). We satisfied our hunger with pot noodles rather than the tasty-looking pies at Pieminister, such a shame.

Despite all the shortcomings, we thoroughly enjoyed our camping experience at Silverstone, and if we were to camp at the site again, we would be much better prepared for the rough lifestyle!

2 comments:

  1. It sounds like you had the wonderful experience of circuit camping! I've visited a few Grand Prix in Europe and found that you are quite often better served using an off circuit site, capacity controlled and services adequate for the number of campers. A good one we found this year was CampingF1, we arrived on Wednesday and found a more personalised service with staff only to willing to welcome you. The tents are huge and the marquee is a great place to spend the evenings with live music, good cover band Performance were playing from Stoke on Trent with The Original Stig doing a stage talk and signings after, the staff consist of grid girls and models. I'm quite sure that I'll be booking my next F1 tickets wherever they have a campsite!

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  2. Thanks for finding my blog and commenting, whoever you are!

    As the GP approached, I was gutted when Virgin Racing announced their own camping deal at Stowe School. I would've preferred to camp with them. Perhaps next time.

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