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The Barge Inn, Honeystreet, Pewsey, Wiltshire
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The Barge Inn, Honeystreet, Pewsey, WiltshireLike a wayward child tired of rebelling, the Barge Inn and its sibling campsite are growing up and moving on. For years the campsite has attracted travellers, locals, and crop-circle enthusiasts, who -unable to make advanced bookings - would turn up, pay a fiver to a chap in a caravan, sink a few pints, then strum their guitars until the early hours.The facilities were unkempt, children weren't welcomed and getting a good night's sleep was implausible. But because the location is so utterly fantastic and full of character, the sense of camaraderie among campers felt unique.

Now the pub has been scrubbed clean to every inch of its 200-year-old life and is undergoing a facelift. A Lottery grant has funded a new shower block, reception, exhibition space, and a communal day-yurt for hire outside, all masterminded by the new owners, a local community group. And there's now a noise ban after 1 lpm.

The Kennet and Avon Canal runs alongside the pub with moorings for barges. From the towpath you can see one ofWiltshire's numerous white chalk horses etched into Milk Hill. But the county is really famous for the crop circles that appear mysteriously overnight (Pewsey's most famous one was used by Led Zeppelin as album artwork). Whether the work of aliens or creative locals, they make eccentric Britain proud. And don't be alarmed if in the twilight hours, you wake up to what sounds like a spaceship vibrating slowly above your tent - it's just a cargo train crawling by on its way to London.

COOL FACTOR Quirky and characterful, with crop circles and a pub at your feet.

WHO'S IN? Tents, campervans, caravans, dogs (on leads), groups-yes.

ON SITE One long, narrow field contains 35 pitches, but no hook-ups. Regular campers will breathe a sigh of relief to see a new washing block with 2W, 2M showers. A reception room replaces the old caravan, and a new shop will sell camping essentials. No campfires, but BBQs are permitted.

OFF SITE For information on the crop circles (most tend to appear in spring) direct enquiries to the Wiltshire Crop Circle Study Croup (01380 739966; www.wccsg.com). Hire a canal boat (from £250 for 2 days) from Devizes Wharf (01380 728504; www.whitehorseboats.co.uk); the Barge Inn is just 3 moorings along.

FOOD AND DRINK The owner-chefs of the Red Lion (01980 671124; www.redlionfreehouse.com), 15 minutes away in East Chisenbury, have more credentials than the number of items on their daily changing menu. Accumulating skills from Leiths Cookery School, world-famous chefs, and a Michelin-starred restaurant in Spain, this couple is food-obsessed. And it shows - Valrhona chocolate cremeux with cocoa crumbs, anyone?

GETTING THERE Head to Marlborough then carry on west along the A4 before turning left to Lockeridge. Follow the road south for 8 miles and turn right when you see signs for the pub. The drive leads to the car park.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT Take a train to Pewsey and pre-book a taxi (01980 630094) to the site.

OPEN Easter-October.

THE DAMAGE No advance bookings. Tent £6 per person, per night; motorhome £10—£12.




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