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Holycombe, Whichford, Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire
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Historic Wirwiekshire is geographically and culturally (as birthplace of the Bard) at the heart of England, boasting some of the country's most quintessentially English towns and villages. Sadly, for enthusiasts of the very British pastime of camping, it has tended to offer little in the way of A Midsummer Nights Dream under canvas.The village ofWhichford, however, is harbouring one of the county's best-kept secrets; with its mash-up of the medieval, middle-eastern, and the mystical, Holycombe surely won't stay unknown for long.

Holycombe, Whichford, Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire

The six-acre site is built in the grounds of a Norman castle, the legacy of which is a splendid water-filled moat harbouring carp among its bulrushes. Local mystics have it that Holycombe was a sacred Neolithic site, too, evidenced by six converging ley lines, and with a stone circle to venerate that unusual spiritual asset. The irony is that this rich heritage lay beneath a scrapyard until Sally and Andy Birtwell built their eco-home and house of healing, overlooked by an alternative campsite perfect for purists and - with furnished Bedouin, dpi, and bell tents - part-timers.

Adjoining the wildlife-filled Site of Special Interest, Whichford Wood, Holycombe has a natural beauty to match its rich history, too. It's also handily located a short walk from a classic Cotswold pub. So after a long ramble, or a pint up the road, you can light a campfire as dusk settles on the valley, and banter long into the night about whether ley lines really do exist, or ponder on what might be lurking at the bottom of that mysterious moat.

Holycombe, Whichford, Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire

COOL FACTOR Countryfile meets Time Team with a sprinkling of The Blair Witch Project.

WHO'S IN? Tents, groups, families, dogs - yes. Demi-glampers and lovers of alternative therapies (treatments like acupuncture and Kinesiology are available at Holycombe House). Camper/caravans aren't catered for, but permitted.

ON SITE Campfires allowed, and wood supplied. Enhance the vibe of this extraordinary setting by camping in a Bedouin tent, one of 2 bell tents, or a majestic tipi (all equipped with futon mattresses and snug touches), and for special occasions a long-barn yurt is available. The kitchen log cabin has a fridge, sink, electric cooker, and seating. Two hot electric showers and 3 loos (2 compost, 1 flush). Light sleepers beware - nearby church bells ring every quarter-hour.

Holycombe, Whichford, Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire

OFF SITE Holycombe adjoins Whichford Wood, where you might see Muntjac deer, polecats, or kingfishers. Buy a hand¬made memento from Whichford Pottery (01608 684416).

FOOD AND DRINK Wander the ½ mile to the Norman Knight (01608 684621) for traditional ales, flagstone floors, exposed timbers, and gastropub-grub while the kids run free on the village green. Wyatts Farm Shop (01608 684835), near Greater Rollright, has a good choice of local meat and veg.

GETTING THERE Take the A3400 northbound at Chipping Norton roundabout. Follow signs for Whichford and, soon after the speed limit sign as you enter the village, take the first right down a steep lane; Holycombe is down on the right.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT Moreton-in-Marsh station is 5 miles away; a taxi to Holycombe will cost roughly £15.

OPEN All year. Bedouin, bell tents, and tipi May-September.

THE DAMAGE Adult £7.50 per night; child (3 to 16 years) £3.75, under-2s free. Bedouin/bell tent £25; tipi £40; long-barn yurt on request - all 2-night min. stay at weekends.

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