How to Tow a Caravan: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

Towing a caravan may seem a little scary if it’s your first time. With careful planning and an understanding of the towing processes however, it’s doesn’t have to be that way.

In this guide, we’ll cover:

  • What your driving licence allows you to tow
  • Whether you need special insurance to tow a caravan
  • How to safely hitch your caravan
  • Tips on driving with a caravan attached

Does your licence allow you to tow your caravan?

A close up of a EU driver's licence

If you hold a valid UK driver’s licence then you are able to tow some kind of caravan trailer. The size and weight of which however, will depend on when you passed your test.

If you passed your test after 19th January 2013 and hold a category B (car and small vehicle) licence, you are able to tow a small trailer weighing no more than 750 kg. You can tow a trailer over 750 kg as long as the trailer and vehicle weigh no more than 3,500 kg combined.

Similarly, if you passed your test between 19th January 2013 and 1st January 1997 and hold a category B (car) licence you may drive a vehicle up to 3,500 kg and tow a trailer up to 750 kg. You can tow a trailer over 750 kg as long as the trailer and vehicle weight no more than 3,500 kg combined.

If you passed your test before 1st January 1997, you can tow any vehicle and trailer combination up to 8,250 kg Maximum Authorised Mass (MAM). However, it’s always worth checking the government website to be sure.

If you want to tow anything heavier than what your licence allows, you must take a special ‘B+E test’ and get a special trailer licence.

Do you need special insurance?

A caravan by the beach

Since touring caravans aren’t powered vehicles themselves, they don’t require their own road insurance. It’s important, however, to double check what your insurance policy says about towing.

First, additions like tow bars and roof racks are vehicle modifications and need to be declared on your policy. Not all car insurance will allow you to tow a caravan. Even if yours does, it may impose certain limits on what you can tow. It’s important to check this before setting out, else risk facing problems should an accident occur.

It’s also worth noting that car insurance won’t cover damage to your trailer. Nor will it cover break-ins or any other loss. To protect yourself against such things, you’ll need to buy bespoke caravan insurance.

Safely hitching your caravan

A man hitching a caravan to his car

You can’t tow a caravan before you hitch it! You could even argue that properly hitching is the most important part of towing. To make sure you get the perfect connection each time, follow our steps below.

Before hitching

Before starting the hitching process, make sure you turn off all gas appliances and that you‘ve disconnected the caravan’s 240V hookup. You also need to make sure you’ve raised the caravan’s corner steadies and remove the caravan’s chocks unless you’re on a sloped or uneven surface. Finally, before backing up the towing vehicle, raise the hitch using the jockey wheel until it rests just above the height of the towball.

Backing up the tow vehicle

This is best done with two people, one to drive and one to direct. Before reversing, always make sure the driver’s side window is open for easy communication. Once the towing vehicle is lined up, back it up slowly so that the tow bar and the hitch align and are in proximity.

Connecting the caravan

To connect the caravan, first lower the jockey wheel so the coupling locks to the towball. Some caravans have an automatic lock, but others will need the coupling to be locked manually. If your coupling includes a visual locking indicator, be sure to check this to ensure the coupling was successful. If your caravan comes with a hitch stabiliser this should be engaged at this point. You can check the final coupling is secure by attempting to lift the drawbar away from the towball.

Stowing the jockey wheel

Once the weight of the trailer is being supported by the tow coupling, it’s time to stow the jockey wheel. Newer caravans allow you to simply raise the jockey wheel, keeping it out of the way when driving. Older models require the removal of the jockey wheel for storage elsewhere.

Connecting the breakaway cable

Always be sure to connect your breakaway cable if you have one. This will apply the brakes on the caravan should the coupling become disconnected and is an essential safety feature for larger trailers. If your tow bar has a suitable loop, you can use this to connect the cable. If not, loop the cable around the tow bar and clip it to itself. The cable should not be taut during normal driving as this may cause the brakes to trigger while you’re on the road.

Hooking up the electrics

Finally, connect the car electrics to the caravan and ensure they are working. This is a vital final step as, without this electrical connection you won’t have any brake lights, fog lights or indicators, which is illegal.

Modern caravans use a 13-pin twist socket which provides a secure connection between the car and the caravan, though some older models may still use the older 12N and 12S 7-pin double socket configuration.

In both cases, fit the cable to the electrical socket near the tow bar. You should then ask someone to check that your brake lights, both indicators, fog lights and reversing lights are all functioning correctly.

Caravan Hand brake

With everything fully connected, release the trailer handbrake and remove any remaining chocks. You’re now good to go!

Tips for driving when towing a caravan

A car towing a caravan

Towing mirrors

No matter what make or model vehicle, chances are you’ll need to fit towing mirrors. It’s a legal requirement that you can see an area four metres from the side of your caravan 20 metres behind you. When towing, standard car mirrors will have substantial blind spots, making it illegal for you to drive.

There are several types of towing mirrors available on the market, so when buying your towing mirrors, it’s important to look for the “e” marking. This means that the mirrors meet European (EEC 2003/97) or international (UNECE 46.01 or 46.02) regulations.

These mirrors shouldn’t extend over 25 cm beyond the widest part of your towing outfit (that’s your caravan and car combined). For a secure fit, we recommend mirrors that use multiple clamps. Increasing the distance between the two clamps will increase the stability of your mirrors at speed.

Towing speed limits

When towing, you must adhere to special speed limits which differ from those on road signs. These reduced speeds are there to safeguard you and protect other road users.

These towing speed limits are as follows:

  • Motorway – 60 mph instead of 70 mph
  • Dual-Carriageway – 60 mph instead of 70 mph
  • Single-Carriageway – 50 mph instead of 60 mph

Where speed limits under 50 mph apply for normal road users, these also apply to towing vehicles. It also goes without saying that if speed limits have been lowered on faster roads because of an accident or roadworks, then these changes apply to towing vehicles too.

Take a wider driving line on corners

Due to your vehicle’s increased length, you’ll need to take corners a little differently to normal driving. Approach each corner slowly and always give yourself plenty of extra space when turning. This will ensure your caravan stays clear of the curb or any other obstacle it may clip when turning around a corner – especially tight bends.

Give more time when braking and avoid sudden braking

Just as with turning, approach braking slowly and cautiously. Due to the added weight attached to your vehicle, braking will take longer and so give ample time when slowing down. Be sure not to brake too sharply or suddenly.

Snaking and pitching

Snaking and pitching are two of the most feared words in all of caravanning. Snaking is a left and right wobbling of your trailer which, in extreme cases, can drag the towing vehicle around and cause a loss of control. Pitching is where the front of the car moves up and down – causing a seesaw effect. While these may sound scary, they are easy to overcome with careful driving.

The best way to avoid snaking and pitching is to make sure your caravan and towing vehicle are well balanced in terms of weight. If either should occur because of air turbulence due to passing vehicles or crosswinds however, it’s important not to panic. To regain control, take your feet off both pedals and keep steering in a straight line. Don’t apply the brakes or attempt to steer out of the movement as this will only make it worse.

If you’re looking for somewhere great to bring your caravan this year, then why not consider Hardwick Parks? Located just outside the Oxfordshire town of Witney on the edge of the beautiful Cotswolds, Hardwick Parks has onsite fishing, watersports, a clubhouse and more. To learn more, you can visit the Hardwick Parks website by clicking here or by calling 01865 300 501.

Four Reasons to Love Carp Fishing Holidays in Oxfordshire

Not sure if a carp fishing holiday in Oxfordshire is for you? We can’t possibly see why not! Getting out into the fresh air and British sunshine, the relaxing sound of the water and the thrill of the hunt combined with a getaway from the daily hustle and bustle is the perfect way to spend time. We’ve spent countless hours on the banks of our fishing lakes at Hardwick Parks and we can’t think of anything better!

If you’re still not convinced, here are four reasons to love Carp Fishing Holidays in Oxfordshire.

Choices of Waters & Fish

Oxfordshire, and especially the area to the west of Oxford, is jammed packed with lakes, reservoirs and fisheries. Whether you’re looking for fly fishing on the man-made carp fishing lakes at Farmoor, natural river fishing with the Newland Angling Club or, what just might be, the best carp angling waters in the UK at Witney’s Linear Fisheries, Oxfordshire has something for you.

While the area is most well known for its Carp – especially common and mirror Carp – some pools also offer Tench, Pike, Perch, Chub and Trout.

Rod-side Accommodation

If you’re looking to revolve your entire holiday around fishing, then why not look at one of the areas’ holiday parks that offer carp fishing on-site? Venues like Hardwick Parks offer anglers acres of premium carp fishing mere metres away from their front door. For the passionate fisherman or woman, there’s nothing better!

Local Tackle Shops

With the range of fishing lakes available, it makes sense that Oxfordshire is home to many quality tackle shops offering everything you need for the perfect fishing trip – from rods to bait to angling club memberships. Here are just a few of them:

State Fishing Tackle – Witney

Only 5 minutes drive from Hardwick Parks’ on-site fishing lake.

Top Tackle – Oxford

South of Oxford in the suburb of New Hinskey and a stone’s throw from the River Thames.

FTD Fishing Tackle and Bait – Oxford

North East Oxford, near the Oxford City Football grounds.

Ace Tackle & Bait – Kidlington

20 minutes drive North of Oxford town centre.

RV’s Fishing Tackle and Bait – Faringdon

Halfway between Oxford and Swindon.

Proximity to Oxford and the Cotswolds

We know that not everyone wants to fish. While you might revel in the quiet and tranquillity of a fishing lake, the family might not be so keen. There’s no need to worry though as there’s so much to see and do in the area!

Staying at Hardwick Parks, for example, you’re less than half an hour from the bustling cultural centre of Oxford, and even closer to the edge of the beauty of the Cotswolds. Our hometown of Witney also has plenty to offer with Cogges Manor Farm and the Wychwood Brewery Tours being two highlights.

If you’re looking for a perfect Oxfordshire Carp Fishing Holiday experience, with on-site accommodation. Why not catch a bargain with a Carp fishing holiday break at Hardwick Parks? Between our touring pitches for tents, caravans and motorhomes and static holiday homes from home, you’re bound to find accommodation to suit your requirements! To learn more about our park you can view our website here. Alternatively, if you’d like to give us a call, you can do so on 01865 300 501.

Oxford’s Quirky Pubs and Bars

Oxford is known as a city of creativity and that extends to its clubs, pubs and bars. So we explored the streets of Oxford in search of the city’s most unique haunts and drinking holes in search of the best. So join us as we run down some of our favourites!

The Mad Hatter

Tucked on the corner of Iffley Road and Circus Street, this Alice in Wonderland themed speakeasy may be one of the strangest cocktail bars in all of Oxford. The unique experience starts directly on arrival, as the doorman will ask you to answer a riddle before they’ll let you into the weird world of the interior.

Inside you’ll find a monument to English eccentricity. With an oddly decorated bar that features retro-phone based table service, optical illusions and cocktails served in teapots and teacups. The bar also hosts a weekly karaoke night, regular drinks mixing classes and is available for private hire.

If you’re looking for a unique night out, you’ll be hard put to find a stranger place than The Mad Hatter.

Freud Cafe

In the historical Jericho section of Oxford stands St Paul’s Church, a Greek revival church built in 1835 and, for the last 30 years, home of the Freud Cafe. With its pillar-clad exterior, high ceilings and opulent stained glass, drinks at Freud is a unique social experience and a firm favourite of friends, families and students alike thanks to its unique setting.

The Bear Inn

The Bear is Oxford’s oldest pub and has been serving guests since 1242. This small pub seats only two-dozen in its cosy, low ceilinged and wood-panelled interior, but what it lacks in space this traditional inn makes up for in personality and atmosphere. The Bear does also feature a heated garden, meaning that even if you can’t squeeze inside, you can still enjoy the wide range of traditional ales and delicious food available from this traditional British establishment.

Tap Social Movement Taproom

Founded in 2016 by three criminal justice workers, the Tap Social Movement Taproom is more than just a bar. Launched as a craft beer brewery that focused on developing marketable and transferable skills in those struggling to find work for reasons outside of their control, the mission of Tap Social Movement is not only creating and sharing great beer but also helping the local community.

The open taproom and community space plays regular host to live music and, being based out of Oxford’s industrial sector, offers a uniquely industrial decor. If you’re looking for a combination of great live music and locally produced craft beers – which can all be enjoyed while making a positive change in the community – then the Tap Social Movement Taproom is for you.

Oxford is jam-packed full of great pubs and bars and we’ve only talked about four of them! There are plenty more ales to sample, wines to taste and unique venues to experience. Hardwick Parks is located just 12 miles from the centre of Oxford and is the ideal place to relax after a day (or night!) out in Oxford. To learn more about Hardwick Parks and to book for the 2019 season, visit our website.

A day at Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace is an Oxfordshire landmark, the huge country manor and it’s gardens were a controversial royal gift to John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough in the 1700s. After the Duke’s exile, it became the home of his family and is the birthplace and ancestral home of wartime British Prime Minister, and relative of John Churchill, Sir Winston Churchill.

With such an imposing house and grounds, it can be difficult to know where to start when exploring this magnificent example of the short-lived, English Baroque style of architecture. So let us help show you around and prepare you for a day out at Blenheim Palace. The palace itself is a bit of a combination of a building; as a stately home, a national monument and a mausoleum for the Churchill family – all of which are exquisitely designed and constructed.

The best way to experience the luxurious interior of Blenheim Palace is by taking one of the site’s many tours. These tours will give you the full experience of the staterooms; let you learn more about Sir Winston Churchill’s relationship with the palace and much more. You can also learn the secrets of Blenheim Palace by taking the self-guided “Blenheim Palace: The Untold Story” experience.

Before exploring the acres of lush grounds, why not take a moment to stop for a bite to eat. Near the house itself, there is The Orangery Restaurant that serves a full a la carte menu. For something quicker, why not try The Oxfordshire Pantry café in the East Courtyard Visitor Centre. If you’re not hungry now, however, there will be more opportunities for food in the grounds themselves at The Water Terrace Café or The Pleasure Gardens Pizza Café.

The park and grounds of Blenheim Palace can be viewed easily through one of the buggy tours – letting you see all of the sights of the palace grounds in once bite-sized experience. If you’d rather stretch your legs there are a huge number of self-guided tour paths to follow as well as free guided walking tours being run throughout the day.

Be sure to explore both the Formal and Pleasure Gardens of Blenheim Palace for the full garden experience. The Formal Gardens surround the Palace, and they include the majestic Water Terraces, the Duke’s Private Italian Garden, the Secret Garden with all of its hidden treasures, the new Churchill Memorial Garden and the beautifully delicate Rose Garden. The Pleasure Gardens conversely, stretch father afield and contain the palace’s hedge maze, miniature railway, butterfly house and a variety of other activities.

Points of interest within the grounds include The Column of Victory, topped by a statue of the first Duke of Marlborough and the Grand Cascade waterfall that was designed by the famous gardener ‘Capability’ Brown in the 1760s.

Also on site is the Marlborough Maze. This large hedge maze is made of over 3,000 yew trees and is the second largest symbolic maze in the world; being designed to reflect the history of Blenheim Palace itself. In 2016, the Telegraph put the Marlborough Maze at Blenheim Palace in its list of the top 10 most mind-boggling mazes in Britain – so give yourself plenty of time if you’re looking to tackle this one.

Blenheim Palace is one of the most awe-inspiring stately homes in Britain and we hope our little taster has you raring to visit this esteemed attraction yourself!

Just a stones throw away from Blenheim Palace can be found Hardwick Parks – a great place to stay while you explore the house and grounds!

Things to do in Bicester

Bicester is Oxfordshire’s home of exciting motorsports and fantastic shopping! Located just half an hour’s drive away from Witney – the home of Hardwick Parks – Bicester has plenty to offer, whether you’re into fast cars or great designer bargains.

Featuring 160 fashion and lifestyle outlets across half a kilometre of purpose-built shopping village, Bicester Village is one of the largest outlet shopping centres in Europe. With designer stores including Gucci, Calvin Klein, Vivienne Westwood and more, Bicester Village is a haven for bargain hunters all over the world, indeed, Bicester Village is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country! It’s not just about clothes and deals however, as the mall features a range of quality restaurants, cafes and kiosks for when you need that all-important post-shop cup of coffee and bite to eat!

Bicester also lies deep in the heart of what is known as “Motorsport Valley” and is an ideal spot for petrol heads. With a wide range of car shows running throughout the year, as well as opportunities for some adrenaline pumping action behind a steering wheel, Bicester is a playground for motoring fans of all varieties.

Just a mile from the town centre, Bicester Heritage – once RAF Bicester – is the UK’s first business campus dedicated entirely to classic motoring. This one-of-a-kind location is home to specialist mechanics and traders who specialise in the restoration and sale of classic vehicles. Bicester Heritage hosts a range of motoring events throughout the year, including their regular Sunday Scramble rally of classics and modern-classics and yearly motoring, aircraft and military Flywheel Festival. If you’re looking to have some restoration work done, or just want to marvel at historical vehicles, Bicester Heritage is a must-visit for classic motoring fans.

If you fancy getting behind the wheel yourself, then Bicester offers you plenty of opportunities to get stuck in. Race around Oxfordshire’s only gravel special stage in a Subaru Impreza WRX at the London Rally School, or push the pedal to the metal in a 1969 Camaro SS or Formula Ford Turbo racer through speedy straights and twisting turns. No matter your poison, there’s a racing experience for you in Bicester.

It’s not just high-speed four-wheelers on offer however. You can also strap in for a different kind of thrill with one of the many military vehicle experiences available in the area. Take command of a 1960s armoured personnel carrier or an Alvis Spartan – known as the “sports tank” due to its use of a Jaguar E-Type engine – and learn just what it feels like to pilot a vehicle weighing in at a whopping 9-tonnes. If you’re not a fan of wheels at all, then take to the skies with one of the gliding and powered-gliding accompanied trial sessions offered by the Bicester Gliding Centre at Bicester Airfield.

So, whether you’re looking for high speeds or low prices, Bicester, only 20 miles from Hardwick Parks in Witney, has both in spades. Why not book your next great escape at Hardwick Parks and take advantage of these great activities along with so many more. To learn more about Hardwick Parks, and to book for the 2019 season, visit our website today. We look forward to welcoming you to Oxfordshire.

All About Witney

Take an adventure into Witney this autumn. This thriving town is one of the biggest in West Oxfordshire and has so much to offer visitors, from one of the nations favourite breweries to bustling shopping districts, taste-bud-satisfying restaurants and more.

Witney is the proud home of the Wychwood Brewery, who you may know as the brewers of Hobgoblin Ale – a favourite throughout the UK. Open to visitors for tours, the tour team will guide you through a 2-hour masterclass in the beer making process, from the raw ingredients to finished bottles of both Wychwood and Breakspear beers. After the tour, you’ll even have a chance to sample these flagship beers yourself. Please note that children under 12 are unable to participate in these tours.

What’s a nice drink without a good meal? Luckily Witney is home to a wide variety of delicious restaurants. A few stand out names include Chequers Smoke House, who bring barbecue to a whole new level with melt in the mouth meats and world-class potatoes, and the Eden Cafe, who produce some of the best vegan-friendly meals and snacks around.

Witney has a deep and storied past and there are so many different ways to explore it during your visit. The Witney and District Museum tells the story of Witney with a focus on the part the town played in the blanket industry. Witney was once known for its high-quality woollen blankets and, over the course of 300 years, produced blankets that were used all over the world. While the last Witney mill sadly closed in 2002, the Witney and District Museum brings this roaring trade back to life.

If all the noise of industry is too much, then the Witney Lake and Meadows are well worth a visit. Located just outside of Witney town centre, this one-time gravel pit now offers a tranquil haven for both visitors and local wildlife to enjoy. The lake is home to many interesting birds, including the Great-Crested Grebe, Heron and Kingfishers – so make sure you pack your binoculars and keep an eye out for these beautiful creatures.

Another place to get away from the bustle of modern life is Cogges Manor Farm. This heritage and farm centre is open to all and provides a beautiful set of grounds to relax in as well as an opportunity to learn more about animal husbandry and farming by experiencing it first hand. Fans of the hit series Downton Abbey may recognise Cogges Manor Farm, as it was used as the set for the fictional Yew Tree Farm!

Once you’ve experienced some of the great sights and attractions of Witney, there’s no better feeling than knowing you’ve got a spot at Hardwick Parks to relax in. Located in Witney, all of the above attractions are just a short trip away. There’s still time to enjoy the last of the good weather, but hurry, there’s not much time left. Book your stay at Hardwick Parks today and get ready for your next Oxfordshire adventure!

Oxfordshire’s Monumental Buildings and Structures

Oxfordshire, and especially Oxford itself, is home to some of the most striking monuments and buildings in England. So let us take you on a quick tour of some of our favourite examples of architecture and art – ranging from the surreal to the sublime.

Christ Church College

It would be impossible to talk about spectacular structures in Oxfordshire without talking about Oxford University. While almost every scholarly building in the city is a work of art, Christ Church is especially worthy of note. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, who also designed St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, Christ Church is every bit as magical as the works it has inspired over the centuries. Indeed, film adaptations of both J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series have used Christ Church as a filming location.

Oxford Castle & Prison

Oxford Castle was originally built by Robert D’Oyly after the Norman Conquest of Britain in 1066 and was specifically designed to dominate the city’s skyline as a monument to French control. Though, due to the long and varied history of modifications, additions and demolitions the castle and prison have been subjected to, the castle probably looked quite different back then. Though despite this, it still cuts a brutal and striking figure, something that is especially true in comparison to the more refined and artistic architecture of the nearby Christ Church Cathedral.

White Horse Hill

While not technically a structure, White Horse Hill is still an awe-inspiring example of man’s influence on the environment. The titular white horse dates back to the Bronze age and consists of a series of metre deep trenches filled with crushed chalk located on an Oxfordshire hill. A visit to White Horse Hill will transport you back thousands of years and is said to be one of the most atmospheric spots in Oxfordshire.

The Grand Café

The Grand Café offers a taste of Paris in the heart of Oxford. Claimed to be the site of the first coffee house in England in the 1652 journals of famous diarist Samuel Pepys, the Grand Café remains an institution to the tea and coffee drinkers of the city. With an elegant gilded exterior and mirror-clad interior, the Grand Café offers a real sense of history and luxury – a unique setting for a cup of coffee or high tea spread.

Blenheim Palace

Ancestral home to wartime prime minister Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace is the only non-royal palace in England and is one of the county’s largest stately homes. Designed by the duo of well-known dramatist Sir John Vanbrugh and architect Nicholas Hawksmoor for the first Duke of Marlborough, Blenheim is a masterful example of the English Baroque style and offers a striking and powerful visage. The palace and its grounds are currently open to the public and make for a great day out among spectacular architecture, gorgeous interiors and picture-perfect parkland and gardens.

The Headington Shark

This monument to the surreal can be found on New High Street in Headington, a suburb of Oxford, and features a large shark crashing through the roof of an otherwise normal British home. Commissioned by local radio broadcaster Bill Heine and created by sculptor John Buckley, the shark was installed on the 41st anniversary of the atomic bombing of Japan during WW2 and is said to represent a sense of “impotence and anger and desperation…”. A must see site for fans of the strange.

Fancy visiting some of these for yourself? Then look no further than Hardwick Parks! Located in Witney, all of these great sights are easy to get to, so make sure you book your next Hardwick Parks break today.

The Great Brewers of Oxfordshire

A good pint of ale is a British institution, as is the industry that makes it. All over the UK, there are companies – big and small – that still practice the fine art of producing a good mug of beer. Oxfordshire, just as it happens, is home to several such breweries, many of which you can visit for a tour and if there’s time, a quick drink.

Wychwood Brewery

Located within walking distance of Hardwick Parks is the Wychwood Brewery. Wychwood is the largest brewer of organic ale in the UK (the beer drinkers among you will certainly be familiar with their Hobgoblin ruby ale) and ships 50,000 barrels of cask ale around the world every year! There has been a brewery in Witney since 1841 – in fact that first brewery was built on the same site where the Wychwood brewery now stands.

Wychwood offers a two-hour brewery tour which guides you through the brewing process of both Wychwood and Breakspear beers – from raw ingredients to finished product.

Hook Norton Brewery

The Hook Norton Brewery is a passionately independent and family run brewery found north of Oxford in the scenic Cotswold hills. The finest remaining example of a Victorian style Tower Brewery in the country, the Hook Norton Brewery is one of only 32 family run brewers left in the UK and combines a handcrafted brewing tradition with a modern approach.

Brewery tours run seven days a week and offer a great opportunity to get an inside look at a manufacturing process using a system that dates back to the 1800s.

The Swan & The Farringdon Brewery

A little different from the other breweries on our list, The Farringdon Brewery is located in what might be the best place for a brewery – inside a pub! The Farringdon Brewery is actually the micro-brewing arm of The Swan free house and can be found just 20 minutes drive (or cab ride) from Hardwick Parks.

Not only does the brewery make beers for the pub itself, but it also offers a brew day experience for small groups. As part of these special events, you’ll be able to get first-hand experience of the brewing process and will even be able to take your beer home with you once its ready.

Chiltern Valley Winery & Brewery

Located in the Chiltern Hills area of outstanding natural beauty, the Chiltern Valley Winery & Brewery offers a multifaceted brewery tour experience. As a winery, brewery and liquor producer, the Chiltern Hills two hour “behind-the-scenes” tour covers the production process of all three products, from raw ingredients grown on-site, to the finished products which you’ll be able to sample as part of the tour and buy from the well-stocked cellar shop.

As inviting for its location and atmosphere as it is for its beers and wine, Chiltern Valley Winery & Brewery is a great way to spend a long summer day.

Located in Witney, Hardwick Parks is just a short walk from the Wychwood Brewery and within driving distance from the rest – we hope you enjoy (responsibly) your visit! Book your next summer break at Hardwick Parks today.

The Glee Club in Oxford

Since 1994 The Glee Club has been bringing you the best comedy, music and special events for you to enjoy. Their experienced team have brought an unparalleled combination of comedians, music acts and live entertainment to Oxford, with a list of names that any club would envy. Their history proves that the very best artists love to play at The Glee Club. Join them for a wonderful night of great entertainment.


Comedy is what The Glee Club does best! Comedy in Oxford has a rich history along with theatre and performing arts. Oxford holds such a vibrant culture with a wide range of performers and entertainers and some of the biggest names from the comedy world have performed on stage at The Glee Club, including Jack Whitehall, Angelos Epithemiou, Richard Herring and many more!

If you want a great night out in Oxford that’s full of fun and laughter then get yourself to The Glee Club! At The Glee Club they like to keep it, adult, only, so all you mums and dads can have a night off from the children and enjoy yourselves.


Comedy isn’t the only thing that happens at The Glee Club. Live music has been popular at the venue since it was opened back in 2002. Cover acts, upcoming artists and so much more will take to the Glee Club stage in Oxford this Summer. The Glee Club was the starting point for many, now world famous, artists including Adele and Boy George – you never know who could be the next big thing!

The Glee Club doesn’t limit itself to one music genre – it’s a venue for everyone! You might even find some new favourites that you’d never have found if it wasn’t for The Glee Club. It truly is a venue full of surprises, two nights are never the same!

At The Glee Club, they offer the biggest names for such a little price – you just can’t say no!

Special Events

Special Events at the Glee Club are shows with high expectations. From spoken word performances and evenings with special guests to spectacular cabaret and everything in between.

Best selling authors and comedians like Robert Webb and events like the BBC Music Awards always go down well presented by favourites like John Cooper Clarke and the late Howard Marks. Benjamin Zephaniah will also perform his unique, Jamaican dub influenced poetry, other acts like church choirs and street dancers will also be on stage – there are all types of performances happening at The Glee Club.

There are events for children as well, with the big fish little fish events where there’s a mythical mini beasts theme! This is one for the children where characters will tell stories and play games – lots of fun involved!

After a long night at The Glee Club, there is no better place to go than Hardwick Parks to relax, recharge your batteries and get ready for the next big adventure! In the middle of Oxford, you are never too far away from your next activity. Though it might be hard to tear yourself away from the thrill of the on-site water sports or the atmosphere of our clubhouse and bar!

Top 5 family meals out in Oxfordshire

Nothing can beat the feeling of having the family all sat around a table while digging into some great food – at Hardwick Parks we know how important it is to be well fed! Dining out can be one of the perks of any holiday and so we thought we’d let you in on our top 5 restaurants suitable for family-friendly dining!

The Horseshoes – Witney

The Horseshoes in Witney might be the best restaurant in the area and is a great place for a family get together. This modern gastropub has its focus on quality food made with fresh local ingredients. While a little more expensive than a standard pub grub meal, the Horseshoes more than makes up for it with great atmosphere and service and a seasonal rotation of high-quality food and local ales. If you’re looking for something special – without needing to travel too far from your home base at Hardwick Parks – then you can’t do much better than The Horseshoes.

Vaults & Garden Café – Oxford

Located right in the middle of the university – or should that be right under (?) – this quirky underground café makes a perfect lunchtime spot when exploring this historical city. Serving a range of light snacks and British classics alongside more exotic options, not forgetting the essential cups of tea and coffee of course, The Vaults & Garden Café was voted “The Most Sustainable Restaurant in Oxfordshire” for 2016. This unconventional eatery focuses on providing a small range of organic, fairly sourced and fresh menu options and – located in the vaults of the University’s Old Congregation House (built in 1320) – the setting is just as fresh and interesting as the food is. A great place to grab breakfast or lunch on your day out.

Banana Tree – Oxford

For families looking for something a little different, Oxford’s Banana Tree offers the taste of Pan Asian cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere. Featuring dishes from Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and more, Banana Tree can cater to both the pickiest or most daring eaters as well as those with special dietary requirements. With many options for gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan eaters, no one will be left out. Banana Tree also offers special kids meal combos to help introduce the kids to Pan Asian dining.

Como Lounge – Witney

The Como Lounge is a comfortable and rather peculiar entry on our list. Located in Witney, the town that Hardwick Parks also calls home, the Como Lounge is a modern dining experience with an out-there taste in interior design and an eclectic variety of comfort foods from around the world. The Como Lounge is designed to be comfortable and friendly – just like your own lounge! If you want somewhere to relax and chill out – maybe even take in a board game while admiring the decor – then the Como Lounge is for you; a great place for a bite to eat in fantastic surroundings.

Fat Lil’s – Witney

Sometimes, especially where kids are involved, you just want something simple, delicious and lots of it. Fat Lil’s offers a great variety of American and Mexican favourites with extra bacon and melted cheese. With smaller and less overloaded versions for kids, Fat Lil’s grill gives you a great taste of the Americas in the heart of Witney. Going beyond just burgers and burritos, Lil’s offers a wide variety of thick milkshakes and floats and regularly hosts live music. Be on the lookout for some of Lil’s weekday deals like Taco Tuesdays for great savings on your special meal.

All of these locations – and many others like them – make for great family meals and all of them are just a short journey from Hardwick Parks! For more information on booking your 2018 stay, visit the Hardwick Parks website.