Roasting chestnuts on an open fire, soft dewy mornings with the mist hugging the River Wye, the hedgerows and Herefordshire orchards heaving with ripe berries and fruit… autumn is our favourite season and glamping at this time of year can be so rewarding. Gone are the hordes of summer tourists and the inherent beauty of the Wye Valley is all yours.
Mad Dogs & Vintage Vans is a boutique glampsite situated in the heart of the Wye Valley with stunning views out west to the Black Mountains. Owners Jo and Sacha have lovingly restored four caravans from a bygone era. Vintage touches abound and logburners, feather duvets, quilts, blankets and hotwater bottles ensure you’ll be cosy whatever the weather. Jo and Sacha love to cook and offer ‘van service’, the glamping equivalent of room service, with delicious warming homemade dishes – curries, chillis, crumbles washed down with lashings of homemade cider – all delivered to your van. By day walk along the River to nearby ‘Hole in The Wall’ or wander into the pretty market town of Ross-on-Wye but make sure you’re back in time to watch the sun setting over the hills.
Jo & Sacha’s top tips for autumn glamping:
Bring layers to keep you warm and a woolly hat for chilly mornings
Go foraging in the Forest of Dean for mushrooms and other wild delicacies
Roast chestnuts and marshmallows over an open fire
Try a warming mug of mulled cider for the true taste of autumn
Make a leaf mask or leaf picture
Wrap yourself in a blanket, lie back and gaze up at the starry night skies
Think about a 2 night midweek break – great value for money and so peaceful
For maximum convenience pack a bottle of Tabitha’s dry shampoo
Rosehips – or haws – are fruits of the common dog rose and are high in Vitamin C, helping to fight off colds and they also have anti-inflammatory properties.
To make 500ml of syrup you will need:
1 small bowl of fresh rose hips
1 litre of water to cover the rose hips
100g caster sugar
5ml citric acid (optional for preserving)
Put rosehips in pan and cover with water
Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for half an hour, mashing the fruit with a fork or potato masher from time to time to release the goodness and topping up with water if needed
Drain mixture into a clean pan through a sieve lined with muslin, squeezing out all the juice you can. Keep the liquid, discard the rose hips.
Add caster sugar and heat gently again to dissolve sugar
Add citric acid – optional as rose hips have high amount of vitamin C which helps preserve the syrup
Pour syrup into small bottle or jar and enjoy one or two teaspoons a day to ward off winter bugs
Hot Spiced Cider
4 pints of cider (still dry and hand pressed is best)
225g soft brown sugar
8 whole cinnamon sticks
16 allspice berries
The juice of 2 oranges
1/2 whole nutmeg
8 small apples (Cox’s apples are ideal)
Add all the ingredients to a large saucepan and heat gently until very warm but not boiling.
For the Mad Dogs touch, half way through the warming throw in some fire roasted apples.
And for a kid’s warming Halloween treat: Score the waist of some eating apples, carefully remove the core. Stuff with butter, brown sugar and any spices from the above recipe. Wrap in tin foil and bake over some wood embers raked out from your campfire.
Mad Dogs & Vintage Vans is open til November 1st. They open again on March 25th 2016. Check out maddogsandvintagevans.co.uk for availability. Foraging trips can be arranged by Jo & Sacha.