Taking Your Dog Camping

For some people, taking your dog camping with you is the most natural thing in the world – after all, they are part of the family, so it makes perfect sense. Others might break out into a cold sweat at the idea of coping with another “person’s” needs on top of everyone else’s.

Well, there are a number of things you can do to ensure you will all have a great time and there are lots of wonderful camp and glamping sites out there that will cater to Fido’s every need.

Will My Doggy Cope? (And Will I?!)

A lot of people think of dogs as hard work. And let’s face it, some can be! A lot depends on breed, age, living arrangements at home, etc and behaviour can therefore be variable.

We have always been fans of terriers (or terrorists, depending on which way you look at them!) and have found them to be great characters, very personable and almost human in some cases. Also, being petite is handy for fitting in around the small mountain that you need to take with you and manoeuvring around in the more “cosy” dimensions of your living quarters.

Taking your dog camping
Taking in the views

Having said that, we have friends with much bigger dogs and they all cope well and enjoy the company of each other. This is an important factor to consider when taking you dog camping with you – Does your dog socialise with other dogs regularly? If they don’t, going away and mixing with strange dogs will be stressful for you and them so try to integrate opportunities for this at home before embarking on a trip with them.

Most dogs do really enjoy going camping because they are with their best buddies (you) and of course, spending lots of time outside.

Taking your Dog Camping at Haw Wood Farm
Dog Walking Field at Haw Wood Farm

Campsite

It sounds obvious, but make sure your destination is dog friendly when booking. Some sites don’t allow dogs, or they do but have a gigantic list of rules suggesting that they are not that keen on them and will keep you under close surveillance for the duration of your “relaxing” holiday!

So, check out what is available at your campsite: A big designated dog walking area, doggy wash points or even doggy showers are all good signs that the campsite understand the needs of dogs and their parents.

Most campsites, whatever their take on dogs, will require that dogs are tied up whilst on site. This is an obvious health and safety precaution because of feral children on the loose, other animals on site, etc. So do make sure you take an extra long lead or perhaps even set up a zipline, so they do not feel over-restricted.

Taking your dog camping to Red Shoot Camping Park
Relaxing at Red Shoot Camping Park

Entertainment

When taking your dog camping, do make regular use of the “dog walk” areas and take the opportunity to explore the area around you with your faithful friend. Involve your children as well – many won’t need asking as they love to play with their best pal, but take toys and balls and play fetch for as long as you can manage. Of course, the more purposeful exercise you do with them, the quieter and happier they are likely to be at camp (this applies to children as well as dogs!)

Taking your dog Camping
Fun with friends

You may have some family days out planned away from the campsite. Always check that where you are going is dog friendly be it the beach, nature walks or particular family entertainment spots such as theme parks, castles, museums, etc.  For some of these it is highly likely that dogs would not be permitted so prior to your trip, it would be worth checking if your campsite is able to help or if they know of local, reputable “dog-sitting” services to save someone missing out on the trip.

I know it sounds obvious, but don’t leave dogs in the car for day trips such as this – they can cope for short periods, but longer ones make them miserable and, in the summer, the temperature quickly rises inside cars.

Taking your dog camping - Doggy friendly beach essential
Doggy friendly beach essential!

Packing

Dogs are simpler to pack for than children as they need far less clothes (lapdogs an exception), but this will still need some thought to ensure your trip is stress-free.

It is worth having a designated doggy bag with their stuff in so it’s easy to find and after all, they are a family member. The obvious inclusions are bed, lead, toys, food and bowl. Make sure you also take a bottle and bowl when you are mobile, so they have regular access to water when you are out and about. A good stash of old towels is useful after walks, beach trips, submerging in swamps, etc as you want to keep your tent as clean as possible. You might consider having a designated “wet area” in the tent if you all come in from the rain so that you can keep sleeping/living quarters clean and dry.

Oh, and poo bags. In every pocket. Of everything you own.

Taking your dog camping to Herding Hill Farm
Taking in the views at Herding Hill Farm, Northumberland

Selection of Lovely Camp and Glamping Sites that welcome dogs:

Stanley Villa Farm Camping, Lancashire

Herding Hill Farm, Northumberland

Point Farm, Pembrokeshire

Deepdale Backpackers and Camping, Norfolk

Haw Wood Farm, Suffolk

Greenway Touring and Glamping Park, Shropshire

Petruth Paddocks, Somerset

Stowford Meadows, Devon

Forest Glade Holiday Park, Devon

Red Shoot Camping Park, Hampshire

Camping in Spring – Campsites with Baby Animals

The Easter holidays are upon us and new life is sprouting everywhere from the abundance of blossom in the trees and hedges to the lambs kicking up their heels in the spring grass.

It is a perfect time to get the children interested in the nature and animals that surround them. Time to go hunting for tadpoles in the brook, to watch the ducklings attempt their first swim on the pond, to grow carrots in the garden. It is also a great time to see baby animals in the wild and on farms.

If you are keen to get camping in spring, there are many campsites based on farms or that have pet areas where children can get involved in feeding lambs, stroking rabbits, giggling at pigs and learning about a variety of animals. This can provide a fantastic extra dimension to your holiday and help cement some magical memories.

For those that are heading further south over the Easter holidays, we have found 5 campsites with baby animals on site where the children can get involved and make new furry (or woolly) friends:

1. Fontmills Farm

Fontmills Farm Campsite in East Sussex is based on a 140-acre family farm so you will be surrounded by green space and fresh air.  Easter marks the peak lambing season for the family with their Blue Texel flock.  This means that lucky campers will get to see the tiniest of lambs over the Easter holidays and see them playing in the fields around the campsite (who needs TV?!)

The Davis family are ably assisted by Floss the border collie sheep dog (when she fancies it), the horses Jonesy and Harry, and the cats – Ethel and Ernie who enjoy the occasional chat with campers.

2. Stowford Farm Meadows

Stowford Farm Meadows in North Devon, is set amongst an incredible 500 acres of rolling countryside and mature woodland providing fabulous views and a safe environment for your perfect family camping holiday.  From there, you can explore the blossoming hedgerows and woodland to find chicks in nests, rabbits, hares and numerous wild animals.

You could also venture into Petorama, their indoor petting zoo where you can see and touch baby goats, piglets, rabbits, guinea pigs, degus, plus lots more.

3. Walton Court

Walton Court is a small working farm in the heart of the welsh countryside. As you enter the site, you will pass by their pond that has an abundance of wildlife: from the regular visiting mute swans, moorhens, wild ducks, a kingfisher, woodpeckers and herons to the frogspawn and tadpoles during spring.

Camping in spring time at Walton Court means that you will see their flock of sheep adjusting to their new little ones, with “lamb gangs” in full force.

4. Petruth Paddocks

Petruth Paddocks offers wild camping in wide open spaces where children are free to climb trees and hide in the hedges, fish for tadpoles in the rhynes (ditches) or take a ride on the back of the quad bike with Jules.

Their animal section includes pigs, goats and sheep and they offer animal tours every weekend during the summer where they encourage campers to come and say hello to the team.

5. The Farm Camp

The Farm Camp in Wiltshire offers something a little different where the family can become truly immersed in countryside living. Over Easter, they are in full swing with “lambing live” and have dedicated staff to offer experiences in farm craft and sheep herding amongst a raft of other activities.

A beautifully rural site, within fields and woodland, this is prime memory-making time for the whole family as you relax into the beautifully furnished bell tents with wood burning stoves to keep you cosy.

Many wait until summer for their holiday, but they could be missing out on some of the magical moments up for grabs by camping in spring. Having a look for campsites with animals could be a great way to get an early holiday in – just remember to take a few extra layers!

8 Essential Camping Items To Take on Your Trip

It is not that easy to reduce the list to just 8 essential camping items. But raising children is expensive enough and the idea with camping is to make it a cheaper alternative than holidays in hotels and/or abroad.

So, if you are just starting out, then before you panic buy loads of equipment, do check your campsite. Campsites have come a long way in the last few years and many have lots of facilities that help drastically reduce your packing requirements. For example, there may be a picnic table right beside your pitch, showering AND bath facilities, hair dryers, cooking facilities, fire pits, washing up facilities, a food van, to mention just a few.

Another good tip is to go with another family or two. Check what they have and discuss whether you could share some equipment.

Then, tempting as it may be to buy EVERYTHING that you think you might need, rein yourself in and get only what you NEED to start with with the essential camping items. You can then build up with each trip as your experience increases.

1. Tent

Well that’s pretty obvious!

But where to start?

Finding the right family tent can feel like an overwhelming task as there is so much choice out there and it will be your biggest outlay. Just remember that the children will be just as happy in a small tent as a marquee. It’s us adults that tend to need more space, higher spec, etc. so if you start small, do not fear.

If you are new to camping, you don’t necessarily need to go out and buy one straight away. There are many campsites that provide tents for hire (often already erected) so you can assess whether you actually like camping before rushing out to buy the world. It will also help to “test-camp” a tent to find what works for you size-wise and do ask the campsite owner about taking it down/putting it up – some are much easier than others! Take advice from friends, look in shops, camping exhibitions, etc. and perhaps see if you can borrow one from friends (or go camping with them!)

For those that prefer to pump up their tent, then you can’t go far wrong with an award winning design such as those by Zempire – winner of “tent of the year” and “best luxury tent” with Camping Magazine this year.

If you would rather stick with poles, then have a look at the huge range on offer with World of Camping. This independent retailer stocks all sizes and types of tents from reputable brands such as Outdoor Revolution, Vango, Outwell, Robens and Easy Camp.

2. Bedding

A camping holiday runs a little smoother if everyone is sleeping well and comfortably! The fresh air during the day is guaranteed to help zonk everyone out at night anyway but you don’t want to wake up feeling cold and uncomfortable on a bed that deflated in the night.

So, think about whether you prefer an air mattress, campbed, sleeping mat and bring some sort of repair kit for anything that involves air. Then get a high tog sleeping bag, because even when it is hot during the day, the temperature can really drop at night when you’re in a tent. If you can fit them in, bring duvets as well – it can be nice to have some home comforts!

A great alternative that is comfortable and very easy to pack/carry is a Bundle Bed. As a revolutionary take on the old roll-out bed, a Bundle Bed is a self-inflating mattress, snuggly Jersey cotton sheets, moisture-wicking pillow and warm 15-tog duvet, all rolled together in a waterproof outer layer (perfect to save bedding from little sandy toes running around the tent!).

A Bundle Bed can be slung in the boot of a car, on a plane, or at the back of a cupboard ready for when you need it. Just unclip, unroll, unzip, and sleep! A British-designed brand, Bundle Beds set-out to bring a little simple luxury to camping, and to make visiting friends, organising kids’ sleepovers, or throwing some things in the car for an adventure, just that bit easier!

Bundle beds are offering £40 off a bed exclusively to Gone Camping Co subscribers until the end of April. Sign up for our newsletter to get your discount code: http://gonecampingco.com/newsletter/

3. Somewhere to Sit

When camping, you are permitted to do that most magical of things…sit down. You can even stay sitting for a while just taking in views, reading a book or gazing into a campfire. Because you are on “camping time,” there is no need to rush around and keep to a succession of appointments. So make sure you have somewhere comfortable to park your rear.

World of Camping has a vast range of different chairs for all needs – little people, big people, upright, laid back, etc. or you could go for a touch of luxury with the moon base at Zempire.

4. Camp Kitchen

Before you buy a fully equipped camp kitchen, do check with your campsite what they will allow (i.e. re. firepits) or what they have available for you to use. Some campsites provide catering so you might not need to take anything at all!

There are many options from portable gas stoves (don’t forget the actual gas though – we’ve managed that!), disposable BBQs, portable BBQs or a fully converted trailer kitchen for those that want to go all out!

Remember the basic safety rule of NEVER taking your stove/BBQ into your tent, even after the flames have died down, because of the very real risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Instead, invest in an awning  or simply secure a tarp over the cooking area if you want to protect it from the weather.

5. Lighting

One of the things that is very easy to forget despite being an essential camping item, is a decent light.

You may want a couple in your tent that work as ceiling lights, particularly if you have young children that are wary of the dark, a portable lantern to park on your table outside at night and then to bring inside the tent later and of course, a torch for those night time loo visits.

6. Suitable Clothing and Footwear

You will inevitably pack more than you need clothes-wise so try to think about the activities you will be doing and pack accordingly.  Are you planning to go to the beach? Go on bike rides? Walking/hiking? Or just staying around your campsite? You are, generally, unlikely to get out of jeans/shorts so leave the posh clothes at home.  Even if it is blazing hot sunshine when you set off, always pack a decent coat as the temperature drops at night and who knows what could happen with our temperamental weather!

With that in mind, pack extra nightclothes – onesies, woolly PJs, thick socks just to make extra sure of being warm enough at night.  Being too warm is easy to sort out, being too cold less so!

You end up wearing less than you think footwear-wise as well, and shoes can take up a lot of room so it’s worth giving this some thought. You definitely need some sort of outdoor trainer or boot to protect against wet grass outside of your tent. It’s worth having some sort of indoor shoe/slippers as well to keep the inside of your tent clean and dry.

Crocs are beloved by kids, especially, and they often don’t wear anything else throughout the holiday! They are wipe-clean, practical for the beach, pool, inside and out and particularly light weight when it comes to packing. FootArt is one of the largest specialist croc retailers in the UK and are well worth a look.

7. Transport

Now, packing for camping is a bit of an art form.

We started off with one child and managed to pack it all into a bog-standard car. After child no.2, we progressed to a Landrover. Now our tent has “grown” as have our accessories and its time to look at further options. A degree in engineering seems a little excessive so we’re looking at roof boxes and trailers instead.

Venter trailers are great for camping as they are lightweight, not so big that they’re difficult to manoeuvre and you won’t need a trailer licence to tow them.

8. Wine

Most essential camping item. Some might argue that this should have been number 1.

 

The list could go on. 

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10 Reasons To Take Your Family Camping This Year

Family camp at Petruth Paddocks

Those that have taken their family camping before could no doubt think of at least 100 reasons to go again but others might not be so sure of the benefits: Is it worth ditching your usual home comforts? Won’t it be dirty? What if the weather’s rubbish? Won’t the kids be bored?

The thing is, family camping has come on a long way in the last few years. All of the above concerns are now easily dealt with at camp and glampsites that have excellent facilities ranging from washing, kitchen, entertainment, organised activities – really you can find whatever you want. But what is it about outdoors living that is so beneficial compared to just going to a hotel?

1. Fun

When you’re on the conveyor belt of life, you can forget what having fun as a family is all about. Well, camping provides the perfect chance to offload the weight of responsibility and get silly. From singing tunefully (or tunelessly, who cares?) round the fire to riding your 5 year old’s bike (and getting chased by him) or shamelessly beating young children at Uno, there are endless options. Campers are notoriously friendly people and kids will make friends as will you. Who knows when an impromptu game of rounders or football might break out? Or when the kites will come out?  You will find that the further into your holiday you get, the more you relax and regress until everyone appears to have the mental age of 9.

Campsite with lots of fun facilities: Stowford Farm Meadows, North Devon

2. Freedom

Freedom when camping comes in many guises:

For children, it is the freedom from the usual constraints of four walls – they can roam, run about, be by themselves or make ten new friends, discover wildlife, sing, dance, ride their bikes, basically whatever they want!

Freedom from routine. When on “camping time” you just do what you want when you want. There is no alarm to obey, no work to get to so just do whatever you feel like on that day. If you want to stay at camp, do it. If you want a day out, go. If you’re hungry, eat. Just don’t look at your watch, you don’t need that.

Freedom from electronic devices. These things are a blessing and a curse. I don’t doubt their usefulness in terms of researching, developing skills, etc. But is it just me that feels that whilst they are great for keeping connected generally, they also “disconnect” you from loved ones? Give a 3-year-old an iPad and you’ve lost them to Peppa Pig; give a 10-year-old an XBox and you’ve lost them to Fortnite; give a teenager a phone and you’ve just plain lost them. The good news is that camping allows you to find them again. You can have actual conversations with your teenager, play real games with your 10-year-old and make up stories with your 3-year-old. Your children are free to be children and you can make some wonderful memories as a family.

Campsite that values freedom: Petruth Paddocks, Somerset

3. Food and drink

Now, when taking your family camping it really doesn’t matter if you aspire to a gourmet banquet or a couple of sausages in a bap. I have a friend with a full-on converted trailer/kitchen who cooks up gigantic pots of loveliness for 20 guests and another who only takes pot noodles. It really is up to you. As far as the kids go, every meal is a picnic so you’re winning from the get-go. There’s just something so lovely about eating your meals outside. And the smells that come from a barbecue – bacon sizzling anyone? A lovely treat late at night is hot chocolate and toasted marshmallows around the fire. My main aim with this is to lull the kids into sleepiness so we can chuck them into bed and crack open the wine…works a treat!

Campsite with Farm shop and café: Haw Wood Farm, Suffolk

4. Weather

When the sun is shining, there is nothing better than camping! We had a glorious summer last year and wow, did we love our trips! The children had a feral old time, we did everything outside and everyone was happy.

Then the rain came.

Did it ruin it? Did it heck! There’s something about the rain falling on your tent whilst you’re safe and snug inside it that’s quite therapeutic. You just need to make sure you have some indoor entertainment such as books, playing cards, games, drawing and colouring pencils and away you go. Or you might have made sure you found a holiday park with lots of indoor facilities for when the weather turns. You could also take the opportunity to go on a day out somewhere or just embrace it – get your waterproofs on and get out there!

Campsite will all-weather facilities: Woolacombe Sands Holiday Park, Devon

5. Nature

For most people, the driving force behind wanting to camp out is to be closer to nature and the great outdoors. From drinking in amazing views to breathing in the fresh, clean air, there’s something about it that relaxes, replenishes and re-energises. Little pleasures such as walking through wet grass in bare feet, listening to birdsong, spotting a hare running for cover help to de-clutter crowded minds. Your children appreciate the freedom to roam and will no doubt find that most magical of things – the stick – and think of all sorts of uses for it: a sword, a fishing rod, a magic wand, beating their younger sibling…hmph! But they might also be entranced by a dragonfly, spot the trail of a deer or any number of creatures, particularly if you take them with you for an early morning dog walk.

Campsite for beautiful nature: Fontmills Farm, East Sussex

6. Campfire

A personal highlight is listening to and getting ‘lost’ in a good crackling fire. There’s a certain cosiness that comes with everyone sitting around a fire watching the sun go down. It encourages actual conversations where you remember that your partner is more than the person you order about and get cross with at home when you’re trying to keep to your manic schedule. It is a place to reminisce, to tell jokes and stories, to bond with friends and family and to make plans for your next adventure.

Campsite that hires firepits: Whitlingham Broad Campsite, Norfolk

7. Family Time

With no work, school, clubs, appointments to get to, you will spend precious time together with your family. This might initially instil pure fear into you. However, do not panic! You will warm up to the idea as you gradually chill out over your holiday. You will not have to be a walking entertainment factory – the kids will doubtless run around happily and find their own fun. In fact, you will develop a self-satisfied glow as you watch them having a fabulous time, getting filthy (this is something you will just have to go with if you’re not used to it!) and racing back to you when they’re starving.

As with any holiday, it gives you a chance for days out together whether simply going to a beach, a bike ride, pony trekking or meandering around. At night, you can then snuggle up around the fire, discussing your wonderful day and remembering what a lovely bunch your family is when you aren’t nagging them to find their homework, their tie, or for the tenth time get dressed NOW!

Family friendly campsite: Red Shoot Camping Park, Hampshire

8. Exploring

We are very lucky to live in this beautiful country and you don’t have to drive far to explore a little piece of somewhere different. Whether you are looking for sea air, mountains, hills, valleys, vast fields, woodland, there is a campsite that will match it. Discovering new places is fun and refreshing and the change of scenery does us the world of good. When camping, you are always close to walks and bike rides for exploring the local area, making the most of the scenery. But you might also choose to jump in your car and go and find a castle, steam train, theme park or other such adventures.

You might choose to stay at your campsite and explore that thoroughly when walking your four-legged friend or letting the children guide you. They will be keen to investigate the stream, climb the trees, make a den and generally do their best to increase the burden on your washing machine…but heck! You don’t need to worry about that until you get back so just let them be feral and be glad that their immune systems are having such a boost as they wipe their muddy hands across their mouth!

Campsite that is a great base for exploring: Deeside, Aberdeen

9. Peace and quiet

The peace and quiet that comes from outdoor living is totally different to that from behind double glazing. There is a serenity that allows you to relax right down – your mind empties of the usual worries and you can take the time to really appreciate your surroundings. From the beautiful scenery to the fresh, crisp air; it allows busy minds to just let go and rest. You become aware of unfamiliar sounds and start to look forward to them: owls hooting, birdsong, the breeze through the trees, the crackle of the fire, the satisfying sound of the zip. Even the sound of rain on the tent gives a certain smugness when you are cosy in your sleeping bag (and helps to lull you to sleep as well.)

Peaceful camp site: Herding Hill Farm, Northumberland

10. Simplicity

Outdoor living brings a certain amount of simplicity back to daily life. You ditch all the conveniences, routines, jobs and rushing around and strip it back to what is necessary: love, fun and food! Our family camping experiences tend to revolve around food (that might be everyday life too when I think about it…) and mealtimes are so much more social. You will talk more, you will have lots of comfortable silences, you will watch your kids happily without that usual dread that comes with confined spaces or crowds, you might even read! At night, you can watch the sun go down and then star gaze without the burden of light pollution. The usual hustle and bustle feels a million miles away.

Back to basics campsite: The Lost Brickyard, Norfolk

8 Beautiful Campsites for Finding Wildlife

These beautiful and picturesque campsites are set deep within the countryside allowing an abundance of wildlife to flourish. If you want to recharge your batteries amongst stunning scenery and catch a glimpse of a wild animal or two, then have a look at these 8 beautiful campsites for finding wildlife:

1. Red Shoot Camping Park

At Red Shoot Camping Park within the beautiful National Park of the New Forest, you can explore the rare and diverse wildlife habitats of the centuries old landscape and are highly likely to spot some of the famous wild ponies. We aim to help protect and enhance our local environment and are proud holders of the Gold David Bellamy Conservation Award.  We boost biodiversity by managing existing habitats within our park and adding new habitats where possible. Within our park you will find hedgerows, wildflowers, trees, grassland and nesting/overwintering boxes and houses for birds and insects all attracting a range of wildlife. We have signed up to the David Bellamy Honey Bee Pledge and provide a home for several bee hives in a quiet corner of one of our private fields.

Surrounded by nature at its best and with a choice of camping, caravanning, glamping or a holiday cottage, the Red Shoot Camping Park is the perfect place to unwind, relax and escape the hustle and bustle of modern life.

Find out more here: Red Shoot Camping Park

2. Gorsey Meadow

Gorsey Meadow is at the very heart of Norfolk.  Having kept it to ourselves for so long we now hope others will enjoy it as much as we do. Our wonderfully secluded meadow allows adults to escape the hustle and bustle and children to enjoy space and nature in a safe environment. Book individually or hire the meadow exclusively as part of a group of family and friends and have your own slice of Norfolk to build memories that will last a lifetime. We welcome camping, campervans or glamping within one of our five sumptuous bell tents.

You will share the meadow with an abundance of nature from inquisitive rabbits and strutting pheasants, songbirds in the hedgerows and tawny owls in the oak trees.  We even have our own bug hotel! You are very welcome to picnic in the beautiful woodland glade and explore the surrounding area but take care with children as there are natural dangers in the woodland such as ponds and inedible mushrooms.

Find out more here: Gorsey Meadow

3. Forest Glade Holiday Park

Forest Glade Holiday Park in Devon is surrounded by 300 acres of forest and we are proud to hold a Gold David Bellamy Conservation Award.  This is one of the longest running green tourism awards in the UK and we aim to preserve the environment around us so that it can be enjoyed by future generations. We manage our land as a haven for wildlife and have a self-guided nature walk on the park – Our leaflet at Reception or from the Tourist Information Room suggests plants and wildlife that you can look out for throughout the seasons including deer, hares as well as a variety of birds and wild flowers.

You can choose from camping, caravanning or motor homes as well as glamping in our camping pods or staying in one of our self-catering caravans to enjoy the tranquillity of these beautiful surroundings on the Blackdown Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Find out more here: Forest Glade Holiday Park

4. Walton Court Caravan and Camping Site

Walton Court is a small working farm in the heart of the welsh countryside. Our pool, which you will pass as you enter Walton Court has an abundance of wildlife.  There are 2 mute swans that visit, moorhens, wild ducks, a kingfisher, woodpeckers and herons.  During the spring the pool is filled with frogspawn.  It is fed by natural springs and the Riddings Brook passes along the perimeter.

Choosing from camping, caravanning, our static caravan, glamping in our lovely shepherd’s hut or staying in our luxurious cottage, you can enjoy the fresh air, wildlife and fabulous views of the welsh countryside.

Find out more here: Walton Court Caravan and Camping Site

5. Porlock Caravan Park

We at Porlock Caravan Park are delighted to welcome you to our family-run, multi award-winning camping, touring and luxury Caravan Park, set in the beautiful vale of Porlock, in the National Exmoor Park. Our aim is to make your stay as relaxing and enjoyable as possible. We are passionately committed to conservation and wildlife, including our Bellamy award-winning garden, and maintain our grounds and facilities to the highest standards to ensure you have a great and memorable holiday.

Exmoor is one of the most tranquil National Parks and offers some of the best star gazing in the country as well as being home to the tallest tree in England. There is an abundance of wildlife from the largest herds of Red Deer in England to the famous Exmoor Pony – the oldest breed in Europe. We offer the perfect location from which to experience and explore the stunning scenery of Devon and West Somerset.

Find out more here: Porlock Caravan Park

6. The Lost Brickyard

Photos By Trail Camera

The Brickyard Campsite is a unique spot secretly hidden on the North Norfolk coast. Set in an area of outstanding natural beauty you’ll feel like you have the whole place to yourselves! If you love owls hooting, deer grazing and stoats racing this is the place for you.

We offer a mix of bring your own camping and full-scale glamping; you can even have friends pitch their tents next to your glamping tent. All our camping areas are secluded and private with trees and shrubs – it is truly wild camping. All pitches have a fire pit and we have a communal, wood fired pizza oven for everyone to use.

We are walking distance from Holkham Hall, Holkham beach and you can explore our beautiful scenery from the SUSTRANS cycle route system as well as the North Norfolk Coastal Path.

Find out more here: The Lost Brickyard

7. Haw Wood Farm

We are delighted that our passion for the environment, conservation and nature has been rewarded with a David Bellamy Gold award for conservation for a 3rd year running!

Here at Haw Wood Farm in Suffolk, you can bring your tent, caravan, motorhome or campervan and enjoy the beautiful rural scenery and wildlife. From our newly planted woodland of over 3500 trees, and dedicated dog walking field, you can weave through the wild grasses and feast your eyes on a magnificent array of flora and fauna. In the late spring and summer months you will see our wild flower meadows in bloom. We have a strip for the birds and a strip for the bees and butterflies. As a bee-friendly site, as well as planting lots of flowers that we know bees love we also have our own bee hives. We make sure we leave the little lovelies plenty of honey for themselves but any extra we extract, and you can buy in our shop.

Find out more here: Haw Wood Farm

8. Chapel House Farm

Welcome to our hideaway at Chapel House Farm in the little village of Craswall close to the book town of Hay-on-Wye. Our camping pitches are spread over 15 acres of wildflower fields bordered by ancient woodland. Children can make dens, run in the woods and play games in the long grass. You can bring your own tents or stay in our beautifully furnished bell tents or yurts.

The pastures are a spectacle throughout the spring and summer with a show of bluebells and a host of other wild flowers. Watch out for the Red Kites and Buzzards that wheel over the campsite and listen for Curlews on the road to Hay where you might also spot a Fallow deer or tiny Muntjac deer crossing the road.

Find out more here: Chapel House Farm

6 of the Best Campsites to Keep the Kids Entertained

“I’m bored!” is what you will NEVER hear at these campsites, handpicked for their range of facilities designed to keep the whole family happy. So, take a look at what we consider to be six of the best campsites to keep the kids entertained:

1. Woolacombe Sands Holiday Park

Woolacombe Sands Holiday Park in Devon has fantastic facilities to keep everyone out of trouble including heated swimming pools, kids’ club, crazy golf, children’s play park, bouncy castle, arcades and UV Disco bowling, licensed clubhouse and food bar with great nightly children’s and adults’ entertainments.

In addition to all this, they are the closest holiday park to the UK’s Number 1 beach – Woolacombe, and you can easily access it via their dedicated footpath through National Trust countryside within 10-20 minutes (thus avoiding parking charges). A wide range of accommodation options include touring caravans, motorhomes, static caravans and chalets as well as plenty of space for camping.

2. The Farm Camp

The Farm Camp in Wiltshire offers something a little different where the family can become truly immersed in countryside living. They have dedicated staff to offer experiences in farm craft and sheep herding as well as archery and well-being activities. You can go wild swimming nearby and be entertained by live music. You could learn more about their organic vineyard or simply hire a bike or boat and go exploring. This is prime memory-making time for the whole family as you relax into the beautifully furnished bell tents with wood burning stoves to keep you cosy.

3. Smytham Holiday Park

At Smytham Holiday Park, take a relaxing swim in the heated outdoor swimming pool or play table-top games in the purpose-built games room. There is a volleyball/badminton court on the lawn for you to enjoy along with a large open space in the valley which can be used for games such as football or cricket. For the younger ones there is a large play area complete with swings, slides and climbing frames!

Smytham Holiday Park has direct access onto the world-famous Tarka Trail – an old railway line converted into a foot/cycle path where there are stops along the way to refresh yourself with a drink and a bite to eat in the beautiful Devon countryside. There is a selection of holiday accommodation to choose from: from traditional camping and caravanning pitches to timber lodges, camping pods, and holiday homes.

4. Campsie Glen

Campsie Glen in Stirlingshire boasts a fabulous set of facilities for family entertainment including a heated swimming pool, indoor hot tub and small children’s pool. The stunning Scottish scenery forms the backdrop to an adventurous children’s outdoor play area and putting green and when the weather turns, they can retreat into the indoor games room. The whole family can enjoy seasonal weekend entertainment in the lounge bar and there are a wide range of accommodation options from glamping pods through static and touring caravans and of course, beautiful camping pitches.

5. Forest Glade Holiday Park


Forest Glade Holiday Park in Devon is proud to boast a fantastic range of facilities to keep the kids active and entertained. These include a free covered heated swimming pool, children’s play areas, a games room, tennis court and forest walks. In fact, the park is surrounded by 300 acres of forest so there could be no end to the adventures to be had!

Accommodation options include touring caravans, motorhomes and glamping pods as well as plenty of space for camping. All are well-provided for with free hot showers, family and parent and baby rooms, washing up facilities, a laundry room and a campers’ kitchen.  There is even a shop with off-licence and take away so everyone in the family will be happy.

6. Quantock Orchard Caravan Park

Quantock Orchard Caravan Park is perfectly situated in an “area of outstanding beauty” in Somerset. There, the children have access to an exciting adventure playground which has slides, a climbing frame, seesaw and swings as well as a safe environment within the park to play to their heart’s content. Adults might prefer to use the well-equipped gym but everyone on the family can enjoy the swimming pool in this five pennant park. There is also bike hire available to explore the Quantock Hills where you might spot the native ponies, red deer and a host of other wildlife.

Accommodation options include touring caravans, motorhomes, static caravans as well as well-appointed pitches for camping.

Packing your Caravan away for Winter

When it’s the end of the season and time for packing away your caravan for winter, you might wonder what you should actually do to keep it in good condition until next year. Well, here are a few tips from our good friend, Kate, who admits to OCD when it come to her beloved “Green Windows!” (check out Green Windows’ story here: An Affordable Caravan? We Found One!)

Awning

The same as for  Packing your tent away for winter, we always make sure our awning is clean and dry before we put it away for winter to prevent any mould or mildew taking hold. We hang it out and look for any marks or tears – cleaning the marks with an appropriate awning cleaner and patching up the holes. When we are happy it’s completely dry then we fold it away putting it back in its bag. Replace any guy lines or poles that are on their way out and put some new tent pegs in also. There is nothing worse than getting it out next spring and finding half your bits and pieces don’t work, are broken or missing!

Kitchen

Everyone gives their caravan a good clean after every use, but it needs the winter special spruce before you tuck it up. I clean every nook and cranny in mine. I am obsessed about damp and mould. To beat this, you need to be really thorough:

  1. Remove ALL the food from the kitchen cupboards except for tins. I remove all the sugar, coffee, tea, salt, pepper, sauces, the lot!
  2. Give the cupboards a good hoover and wipe out.
  3. When dry, put in a few loose tea bags. These will soak up any moisture and stop mould appearing.
  4. Make sure your oven and grill are clean and empty out your toaster. We don’t want any crumbs left about that little friends might come looking for.
  5. Clean your fridge by giving it a good wipe out with bicarbonate of soda.
  6. When dry, put loose tea bags in it and leave the door open so it can ventilate.

 

The secret weapon against mould?

Bathroom

When you clean your toilet, empty and flush your waste tank.  I make my husband do this several times (I know, I spoil him). However our waste tank is never too bad as our toilet is a no-poo zone. We also don’t put toilet paper in it.  We always leave our tank in the open position over winter.

I also empty the bathroom of shampoo, shower gel and soap. The spare toilet roll also comes home because no-one wants a damp crinkled toilet roll next season!

Living area

I take all my bedding home and towels, even if it’s clean. I want everything washed, aired and packed away in the loft until next season.

It’s a personal choice but I like to leave my curtains open – I don’t leave anything in it to pinch and I take everything home apart from the plates and cutlery. I also leave my blinds open, just because they are roller blinds and she is an old van. I worry that if they a pulled down for months they might not roll back up in spring.

I lift up the cushions and stand them on their sides. Because I am obsessed!

Last few jobs before you shut the door:

  • Hoover the floor
  • Clean it by hand with warm water and floor cleaner.
  • Use a towel until it is bone dry (no mould zone please)

General maintenance

The water system – now this is not my job. But I know it always takes him ages to sort out (I think my OCD might be rubbing off…well, I can hope!) He drains the whole system and leaves all the taps on including the shower head. Remove any filters, as you don’t want any water being held in your unit. Freezing in your pipes would be a disaster darling!

Leave all your vents open and unblocked. You want your van to be able to breathe over winter. Make sure that your windows are shut properly and that any perished rub seals have been replaced. Also check the seal on your roof vents. No dripping in here please.

Our boot doesn’t leak but it could when I’m not there. So, we place a great big piece of plastic sheet over the boot contents so it doesn’t get wet.

Storage

Where are you keeping your caravan over winter?

Obviously, it needs to be somewhere secure, clean and dry. We make sure we park it on level ground and put its legs down. We choke the wheels and leave the hand brake off. If you can visit your van over winter to check it and make sure it knows it is still wanted, great. I can’t unfortunately but the people who keep it in storage for me let me know if there are any problems and know to give her a little pat now and then.

As you may have guessed, there can be no shortcuts to packing away your caravan for the winter.

Remember: clean looked after well cared for caravan = great holidays 2019!

I love my “Green Windows,” and have no intention of replacing her. But that doesn’t stop me from dreaming and I love checking out camping/caravan shows to see what innovations have come onto the market and what accessories I could add to her. For a list of these check out Camping and Caravan Shows Spring 2019.

Packing your tent away for winter

So, here it is…camping season officially over! Sob!

Most of you (apart from you die-hard mighty campers) will turn your attention to packing your tent away for the winter.  There are a few jobs that need doing to prolong the life of your tent and ensure everything is ready and raring to go for the next season:

  1. Make sure your tent is dry.

Before packing your tent away for winter, it must be thoroughly dry to ensure the nasties like mould and mildew don’t get a hold of it as these affect the weather-proofing and life span of the fabric.

The ideal ‘taking down’ situation would be a lovely sunny day with a slight breeze – when this happens, we like to empty the tent of all contents, (including sweeping out the crumbs) zip up the insect doors (if you have them), unzip all the rest and let the breeze air the inside of the tent thoroughly for an hour or so.  Then, when rolling it up, partially zip up all the doors to allow extra air to escape and use towels to wipe away any mud, wet grass and damp.  This means your tent is ready to pack away with no further intervention needed.

If you have the unfortunate situation of rain when packing away, then you will have some work to do at home! You need to get it dry as soon as possible so either re-erect it in your garden as soon as you get a dry spell for it to dry and air or, if you have the continued adverse weather conditions that we had this year (see Six Things We Have Learnt Whilst Camping This Year), get the tent laid out/hung up in a large shed/garage within 2-3 days. Again, use towels to help rub down any wet patches – particularly round windows – to help it dry as quickly as possible. Make sure it dries naturally, however, and not near another heat source as this can affect the fabric.

  1. Check your tent

Whilst packing your tent away, do check for any rips, damaged seams or zips, broken poles, etc. Make it your priority to get these sorted when you get home, or the likelihood is you’ll forget about them until you erect your tent for your next holiday and you’ll be in big trouble with your family!

Most tents come with a basic repair kit and its as simple as gluing and sewing patches on. There is loads of help available online these days so if you are in any doubt, check out videos/tutorials available for repairing your make of tent.

If you have had your tent for a while, you might also want to consider waterproofing it. Again, check out any recommendations from the manufacturer of your tent in terms of products and method.

Do replace any broken poles, wonky pegs, worn guylines, etc. at this end of the season, again to avoid panic at the next camping trip!

  1. Where to put it?

The size of your tent has a direct bearing on where to store it! Most can be stored safely away in a garage, shed or loft/attic where it is dry and out of sunlight. Take care about preventing rodent damage by storing up high, or in another bag/box – also by ensuring you thoroughly swept out any remnants of crumbs when packing away to prevent the little varmints being attracted to your precious tent!

  1. Ready for your next trip?

It’s not just your tent that needs checking.

Sometimes, you get back from a camping trip and need another holiday after you’ve sorted everything out!

For me…it’s the washing mountain pile.

Living the dream

Some people just air their sleeping bags, but I like to wash them to minimise the stink of our family. All bedding, air beds, etc will need thoroughly drying and airing before packing away to again, prolong their life and keep everything smelling sweetly.

All of your kitchen equipment, food containers, etc. will need checking, cleaning and drying before packing away to make sure a proper job is done – sometimes, you can’t quite get that at a campsite. Then think carefully about storage – ideally, keeping everything together makes for an easy task when going on your next trip. If this isn’t possible, then make a note of where things are to prevent grumpiness next year.

After you have replaced anything that needs replacing, thoughts might move on to your next purchase. What did you feel that you needed at your last camping trip? What did you see of another’s set up and think ‘that’s what I need’? Do you need to upgrade your tent?

A fun thing to do is pop along to a camping show and check out the gigantic range of tents and accessories available. Here you can check things out thoroughly before committing to buying, compare prices, spec and just exactly what is out there. For a list of these check out Camping and Caravan Shows Spring 2019.

Chin up – only six months to go until camping season 2019!

Camping and Caravan Shows – Spring 2019

The main camping season may be over (except for you crazy extreme campers!) and thoughts have turned to log fires and cosying up next to them. But in a few weeks’ time, when you start to get that ‘itch’, that need to reconnect to your tent, caravan or motorhome, fear not! There are many opportunities in early 2019 for a darn good nosey into new products and innovations available at camping and caravan shows up and down the country. These are great opportunities to have a good look at products you have heard about, to test things out, find a good deal, stock up on items or just ogle at what’s out there. Whatever your motivation, camping and caravan shows certainly get you thinking about the summer ahead and help to shorten the loooooong winter season!

January 2019

17th-20th: Manchester Caravan & Motorhome Show, Event City, Manchester

18th-20th: Belfast Caravan & Motorhome Show, Titanic Exhibition Centre, Belfast

20th-21st: Adventure Travel Show, Olympia, London

25th-27th: Holiday World Show, RDS Simmonscourt, Dublin

25th-29th: The Motorhome Show, Westpoint, Exeter

31st Jan-3rd Feb: Destinations: The Holiday & Travel Show, Olympia, London

 

February 2019

7th-10th: Scottish Caravan and Outdoor Show, Glasgow SECC

16th-17th: DubFreeze, Bingley Hall, Stafford

19th-24th: Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show, NEC Birmingham

 

March 2019

17th-18th: UK Spring Motorhome & Caravan Show, Newark Show Ground

22nd-24th: The Yorkshire Motorhome and Accessory Show, Great Yorkshire Showground

 

April 2019

18th-22nd: Camperfest, Chester

26th-28th: The National Motorhome and Campervan Show, East of England Showground, Peterborough

Six Things We Have Learnt Whilst Camping This Year

 

  1. After buying a new tent, test it out at home first.

This is something we know very well. But for some reason, we didn’t bother after our first air beam purchase earlier this year. Cue 2 looooong hours of tension as we crawled our way to full erection! Not advisable at any time, but definitely not with two small and increasingly grumpy children!

  1. Check the weather forecast.

We have had a simply amazing summer this time and in July, it felt that the sunshine would never end. So, when we came to the end of our planned holiday in Somerset, we thought heck, we’ve got some clean clothes left, we might never experience another summer like this again…let’s carry on for a couple more days! So down to Devon we went and the skies turned from the bluest of blues to the darkest of greys.

Great.

Two full days of rain plus a night storm of epic proportions later and we squelched our way home.

  1. Prepare your tent before a storm rather than during.

This is greatly assisted if you have done point 2 beforehand.

So, we woke up in the middle of the night to what can only be described as the stormiest storm in Stormland on national storm day. Our tent was stable but there was no denying the severe wind buffeting it and I did what anyone would do…kicked the husband out of bed to deal with it. Much double pegging later and we eventually felt able to sleep again…although this was trickier as we had two extra small people in the bed.

  1. Help the helpless.

As we arrived at the camp still full of holiday cheer and totally unaware of the storm to come, we came across a family of a lovely dad, uncle and three children all looking hopefully at some poles and canvas. It became apparent that this was their first ever camping trip with borrowed equipment and they had not completed point 1 or 2. They had been in the same position for 2 hours. So, with our travelling buddies we helped them to erect their somewhat complicated tent and they were really happy and grateful. We had that wonderful glow that comes with being useful.

Then came the storm.

Come the morning, their tent half caved in and they hadn’t slept a wink. They decided not to stay for the second night. I would imagine they will never camp again.

Perhaps we should have just left them to it and they could have found a B&B?

  1. Timing is everything.

When packing away your tent, ensure it is thoroughly dry beforehand.

When it came to packing ours away, the rain never blooming stopped. The tent was sopping and weighed the same as approximately 5 elephants, hubby and I dripped all over the Landy and it’s safe to say that we had no more spare clothes left.

The rain didn’t stop at home all week either, so tent had to be aired in a farm shed and I needed a holiday by the time we had sorted everything out.

  1. Camping with friends is the way forward.

We had two trips with different sets of friends this year and it was brilliant! The children always have people to play with, someone else always has something that you forgot to pack, there are more eyes to watch little people and most importantly, lovely people to share wine with at the end of the day!

Despite all these trials, will we be going camping again next year?

Can’t wait!