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!

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.

7 of the Most Picturesque Glamping Sites

The sun is out and spring is most definitely on the way! If you’re not quite ready for the vigours of camping but fancy some outdoor living, why not try the luxury of glamping? We have identified 7 of the most picturesque glamping sites for you to drool over – places where relaxing is as easy as it gets.

1. Wild Mountains Glamping

As the names suggests, Wild Mountains Glamping offers stunning views across its peaceful, rural site. Situated in the village of Cwmdu, West Wales, you are free to explore the hills, river and woodland and return to the home comforts of the beautifully furnished bell tents. If you are dreaming about escaping and reconnecting with nature, family and friends then this is the adventure you need.

2. Valley Yurts

Valley Yurts sits upon 10 acres of wild Welsh countryside, on the border of Herefordshire and Powys. You can expect 360 degree views of the beautiful Welsh countryside and all home comforts with a touch of luxury. With a firm focus on peace and relaxation in the countryside, you can explore the stunning surroundings at your own pace with your family and friends. From your beautifully hand-crafted yurts, you can stargaze at night through the crown in the centre, without any light pollution.

3. Eco Retreats

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If you want to experience a real retreat off the beaten track, then Eco Retreats is just that! Situated 25 minutes off the tar road on a working organic farm, this eco-friendly site within the heart of Dyfi forest offers well-equipped accommodation in beautiful yurts and one tipi. With minimal noise and light pollution you can make the most of peaceful days and beautifully starry nights. You will feel far away from the stresses and strains of modern day living as you relax into the rhythms of the forest.

4. Moor View

At Moor View Luxury Canvas Camping, you are surrounded by stunning rural fields, woodlands and gorges within the area of outstanding natural beauty of the Mendip Hills. Enjoy long lazy walks through wild flower meadows, endless views over the Somerset levels, hammocks, camp fires and huge canvas bell tents fully kitted out for the ultimate luxury camping experience. Moor View is the perfect place to spend a relaxing weekend with friends and family.

5. Chapel House Farm

Chapel House Farm is hidden away in the little village of Craswall, close to the book town of Hay-on-Wye. The delightful site is spread over 15 acres of wildflower fields bordered by ancient woodland. In the spring and summer, the pastures are a spectacle with a show of bluebells and a host of other wild flowers. You can choose from exquisitely furnished yurts or a bell tent to relax and unwind, taking in the views of the Black Mountains nearby. Children are free to make dens, run in the woods and play games in the long grass.

6. Whitlingham Broad

Whitlingham Broad Campsite offers a relaxing countryside break in the stunning setting of the Norfolk Broads National Park. With scenic views over the country park and to the Broad, you have immediate access to woodland walks and beautiful waterways. With the choice of fully furnished and funky bell tents or cosy yurts complete with log burner or even a boutique shepherd’s hut, you can relax in true luxury whilst admiring the beautiful Whitlingham countryside.

7. Barnutopia

Suspend reality and make magical memories in rural heaven. Barnutopia is situated in the rolling Shropshire hills, on the Welsh border and thus has far reaching, simply amazing views. With a range of luxurious and comfortable glamping options from yurts to stables and cabins, you can enjoy rural relaxation without roughing it.

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

Never give up on your Dreams! With Harriet Seddon, founder of Lotus Belle tents.

Hari founded Lotus Belle tents in 2012 (see Lotus Belle) after becoming a single mum and following a difficult start where she was told that her different design concept would “never amount to anything.”  Roll on a few years and she is so happy that she eventually decided to ignore this and push on with her dream! Few “Glamping” sites are complete without the beautiful curvaceous lines of Lotus Belle tents – a unique canvas tent design that boasts all the portability and usability of a standard bell tent whilst affording the roomy luxuriousness of a yurt.

It is constructed from the highest quality components with a high tech 360/380 gram canvas which comes ready with a premium water, rot and fire retardant treatment.

The entire tent packs into a bag 40cm x 40cm x 130cm requiring minimal storage space off-season and it fits easily into the boot of a car. Once pitched the 5 metre model has an astonishing 18 square meters of standing space inside with 1.8m of headroom minimum all the way to the edge. This means it can be fitted out with standard height beds and normal household furniture or standard camping fayre.

It’s also remarkably easy to pitch, literally a one-man job that takes barely 20 minutes.  It also comes at a very reasonable price point, making it accessible to families as well as glampsites and festivals.

Hari was fascinated by tents from a young age. She spent her early childhood making camping furniture out of Meccano or bits of wood she found as well as doing plenty of camping with family and with Forest School Camps. For her tenth birthday she received a Vaude dome tent which she absolutely loved. She would pitch it in her family’s back garden and sleep in it every night throughout the summer.

“To me there’s nothing better than the sense of freedom I get from being outside, I feel really happy being close to nature. Also having a small space that I can keep really clean, and knowing where all my belongings are, makes me feel secure and safe.”

As she grew older, her fascination with yurts and the idea of living within a circular space also grew. She made a Mongolian style yurt, aged sixteen, using sticks from the hedges around her parents’ house. On moving to Falmouth University, Hari shunned the usual student digs and converted a minibus so that she could continue her camping dream on the Cornish coast. In this, she produced a raft of designs for various types of tents or ‘tiny homes’.

This culminated in her dissertation which was titled ‘the importance of circular space’ resonating with the sacred Mongolian belief system about a circular space being soothing and embracing, promoting unity, equality and community as everyone can sit an equal distance from the centre and face in towards each other. Hari owned a bell tent at this time for camping trips and loved the look and feel of canvas; the simplicity of the design; how quick and easy they are to pitch and pack away. Her sketches homed in on circular designs marrying together the roomy aspects of Yurts with the ease and portability of Bell tents. Lecturers were less than enthusiastic and told Hari that her designs for the ‘Onion Dome’, as it was originally known, would ‘never amount to anything’.

This was disheartening and Hari left uni to do what many of us think we should do…get a sensible job! She thus completed a PGCE and worked as a textiles teacher in a secondary school in Weymouth. Her passion for tent making never went away, however and she found herself encouraging students in her class to design and prototype one-man tents.

Hari was twenty-three when she had Mani, her first child. Then just before Jago was born, life took a turn and she became a single parent. These were seriously tough times. Hari spent time juggling house moves, changes of jobs and area but realises when looking back, that the sheer desperation of those times forced her to reconsider her path and led her to where she is today.


Then came the rise of glamping, with families wanting to retain a touch of luxury but still experience outdoor living.  The ‘Onion Dome’ suddenly seemed viable and Hari revisited her design. She then contacted the man that she had originally bought her bell tent from who was overwhelmingly positive about the design and invited her to meet his factory where they made the first Lotus Belle prototype. After several revisions and a lot of hard work, a workable model was produced.

Hari took a leap of faith and invested her life savings into getting the first run of twenty Lotus Belle tents made. This was coupled with a realisation that no market research had been done and thus Hari spent a sleepless six months, constantly worrying that they wouldn’t sell. She needn’t have worried as trips to festivals to showcase the Lotus Belle tents evoked great positivity and the orders started coming in – firstly in trickles, then in bulk orders allowing Hari to breathe a huge sigh of relief!


Hari met her partner, Ben in 2013. He was in the process of selling his stage, sound and lighting hire business and was looking to move in a new direction, so he started to help in the business. In 2016, Hari fell pregnant with baby Elowen and they made the brave (plus a few other adjectives!) decision to start working together as partners in business as well as in life. This sharing of the load has made motherhood a totally different experience for Hari this time around and she also has the freedom to keep designing innovative new products like the Air Bud and the Lotus Mahal as well as lots of accessories and innovative new features to the original design like the Stargazer roof system and the Cocoon / Insulated linings.

Hari feels eternally grateful that the rise of Glamping coincided with the arrival of her Lotus Belle tents – the two have become synonymous. But she leaves the last work to her dad: “If you design something good, people will beat a path to your door.”

They certainly did!

Click here to learn more about these stunning and unique tents: Lotus Belle

The Ultimate Glamping Experience? Welcome to the Geodome.

We absolutely love glamping here at Beavers Retreat and are proud to announce the next stage in luxury accommodation – The Geodome with hot tub!

I came up with the idea after wanting to provide accommodation for the early spring months hence the Geodome comes with an indoor stove. I also love the idea of a wood fired hot tub and using timber from Eco friendly suppliers who replant trees as they are cut down.

Now, after a lot of hard work over the winter we are delighted to offer visitors the Geodome alongside our bell tents. The dome can accommodate up to 4 people in a double bed and double futon sofa bed.

This luxury Geodome is the perfect place to get away from it all for a special romantic break or for a luxurious family experience. It is equipped with a double bed with crisp cotton bedding to ensure a comfortable night’s sleep. The indoor wood burning stove adds to the cosy atmosphere in the dome, alongside a table, chairs and a sofa. The dome has an open window at the front to ensure lighting is perfect and you can watch the wildlife from the comfort of the dome. Lighting is provided in the form of candles and LED/solar lights.

​Whilst supper is cooking, you may wish to play a game of Scrabble provided, or perhaps pore over a map to plan your itinerary for the next day.

The Geodome is situated in the same field as 9 bell tents, but is located in a secluded spot with no passing traffic from other visitors. It has a private sheltered kitchen area, and the best of all…. A wood fired hot tub! The kitchen is equipped with everything you need for your stay, and we supply towels for the showers. The dome also has a fire pit as well as a picnic table and BBQ.

Beavers Retreat is run by myself, Iwan, and is set on a small 60 acre working cattle and sheep farm, overlooking the small village of Jameston. 2015 was the first year for Beavers Retreat, only owning a couple of family sized bell tents located in an extremely quiet and secluded field that lays flat at the bottom of the farm hill.

Since then we have now expanded to meet the demand and now have 10 units, but still keeping the privacy, tranquillity, and large distance between tents.

We are extremely friendly and will ensure you have clean and comfy accommodation for your stay. As I said earlier, we love glamping and make it our mission to make sure you do too!

Check out our Facebook Page and Website for more information.