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

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