Camping from 12th April 2021 – Should we go?

Finally, it is here! We can actually go camping from 12th April 2021 – huzzah! But wait – Where can we go? Will it really be back to “normal”? Is it safe? How many of us can go? Should we be packing extras?

The gradual opening up of the country raises lots of questions, particularly around holidays and, of course, camping. So, let us clear up a few points.

1. Where can we go?

Well, the 12th of April 2021 opening relates only to those in England. (More information here) In Wales, campsites opened for those living in Wales from 27th March. (More information here.)

Wye Glamping is one of the simply gorgeous welsh glamping sites opening for those lucky folks living in Wales!

For those in Scotland, the “stay local” message is in place until the provisional date of 26th April when camping can recommence. (More information here.) In Northern Ireland, the stay at home message is still in place and they will review the measures on 15th April. (More information here.)

This all means that for the time being, we cannot cross borders for holidays but must stay within our own country.

2. Will it really be back to “normal”?

Not as we know it. As already explained, we will be restricted to our own country and cannot cross the border to another just yet. At this stage, we will not be able to use shared facilities such as shower and toilet blocks. This means we need to be self-sufficient with our own facilities. Most sites will provide freshwater points and waste disposal facilities but check carefully before going. The gorgeously rural Haw Wood Farm in Suffolk will be open to all self-contained units from 12th April and they are so excited to be able to welcome guests at last.

Camping from 12th April - Haw Wood Farm

We will not be able to take off in large groups but need to stay with our household. This might make some of us joyful and others are probably sick of the idea of spending yet more time with our families after the last few months! There are a few sites about that can help take this pain away though. For example, the glorious backdrop of Brocklands Farm Glamping where you can bask in the delights of the South Downs National Park from the home comforts of a fully furnished safari tent – bliss!

Camping from 12th April - Brocklands Farm

3. Is it safe?

As you can imagine, camping, glamping and caravan sites around the country have put in huge preparations for a safe re-opening.  From contactless booking and check ins, restricted numbers to signs and hand sanitiser everywhere. As we know, camping, in all its guises, lends itself quite nicely to natural social distancing, particularly when you have the huge fields available in Petruth Paddocks, Somerset allowing plenty of space between pitches.

Camping from 12th April - Petruth Paddocks

Longberry Farm in Kent are only opening one of their beautiful bell tents at a time on their site and giving exclusive access to all facilities to the lucky family that books. So, social distancing really won’t be an issue there!

Camping from 12th April - Longberry Farm

4. How many of us can go?

Across all of the UK, the message is clear that campsites will not take any group bookings right now. It is families only, although “bubbles” can be accommodated. If you fear that this might compromise your holiday, why not look at a family glamping site such as Tinkers Bells, Staffordshire where you have the use of the whole site for your family? No-one else to worry about so no social distancing required – easy-peasy!

Camping from 12th April - Tinkers Bells

5. Should we be packing extras?

Yes! Self-sufficiency requires extras that we usually take for granted i.e. toilet, showering and wash facilities. If you don’t have these, pop over to World of Camping where they have plenty of cost-effective solutions such as portable toilets, solar showers and washing accessories.

Although sites will definitely have oodles of hand sanitiser available, it makes sense to pack plenty of your own. And don’t forget your masks!

6. What happens next?

To be honest, we just have to be patient. The next provisional date for opening up further is 17th May in England. And, of course, this depends on the data surrounding Covid-19 continuing in the right direction. As restrictions change across the UK, here at Gone Camping Co, we will keep you informed what that means as campers and glampers.

Langstone Manor Park are open for business from 12th April but are particularly looking forward to extending opening from the 17th May.

Camping from 12th April - Langstone Manor Park

If you are holding back from booking as you don’t want to risk losing out financially, it is worth checking out with your preferred campsite what their policy is as most are incredibly flexible during this uncertain time. After a torrid time over the last year, we can’t emphasise enough how important it is to support this industry in 2021. Many campsites have invested heavily to ensure they are “Covid-19 Safe” but at the same time have a hugely reduced income because of being unable to open and only then with a reduced number of guests.

People are feeling a range of emotions after a whole year of dealing with the pandemic. Some are champing at the bit to get out there, some are cautious about their and others’ health, some are confused about the rules and what they can do and others have grown entirely used to staying at home and don’t want to venture out at all! However the pandemic has affected you, we wish you all the best and encourage you to take the time to (responsibly) explore our beautiful country. Give camping a try, or if you are not quite ready to leave behind all of your home comforts, a bit of glamping. Either way, they are amongst the most natural ways to socially distance right now!

Re-opening Campsites – A Possibility in 2020?

2019 at Chestnut Meadow

There is a buzz going around that July 4th might be the official start of camping with the long-awaited re-opening of campsites – I know, the excitement is too much! After weeks of lockdown and confinement to our own homes, many of us are champing at the bit to look at a different piece of scenery – somewhere other than the garden fence would be nice! But we are also sensible people and know that we cannot put ourselves or anyone else at risk by being reckless at this still early stage in the pandemic.

So, is camping safe? And how can re-opening campsites ensure safety of their guests?

Camping mealtime
Missing this!

Well, many camping, glamping and caravan sites have started to gear up for a 4th July re-opening and have thought long and hard about the measures necessary. Luckily camping, in all its guises, lends itself quite nicely to natural social distancing, but there are some issues such as shared bathroom and washing facilities, close proximity to other campers, etc. that need careful thought.

Many re-opening campsites will require advanced booking as they need to limit numbers and thus help with social distancing and sharing of facilities. There are some camping sites that have plenty of space for ease of distancing between tents such as the spacious fields of Willowbrook Farm. This ethical working farm in beautiful Oxfordshire have also installed extra hand sanitising points and are looking forward to showing off their farm in all its glory once more.

Sheep at Willowbrook Farm
The flock at Willowbrook Farm

There are some glamping sites that offer ease of social distancing by the fact that there are few accommodation options that are very much self-contained such as the 2 huge safari tents at Brocklands Farm in Hampshire. These are 100 metres apart and completely independent with fastidious cleaning taking place in between guests. In addition, they guarantee a refund on any bookings that cannot be taken as a direct results of government restrictions.

Tinkers Bells have an exclusive use family glamping site at Field Head Farm in the heart of the Staffordshire countryside. That means your family can have the whole site to yourselves! Well, that certainly solves any social distancing issues! And family size is not a problem as the three luxurious bell tents can cater for up to 12 people. In addition, you would have your own hot power showers, toilet and powder room; kitchen, bbq and firepit area; a huge hideaway tent for you to snuggle up and relax in and plenty of scenic outdoor space.

Several campsites have closed some or all of their facilities meaning that campers need to bring their own. There are plenty of cost-effective solutions on the market such as these from World of Camping: portable toilet and solar shower.

Whilst some campsites have closed their toilet and washing facilities, Harry’s Field in Hampshire have actually increased theirs to help maintain social distancing.

Tehidy Holiday Park in Cornwall has invested in an activated oxygen fogger for sanitizing their accommodation – this effective and natural product kills 99.99% of pathogens present in under 30 seconds!

Some holiday makers may well want to hold back from booking until there is more certainty as they don’t want to risk losing out financially. It is worth checking out with your preferred campsite what their policy is as the vast majority of sites are keen to look after customers.

Some sites such as Fakenham Fairways in Norfolk are allowing provisional bookings to help with flexibility and peace of mind in case of a change to government guidance following an increase in cases. Similarly, Hook Farm in Dorset is taking bookings arriving from the 4th July but will happily change your booking to another date within 12 months of your arrival date. Chestnut Meadow in East Sussex offer refunds for Covid-related issues and have developed a new tool in their website booking system so you can move your booking if necessary, giving you total flexibility.

2019 at Chestnut Meadow
2020 camping might look different to last year at Chestnut Meadow!

Other sites such as Holden Farm in Hampshire and Lanyon Holiday Park in Cornwall guarantee that whilst there is uncertainty, you can move your booking to another date in 2020 or 2021. Also, plenty of sites such as Ruberslaw Wild Wood Camping in the Scottish borders, are looking to the future and offering online bookings made for 2021 at 2020 prices – worth taking advantage of and helps to secure the businesses’ futures.

Camping at Ruberslaw

It is really important to support this industry in 2020. Many campsites including Forest Glade in Devon and Petruth Paddocks in Somerset have invested heavily over the winter season to improve facilities but have already missed half of their peak season and thus income will be massively down. Re-opening campsites need to put measures in place to ensure our safety that will inevitably incur more costs. This, along with a reduction on number of guests expected mean that the second half of the season will not put them close to recouping lost income. The vast majority of these lovely sites are family-run small businesses, not huge corporations and if we want to go camping in the years to come, we need to make sure there is an industry to come back to.

If in doubt, postpone, don’t cancel.

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 2019. 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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