It is the little things.
This year has certainly been a hard one for travel enthusiasts. While 2020 has forced us all to stop in our tracks and enjoy time at home with family and friends, it has also allowed us to press the reset button on our bodies and minds. As a collective we have become more creative; whether it be physically or mentally. We have learnt to be more patient with the uncontrollable and learned that we should spend more time focusing on the controllable.
There were days filled with pure frustration and days where zero motivation meant lying in bed staring at the ceiling. However, as long as we are healthy then that is what we are most thankful for.
When London first came out of it's four month lock down in July, we were so happy to be able to enjoy the fresh air and the beautiful summer that England had thrown our way. We were so desperate to get away from not just our tiny third floor flat (with no backyard) but out of London altogether. We learnt the meaning of not taking anything for granted.
While traveling out of the United Kingdom was not an option we felt comfortable with, we decided to stick with the controllable and looked at what we can enjoy on our own soil. After all, there is so much to enjoy in the United Kingdom that gets overlooked when you have Europe just a stone’s throw away.
We hired a car for 4 days, packed some camping gear and off we went.
Camping grounds in the United Kingdom - what to know
The United Kingdom has hundred of camping grounds and green spaces that can be enjoyed by families, couples or solo. Campsites are currently (in 2020) taking about half of the usual amount of guests due to COVID social distancing rules. Due to this, look at booking a few weeks in advance, especially if camping during peak season (April and May bank holidays, including July-August) as the campsites do fill up pretty quickly.
If choosing to camp with a tent there is generally the choice of electric grass pitch or non-electric grass pitch. Unsurprisingly the electric grass pitch is most sought after and is best booked in advance.
Amenities vary between each camping grounds. Some grounds come complete with a pool, sauna and onsite bar while others may offer only non-electric fields, next to a lake with horses. There is something out there for everyone and every experience.
What to pack
Do not let not having a car put you off camping. We comfortably carried all of the below to a car rental, so it is doable. We chose a non-electric pitch and the below is what we packed. You may wish to include a few other electrical items if you choose an electric pitch.
· Tent (inclusive with hammer and pegs)
· Sleeping bags
· Pillow (a blow up pillow saves space and is surprisingly comfortable)
· Blow up mattress and pump
· Portable light
· Cutlery, plates, cups/mugs and bowls and spatula
· Camping cooking pots/pan/kettle (you can purchase a kit from any camping shop for £20-25)
· Picnic blanket
· Portable gas stove + gas canister
· Flip flops (useful for showers)
· Sunscreen and bug spray
· Cooler bag
· Cleaning products; washing up liquid, sponges and towel
· Bin bags
· Personal cosmetics
· Personal clothing
· Portable chargers + cords
The stigma of camping
There can be an unfortunate stigma behind camping being an UN-luxurious holiday. What is sadly forgotten is the experience of what camping can give you.
Traveling to new countries teaches you many life lessons that you can not always get on your home soil. This is what makes traveling so addictive and fascinating. The different cultures, food, smells and language is never ending. Camping however teaches you different life lessons. It teaches you how to survive, to assemble your home, cook your own meals and to create a fire to keep yourself warm. It teaches you an appreciation for the outdoors, nature and how to work as a team.
There is nothing quite like sitting outside eating breakfast and drinking coffee watching a new day start. It is the little things.
Tips and Costs
· For the general amenities you can get a non-electric grass pitch for £15-22 during peak times and £10-18 during off peak times, per couple.
· The electric pitches tend to be a few £ extra per night compared to non-electric.
· The cost is generally the same whether you have a small or bigger tent.
· Having more than one car will generally include an extra fee per night on top of your pitch costs.
· If you have a two man tent, it is always worth asking campsites who are advertising as full as they may still have room for you - we got lucky with this.
· Dogs are generally welcome but some sites may charge you extra per night.
· If pitches allow you to have fires they will generally supply wood for a small fee and fire pits free to use.
Where we stayed
We spent two nights at Hurst View Camping. This campsite had two large open spaces, one for families and the other for larger groups. Despite the footfall, the showers were fabulous and very clean all the time. There was also a handy small shop on site in case you ran out of the essentials. Taps could also be found in the fields which were signed as drinking water and to top it off it was within the New Forest (South) and only a 15 minute drive to the nearest beach.
The second two nights we stayed at Giants Head Caravan & Camping Park. This campsite was much smaller but located quite high in the hills. The fog that came over the campsite at night was pretty spectacular and super eerie as it happened in seconds. The facilities at this site were once again amazing and the showers were better than a lot of hotels I have stayed at. The only issue with this property is the entrance is set on a main road and it can be a bit tricky to see from a distance. We found slowing down to approach the entrance quite dangerous as a lot of drivers traveling behind were not very forgiving to have to slow down for you. If you have a caravan or a big camper van, be cautious.
The spectacular New Forest National Park.
How to search for campsites in the United Kingdom
Finding a hotel or hostel with all of the different websites and apps currently available is relatively easy, but what about campsites?
Below are some of our most popular websites that make searching for our perfect campsite easy.
Pitchup - This site covers the UK, Europe and America. It is easy to follow with filter options to pinpoint your perfect campsite.
Campsites.co.uk - This site allows you to pick your region you wish to travel to and whether you want tent only campsites, caravan parks or glamping sites.
Airbnb - You can find land to pitch your tent on in people's backyards on Airbnb. Under the filter options you can find campsites under the heading 'unique stays'.
Share with us your camping experiences or leave your favorite campsites in England below. We would love to check out more next year!