let’s try n camping holidays
n Camping in the New Forest
Ever since some disastrous camping trips as a young man, Peter Ellegard has never had an in-tents love affair with outdoors holidays. But, as he discovers, things have improved dramatically for those seeking al fresco breaks n the days before overseas sun and sand package holidays became the norm, the holiday of choice for most people was camping. It was cheap and fun, and you pitched your tent pretty much where you wanted. Even today, the freedom and value camping offers is still a powerful magnet, and an estimated 1.2 million people regularly head off into the British countryside or by the coast to sleep out under canvas. Except, of course, these days it generally isn’t canvas. Camping has undergone a revolution in recent years with the advent of new, easy-to-put-up tents made from lightweight materials, warm and weatherproof clothing, cosy bedding and all manner of high-tech gadgets that help make an outdoors holiday far more comfortable and appealing than ever before. Forget trudging across a muddy field in pouring rain carrying buckets of water from a stream or having to
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find a secluded spot to answer nature’s call. Today’s campers have the latest facilities on campsites, from leisure centres and heated outdoor pools to bars, restaurants and children’s play and adventure complexes. At some sites in the UK and on the Continent, you can even indulge in a spa session with massage treatments. If tents don’t appeal, you can enjoy more comfort and luxury by going glamping, the buzzword for glamour camping. Yurts, tepees, tipis and wigwams, camping pods and gypsy caravans are among alternative options for experiencing the elements in style. I haven’t been tempted to camp since my now grownup children were young and we holidayed a few times on French campsites. Memories of camping in Britain are vividly etched in my brain. The pungent odour of canvas and wet earth from family holidays as a youngster are early recollections. I also recall the feeling of excitement after passing my
let’s try n camping holidays
Camping and Caravaning Club
n Prepare before you go so you can relax when you arrive
l Make a checklist of everything you
New Forest Tourism Association
need to take, and don’t forget to check your tent and other equipment is in good condition well before you go. Don’t forget to pack suncream and protective clothing to prevent sunburn. Pack a simple first aid kit to deal with insect bites and minor injuries. Nights can be cold and tents have no insulation, so take warm clothing, good sleeping bags and plenty of bedding. Take wellies, waterproofs and brollies, just in case. Always pack a mallet – and buy a
driving test in the early 1970s and packing the car boot and roof rack with my frame tent and other camping paraphernalia for a week’s exploration of North Wales. But visions of horror stories come flooding back, too.
glamping Among them, battling the indecipherable jumble of poles in sideways rain in a Welsh quagmire masquerading as a campsite on that trip, the tent flapping above me and my mother like a crazed dragon as we tried to pull it down over the frame I had finally pieced together. Or waking up in a sodden sleeping bag by the shores of Loch Lomond after the water level rose and flooded my chosen part of the campsite from the constant deluge. Or perhaps braving 70mph winds in the middle of a wild and stormy May night in the Cairngorms foothills to double-peg the tent and flysheet and put heavy rocks around the edges to stop them being blown away. Trying to read by the light of a Camping Gaz lantern or hurricane lamp while getting a numb bum sitting on an uncomfortable folding camp chair, or attempting to light a bottled gas cooker with draughts continually snuffing out the flame are other
n Inside a Cornish yurt Cornish Yurt Holidays
peg-puller tool to remove stubborn tent pegs. l Be careful with any cooking, heating or lighting equipment. Mains electricity in tents can be a potential hazard. Take a fire extinguisher and/or fire blanket. l Ensure you maintain hygiene to stay healthy.
n Happy campers
Go Camping UK
vivid flashbacks. Although I am now an agnostic camper, many still keep the faith. The Camping and Caravanning Club (www.thefriendlyclub.co.uk) is the world’s oldest club for all forms of camping and has over half a million members, who spend over 1.5 million nights on its club sites each year. It offers more than 3,000 places to camp across the UK, including 110 club sites and another 1,500 member-only certificated sites, and is in the vanguard of change. Developments for members include the addition of wooden camping pods at its Bellingham (Northumberland), Eskdale (LakeDistrict), Thetford Forest (Norfolk) and Isle of Skye club sites, while children love spending the night in the club’s cosy camping dens at its Gulliver’s Milton Keynes site. Safari tents sleeping up to four with mod cons including two-ring burner, grill and sink are available at its Teversal site in Nottinghamshire. There are numerous other glamping options for chic campers. At 200-acre Yorkshire site Jollydays (www.jollydaysluxurycamping.co.uk), there are seven luxury tented lodges that sleep six and feature wood burners, four-poster beds, chandeliers and sofas. Some also have their own showers.
tlm n the travel & leisure magazine www.tlm-magazine.co.uk
let’s try n camping holidays
Get the right gear
n The Vango AirBeam Flux tent takes just four minutes to pump up.
have all come a long way in recent years. Scottish camping gear company Vango (www.vango.co.uk) makes a range of sleeping bags and tents and a host of other camping equipment, including cooking kits, lanterns, LED torches, bags, tables and chairs. The Vango range includes the Vango Dormir Comfort sleeping bag (right), designed for comfort and durability, and the Vango Elixir 20 (above left), a multi-use
If you are new to camping, the choice of equipment and optional extras is bewildering. Tents come in all shapes and sizes. The Camping and Caravanning Club lists more than a dozen types, from the basic ridge tent to dome tents, tunnel tents, geodesic designs, inflatable ones, frame tents, tepees and trailer tents. Tent fabrics can be just as confusing. Once-ubiquitous cotton canvas tents are now quite rare. Larger frame and trailer tents may be canvas but are generally coated with PVC to make them tough and waterproof. Many are now made from lighter polycotton or coated polyester, while small tents often use lightweight nylon. Pegs, too, come in all shapes and types. You can choose from steel, plastic, alloy or titanium, but if you want to be ecofriendly, get biodegradable ones that won’t harm farm animals or farm machinery if left in the ground. Sleeping bags, lights and other accessories
rucsac perfect for active outdoor enthusiasts and day trippers with storage compartments for all your essentials. l You can WIN two Vango Dormir Comfort sleeping bags and two Vango Elixir 20L rucsacs, worth a total of £150. Just go to www.tlmmagazine.co.uk and click on Competitions. Terms and conditions apply. Closing date May 30, 2012.
n Mongolian-style yurt
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Stay in Mongolian-style yurts with Cornish Yurt Holidays (www.yurtworks.co.uk/holidays) on the edge of Bodmin Moor, where they include wood-burning stoves you can cook on as well as a small gas cooker, double bed, chill box, separate bathroom yurt and a solar shower, and at Alde Garden (www.aldegarden.co.uk) in Sweffling, Suffolk, which has a yurt sleeping up to five plus a gypsy caravan, tepee and bell tent. West Wood Yurts (www.westwoodyurts.co.uk) has six yurts near Newcastle, while HomeAway (www.homeaway.co.uk) has yurts in Cornwall. Low-carbon Cornish camping site Ekopod (www.ekopod.com) offers a geodesic dome tent echoing the Eden Project and featuring a king-size bed and wood-burning stove with adjacent kitchen and bathroom tents. Get into the Wild West spirit at sites such as Cornish Tipi Holidays (www.cornishtipiholidays.co.uk) in St Kew, Cornwall, where 40 North American-style tipis are set in 16 acres, and at the Pot-a-Doodle Do Wigwam Village (www.northumbrianwigwams.com), near Berwick-upon-Tweed, which has 20 wooden wigwams
n Serenity in the woods
in addition to several yurts. Trevella Holiday Park (www.trevella.co.uk), near Newquay has introduced tepees for 2012 along with safaris and bell tents. And you can be snug as a pea in your own pod at more than 40 locations around the country. If you prefer to enjoy the Great Outdoors in traditional tents, there are thousands of campsites and you’ll find them in some of Britain’s most breathtaking scenery. Pitch your tent in one of the most scenic locations at caravan and camping park Castlerigg Hall (www.castlerigg.co.uk) in the Lake District, which proclaims itself as “the Park with the View”. It also has camping pods. Callow Top (www.callowtop.co.uk), in the Peak District, is another picturesque site that caters for tents and trailer tents as well as caravans. There are many walking routes nearby and the thrill rides of Alton Towers are just 20 minutes away. And if you want to camp in a child-free environment, take your tent to Hereford’s Long Hazel Park (www.longhazelpark.co.uk), an adult-only static and touring park ideal for using as a base to tour the West Country.
n Camping pods are popular
camping facts when to go Although most UK campsites close for winter, you can stay in some offering yurts or pods year-round. Waking up in a yurt with snow on the ground and the woodburning stove keeping you warm can’t be beaten for romance.
n Camping bliss
let’s try n camping holidays
camping and caravanning club The Camping and Caravanning Club (www.thefriendlyclub.co.uk) costs £39 to join for family membership.
more information Websites with more information about camping and campsites include UK Campsites (www.ukcampsite.co.uk), Camping Expert (www.campingexpert.co.uk), Cool Camping (www.coolcamping.co.uk) and Alan Rogers Campsite Guides (http://alanrogers.com).
spas Holiday Park operator Parkdean (www.parkdeanholidays.co.uk) has 10 touring and camping parks that welcome tents, set in coastal, countryside and woodland locations in Scotland and the West Country. Facilities include leisure complexes and pools, sports activities and kids and teens clubs as well as cafes and restaurants. Haven (www.haven.com) has 23 touring and camping holiday parks dotted around the UK coast offering extensive facilities and entertainment and most welcome tents and trailer tents. Some even have spas. Pets are welcome on most sites, too. Hoburne Holiday Parks (www.hoburne.com) offers camping at its Hoburne Cotswold park with facilities including an indoor pool with flume, sauna and steam room, outdoor pool, children’s club and entertainment in a licensed club. For camping holidays in Europe, there is plenty of choice. Vacansoleil (www.vacansoleil.co.uk) is Europe’s market leader and offers 189 campsites featuring luxury, pre-erected tents in 15 countries including France, Belgium, Denmark, Holland and Germany.
“If tents don’t appeal, enjoy more luxury by glamping”
n Enjoy a massage at some sites
Some campsites offer overnight stops if you are travelling on to more distant sites, such as in Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, the Czech Republic and Hungary. Keycamp (www.keycamp.co.uk) features supertents in 30 of its 99 parks, in France, Holland, Italy, Austria and Spain. They sleep up to six and you don’t have to go without creature comforts as they have electric lighting, full-size fridge-freezer, four-burner cooker and grill and beds with foam mattresses. Eurocamp (www.eurocamp.co.uk) offers classic and safari tents, both sleeping up to four adults or six including children, on over 150 holiday parks across Europe. Canvas Holidays (www.canvasholidays.co.uk) has maxi tents sleeping six on sites across eight European countries. Health and wellbeing facilities are new in 2012 from French holiday specialist siblu (www.siblu.com) to pamper campers. There are steam rooms, saunas, hot tubs and massage treatments at some of its 14 parks, with massages from just 15 euros. Maybe I should give camping another try; I might just like it.
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Close your eyes and just imagine sitting by the pool in the sunshine, sipping something cool. Perhaps catching up on the bestseller that you keep meaning to read as the kids play on the waterslides DQG HQMR\ D IDEXORXV IXQoOOHG KROLGD\ Isn’t that something to look forward to? It can all be yours this summer with Vacansoleil from as little as £552*
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*£552 relates to a 14 night holiday during school summer holidays for a family of six including return ferry.
Book your 2012 holiday now or request a 2012 brochure by calling our expert travel advisors on 0333 700 50 50 (national rates apply) or visit vacansoleil.co.uk 260 pages
Wellington Country Park Campsite, located between Reading and Basingstoke on the A33, offers you the opportunity to pitch within the beauty and tranquility of woodland. Accessible from both the M3/M4 motorways, it is ideal both as a touring base or destination. Included within your fee is ‘FREE’ unlimited access to all the Country Park facilities with play areas, miniature railway, slides, crazy golf and animal farm.
Definitely a campsite for all the family!! Wellington Country Park Odiham Road, Riseley, Nr Reading RG7 1SP Tel 01189 326444
www.wellington-country-park.co.uk Spring 2012
tlm ■ the travel & leisure magazine www.tlm-magazine.co.uk
Ever since some disastrous camping trips as a young man, Peter Ellegardhas never had an in-tents love affair with outdoors holidays. But, as...