Not very Stepford, I know, but a tent, some sleeping bags and a stove to cook some bangers on are all we need to have a good time. Recently we bought a 1961 Eriba Faun caravan which you’d have throught would make the camping experience so much drier. Well so did we until the roof flew off on the M74 just south of Glasgow. More on that another time. Keep a look out as I’ll be uploading information about our favourite places to camp in the UK over the next few weeks.
Where: Langton Matravers, Devon, BH19 3HN
When: Open from March 14th 2012
How much: Large tent plus 2 adults and 2 children £15 low / £18 high season per night
In a Nutshell: 4½ acres of fields amidst the Purbeck Hills, the pitches offer a variety of aspects with some delightful views of Swanage Bay. The campsite welcomes quiet campers and asks for no noise after 11.45pm. Dogs must stay on leads. BBQ’s allowed as long as charcoal is used and it’s put on bricks.
Facilities: Camp shop provides basics; some electric hook-ups at £2.50 per night extra; token operated showers; laundry room; chemical disposal point
Downside: Booking is only available if you plan to stay for 5 nights or more in high season and it can get extremely busy
Nearby: The Square and Compass pub in nearby Worth Matravers sells pasties and has wonderful views of the sea; the site is also just 2½ miles from Swanage seafront.
What we did: We went for a ‘delightful’ walk to Chapman’s Pool from Worth Matravers. This was a bit of a feat (pure madness) with 2 small children as you pretty much slide down 400 feet of cliff to get there. As I have just read on a helpful website ‘Chapman’s Pool is something of an idyllic place, partly because few folk actually descend to it, and partly because excepting the fisherman’s sheds there is nothing there except nature and the sea’. Having got there is it absolutely beautiful and un-spoilt. We found lots of fossils away from the flocks of people hunting for them that you get on a more populated Dorset beach. The climb back up was particularly memorable by the fact that we got chased by cows, which made me pick up both children and sprint to the top where I promptly collapsed and had to be resuscitated with a Mr Whippy.
Where: Corfe Castle, Dorset, BH19 3EB
When: Open from 27th May – 5th June, 15th july – 30th August 2012, then 9th – 12th September
How much: Large tent plus 2 adults and 2 children £16 per night; Caravans £12 per pitch low season, £14 high season.
In a Nutshell: Spacious field with beautiful views of the Purbeck hills and Corfe Castle on thisworking farm. There are no marked pitches, so pitch where you want. It;s great for children as the main central area is kept clear for them to play in. At the bottom of the sloped field there is the Swanage railway line where steam trains puff past several times a day. There is space for 12 caravans in a small separate field. Friendly site and lovely owners, I saw the farmer scrubbing the showers clean at 6 in the morning, he was far too cheerful for such an early hour.
Facilities: Toilet blocks,showers, hot water, freezers for ice packs, hairdrying point and washing up areas.
Downside: The site is on a huge slope, which although this means lovely views, you are prone to rolling out of bed if your tent is pitched in the wrong position. Also they don’t take bookings so, you run the risk of it being too busy to get in, although this has never happened to us.
Nearby: You can take lovely walks as well as the steam train that chugs past. Swanage and Corfe are a couple of miles away each way too. The seaside town of Swanage is just over 2 miles away as are the sandy beaches of Studland Bay.
What we did: Last summer we spent three nights at this site and the weather was perfect for two of them. On the third night we lay awake listening to the driving rain and having to move the children and various belongings into central areas to avoid them touching the sides and soaking us. It didn’t work. We left the following day with a tent so wet we had to squeeze out half of West Dorset’s reserve water supply in order to get it back in it’s zip-up bag. It is testament to this gorgeous, friendly site that none of that put us off going again. The best day we had whilst staying there was a beautiful sunny one in June when we took a picnic to Corfe Castle via the steam train. This lovely old train, a total delight to the children, has separate carriages (like in ‘Harry Potter’!) and on some trains a buffet. With stops at Corfe Castle, Harman’s Cross and Herston, it has access to historic villages and country walks. The views as you come into Corfe of that ruined castle sitting high up on the hill are breathtaking, the children thought the whole thing was magical and the weather made it a perfect day out. The only downside was being forced to take our lives into our hands when crossing the narrow and winding roads in Corfe.