Family Campers

Back to Basics

We’ve spent a fair amount of the last few years travelling and exploring using a caravan and more latterly a motorhome, and whilst we thoroughly enjoyed the experiences (we try and look for the positives in anything we do) our preferred way to spend time in the outdoors is under canvas.

So, this summer, we all opted for a holiday in the UK that would give us plenty of time camping.

The plusses of camping

For us, camping offers a closer connection to the outdoors, and we love that. Not only do you hear the environment more easily (a running stream, owls at night, or a snoring neighbour or a nearby road which can sometimes be a reality) you are also more at one with the cycle of day and night. This usually means going to bed earlier and waking up earlier, and as long as you are comfortable, this can mean more sleep – and more often than not for us – a better quality of sleep; there’s nothing better than being snug in your rucksack with the night air on your face (although this may not be everyone’s cup of tea).

Other plusses for us:

  • more outdoor time and enjoyment of views of natural landscapes and features (good for the mind, body and soul).
  • being relaxed with ‘roughing it’ a bit which often means: getting grubby and not caring, wearing clothes for longer (better for the environment), living more simply (less clutter and complication)
  • playing – we tend to play more together when we’re camping – card or travel games in the tent, kicking a football, flying a kite, catch and throw games
  • you can take your pets – after recently adopting a dog (Gryff the Tibetan Terrier), there was no way we could not include him in our holiday plans
  • you appreciate the basics more once you have been grounded for a while: hot water, a warm/comfortable bed, meals
  • it’s cheap – camping can be done on a budget, especially in places were wild camping is allowed
  • it’s flexible – plans can be easily changed making trips feel spontaneous and interesting

Camping in the UK – what about the rain?

OK, camping is not everyone’s favourite way to spend precious holiday time, particularly in the UK when the weather can be unreliable. It’s true, camping can be a pretty miserable experience if the majority of the time is spent huddled in a damp tent, cold and hungry – and the rain is so heavy that no-one wants to venture out and start making food. But with a bit of preparation  – the right kit, different options for food (packets, one-pot meals, snacks or even pub grub) and good knowledge of what there is to do if the weather isn’t great can really make a difference as to how much you enjoy the experience.

Buy, beg or borrow some decent tents

And mentioned earlier was flexibility; camp sites can be paid for on a daily basis allowing for either short stops before moving on or the ability to pay daily to ‘see what the weather’s going to be like’. If the forecast doesn’t look conducive with your plans, change your plans!

As an example of this, our recent plans to travel from Skye to Lewis changed quite drastically: as everyone south of Skye was enjoying a heatwave, we had nine days of predominantly windy and wet conditions… the campsite was getting waterlogged and when we were due to head to Lewis for 9 days of wild camping, the forecast suggested we were due for more heavy rain and gales. There was no point in continuing with our plan – wild camping on a remote island with little prospect of getting out of the tent, never mind seeing a view, would probably see us getting a bit fed up. So, we cancelled the ferries and decided to camp on Skye for a little longer before renting a simple cabin on the mainland for a change of scenery and new options. This turned out to be a good decision as it rained every day and we had some very strong winds blow through.

We’re back home now, and whilst the cabin accommodation was enjoyable and allowed us to dry out, this trip hasn’t dampened our love of camping, and we can’t wait to get out under canvas again in the near future. Hopefully one day, we’ll complete our wild camping adventure on Lewis and Harris.

New to family camping?

If you are new to family camping, Halfords have produced a super little online guide. It’s got advice, tips and ideas… Kerry has even contributed some of our favourite camping meals.

Here’s the link: Halfords Camping Guide

Until next time, Happy Camping!