Camping in the UK

If you think canvas is just for the Scouts, think again. Camping is good for your wallet, and good for the environment.

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Camping is one of the best, and certainly cheapest, holidays you can have. There’s much to be said for a break outdoors and even in the rain it can be a lot of fun. Before you head off for a life under canvas however, there are a few points to consider.

Buying a tent

You can buy a two-person tent for under £20; this will be ample for fair-weathered weekend camping. If you’re going away for longer, or there are several of you, then look for something a bit more sophisticated. (Bear in mind that although a tent may be advertised as a four-person tent, by the time you’ve stashed all your equipment inside it will realistically only sleep two people comfortably.)

Looking for campsites

In the UK there are a whole host of options, from beach holidays to getting back to nature by climbing hills and trekking through forests. Your options will often be limited on whether you have access to your own vehicle, or you’re relying on public transport.

You’ll also need to consider what sort of site you want to stay on. A quiet spot in a farmer’s field will feel like ‘proper’ camping and will certainly be cheap. If you’re looking for something more lively then head for a larger campsite with a range of facilities, such as on-site restaurants, swimming pools and evening entertainment.

Booking a caravan

If you want to give camping a try but you’re not really sure you want to put up a tent and sleep on the floor then you could hire a static caravan. Caravans give you the benefit of home comforts, such as TV and a proper bed.

There are plenty of web directories of that have comprehensive list of campsites in the UK and Europe. You can often filter searches by location and facilities that suit your needs.

When to book

Sites quickly fill up over bank holidays and popular sites get booked up weeks ahead of the summer holidays, so you should book ahead. Also bear in mind that some sites don’t accept bookings from large same-sex groups.

If you want to get right away from it all, then there is the option of wild camping. Recommended places include Dartmoor and the Scottish Highlands. There are certain guidelines you should follow to keep your impact on the environment to a minimum.

What to pack

Asides from your tent and sleeping bag, there are other essentials you can’t camp without. Unless you plan on eating out all the time you’ll need something to cook on. Many high street shops sell portable gas stoves that are more than adequate to boil a kettle and cook your bacon and eggs in the morning. Other equipment you’ll need includes:

  • Pillows, airbeds and/or roll mats (you won’t get a decent night’s sleep otherwise)
  • Pots and plastic or enamel plates, bowls, cups and cutlery
  • Cool box or fridge to keep drinks cool
  • Tin opener and corkscrew
  • Washing-up bowl, sponge and washing-up liquid
  • Matches and spare gas canisters
  • Toilet roll and baby wipes
  • Torch and spare batteries
  • Hammer or mallet to hammer tent pegs into the ground
  • Clothes pegs and string to use as a clothes line
  • Bin bags for rubbish and dirty washing
  • First aid kit
  • Outdoor furniture – table, chairs, stools

All of these items are useful, but if you do forget something you’ll probably be able to borrow it from a fellow camper. Campsites are pretty friendly places and campers are happy to help one another out, so if you need assistance – just ask.

Next Steps

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By Rosie Spowart

Updated on 29-Sep-2015