If you're thinking of planning a family camping trip this year, let this be your guide, with everything you need to know about where to go, what to bring and even what to cook.
For first time campers
You love the idea of the whole ‘back to nature’ thing, but you’d also like somewhere to plug in your phone charger, a playground for the kids and a cosy pub within easy walking distance. Is that really too much to ask?
Where to go
Head to Woodovis Park, a picturesque spot on the Devon-Cornwall border with a heated indoor pool, infrared therapy cabin, luxury caravans and glamping pods.
(woodovis.com, from £26 per night based on two sharing)
Or try Watertop Farm, a sheep farm near Ballycastle, Northern Ireland. Ideal for families, it offers go-karting, pony trekking, a boating lake and assault course.
(watertopfarm.co.uk, from £15 per night, based on two sharing)
1. Strap a headband light to a bottle of water (facing inwards) for ambient tent lighting.
2. Pack an already prepared meal for your first night so you don’t have to cook from scratch.
3. Curl up with clothes in your sleeping bag so you have something warm to put on in the morning.
4. Pack flip-flops for communal shower.
5. Make sure you’ve got a good supply of bin bags!
Mars Bar bananas. Cut a banana lengthways through the skin and stuff with pieces of Mars Bar. Wrap with foil and cook on the BBQ for 10 minutes for the perfect gooey dessert.
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2. Ozark Trail Double Airbed, £12.
One of your fave things about camping is that the dog can come, too. Your four-legged best friend loves going on laid-back long walks, and you don’t have to worry about missing him or paying a small fortune in boarding-kennel fees.
Where to go
The Lake District is a paradise for dogs and campers with picture-perfect villages, lush green dales and spectacular lakes. Eskdale Campsite in the hamlet of Boot is a great base for walking, with lots of footpaths running from the site. Large tent pitches included. (eskdalecampsite.com, from £7.70 per adult, per night – dogs stay free!)
In Frodsham, Cheshire, Lady Heyes Park boasts great facilities and even has a heated dog shower for mucky paws! Pack a lunch and explore the Delamere Forest with your pup. (ladyheyespark.com, from £8 per adult, per night).
l. Check your dog’s vaccinations and flea treatments are up to date and make sure he’s microchipped and has an ID tag.
2. Pick your camping spot near a tree or bush to provide your dog with regular shade.
3. Pack a long lead so you can tie your dog to a post near your tent and let him wander freely.
4. Attach pet safety lights to collars so you can keep an eye on them in the dark.
5. Keep dogs busy with plenty of trail walks, and pack a Frisbee and tennis balls for playing fetch.
6. Don’t forget an old towel to wipe him down!
Prepare dog treats by cutting a sweet potato into cubes and BBQing for 10-20 minutes until cooked through.
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2. The Butcher’s Choice 4 Assorted Meaty Recipes with Vegetables, £2 (4 x 150g; £3.33/kg)
For experienced campers
You’re at home in the great outdoors. Got a problem? There’s a knot for that. You like to pitch your Ozark Trail tent off the beaten track and you’ll rough it if you must – but an out-of-the-way site with good facilities is your ideal combo.
Where to go
Farrs Meadow in Wimborne, Dorset, offers compost loos, and hot showers made from upcycled horseboxes. Perched on a hill, it’s a short walk from a National Trust-owned pub, The Vine Inn. (farrsmeadow.co.uk, £25 per night, based on two adults sharing)
Or enjoy historic sites, campfires on the beach and jaw-dropping sunsets at Port Ban Holiday Park near Kilberry on the unspoilt coast of West Scotland. (portban.com, £25 per night, for two adults and two children)
1. Lay cheap solar lights outside your tent to help you find your way back.
2. Knock sticks into the ground with a mallet and place dirty wellies upside down on them – rain might even clean them!
3. Add a bundle of sage to your campfire or firepit to help keep mosquitoes away.
4. Put an insulating layer, such as an airbed or camping or yoga mat, between your tent floor and sleeping bag to help keep you cosy and comfy.
5. The air in airbeds cools overnight, so place a blanket between your sleeping bag and the airbed for extra warmth.
6. Pack colouring chalks to keep the kids busy with pebble art!
Try making: French bread pizza
Slice a piece of French bread and spread soft cheese on the cut sides. Top with tomato purée, then fill with crumbled cheese and your favourite pizza toppings. Push the slices back into a loaf shape, double-wrap in foil, then cook for 5-8 minutes on both sides.
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