It took us ages to realise how important a local map is and how lost we feel without one in a new area. When you’re planning your camping trip, pre-order a map from the Ordnance Survey site or stop to buy one from a local tourist office or petrol station when you arrive. You can then see local footpaths near, or from your campsite. You can also plot where to spend your days in areas (beaches, woodland etc etc) that are likely to be quieter than any tourist-hotspot recommendations on google!
No matter how warm it is by day, we all know that evenings in the UK can get pretty chilly! I’ve always hated being cold when I get into my sleeping bag because it takes so long to warm up.
Well, there’s a solution! Take a hot water bottle with you. When you’re cooking dinner on the campfire, heat up some water at the same time to fill your hot water bottle. Pop it into your sleeping bag and hey presto! you’ve got a pre-warmed sleeping bag at bed time! Take a hot water bottle for each member of the family if you can to avoid yours being pinched by cold children….
We don’t have a mobile fridge and we normally camp in smaller sites with no electricity points. This can make keeping food (and wine!) cool a problem. Before you go, freeze a large bottle of milk. Pop it in a cool bag with as many freezer blocks as possible and it will keep everything cooler for longer. The milk will slowly defrost keeping it fresh for longer too!
We were given a Lomo Watersport dry bag a few years ago and it’s been an absolute life-saver. Our dry bag is a 60l rucksack so can be carried like a normal backpack. When we’re heading out for the day we can pack EVERYTHING in it! Towels, swimmers, wetsuits, snorkels, sun-cream, hats, packed lunch, cider, wine….. all the essentials. It saves you carrying awkward shoulder bags and means that at the end of the day, you can just chuck everything – dry and wet – into the bag. It doesn’t have to be a dry bag of course, a rucksack is just as good (especially if you have a water pouch), but we’ve found the large size of the dry bag and the fact you can throw in wet wetsuits and sandy water shoes really useful.
In my mind, a campfire is really what camping is all about. I’d be a bit lost without an evening campfire to cook on, toast marshmallows, and to just sit and watch the fire crackling as the evening darkens. But campfires can damage grass and of course, they pose certain risks of out-of-control fires if not managed properly so not all sites welcome campfires.
As such, we always check whether campfires are ok at the site we’re choosing and whether we need to take our own firepit. Many places provide a firepit or have a set place to have a fire on the ground (often marked by a stone circle). It’s always worth checking out the campsites fire rules before you go to avoid disappointment. It’s also worth checking whether the campsite provides or sells wood – otherwise take your own.
-Always make sure the fire is fully out (we cover it in water) before retiring to your pre-heated sleeping bags…!
I admit that I’m partial to a fairy light… I love the little twinkling lights around my tent but had always assumed they were just for show. No, no, no… Have you ever tripped over the guidelines when it gets dark? It’s actually one of the most common camping accidents! Wrap your fairy lights around the lines so they’re visible when the sun goes down and there’ll be no more guideline stumbles. You could even leave them on overnight so the kids can see where to go if they wake up needing a wee.
It may be summer, it may be dry but let’s remember that we’re in England! Regardless of the weather, the mornings are normally very dewy and wet on the ground. As we know, kids are up at the crack of dawn when camping and straight out to play. Rather than getting wet trainers and socks, have their wellies lined up and you avoid the dreaded damp feet. Same applies to adults!