We’ve done a fair bit of camping in all sorts of different campsites. Below, we try to put our finger on what makes a great campsite (and what doesn’t)…
Location – Like with any accommodation, location is key… be it residential, temporary, holiday or otherwise. You don’t want your campsite to be miles away from where you want be. You want it to be right there, next to the beach, the forest, the farm. In fact, the best campsites are so good and so relaxing that they are the reason for visiting … they are the location or reason for your holiday itself.
Sense of Freedom – Camping is more than just about relaxing … a good campsite allows you to be yourself, and feeling free from the shackles of everyday life. It’s hard to put your finger on exactly what this entails. There is not a list of attributes that allows you to feel this way. However, you know as soon as you arrive at a site, whether it’s got it.
Water – Campsites next to the beach, or a river really are quite special. If you can hear running water or the sound of the waves when you wake up, you really do feel you are camping somewhere that’s so different from life at home. It’s a feeling that you only get when you are close to nature. It’s both calming and exciting at the same time.
Animals – We all know that the British love their dogs. Well behaved dogs on sites, really do add to the atmosphere … so long as there aren’t too many of them. There are sites out there which feel like a Crufts summer camp. This is fine if your Fido is the most important member of your family, but if your concern is the welfare of small children, it can be a worry.
Noise – Those that want silence on a campsite are often as selfish as those that make a complete racket. Campsites are communal. That’s all part of the experience. It’s completely unreasonable to expect to share your experience with trappest monks, especially when you want the freedom to laugh and lark about with your family and friends. That said, you don’t want anyone making a noise that disturbs or disrupts the enjoyment of others.
Water – Good sites don’t necessarily have loads of facilities with on-demand hot water and 24 hour power-showers. Some of the best ones we’ve stayed at have just had a standpipe and long-drop toilets. However, whatever facilities are provided should always be well-kept, clean and tidy.
Rules – Our lives are governed by rules. So the best campsites, keep them to a minimum. There’s nothing worse than being told what you can and can’t do. Our pet hate is notices everywhere laying down the law.
Pitches – You don’t expect to have great campsite sites all to yourself. Word gets around, and they will be busy. Even so, have numbered and measured pitches, leaves you with a sense that you and your camping experience are measurable commodities. Again, this distracts from that sense of freedom you crave.
Walking distance – For us, being able to park up the car and then leave it parked is a massive bonus. If you can walk or cycle directly from the campsite to the sea, the farm, the shop, the pub…wherever ..it makes your stay that much better.
Like minded people – Life would be very dull if everyone was the same. One of the great things about camping is that – whatever background people are from – it’s a great leveller as everyone is sharing and enjoying a similar experience. If people are after a different experience (going on a stag or hen do, for example) or thinking a campsite is the same as a holiday camp, then things can go downhill. Their expectations and behaviour become very different, and this can lead to problems.