Another year of camping to look forward to. Hope your 2014 was as fruitful as mine. As well as plenty of trips out around the UK, I managed to go camping in southern Germany (coinciding with the World Cup final), Slovenia and northern Croatia.
Nick Harding is... Out and About
It was Slovenia that stole my heart, though. Not just a beautiful, largely unspoilt country, but I was also lucky with my choice of campsite here, the wonderful Camping Sobec forest site with rivers on two of its sides.
That’s me in the picture, on the altogether more picturesque Lake Bled, having my first experience with a SUP (stand up paddle).
If you’re still making camping plans (and why not? The year is young), I’d seriously suggest a trek down to Slovenia will be more than just rewarding.
Happy New Year.
Meeting the winners
A clutch of sites has picked up prizes in the latest AA Campsite of the Year Awards. It was interesting (OK, possibly only for me) to note that I’ve visited a number of these myself, albeit over recent years.
Overall winner – and AA Campsite of the Year for 2015 – Oakdown Holiday Park, near Sidmouth on Devon’s south coast, is one that I’ve not stayed at, although I know the lovely area here well.
But, the South West prize certainly saw the AA stretching things a bit, with the award going to Fauxquets Valley on the island of Guernsey. Believe me (I was there in 2012) it’s an absolutely fantastic location on a truly charming island.
Centrally located, it’s ideal for reaching any stretch of Guernsey’s coastline – so you’re pretty much guaranteed good weather!
There was another ‘island win’ with The Orchards Holiday Park collecting the South East award. And yep, I’ve stayed here, too. In fact, twice in the same year – so much did I enjoy a brief pre-Easter sojourn to the Isle of Wight I brought my family back for a summer break.
Another winner – and another place that has hosted the Harding family – is Golden Square Caravan and Camping Park near Helmsley in North Yorkshire. It’s the North East winner.
Oh, and the Most Improved Campsite (Roger Almond Award) went to Wells Holiday Park in Somerset. It’s some four years since I was here, but at the time there was talk of a ‘new’ toilet block and more, plus I see it’s gone adults-only. And it’s perfectly placed for a walk into one of my favourite UK cities.
One I do intend to get to see is the winner of the Small Campsite of the Year (a new category which I, for one, applaud). Congratulations, Churchill Farm Campsite, near Buckfastleigh, Devon.
If you’re still planning your trips away for next year, the above feature among some 900 inspected and rated sites in the latest edition of the AA Caravan and Camping Guide, price £12.99, but also available as a free app for iPhone, iPad and Android.
Birmingham – for tent camping?
It might have more canals than Venice, but it doesn’t boast much in the way of campsites. Nevertheless, for camping inspiration you might find it’s the perfect place to go at the start of next year.
I’m talking about The Caravan, Camping and Motorhome Show, scheduled for the NEC, February 17-22.
Outwell will be there, of course, with sister brand Robens’ latest tipis very much to the fore (they look great). Plus more accessories than you can shake a walking pole at. But, it’s also a brilliant opportunity to discover more about all manner of destinations, both in the UK and abroad.
Entrance to the show is as little as £7, with car parking free. See you there? Or on a campsite, award-winning or otherwise?
Download an issue of Camping
Did you know you can download a special edition of Camping magazine, for free? It’s a 102-page taster as to the type of stuff you can get if you read Camping each month. Could be worth a sample.
Let’s go to the pub to camp...
No doubt at least some of your future travel plans will involve UK stays, so why not head down to the pub? Online campsite specialist Pitchup.com is having a bit of a campaign at the moment to encourage pubs to open their doors to more than just beer, but also their gates to campers. It says it took over 4,000 bookings in 2014 for campsites located at pubs – although it admits it currently only has 29 such pub-sites on its books. And we all know there are simply loads more out there...
...or just to eat out
Talking of pubs, Michelin has just published the 2015 version of one of its more popular books, Eating Out In Pubs. It lists some 600 pubs that are more than just good with food. The 2015 edition also gives info on places rated as Bib Gourmands – ie the food is great, but the pricing is kept realistic.
At £13.99, Eating Out In Pubs 2015 is the kind of price most of us would happily pay for a more than decent main course. More at viamichelin.co.uk.
Who is Nick?
Abandoned by his family at a very old age, Nick Harding spends a lot of time on his own – visiting campsites, reviewing gear and more, in his role as a freelance journalist specialising in outdoor leisure. That means he gets to travel to plenty of interesting places and meet interesting people... and write about it all!