Updated: Oct 23
Camping in any form is awesome if you ask me! It provides a break from the routines of modern life and a chance to reconnect with nature and those we chose to camp with. There’s something primitive and magical about watching the sunset and the stars come out, whilst storytelling with loved ones around the campfire.
Whether you have a hammock, tent, camper van or roof top tent, the key is finding an epic location to pitch up. As an ambassador for Tentbox, the main question I’ve been asked is “where do you pitch up?” Since getting my Tentbox Lite I have tried lots of different locations. So here is my little guide to 4 fantastic options of where to pitch your Tentbox (or any other kind of tent/van) with examples of some of my experiences to help you decide….
Traditional campsites are excellent social hubs and a great way of meeting new people and making friends. They tend to have a great sense of community with fellow campers often helping each other out and children going off to play together. Last year I completed the Yorkshire 3 Peaks challenge with a friend. We met 2 guys at the campsite and instantly clicked, and spent the night with them, playing cards and cursing the midges by the campfire. We got on so well they ended up doing the Yorkshire 3 Peaks challenge with us and we spent the rest of our time at the campsite together. We made friends with all our camping neighbours there with them showing us their van conversions, camping set ups and sharing stories and advice with us before we started the challenge. When we got back from the gruelling hike and collapsed in a heap on the floor, our new found friends came along with a much needed beer to congratulate us on our efforts. Campsites provide a great base for days out adventuring with a lovely sense of community when you return, so get talking to strangers and you might end up making some great friends!
The added benefit of a traditional campsite is that they tend to have pretty good facilities, so if you couldn’t imagine going camping without being able to shower or straighten your hair, then they are the best option. Most larger campsites also tend to have other facilities such as washing machines, tumble dryers, washing up and indoor cooking, making them feel like a home away from home.
The main con of a traditional campsite is that they tend to be quite busy places in boring, plain fields, so if you’re after a bit of quiet, this is probably not the place for you. That being said I have been to some excellent campsites that are awe-inspiring and quirky. My favourite being Henry’s Campsite on Lizard Point, Cornwall which has a pirate cove feel to it that makes you want to explore, find all of its hidden gems and say “Arrrr”.
They have a farm animals including Alpacas, a little play ground for younger children and a social area with lots of board games to socialise in. It was the perfect location from which to explore the stunning Lizard Point, Kynance Cove and the Goonhilly satellite station.
Campsites have been getting booked up really fast since the pandemic and prices increasing. Sites like pitchup.com and coolcamping.com are great but there are many traditional campsites that don’t advertise on these type of sites. Google is your best bet. Find where you want to go, search for local campsites and contact them directly. If they don’t have availability, they often know other campsites in their area and will signpost you to them. Booking this way is often cheaper too. Travelling with a RTT, I always like to call regardless of where I am staying to ensure I am booking the correct pitch and that they are aware of my needs and are able to meet these.
2. Nearly Wild Camping
Nearly Wild Camping is a growing network of locations ‘willing to host campers (in tents, hammocks, camper vans or roof top tents) who are looking for a wilder, secluded or quieter camping experience’. There are over 150 locations across the UK in very different environments including by lakes, in forests, on clifftops and by beaches, with most locations allowing campfires/BBQs. They provide campers with a safe and secure location to enjoy a wilder camping experience at a price. Many locations also offer additional experiences such as bushcraft, bee keeping, pottery and fishing amongst others. With all this in mind, I had to try it out for myself!
I went on a solo adventure with my Tentbox to North Wales where I stayed at several different Nearly Wild Campsites. I am a usually a very sociable person, so for me solo adventures are a fairly new thing. I have found solace in solitude throughout the pandemic and healing in nature and hiking, but the thought of wild camping in my car on my own initially gave me quite a lot of anxiety. Nearly Wild Camping for me, was a great way to help me overcome this anxiety and grow confidence in being able to go on wild camping adventures in my car, on my own in the future.
My first campsite was in Anglesey at a Bee Keeping farm. I had the place to myself and parked up in their newly planted Bee friendly forest. The site offered fresh drinking water but not toilet or shower facilities due to them being built at that time. They had a large area of land dedicated to people who want to Nearly Wild camp and the lakeside area, I was told, had been really popular with hammock campers. They provided Bee Keeping courses and experiences and showed me their bees telling me all about their importance and how to become more bee friendly.
I had sheep, wild rabbits and birds for neighbours that night and sat out enjoying the evening until dusk. It was an incredibly peaceful night. I had my roof top tent all to myself for once which was great too as I could spread eagle. I made the most of my location to explore Anglesey including the stunning Newborough Beach and Bryn Celli Ddu, a 5000 year old neolithic burial chamber that was nearby.
My second night was at a Nearly Wild camp site on the Hafod Elwy National Nature Reserve. I had a great drive through the Ogwen Valley to get to it. This site was fairly busy with lots of campers, however due to the site being so big, everyone was dotted around with plenty privacy and space to themselves, so it did feel quite secluded. I had a perfect spot for my roof top tent with great views out to the nature reserve. I explored the site that offered Shepherd Huts to campers should they need. These were cool little huts that were completely empty inside but would offer protection against the elements in a storm for instance. There were hammock campers, families with children in large tents, groups of friends in wild camping tents and camper vans. This camp provided toilets, showers and drinking water.
It was a great base to explore the Alwen reservoir and Llyn Brenig, so I went for a little adventure into the forest and got some stunning views. Despite the drizzly weather, it was a perfect weekend of peace, exploring and solo adventures.
I have since also stayed at a Nearly Wild Campsite in Cornwall during a weeklong road trip with my mama and son in my Tentbox. We were the only ones camping on a large clifftop field and had the most incredible views of the sea. This site provided drinking water and a compost toilet with some pretty incredible views. Hey! We were the only ones there so no need to shut the door! Check out the incredible sunset and sunrise we got there!
3. Wild Camping
Wild camping is where you camp on land that is not set up as a campsite and enjoy nature and solitude in the wilderness. Generally it is illegal to do so in most places in the UK without the landowner’s permission, and so, if you do get caught, you risk being asked to move on. In many areas like Snowdonia and other National Parks there are wardens and gamekeepers who often move people on, particularly if you are parked irresponsibly. The one place that does allow Wild Camping in England is Dartmoor but you must follow strict guidance on this. Check out the guide here. All wild campers love Scotland as it isn’t prohibited there, so you can technically pitch up wherever you like including it’s incredible National Parks, although there are some restrictions around Loch Lomond, so again check out and follow the local guidance here. Wild campers in Scotland are advised to follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, which is a great guide that all wild campers can use.
Check out some #vanlife photos from Scotland. 2 very different camps; 1- lost on the desolate mountains of Skye and 2- camping on a beach on Loch Lomond.
Despite it being illegal, Wild camping is generally tolerated throughout the UK as long as you camp responsibly by following the ‘leave no trace’ principles; take all litter with you and leave no evidence of you having been there (damage to nature or faeces). A typical wild camper travels light and minimalist, packing a little tent and the basic necessities for a night or two, then heading off into the mountains, pitching up at dusk and leaving at dawn, never staying in the same place more than 1 night. The idea is to be discreet, pitching up in a remote location where others are unlikely to see you.
Travelling with a Tentbox is more #vanlife than a typical wild camp, as obviously you’re stuck with a car/van and the tent itself is not very discreet. There are however, some great spots to pitch up in wild locations with your Tentbox. I always look for quiet spots whilst driving and tend to come across hidden gems quite often on the edges of lakes, rivers or the sea and in little country roads. You’ll know one when you see one! Free car parks and lay-bys are a great alternative if you can’t find anything particularly special, and theres normally a couple of cars/vans/campers normally pitched up already. Sites like park4night.com are also a great way to check out locations others have used for a wild camp.
The obvious con to wild camping in your Tentbox is that there is no toilet. So you either have to plan your toilet stops, take your own toilet/bucket or have a shit in the woods. Going for a wild poo can be daunting, but it’s important to know how to do it correctly so as not to make a mess and pollute the area. Theres nothing more gross than coming across human faeces where you have pitched up! Here’s my guide to taking a wild poo from what I learnt whilst wild camping through Africa;
Ensure you are 60m/200 ft away from any water sources and camping location.
Dig a hole using a trowel about 20-30cm deep.
Wipe using biodegradable loo roll and stick that in the hole too (wipes etc need to be taken away with you).
Cover up the evidence with soil.
Washing can also be a problem without shower or toilet facilities. I always use natural sources where I can. A freezing cold morning shower or wild swim in a lake is perfect for waking you up. Please don’t use soap or any kind of detergent in natural water sources as it pollutes them even if it says it is biodegradable. To have a decent wash, I tend to heat some water over a stove and use a bucket to have a proper wild camping wash… face, pits and bits. Dispose of the water using the same principles as disposing of poo; dig a 20-30cm deep hole 200ft away from water sources. You can also get anti-bacterial body wash that doesn’t require any water such as ‘Pits&Bits’ as a great alternative.
Brecon Beacons wild camp in a lay-by
4. Private Land Camping
Another great option and one that has come naturally, that i’d not previously considered, is to pitch up on land owned by friends/family. You never know what options you might have until you start talking to people. Since getting my Tentbox i’ve had family/friends/family of friends all offer their land for me to camp on for free.
One occasion I stayed at one of my best friend’s families farm in the Peak District. An incredibly kind offer that I couldn’t refuse. I stayed by an old barn and had the most incredible sunrise view in the morning and was lucky enough to have access to a hot shower and a kitchen! This gave me a great base for 2 days of exploring. My first day I went on a solo 13 mile/20km hike encompassing Lud’s Church, The Roaches, Hen Cloud and the Three Shires. It was incredible! On my second day I went for a hike with my best friend around the Manifold Valley and visited the instagram famous Thor’s Cave (definitely worth a visit, get there early though!)
On another occasion I stayed at a friend’s friends farm by the River Dee in Wales. I had no facilities there but was quite happy to have a wash in the river in the morning overlooked by sheep and Alpacas! It was peaceful and beautiful with some great views of the Welsh hills. I took that opportunity to visit Llangollen and hike up to Castell Dinas Bran and along the Panorama walk.
So get talking and networking! You might be surprised at the options that open up to you that way. You might have some better ideas! Get sharing in the comments. Tentbox and RTT camping is a great little community and you might get some great ideas of where to pitch just by talking to people on Facebook pages.
Home is where you pitch it! I personally like to mix it up a bit and stay at a mixture of the above options. Wherever you camp make sure you enjoy the beauty of nature and all she has to offer you and treat her with respect. Remember to camp responsibly and ensure you follow the ‘Leave No Trace’ principles so we can all be happy campers and have ongoing access to the great British outdoors. Happy Tentboxing!!
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Thank you for reading and as always, if you have any questions, thoughts or feedback please leave these in the comments section below. I'd love to know where have you pitched your Tentbox?
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