Choosing your camp site is a decision worth spending time and research on, whether you are wild camping on a mountain side or ‘glamping’.
You need to choose a campsite that will meet your needs in terms of the it’s location, the facilities it offers; perhaps you will be camping with your family and need toilets and shower facilities or a laundry?
Maybe you are looking for a more secluded spot and just want a place to pitch your tent away from other people with a good view.
These five tips will help you select your camp site;
Proximity to Water
There is a fine line to be trodden here, camping close to water means you can easily collect water for cooking and washing if you are not at an established camp site and the sound of a babbling brook is a wonderful sound to lull you off to sleep but is that watercourse likely to rise suddenly, have you experienced lots of rain, do you need to camp a bit further away in case of sudden floods?
Also consider where in the world you are camping, if you are collecting water from a stream to drink don’t forget to purify it but even at established camp sites where there might be running water is that safe to drink? Or should you be relying on bottled water.
Far from the Maddening Crowd
Consider how busy your camp site is going to be, do you want to be right in a throng of holiday makers at a busy commercial camp site or are you looking for something a little quieter.
If you are wild camping it should be fairly easy to find a bit of peace and quiet but if you are planning on using a commercial camp site consider the fact that it might be very busy, especially during the summer months and other busy holiday periods.
Is that what you want? Research your camp site carefully to find what facilities it has and what it’s capacity is, smaller camp sites with limited facilities are normally much quitter, if it has a crèche, swimming pools, shops and an attached caravan park it is likely to be much busier and noisier.
Maybe that is what you are looking for; a camp site with all the modern conveniences with a holiday park or maybe you want a clearing in the woods or a mountainside pitch with nobody to disturb your solitude for miles around.
Whether you are wild camping in the forest or on a mountainside or just taking up a pitch on the very edge of a commercial campsite underneath some trees consider what is above your head.
Check for dead branches in the trees or trees which have entirely dead tops, even in a moderate wind these branches might suddenly drop and give you a very rude, or potentially even fatal awakening.
Likewise rock slides and avalanches are a risk in mountainous areas so you should check what is going on above your head whenever you set up your camp.
The Ground Beneath Your Feet
Consider the ground at your potential camp site, this won’t be a concern if you are camping at a commercial camp site but while selecting a wild camp site you should be picky because your choices will affect how good a night’s sleep you will get.
Some of your preparation can start with a map before you set out, watch out for areas of marsh, these will be indicated on your map, and won’t be a suitable camp site.
Even though the ground sheet of your tent is waterproof water will find a way in if you pitch your tent on sodden ground.
On snow you will need to stamp down a hard flat surface otherwise you will have an uncomfortable night as the snow melts and shifts underneath you.
Consider as well how you will fasten your tent, if you are pitching it in snow or very soft ground standard length round tent pages won’t hold you will need something longer or with a right angle cross section.
If you are camping in the mountains will you be pitching on rock? If so you might need to forget tent pegs entirely and rely on piling rocks onto the edges of your tent.
Are you actually allowed to camp where you want to? If you are staying at a commercial camp site this will be obvious, you pay to pitch your tent but if you are wild camping you will need to check whether you are allowed to.
Some countries have a right to roam, Scandinavia and Scotland as well as some other countries have a right to roam which allows camping almost anywhere as long as a strict code of respect towards the land and environment is followed.
Other places may have limited permission to wild camp, some National Parks for example but other places there is no open permission to camp and you will need to seek the permission of the landowner.
Bearing these things in mind as you seek a camp site will help you as you set out on your camping trips, if you have decided to stay at a commercial camp site here are a few in the British Isles that are well worth considering;
Steart Farm; North Devon
A fairly small family run camp site with great facilities and beautiful views of the North Devon coast looking out towards Lundy Island.
Situated above the tiny coastal village of Buck Mills and perfectly located for access to the South West Coast Path, a long distance trail circumnavigating the entire South West peninsula.
As well as fantastic views there is plenty of local wildlife to watch including red and roe deer, gannets puffins and other coastal birds.
Camping on the Farm; Ceredigion, Wales
This camp site is separated from the welsh sea by nothing but a rocky beach and a small rise, fall asleep to the sound of the waves and enjoy walks along the coast into the historic settlement of Aberaeron.
The heart of the Welsh mountains are easily accessible for the adventurous and there are plenty of opportunities for sea or freshwater fishing for anglers.
Upper Booth Farm Campsite; Edale, The Peak District National Park
A campsite with basic facilities, including a shop selling excellent home made ice cream, and with fantastic views of Edale, Jacobs ladder, the Kinder Scout Plateau and Mam Torr.
Perfectly situated for those through hiking the Pennine Way or who want a camp site located in easy reach of Kinder Scout for those of you who want to hike and also not far from attractions such as the Blue John caverns and Peveril Castle in Castleton.