When Husband first proposed that we go camping this year, I scoffed at the idea. I am not a natural camper. I don't like being dirty or uncomfortable, and in my mind that is what camping is all about. But I am always up for trying new things (okay, sometimes), so we booked a lakeside pitch at Low Wray campsite. We then spent months not thinking about camping. Then in June, three weeks before our trip, we feverishly started visiting camping shops, ordering a tent and everything else we thought we might need.
We were not prepared for the busiest travel day of the year, and the 10-hour drive from South West London to Low Wray. But at 8.15pm we arrived at the campsite. Husband put up the tent while I made a few trips from the car to our pitch. I even managed to get the kids to help. But as we were camping with some other friends, the kids were more interested in playing than helping.
Low Wray is a fabulous spot. It is right by Lake Windermere, and some pitches (like ours) are right by the lake. For the four of us, it cost £45 per night. But you are paying for the location. And I can see why. Not only was it pretty, but the kids spent hours playing by, and in, the lake. There was also a good playground located by our nearest car park, which was a three or four-minute walk.
Local attractions include Wray Castle (which is a 15-minute walk from the campsite), the lakeside town of Ambleside and the pretty village of Grasmere. Husband has a lot of fond memories visiting The Lake District as a child. This was the second time he has taken me to Grasmere. It is the home of William Wordsworth and Sarah Nelson's Grasmere Gingerbread, which is a teeny tiny shop selling yummy gingerbread.
I will not say it was easy. In fact, you might have read my post about the realities of camping. But, we had a great time. I think two nights was a good taste of camping life. And we are even thinking about our next trip. This time, though, we'll try to keep it to a maximum four-hour drive. Here are some tips in case you are thinking about going away on your first camping trip (and good luck!).
Top Camping Tips for Newbies:
- Practice putting up your tent, if it's new. We didn't have enough room in our garden, but Husband got to grips with it as much as possible.
- Bring waterproof shoes for kids if you'll be by water. We brought trainers and wellies and both got soaked. I should have also packed the Crocs.
- Extra duvets will not go to waste. The temperature in the UK can really dip down at night.
- Bring scarves, hats or gloves. Even in the summer. You may imagine sitting at a campfire with friends, drinking and chatting. There is a good chance you will be cold and shivering.
- We bought 5cm SIMS (that's self-inflating mats) to sleep on, but I did not sleep well on mine. I will get an airbed in time for our next camping trip.
- You don't have to cook every meal. We went out for lunch once. And on the morning we left, we had brioche and strawberries so that we wouldn't have to deal with cooking and cleaning while packing up.
- Freeze bottles of water ahead of your trip. Not only will they keep your cooler cool, but you can drink them once they've defrosted.
- Yes, pack enough clothes for each day. But it's not the end of the world if your kids get a bit grubby.
- I do not like public showers, which is why a two-night trip is fine for us. But bring a couple of facecloths to wipe your face and hands, though I guess you could use baby wipes.
- If you have an iPad or tablet, yes, bring it. But also bring the kids some little toys and new books in case of rainy days.