Uncool Camping

Cool Camping. You may be familiar with the capitalised version of the phrase, and the book, website, image and connotations that surround it. If not, let me enlighten you with an incident from this week.

Our Golds have planned their routes for a Welsh expedition extravaganza. They have chosen their routes and campsites, using the list provided by the local Expedition Network. Unlike Dartmoor no wild camping is permitted. So with routes done, it was time to start ringing round and organising camping spots. This in itself has been no mean feat, and is ongoing. With 7 sites for 4 teams over 3 nights and phone calls to hard-of-hearing elderly farmers timed around the likelihood of their being indoors (very low within normal waking hours) I will be amazed if some of our teams are actually expected when they turn up in July!

Some of the sites they have chosen are similar to many of the great farms here on Dartmoor that have long offered a field, tap and toilet for anything from zero to just a couple of pounds per person, for DofE only. One or two of our DofE favourite ‘proper’ sites in Devon have in the last few years undergone the Cool Camping effect. By that I mean that following inclusion in the book they are now over-priced bunting filled fields of one-upmanship, and if you don’t turn up with the right kind of tent made of Mongolian sheepskin adorned with a tea light chandelier and kilim rugs, you will feel right out of it.

One of the July sites in Wales looked great – Google Earth showed a small strip of unsheltered nothingness, with a very basic facility block. However, on the phone it transpired that a small tent with two people would be charged £15. When I explained that it was for DofE, and that most places either do discount or charge less than £5pp to begin with, he quoted me £20 for three in a tent. Mmm.

A bit of retrospective research of reviews on the excellent http://www.ukcampsite.co.uk revealed that the CC effect had indeed taken hold, and that in addition to steep prices a shower requires a £1 coin! We are on the hunt for a more DofE friendly option nearby…

As a family we have a very favourite small site down here in South Devon, 20 miles from home. At £10 for four in a glampy family tent with trimmings (not my preferred style, but there’s a whole other post on that) it’s a bargain, and so far has remained unCooled. The owner seems particularly unbothered about profit and filling his site, content with chatting to each camper as he does the rounds morning and evening. Long may unCool Camping continue!

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