This was the inspiration for Tiny Campsites. It was the summer of 2001, I had just enjoyed a very pleasant day cycling around Dartmoor and hadn’t booked anywhere for the night, so I made for a campsite marked on my OS map. The bijou glade of my imaginings was in reality, a huge commercial site – nothing but rows of caravans and tarmac. I was just beginning to resign myself to my fate when I noticed a handwritten sign marked Camping. Ten minutes later I was putting my tent up on the back lawn of a gorgeous farmhouse. Sweet Meadows is surrounded by flowers and birds – it’s the very reason I decided to write the book.
Those who survive the assent by bike or foot are rewarded with a campsite that inhabits a world of its own but also enjoys some quiet terrific views of Barmouth Bay. The site is on the very edge of Snowdonia National Park meaning that the lesser climbed southern mountains are all in easy reach, as well as the evergreen favourites such as Cader Idris.
Gumber Farm’s campsite are an oasis of remoteness and calm away from the crowded southeast of England. The bothy, which is also available to campers, is a converted 19th-century flint barn in a large clearing of an enormous deer-filled wood. At night, the site becomes a stargazer’s paradise, with its huge sky and untroubled earthly lights. Come the morning and the summer sky comes alive with swallows and sparrows.
This is the ultimate tiny campsite in someone’s back garden. There’s room for just two tents, cramped, however, it is not. Behind the trees, shrubs and floral delights stands a field of wheat. Beyond the field is a deer park and beyond that you’ll find Fountains Abbey, a 12th-century ruin in 18th-century gardens. Dave and Damaris who own the site, offer Aga-cooked vegetarian breakfasts and evening meals straight from the pages of an Ottolenghi cookbook. Cyclists can also rejoice as the campsite is perfectly placed for the Way of the Roses, the coast-to-coast cycle path that opened in 2010.
This has the most spectacular view – the ridge of An Teallach, which you can reach by foot in 8 miles. Badrallach offers campers the choice to pitch in a small open field sloping towards the loch or one hidden away in the gorse. The wildlife here ranges from red deer, golden eagles and pine martens, so keep your eyes peeled! In case the weather turns, there’s also the option to hide in the wonderfully well-turned-out gaslit bothy.
Tiny Campsites by Dixe Wills (AA publishing £11.99)