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camping advice please?

(19 Posts)
geekyoghurt Tue 14-Jul-15 11:34:44


Novice camper here, in need of advice please.

I'd like to go camping with my 5 year old dd. We live in central London and I don't drive. Is it a bad idea as we won't be able to bring a lot of stuff, just the basics?

Is there anywhere accessible by public transport we can go? And can anyone tell me the basic things I should bring (tent / sleeping bags etc), what food is best to bring?

Any other thoughts for someone pretty clueless?


FrozenAteMyDaughter Tue 14-Jul-15 11:56:18

Hi geekyogurt. It is never a bad idea to go camping, ever! I don't know much about accessible camp sites but if you look on, I think they have a search filter which allows you to search on exactly that criteria.

If you are in Central London, a site in Kent or Sussex might be a good start as the trainlinks are fairly good and you are not too far from home if your first trip isn't all you would like it to be.

There are plenty of smallish tents and lightweight beds, sleeping bags and chairs that you could probably fit in a decent rucksack or large bag on wheels and take on a train, and your DD could probably carry a few small things for herself too.

It might be worth choosing somewhere close to a small town the first time, or a site with a cafe on it, so you can avoid worrying about food and cooking for your very first trip. Once you have done it once though, there are small stoves and collapsible kettles and pan sets which would be ideal for you to take on public transport.

Another option for a first trip is to choose a site that has tents already set up, often with pretty much everything you will need for a weekend, a so-called "glamping site". That way, you can see whether you and your DD enjoy camping enough to splash out on some equipment. Again, is a good place to start a search for one of these.

geekyoghurt Tue 14-Jul-15 12:10:09

Frozen cake for you. Thanks for replying and in such detail. Your response has got me feeling excited, and a little less apprehensive about taking the plunge.

I love the idea of an open fire and toasting marshmallows together but wouldn't know where to start with getting a fire set up and would it be dangerous? If we don't have a fire, won't it be quite cold and unpleasant in the evening?

Thanks for the link, will take a look. Also for the ideas about glamping. Lots of stuff to think about!

FrozenAteMyDaughter Tue 14-Jul-15 12:12:34

If you do decide to take your own stuff, I would say the bare minimum is:

Sleeping bags
Rollmat/Self inflating mat/airbed
Small picnic rug to sit on
Torch (ideally a headtorch each)
Coolbag of some sort for milk/drinks/etc

If you want to do something or make a cup of tea:

Small stove like this:

or this:

Plus a bottle or two of gas.
Plastic mugs, plates, bowls, cutlery.

A collapsible kettle like this:

or this:

and/or a camping pan set like this:

Also some basic utensils and a knife and small chopping board from home.

What some people do, is order a Tesco delivery to the site they are going to and that way you avoid having to bring food and drink with you.

Don't forget warm clothes. Even in August, the nights can be cold so it is worth packing as many layers as you can carry, so you can add them or take them away as the weather requires.

And don't forget some wine/gin for the evening for you, and a good book to read under the stars when DD is in bed.

FrozenAteMyDaughter Tue 14-Jul-15 12:19:47

Sorry, missed your second post. If you go to a site that allows fires (uk campsite has a filter to search for these too), they tend to sell wood there so you don't need to bring it (check with the site) and, if they don't allow ground fires, will often hire or lend a firepit to you. So you really don't need to bring anything other than some matches and cotton wool to get it started (they should also sell kindling or you can use small sticks from around you), and marshmallows and kebab sticks to do the toasting.

There is no better way to stay warm on a campsite, although if you camp in the summer you should be ok without one if you can't find somewhere that allows it.

Starting a fire is actually not that hard. Put together a small bundle of little sticks in a kind of pyramid with some dry grass or cotton wool in the middle. Light that with a match and gently blow until it takes hold. Then slowly add more and more sticks around it, gradually increasing their size as the fire gets stronger. Once it has properly started to burn, add logs and if necessary get a plate or something you can wave to create a wind to really get the roaring fire going. Or, of course, in a firepit you can use charcoal instead of wood if it is easier, but I think a wood fire is always just that bit nicer.

hillbilly Tue 14-Jul-15 12:21:27

You absolutely must go grin

Not much to add to Frozen's comprehensive list but the sites that allow fires usually rent out firepits if the fire has to be off the ground. Some (like Wowo ) also provide a trivet to cook on.They also sell wood and usually kindling too. Definitely a small stove - essential for first cuppa or for basic cooking if you have not made a fire.

hillbilly Tue 14-Jul-15 12:22:39

x post there frozen grin

hillbilly Tue 14-Jul-15 12:28:17

And I promise that I don't work for Wowo's marketing department (going there on Friday though smile) but they offer 10% discount to anyone arriving without a car. And they are close to Haywards heath and Uckfield Stations.

ThirtyFivePounds Tue 14-Jul-15 12:35:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

geekyoghurt Tue 14-Jul-15 12:41:27

Thank you everyone. Much appreciated.

That wowo looks amazing. Lots for kids, including steam train from East Grinstead, dd would love that! Also spied some pods in another campsite that's only an hour from me by train. Would love to just go for the real camping but will have to think about whether we'll be able to carry everything (dd has sn so might be difficult) and whether it's best to go glamping to start off with. I really do want an open fire though! That's why I like the sound of wowo.

Thanks for the tips on lighting a fire, you make it sound easy. And for the list of essentials. All very helpful info. I'd love to book something today!

FrozenAteMyDaughter Tue 14-Jul-15 12:44:32

Actually, I have just had a quick look at the public transport filter on and one that came up is Housedean Campsite near Lewes. We went there with friends last year and it was lovely (albeit with some road noise from the A27). It also allowed ground fires and was generally a good place. It also rents bell tents, a shepherds hut and other things so would be another option if you don't want to bring kit.

However, hillbilly's suggestion about Wowo is probably ideal - I have always fancied a couple of nights there.

FrozenAteMyDaughter Tue 14-Jul-15 12:47:46

Oh do book something geekyogurt, go for it. Also, campers are very friendly people so if for any reason you find lighting a fire isn't working for you, never hesitate to ask for help from someone who has one already lit. Most people will be only too delighted to help you (and give you their own tips on the best way to go about it).

I hope you have a great time wherever you go grin

derektheladyhamster Tue 14-Jul-15 12:50:19

Only go to wowo if you're in a large group! It's mainly class trips with 30 odd mates running wild grin

derektheladyhamster Tue 14-Jul-15 12:51:15

And very expensive organic free range food - £2 for a packet of organic choc buttons!

overthemill Tue 14-Jul-15 12:52:07

In the olden days ( well 1970s) before I drove, my BF and I went camping every year using public transport. We each had a rucksack with everything shoved in or hanging off - small tent, bed rolls, sleeping bags, stacking cooking kit and minimum of clothes. Did it for years and years until we could afford a car - much more fun!

derektheladyhamster Tue 14-Jul-15 12:52:57

And my son fell down a faulty manhole last week - staff were very unhelpful. Luckily we has a GP and a pediatric dr as part of our group.

geekyoghurt Tue 14-Jul-15 13:07:26

Hmm think wowo is out then. It'll just be the two of us. Plus it looks like it's fully booked for the entire year!!

I do think it'd be a lot of fun to just pack a bag with the bare minimum, and dd is certainly up for it. I guess it's my own fear of the unknown that's holding me back slightly. Although you are all helping me with that. Will keep looking and bear all your suggestions in mind


geekyoghurt Tue 14-Jul-15 13:08:10

Derek, was that at wowo? Is your son okay? Sounds bad.

hillbilly Tue 14-Jul-15 14:20:06

Oh dear Derek - hope your son is ok. I have been to Wowo out of season a few times when it has been very quiet and I would highly recommend it (April and October) as there were only about 15 tents on the whole site. Bliss!

This weekend we will be in the family field where there will not be large groups. I agree, steer clear of the shop shock

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