Better than a B&B or Pub?
I am fortunate enough to get the occasional weekend pass from the longhaired CO and, if not packpacking, generally go down to Devon for some fly fishing. Normally I get a room at a pub for a couple of nights, which takes care of both accommodation and catering but at a price, especially after a couple of dinners and a bottle or three of wine at pub prices.
Now that I'm out of work, this is just too expensive so last weekend I dug out the old Vango Spirit 300 and bunged it into the car, along with sleeping bag, downmat etc and my fishing tackle and headed to a campsite for a couple of nights. I went to Woodland Springs, just off the A30 near Okehampton. Lovely site; adults only so very peaceful, just lots of old folk with caravans and dogs.
We have been car camping as a family before but it is a hassle; packing for 3, the time to pitch the 17kg family tent and the kitchen tent, changing ice packs for the coolbox, then taking everything down and re-packing for the trip home seems more trouble than it's worth. The Spirit 300 goes up in a few minutes. Chuck in the inflated downmat and sleeping bag and it's done. The tent seemed palatial compared to my Akto - it was like being in a cathedral (also no condensation but that's another thread...).
Proper bogs and showers like a pub, much quieter than some pubs I've stayed in, just as comfortable a night's sleep and a fraction of the price. More flexibility, too. I did have dinner in a pub on one night but returned to the campsite to sit under the stars reading and finishing a bottle of (supermarket-priced) Pinot Grigio.
An addditional advantage for me is that a lot of the kit that I initially bought for backpacking but then realised was just too heavy, is ideal for solo car camping; the ME Dreamcatcher 500 bag, Primus Anti-gravity stove, MSR Blacklite pans, Ortlieb water bag and Anjungilak pillow are great when you don't have to carry them.
In summary, I had a great time. OK, it's nothing like a wildcamping experience in terms of solitude or self-satisfaction but then it's not meant to be. As a cheaper (and, more fun) alternative to a pub or B&B, I'm converted. I'm now looking for a small coolbox to take on the next trip...
I think the secret is finding the right site, the adult only sites the mrs and myself use have been quieter than most hotels I've stayed in. I can highly recommend the Old Oaks campsite near glastonbury, especially if you have a dog, even has an are for washing the hound after a walk. Also has fishing, fresh bread and homebaked cakes every day. Our last car camping trip I took my telescope and used the clear evenings for some amateur astronomy, had some great views of Saturn, and was lovely sitting outside with a brew and the scope setup.
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