The romance of camping – is it dead?

Neil wants to take me camping. I want to go camping… well, maybe. Let me start with the fact that it’s not easy to plan a weekend away for us due to my unfortunate retail schedule. I’m part-time and often work one or more of my days on the weekend. Neil’s work demands a huge amount of Monday through Friday, so no leaving on a Thursday night for us or anything like that. I may have a weekend off soon and with the weather warming up in our little chunk of England, our discussion turned to camping.

We have a tent. We have sleeping bags. We are both former Scouts. I have a very clear idea of what camping is, but apparently it’s not compatible with what you can get away with nowadays in England. We had a good laugh this morning comparing what this upcoming camping weekend would involve. My first thought: campfire. Evidently that won’t happen. Wait… camping without a campfire? What do you do when it’s dark? Lamps. Or gas-powered thingies. No romantic glow and crackling embers as you wind down from a day of nature and wide open, lonely space around you. I perhaps have a very American view of camping. Maybe near a river, or the edge of a wood (where firewood can be easily gathered), but never did it cross my mind that we’d likely be at a campsite on someone’s farm with other campers (and possibly caravans) nearby and the tent set up next to our car. I’m far from being a true adventure seeker, but I’m prepared to shit outdoors, mind a fire, and wonder what that spooky noise or rustling sound was- but that doesn’t seem to be what camping is here in Southern England.

I’m willing to give it a try, but I have a feeling that it’s not going to live up to the romantic version of camping that I know from my childhood in the US. We just have more space out there perhaps. And maybe our young country refuses to give up the pioneer spirit of camping rough, but to pitch a tent someplace that will likely have toilet facilities and perhaps running water isn’t my idea of getting out in the wild, rather, it sounds like an occasion for me to wonder why we didn’t just spend the night in a B&B.

Prove me wrong, England. Is there still ‘real’ camping here? If so, where? I’ll bring the marshmallows.

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15 thoughts on “The romance of camping – is it dead?”

  1. Yes, you have a point, camping in the UK particularly the south is a little off the mark, i.e. car park camping.
    There are however some places that are better than others, also ‘wild’ camping is still alive and well.
    Have a look at:
    at least you can have a fire.

  2. I’m gonna have to force you to sit and watch Carry-on Camping or Carry-on Behind (which was on yesterday as it happens) so you have the complete picture of how the Brits go camping. After that, squished with a bunch of other people in a farmer’s field is going to seem like heaven 😉

    There used to be campsites in the New Forest where you could light fires, but who knows these days. A quick search uncovered this list of sites that allow campfires:

  3. Hooray! Maybe all is not lost…
    Unless you make me watch those dreadful Carry-on films, in which case, you may camp alone. 😉

  4. Dear god! I hate camping soooo much, had to do it when I was a child, it was the worst experience of my life. I’m not a nature-loving kind of girl.

  5. LOL! Just the thought of you camping makes me smile! I think you’d stay in the car the whole time, wouldn’t you! 😀

  6. I camp up in north wales near Snowdon. There’s a few fields the farmers have that you can pitch your tent and he’ll charge you £5 in the morning when he does his rounds. Don’t have to book and you certainly can have fires. Only thing is the sheep often wander around at night and look freaky in the dark. I also try to keep away from anything to do with caravans.

  7. I’d either stay in the car, or (more likely) go and find a hotel, you know…that has a proper bathroom and shower, nice food, cute little soaps/shampoo/conditioner, an actual bed…the basic necessities!

  8. @canonf4 – Hi! Sorry for the delay, your comment got held in moderation. Welcome! Thank you for the link- looks like a good list. 🙂

  9. I’m with Karen on this one. No thank you to camping. I would have made a lousy pioneer 🙂 America would have ended up being a strip of land from Canada to the tip of Florida!

  10. You can’t camp without a fire! Although if we wouldn’t have had a fire last July when I was camping I’d still have my favorite lawn chair. 🙁

  11. Actually, I’d venture a guess that more half of all Americans would think that setting the tent on fire would be “awesome”. 🙂

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