Whatever your thoughts on camping, there’s a love affair blooming with Brits and their tents. But Rochelle Turner wonders why we don’t embrace the great outdoors in the same way as her native Canada.
In Canada, where I grew up, camping is nearly a national pastime. I spent many summers under canvas, going to sleep to the sound of the crackling campfire, my tummy full of s’mores (toasted marshmallos with melted chocolate between two Graham crackers – so good you want ‘some more’).
Campsites were usually large and single-purpose, closing down completely when the winter set in. The pitches were always separated from neighbours by trees to give privacy and huge communal log piles for fire wood and standing pipes for drinking water were never far away.
My first experience of British camping
So it was all a bit of a shock when I experienced camping in the UK for the first time a few years ago. My tent, pitched in an enormous field within sight of tens – if not hundreds – of others.
Not quite the idyllic vision of the near-nature experience I had remembered from my youth.
These sites do exist, especially in Scotland, but they are few and far between and tend to book up very quickly. I’ve since learned to compromise on privacy – it would be difficult to live in the UK if I didn’t. I won’t, however, compromise on a campfire.
Fresh from a week of clean Norfolk air and stale campfire smoke at the Breck Farm campsite just minutes from the coast, I returned to London with news that in 2009, camping overtook staying in B&Bs as a leisure pursuit for the first time in the UK.
Canvas beats bricks in my book
Camping is certainly not for everyone. My husband doesn’t completely understand the point of spending the time and effort to put a tent up when pre-erected accommodation is readily available.
That may be true, but it doesn’t come at £14 a night, nor with the freedom to run around, swing on rope swings or eat food cooked in the (nearly) great outdoors.