Watching my family walk down a lane together, thick green hedgerows on either side, traffic free, makes my heart sing. We are camping, our tent is pitched, we’ve had a good nights sleep. The day is ahead of us to explore, we’ve no particular plan, just to follow our feet and see what we might discover.
My son spots rabbits, on the other side of a fence, tiny, pale brown with white fluffy tails. This morning he found a beetle. Our tent sits in a field, with sea views and last night my boy played ball until the sun went down, just happy to outside. Ball’s aren’t strictly allowed, they can bash tents and knock over stoves. There is a field for children to play in, footballs, frisbees and all. However, our field is quiet. There is an older Dutch couple opposite and they say they don’t mind, neither does the the young couple, with a dog, setting their tent up to music. There is a lot of space, so we bend the rules a little. The Mr and I drink wine and cook sausages and our small boy simply runs and runs, boundless energy. This for me is childhood and why I love camping so much.
Camping brings children up close, not just to nature but to the elements. On Saturday it was hot and on Sunday it was rained and my boy needed a coat. Rain doesn’t stop play. Camping is an opportunity to switch off and slow down, do things differently. Being outside, in a green space heightens the senses, we listen to the birds, feel the breeze and watch the sky.
Electronic devices are out. Down time is books, dominos or just chatting as a family. At home, we are often in different rooms, doing different things. Camping pulls us together and connects us to the outside. It’s affordable and accessible.
We are on the edge of Exmoor, Devon. Camping on the Camping and Caravanning Club site at Lynton on the edge of Exmoor, it is a pretty site, tucked along a lane. Immaculately cared for by friendly staff. The only traffic up the lane to the site, is the occasional horse rider, maybe a tractor and traffic to the site. Turn right from the gate and a narrow lane leads you to Lynton, you might meet a farmer on a quad bike, the road is unsuitable for vehicles and essentially traffic free.
Lynton is great for cafes and small shops. It has a Victorian Cliff railway which delivers passengers down to Lynmouth a little seaside resort at the mouth of the river, it’s great place for a potter on the beach and eat ice creams.
From Lynton we walked the coastal path down to the Valley of the Rocks. Scrambling amongst the rocks, first we hear wild goats, then we see them. We could have walked right through the valley back to the campsite, but we opted for a shorter walk, looping back to Lynton.
In evening light, we drive over the moors looking for ponies. Exmoor is has an untamed feel, moorland and stretches out from winding roads. Wild Exmoor ponies, black and tan trot out in front of the car, with foals in tow. We pull in to watch them. It fires up our collective imagination and we give the ponies names and super powers. Children make a natural connection with nature. My son has great memories from previous camping trips and I’m confident the memories we made on this trip will be treasured too.
We’ve done fair bit of camping with friends, festivals and as a family. Camping with kids is easy, I’ve never met a child that didn’t like camping. Pack a pair of wellies and warm clothes for when the sun dips. Outside, they find endless reserves of energy, stretch their curiosity and imaginations. They love the simplicity of camp cooking, fried sausages, one pot pasta and pesto. Something which always surprises me, they revel in the opportunity to be together as a family without a screen. We didn’t camp when I was a child, but my strongest childhood memories are long days of freedom in the woods, my son doesn’t have the same opportunities. Camping gives him long days outside and a connection with nature which I hope will instil a love of the outdoors long into his future.
Disclosure: I am a Camping and Caravanning Club press card holder. I approached the club about camping in order to share our love of camping and the outdoors. Our camping was provided. All words and opinions are my own.