BEAMING SUCCESS FOR TORCHLIGHT FESTIVAL

BEAMING SUCCESS FOR TORCHLIGHT FESTIVAL

 

THE CAMPING AND CARAVANNING CLUB’S first Torchlight Festival of Camping this summer relaunched the previous National Feast of Lanterns which dated back to 1921.

 

More than 4,500 people attended The Camping and Caravanning Club’s first Torchlight Festival of Camping this summer at Walesby Forest in Nottinghamshire. The new-look festival built upon the Club’s long history of running family- friendly events and relaunched the previous National Feast of Lanterns (NFOL), which dated back to 1921.

The festival’s main stage, sponsored by Cotswold Outdoor, played host to big-name music acts including Squeeze, Gabrielle and The Wurzels. The Club’s President, TV presenter Julia Bradbury, also took to the decks for her own DJ set where she performed on stage alongside The Invisible Circus – a spectacular illuminated show of acrobats.

And there was also a wide range of activities in the Family Tipi and an on-site wellness sanctuary. Nicola Simpson, the Club’s Director of Marketing and Insight, said: “We were delighted to welcome campers to our very first Torchlight Festival of Camping. “Torchlight saw us launch a new festival and at the same time pass the traditions of a fantastic Club event that served us well for a century on to a new generation of campers and festival-goers.

“It was wonderful to see so many caravans, motorhomes and tents illuminated with lights across Walesby Forest while families and friends met up and had a great time enjoying outdoor activities and top music acts. The festival was ageless with Club members ranging from babies right up to campers in their 90s, which helped create a fantastic atmosphere. We’ve been overwhelmed by so much positive feedback.”

EXTENDING VISITOR SEASONS

EXTENDING VISITOR SEASONS

Neil Campbell reports on his recent autumnal holiday stay...

 

THE CCC LISTS 18 of its campsites as being open all year round.

 

With modern motorhomes and caravans now built to withstand cold weather, equipped with proper insulation and efficient heating, more and more sites are extending their bookings to include autumn and winter stays. My wife and I recently decided to give out-of-season touring a go and hired a motorhome for a long weekend at the St Neots campsite run by the Camping and Caravanning Club (CCC), situated next to the River Great Ouse in Cambridgeshire.

The Hardwick Road campsite is open until the end of October — long enough to embrace the autumn half- term holidays and Halloween. We had checked in online as the CCC encourages you to do, and this made arrival a seamless process. We were met at the gate as we arrived with a friendly welcome, which makes all the difference. We didn’t even have to get out of the motorhome and were led by one of the managers to our pitch – and in fact we were given a choice of three.

 

YOU CAN BUY FISHING LICENCES on-site for the nearby River Great Ouse.

 

A speedy reception and check-in makes all the difference and makes for a more relaxed start to your holiday, with online check in a massive advantage. It is a real help if there is plentiful local information, with brochures for local cafes, takeaways and taxi firms, and several maps showing the local area. Hooking-up could not have been simpler, with the electricity point directly behind the pitch.

There was a waterpoint about 10 metres away if we needed it, although we had a full tank. There was also a well-equipped motorhome service point where you could drain grey water and fill up with fresh water, and two chemical toilet disposal points. We were on a hardstanding pitch of about 8 metres by 4 metres, with an electric hook-up.

There was just about room for our pop-up gazebo, although we didn’t put it up in the end as the weather was good. There would have been ample space for a motorhome awning, and as the CCC has a policy of six metres between pitches, the whole site felt well spread out. The grounds had very well-kept grass and mature trees across the site, so that it retained a feeling of being in the country even though it was on the edge of a town, about 10 minutes’ walk away.

 

TOURING SITES NEED to balance the benefits of extended visitor seasons against the increased costs involved.

 

STAY RATES
We paid just under £100 for three nights for two adults. A grass tent pitch with electric would have been about £95, or a tent pitch without electric just under £80. We paid a 25% deposit, with the balance being collected on our day of arrival. It would also have been straightforward to change the dates of our booking online. There was also a lot of site information available on the CCC website, so we knew what would be there.

Check-in time was from 1pm, and contactless, which is a real advantage for arriving campers, particularly when the days are getting shorter, and checkout was mid-day, allowing for a leisurely start to the day without any need to rush. Facilities were excellent – spotlessly clean and spread across two blocks, so when one was shut for cleaning for 45 minutes, the other one was open. There were plenty of showers, although no shower curtains although there were locking doors of course.

 

THE ST NEOTS CCC SITE in Cambridgeshire is open until the end of October — long enough to embrace the autumn half-term holidays and Halloween.

 

The washing-up areas were under cover and there was plenty of hot water, and the laundry looked well-equipped with plenty of machines. Disabled access to the facilities looked to be excellent. There was a parent and baby room. I was also very impressed that there was a defibrillator machine, in my opinion every campsite should have one – it could save someone’s life. The bins were located at one location near the entrance, presumably so that the dustbin lorries only had one place to pick up from.

There were no separate recycling bins, so everything went in one rubbish bag. We were told that they were sorted out by the refuse collection teams. The campsite wifi was also very effective, and with an easily remembered password. There were lots of dogs and it seemed a very pet-friendly site. There was a code to get through the barrier onto the site, and an automatic barrier when you left. There was also a code for one of the loo blocks, as I think passing walkers had been using the facilities for free!

 

THE TOWN FACILITIES were within easy reach for walking or cycling.

 

ON-SITE SHOP
There was no shop on site although LPG gas was available from reception, as was the ability to freeze ice packs crucial if you are tent-camping. You could also get fishing licences for the nearby River Great Ouse. I think in an ideal world motorhome or caravan hardstanding areas would have individual water supplies and drainage points for grey water.

A small shop stocking essentials would be very useful – canned goods, bread, basics such as pasta, milk and perhaps eggs. If there is a shop, the essentials of camping gas, charcoal, firewood and batteries for torches should be freely available. Highly desirable food items would include marshmallows, hot chocolate, cake and anything that can be toasted on a fire — crumpets and teacakes chief among them.

Providing local information is also vital some sites offer the wonderful service of a visiting pizza or fish and chip van, but if not then leaflets for local takeaways, and directories for other services, can make a huge difference. Games, books or DVD’s to borrow or buy offer added value. The CCC lists 18 of its campsites as being open all year round, with the most northerly being Moffat in Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland and the most southerly being Tavistock in Devon.

Touring sites will of course need to balance the potential to attract visitors during the off season against the cost of doing so. From the campers’ point of view, a full range of facilities need to be available if a campsite is open — hot showers and a laundry being probably top of the wish list. Our experience of holidaying in autumn has only served to make us want more — we are already planning a winter trip and wondering if we are hardy enough to try it in a tent!

WISH YOU WERE HERE – Brighouse Bay Holiday Park in Southern Scotland

WISH YOU WERE HERE

Picture postcards from Brighouse Bay Holiday Park in Southern Scotland…

 

Southern Scotland’s Brighouse Bay Holiday Park in Dumfries and Galloway has been named by the AA as the best campsite in Scotland. The family-run business near Borgue beat hundreds of other eligible parks in Scotland to the title when it was announced in November.
Awards given by the AA – based on guest reviews and a “secret shopper” visit by inspectors - are regarded as the Oscars of the holiday parks industry. The seaside park’s facilities, services and levels of hospitality all went under the microscope – and each was found to meet or exceed the AA’s highest standards on every level.

 

 

As well as welcoming campers and the owners of touring caravans and motorhomes, Brighouse Bay provides a number of other accommodation options. They include luxury holiday lodges to own and to hire, some with private hot-tubs, plus cosy glamping lodges which are especially popular with young families.
A member of the prestigious Best of British group of independent parks, site facilities include an 18-hole golf course with spectacular coastal views, and a leisure complex which features an indoor pool, bistro, bar and family entertainment.
Activities available on the park include a mountain bike pump track and, during the summer, pony trekking for all ages as well as an all-tide slipway for boat owners.

 

 

Not that Brighouse Bay is any stranger to awards for it has been graded 4 stars by inspectors from VisitScotland and won a number of environmental accolades. These include the David Bellamy Conservation Award at its top gold level, achieved for over 20 successive years in recognition of its many wildlife initiatives.
It also gained an additional award last year for its work to conserve hedges and woodlands, plus wildflower areas which provide vital foraging for honey bees and other pollinators. The park is also undertaking an ambitious rewilding project in areas of the grounds which will help provide additional wildlife habitats.

Brighouse Bay
Tel. 01557 870 267
www.brighousebayholidaypark.co.uk

DORSET PARK DECLARED BEST IN BRITAIN

DORSET PARK DECLARED BEST IN BRITAIN

 

THE PARK HAS GATHERED THREE AWARDS this year, all celebrating its high- quality standards across various facilities

 

Dorset’s South Lytchett Manor holiday park has been named by the AA as the UK’s top destination for campers, glampers, caravanners and motorhome owners.
The family business beat thousands of other eligible parks to take both the England and the overall British Campsite of the Year titles in the AA’s 2021 Caravan and Camping Awards.
Awards given by the AA – based on guest reviews and a “secret shopper” visit by inspectors - are regarded as the Oscars of the holiday parks industry. The park’s facilities, services and levels of hospitality all went under the microscope – and each was found to meet or exceed the platinum standard on every level.
South Lytchett Manor’s owners, Joanne and David Bridgen, say they were “stunned but absolutely delighted” when news came through that they had clinched the major honour:
“We are so proud to be able to bring this title home to Dorset, and I hope it will help throw the national spotlight on all tourism businesses in the county,” said Joanne.
“The AA award is particularly special to us because the judging is based not just on our quality standards, but also the experience which guests enjoy during their stay.

 

“Providing happy holiday memories has always been our main priority, and our friendly and helpful team here deserve a big vote of thanks for helping us achieve this,” she added.
Guests at the park can bring their own motorhome, touring caravan or tent, or choose to stay in one of South Lytchett Manor’s many glamping options. These include picturesque Romany caravans fully fitted out with all home comforts, cosy shepherd’s huts, and six new glamping pods.
“It’s been a fantastically busy year for us and bookings for 2022 are at record levels, so these awards have really helped us to finish the season on a high!” said Joanne.
South Lytchett Manor is a member of the Best of British group which comprises some 50 independently-run parks with top quality ratings based throughout the UK.
The AA accolade completes a triple triumph of successes this year for Joanne and David who run the park with the help of their son Matt and marketing manager Emily Freeman. In spring, South Lytchett Manor took the overall gold title in the Camping and Caravanning Park of the Year category in the South West Tourism Excellence awards and in the autumn won a diamond award in the Loo Of The Year competition.

CLUB EXTENDS CAMPING SEASON

CLUB EXTENDS CAMPING SEASON

 

CAMPERS will be able to extend their touring dates this autumn and winter

 

Responding to demand, the Camping and Caravanning Club will be opening a number of campsites for longer this winter including those that will enable campers to pitch-up any time of year.
In total, 30 Club sites will be open beyond the traditional camping season, meaning people can still enjoy a much-needed break well into the autumn and winter, and over the Christmas period.
The Club’s Simon McGrath said: “Autumn and winter can be a fantastic time to enjoy your caravan, motorhome or even tent and we believe many people will be keen to continue to enjoy the fresh air on a camping break, even as the nights draw in.
“Given the huge popularity of pitching up on a campsite, we wanted to offer campers more choice of locations later in the year by extending the season of a number of our sites.”
The Club has 13 sites with extended opening:
• Barnard Castle, County Durham; Cannock Chase, Horsley, Surrey; Kendal, Lake District all plan to stay open until November 30th.
• Bellingham, Northumberland; Cheddar, Somerset; Polstead, Sufolk; Sandringham, Norfolk; Scone, Perthshire; Winchcombe, Gloucestershire; Windermere, Lake District; Wolverley, Worcestershire all plan to stay open until January.
A further 17 Club sites remain open year-round along with five Camping in the Forest sites.