One of the best things about a camping holiday is being at One with the Great Outdoors. You can sleep with the trees rustling overhead and birds chirping in the morning sunshine, or sit out on starry nights and cook delicious food over a campfire while simultaneously playing the guitar and chatting animatedly to everyone in a hearty and relaxed way. Sound familiar? No, me neither. A good campfire barbeque can be a huge success, but it can also take serious planning....involving chilled food hysteria, a lot of chopping, numerous pots, and excess washing up. Because of this, lots of campers - myself included - go for the easy option of a quick hot dog or - horror - a meal down the pub (I'm a bit embarrassed to admit this - not sure if pubs meals are camping "cheating", but I always feel sheepish slinking off). Anyhow, there is excellent news on the food front if you harbour a secret urge to camp and be catered for at the same time. It does exist. There are places to stay where you can camp and live off-grid and out in the wild, and eat some of the best food you've ever tasted. Homemade, homegrown, locally sourced, incredible food. These are places that showcase some of the most delicious local produce - hand-reared meats, organic fruit and vegetables from their own gardens, local cheeses, honey, eggs - and they will either show you how to cook like a gourmet over a campfire, or they'll do the hard work for you. Foodie or not, a visit to one of these places can be an enlightening experience, learning how the land is worked and used, with patience, respect and sustainability. These wonderful farmers, chefs, bakers, growers and foragers have opened their doors and let us in to see how proper outdoor cooking is really done.....
Camping, glamping, gypsy wagons, bell tents, safari tents - it's all going on here at Dernwood Farm, a working farm situated in the heart of the lovely Sussex Weald countryside. The accommodation is just the beginning; where this gorgeous campsite really comes into its own is on the food front, making it one of the most exciting places to whip up a campfire banquet. For starters (not the food kind) they have a farm shop that would make Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall weak at the knees. Meat-wise, there is everything here from juicy fillet to bangers for the barbie and the beef is all from their own Sussex cattle. The shop also sells bread, fresh eggs, milk and all the store cupboard bits you might need. There is also an excellent cafe selling breakfast baps (all homegrown produce) and serious snacks to rave about, such as homemade scotch eggs and flapjacks. And it gets better. The icing on the cake is their wonderful deli welcome packs, all pre-ordered and ready to pick up when you arrive and include delights such as a gourmet breakfast box, grazing boards (my favourite - a cheese and charcuterie feast), an afternoon tea box and picnic baskets; wicker boxes full of first-class picnic favourites. This is true foodie heaven.
It's gorgeous outdoor living under canvas in this picture-perfect eco campsite in West Sussex, and if things aren't lovely enough already, it gets even better when it comes to mealtimes. Stella and Griff, the owners and masters of the grill have camped all their lives and it shows; they have created a haven here where a camping holiday is centred around eating good, homecooked food, sourced from local suppliers and farmers. Where to start? Well, breakfast is a good place; avocado bagels or bacon and egg sandwiches whipped up over the grill, and real coffee to go with it. Dinners in the evening are all cooked over woodfire or charcoal and include delicious free-range meats or fish (vegetarians are also very well catered for), accompanied by homemade bread and salads from their own kitchen garden - with all other ingredients coming from local producers. Sit around and join your fellow campers in a communal feast on one of the outdoor tables and chairs, or take your supper back to your own tent for private dining; wherever you are, eat out under the stars - the campsite is off-grid and in a dark sky reserve, so the starry nights are quite spectacular. There are also plans afoot for more feast nights, guest chefs and residential courses in campfire cookery, foraging and butchery.
Showing all of us how cooking on a campfire is done properly, Wowo campsite in Sussex gets you back to basics by supplying incredible local ingredients and encouraging you to whip up good, old-fashioned, campfire cooked grub. Next time you set off camping and feel tempted to panic-buy a pack of frankfurters and some rubbery rolls, book a weekend here and rethink the whole thing. At Wowo, every camping pitch is provided with its own firepit and a metal trivet that sits snugly over the top and forms a shelf to bung on anything from a wok to corn on the cob; so you can confidently cook your own gourmet meal over the campfire, without a can of beans in sight. The farm shop is stacked sky-high with a wide variety of homegrown veg - all of which can be cooked on the fire in a variety of ways - as well as lots of other locally sourced food and drink. In the middle of all the camping action, Wowo has their own "village"; a central tipi with surrounding tents and shelters where campers can gather, hang out, eat together and, on Saturday nights, delicious homemade soup and bread is served up to all those who are staying (their treat) before the live music starts. You might not want to leave.
Pitch up your tent with far-reaching views across the gorgeous Cotswold countryside or in one of the glades surrounded by ancient oaks and wildflowers and, in their own words: "sit in the woods and be still for a moment." Abbey Wood Farm is all about wild living, closeness to nature and showing respect for the land, and this extends to their mantra in food. Organic fruit and vegetables have been grown on the farm for twenty years and you can explore the farm and learn how they run it; there are farm walks, trailer rides, egg collecting and fruit picking among other things. Take a wander through the woods and you will come across the farm shop and cafe. The cafe makes the absolute most of the vegetables grown here with a variety of divine dishes such as hearty vegetable soups, squash stew, beetroot gratin, vegetable lasagne, all home-grown, home-cooked and absolutely delicious. You need days here just to sample half of what is on offer. Buy the locally sourced ingredients from the farm shop and get involved, or book on one of the cookery courses they run here, to hone your skills and learn how to get the best out of all this gorgeous food. An absolute delight.
Idyllic camping here at Burnbake near Corfe Castle in Dorset; choose between a rustic and wild camping adventure set within the woods, or in the larger, open field; there are no marked pitches so you can camp anywhere, and there is a relaxed and informal back to nature vibe here. There are also beautiful lodges, some with hot tubs if you are looking for a seriously luxurious break. You can hire firepits to toast marshmallows and cook other locally sourced goodies which you can buy from the excellent farm shop, or dine out at their small cafe, a gorgeous little place open every day in peak seasons. It is no ordinary eatery. Choose from specialties such as moules and sea bass (fresh from the harbour no less), salads, steaks and homemade burgers. There are picnic tables and chairs laid out around a fire pit, so you can eat your breakfast or supper here surrounded by twinkling fairy lights, and they happily allow you to bring your own bottle (no corkage) to enjoy while you eat in the evening. The home-cooked roasts on a Sunday are an absolute treat. Who said camping food had to be simple?
Camp Katur, set within the grounds of the 250 acre Camp Hill Estate on the edge of the breathtaking North Yorkshire Moors is a glamping experience like no other. Choose from a huge range of different places to bed down for the night including lotus bell tents, hobbit pods, geodomes, yurts, safari tents..the list is long and distinguished. The magic of Camp Katur though, is the incredible selection of unforgettable experiences that it offers to truly make your holiday one to remember. For foodies it's a dream. If you want to actively do the cooking, then book yourself onto one of their wild cooking workshops, offering the chance to forage in the forest for your own delicious edibles, to understand which roots and plants to cook with, learn the skill of preparing wild game and then how to cook it on an open fire. It is an extraordinary experience and all about learning how to live off the land and make the most of what mother nature provides. And if the thought of skinning something puts you right off, never fear, you can book into the Hebridean Bar and Grill, the onsite restaurant which serves up delicious food from breakfast onwards, using many ingredients from the farm and the kitchen garden.
Stay in safari-style lodges in stunning Gloucestershire countryside here at Moor Farm and experience what it is like to stay on a working farm, getting as involved as you wish. The nippers can collect fresh eggs from the happy residents in the chicken coop and you can whip up a smashing breakfast with local meat and other ingredients from the farm shop - which also sells hampers packed with local produce and excellent bread. During the week, the farm hosts pizza nights, serving up absolutely first-class pizzas, alongside homemade cider and sometimes a pud. And there is plenty for the kids to do; they can get involved around the farm, helping the farmer round up the sheep, make dens and explore the copse or take a dip in the indoor pool; older children can venture down to the canal for some fishing or boating and there is also a new cycle trail around the farm to try out for those who bring a bike. A delightful spot in the middle of the English countryside.
picture credit: cotswolds.com
Not only for foodies this one, a blisteringly brilliant, super cool, family-friendly festival vibe going on here at Cloud Nine Glamping; for 6 weeks only over the summer months, these experts in living well outdoors run glamping breaks where you can wine and dine yourself with some of the best food England has to offer - all from the comfort of your own bell tent (or Airstream or Safari tent for that matter). Cloud Nine run these pop-up camping breaks in gorgeous settings in the Cotswolds, Dorset and Norfolk and each one has the same vibe: eat well, play well and relax. It is a total treat. There are activities galore for everyone, including tree climbing, zipwires, gardening, paddleboarding, kayaking, arts and crafts, yoga, and at nights, a (silent!) disco, kids bedtime stories and a whole host of other things. Of course, you can just do none of those and focus solely on food. There is a huge variety of eating and drinking options to suit all appetites; gourmet street food from local producers, craft ales, wood-fired pizza vans, al fresco fine dining, vegan cafes, cocktail bars - everything is here you could possibly dream of, and for foodies, it is paradise. There is also a kids canteen for the younger campers. Sadly, like all awesome things, it can't last forever.....
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