Nine years ago, Hugh Sandie rediscovered camping and began taking his daughter on quick trips around the UK during the school holidays. Like many weekend campers, he’d stare wistfully into the campfire dreaming about how he’d set up his perfect campsite.
Well, a few ago, he stopped dreaming and started Eco Camp UK, opening the Wild Boar Wood campsite in a beautiful woodland in West Sussex. The vision was to have a woodland campsite, in an off-grid ecological setting, where people could get back in touch with nature and the outdoors. Campfires were a must, as was the need to offer ‘real’ camping rather than a concrete-laden extended car park. A year later, he opened the Beech Estate campsite in a 600-acre woodland in East Sussex.
Not surprisingly, he’s become a bit of a camping expert, and he’s shared some of his tips with us.
Hugh’s top tips
- Make yourself a get-up-and-go camp box
Put together a camp storage box, packed with your utensils, matches, torches, spare batteries, suncream, insect spray, coffee, tea bags, foil, long-life food, spices and oil etc. Then all you need to do is throw it in the car and chuck in the sleeping bags, tent and beds and you’re ready to go. Stop quickly at a farm shop en route, and you have your dinner. If you take away the hassle, you’ll camp more often. Have a look at our favourite camping equipment for some ideas.
- Leave the kitchen pans behind
Don’t make your pack more difficult by trying to squeeze in cumbersome kitchen pots and pans. Invest in a set of lightweight, durable and easy-to- clean camping pans. They’ll stack inside each other and take up far less room. They often cook faster too because kitchen pans tend to have much thicker bases. Just make sure you have decent handles.
- You can never over-do it with lights
It seems obvious, but you’d be amazed at the number of people who rock up at our campsites with one torch and flat batteries. Headlamps, table or hanging lamps and torches plus spare batteries are essential. I’d even recommend including a wind-up lantern. Ed: We always take Petzl headlamps and the nifty Noctilight pouch that turns them into a small lantern. The Luci light is also a great foldaway table lamp.
- Wet wipes make for easy washes
Great for kids with sticky hands, of course, but also good for adults who don’t fancy another trip to the shower block. The Campfire Magazine team tell me they swear by Water Wipes, because they’re just cotton cloths and 99.9% water – no perfumes or oils or anything.
- Wrap it and roast it
We always pack some tin foil because it makes cooking easy and fun. You can wrap potatoes, sweet corn, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes (or almost any veggie) and cook them on a barbecue or the edge of an open fire.
- Be everyone’s friend!
Take a corkscrew and you’ll make friends! Someone will be wandering around at night looking for one – guaranteed!