"Walnut Lakes - A cracking little site that is well worth a look"
With so many campsites available choosing one (or two) to book for a vacation is never an easy task. Since my wife and I work full time, and don’t get that much time off, every hour of annual leave is very important to us, so when we book a site we want to be as sure as we possibly can that it’s a good one and has everything we need.
I know there are quite a few people who will disappear off in their motor homes or campervans without booking a campsite and will simply rock up at one and fit in wherever there is space. I know a few people with a “well it’s only one night and we will always find a good one in the end” attitude who do this. These people are retired, they can go off in their motor home whenever they want and they don’t have to book specific weeks off. These people have the luxury of knowing that if they end up on a dud site they can have another go the following week, and the week after that if they want. Unfortunately, we are not at the stage of life where we can do that, and for us every day of vacation counts.
My wife and I spend hours and hours trying to choose the campsites we stay at. We have a check list of what we want, we then choose a part of the country where we want to stay and then try to find a campsite in the right location with the facilities we want. Trust me, it is a mission and there is only one site that we have found so far that ticks all of the boxes. The rest of the time we have had to make compromises, but in doing so we have found some cracking campsites.
The perfect campsites for us, and the ones we strive to find:-
Are adults only
My wife and I don’t have children, and whilst I love my nephews to bits, they do grate on me and wear me down. When we go away we like to chillax and when there are loads of kids running around, screaming, kicking balls about etc. we can’t do that. I know there are some people who love to hear kids play (my mother being one of them) but when you’ve never had kids yourself, and not a kid type person (teacher, childminder, carer etc.) it is a little more difficult to appreciate the next generation.
My wife and I prefer the smaller campsites that don’t hold too many units. In the past we have stayed at campsites where there is a “sea of caravans, tents and motorhomes” as soon as you pull in the gateway, and I have to say I didn’t like it. Having to queue for the toilet, a shower, a basin to have a shave, to wash up, use the washing machine, collect water etc. or waiting until a ridiculous time (very late at night or very early in the morning) to do what I have to do isn’t my idea of fun.
As a rule we stay away from the large campsites as much as we possibly can.
Offer peace and quiet
My wife and I both have stressful jobs and are constantly on the go so when we disappear off somewhere we like to stay on campsites that are peaceful, quiet and tranquil. We don’t mind some road noise (after all if a campsite is close to the road it means it is easy access) however when the road noise comprises heavy goods vehicles thundering through twenty four seven we are less than keen. Another annoyance that I have come across in the past is a railway line at the bottom of the campsite where there was a (long) freight train that came past, horn blowing, at 11.30pm, 1.30am, 3.30am and 5.30am. Needless to say I wasn’t overly impressed, and neither was the wife, and the campsite’s website made no mention of this. In fact the campsite’s homepage read “Perfect for peace and quiet”. The owners also failed to mention it was right on the side of a busy trunk road, adding to the noise.
Have good/easy access
Due to an experience towing the folding camper down a single track lane in a hilly area and encountering difficulties I now look for campsites with easy access. I don’t like campsites to be just off the motorway, or right beside a busy A road, but I do like reasonable sized roads leading to the campsite. Since we have bought the motor home this requirement has become even more important than when we owned the Countryman. Before we book a campsite we “Google Earth it” to see what the access is like before making a judgement call. How I love the internet!
Have Lakeside pitches
Water has always played a large part of both mine and my wife’s life and a lake, pond or river is an instant draw for us. I am also a keen angler (well I was in my younger years before I had to work for a living) and the only time I get to drown a maggot now is when I am on vacation, so being near the water allows me to do this. There are plenty of campsites with onsite lakes and ponds, and with rivers running through them, but very few offer lakeside pitches. When I say lakeside I mean right on the edge of the lake/pond so you can open the awning, step out, bend down and dip your hands. A lakeside view (something which loads of campsites offer) simply doesn’t cut it. I want to be one with the ducks.
Have Toilets and showers
The Countryman didn’t have a toilet or shower, however we did use to carry around a porta potti for night time pees – I hate having to walk to the toilet block in the middle of the night, especially when it is cold, wet and miserable, and with a bladder like mine (i.e. the size of a pea) the porta potti was essential for me. My wife, doesn’t have the same issues as me, but she never used the porta potti (not even for a number 1) and will only use a toilet block. The motor home has a toilet, which means I can dispose of the porta potti however it is used for night time pees only, by both me and the wife. This means we still place a lot of emphasis on a toilet block.
We like to camp, however we don’t use this as an excuse to “rough it” and not shower every day. This means any campsite we stay on must have a fully functional shower block. Even though the motor home has a shower we don’t use it, and will only use campsites with a shower room.
Have a washing up area
The Countryman had a tiny sink in it but we never used it for washing up, and only use a campsite’s washing up facilities. We never wanted to get bits of food and rubbish stuck in the pipe work or in the tank (it happens no matter what precautions you take) so rather than risk using the sink (even with a bowl – although we couldn’t find one small enough to fit) we used the communal sinks. The motor home has a larger sink but we still only use it to wash up drinking vessels (mugs, cups and glasses) and take the main washing up to the communal sinks.
The other advantage of communal sinks is that it provides a nice large food preparation area where we can cut up meat, put it in the slow cooker and immediately wash up the contaminated knife, chopping board and other utensils.
Don’t have a kid’s playground or play area
I have already mentioned my wife and I don’t have kids and prefer an adult only campsite, however we will consider a campsite that doesn’t advertise itself as adults only if it doesn’t have a kids’ playground or play area. My sister doesn’t take my nephew anywhere without a swing, slide, climbing frame, roundabout etc. so based on this I naturally assume many parents do the same. I appreciate these sites may have babies or toddlers, both of which we can deal with. Crying/noise is not an issue for us – the issue is kids running around the pitch, kicking balls near the motor home/awning, running around and getting in the way when we are trying to wash up or walk to the toilet block, the mess kids make in the toilets/showers (I appreciate that some adults are just as bad) etc. etc. Babies and toddlers are always going to be with their parents who will control them and discipline them, and we have no problem with this at all.
Don’t have a clubhouse
When we go on vacation we like the quiet life and, based on the very few campsites we have stayed on with a clubhouse, campsites offering this facility are usually pretty noisy. I am all for people having a good time, a few drinks, a boogie and all that (live and let live) but I don’t like my sleep being disturbed by inconsiderate people arriving back at their tent/caravan/motorhome after a few sherberts. These people try to be quiet but they usually end up making more noise and more carnage (often leading to fits of hysterical laughter and shouting) than if they just acted as normal as they could with a few beverages in them.
If you stay on a campsite with a clubhouse you have to expect late night loud drunken behaviour and be prepared to accept it, deal with it and probably join in too. Consequently, we tend to give campsites with clubhouses and bars a wide berth and go elsewhere.
"WANT - A lakeside pitch" "WANT - Toilet block"
"DON'T WANT - Playground" "DON'T WANT - Clubhouse"
"WANT - Peace and quiet" "WANT - Warm showers"
Earlier on in this article I mentioned there is one campsite that we have found that ticks all the boxes, and this is Westerly Lakes, Yorkshire. Westerly Lakes is a site we found about 5 years ago and we have been there every year (except for this year – because of various reasons) and it is one I highly recommend. We have not stayed there since we got the motor home (we have only had the motor home for a couple of months) so I am really looking forward to getting there in the motor home next year. I know of one issue I am likely to face with the motor home at Westerly Lakes unless they have installed a drive over drain since our last visit.
About the author
A total motor home newbie with a six year camping background in a folding camper. A keen blogger sharing my experience of researching, choosing, buying and owning a motor home. and every thing that goes with it.
The Motor home