It’s summer! We’ve had ‘unseasonally’ warm weather and it’s a good time to think about camping – if you enjoy that kind of experience and haven’t already got plans under way.
I don’t normally intend to plan a camping trip for August but this year I’ll be heading to the Peak District for a long weekend. Without going in to that though, I’d like to share some of my considerations on camping at this time of year.
Busy, busy, busy!
August, as I’ve always imagined, is the busiest month of the summer. Kids are off school, parents are having to make time for them, teachers don’t have to go to work and and it’s often viewed as one of the ‘hottest’ months, even though it more commonly turns out to be one of the wettest in the UK!
Wherever you intend to go, it is likely to be more busy than during any other month throughout the year. Unless you’ve got your mind set on a very particular destination, I’d recommend you consider spending your time in a space less-frequently-visited.
For example: in August 2016, I went to Shropshire, having never been before. While it wasn’t a ghost town, I was able to enjoy and admire each of the places I visited and the walks I completed, without the feeling of over-crowding I came close to feeling one month earlier, walking the South West Coast Path through Cornwall.
If you’re thinking of Snowdonia, the Lake District, Dorset… Why not look for somewhere in between? Shropshire, for one is, I believe, too often bypassed or overlooked for what lies beyond.
I’m still going to the Peak District…
This year, I’ve already spent time camping in both Snowdonia and Cranborne Chase [it’s North Dorset, near Wiltshire…]. I’ve been wanting to get back to Derbyshire since I last visited in September 2015. I could look to go somewhere else but I know what my mind wants.
So, with that in mind, I’ve taken a considered approach towards choosing a camp site.
As a single traveller, I first considered looking for a kids-free, adults only camp site. I found one of these in Dorset as well and not far from Lyme Regis… But I wasn’t prepared to pay an extortionate £30 per night unless they were going to massage me to sleep and serve a cooked breakfast to my sleeping bag each morning!
Adults only sites are generally a bit smaller and, being in the busy season, I’m keen to avoid a feeling of being ‘boxed in’ between one pitch and the other. So, I’ve been looking at slightly larger sites, while also trying to balance out the value for money (I like sites that offer free showers and don’t charge more than £15 per night).
Reading the reviews on sites like Pitchup, UKcampsite and even TripAdvisor has been very useful for me. From an initial shortlist of half-a-dozen sites within twenty-miles of Buxton, I was able to refine my options by eliminating any site with no more than two showers available (some offer only one). Queuing for a shower is not fun and neither is the thought of stepping in to one, twenty sweaty bodies later.
Basically, I’ve decided to return to the same site I stayed at in 2015. I was impressed with the facilities then, the cleanliness and the fact that their hot water is solar-powered (even though they appeared to recycle everything apart from cardboard). I’m familiar with the site, its workings and I feel confident in that.
I’m a little bit concerned that it will be busy regardless and a couple of TripAdvisor reviews I’ve read from recent visitors report of how they felt ‘packed tightly in between’ other campers… I hope I can overlook this risk by knowing that there were several showers and a good toilet block on site. Plus, I’ll only really be there in the mornings and evenings. My days to be spent elsewhere. Hopefully, the owners will look favourably upon offering me a spacious pitch when they realise I’m travelling alone.
Bank Holiday? No Way!
If I could offer you just one piece of advice for planning a camping trip in August of any year… It would be to steer far and away from the Bank Holiday weekend!!
While it’s convenient for many, that’s precisely the issue… ‘Everyone’ will be taking to the motorways. Many places, I imagine, will be fully booked by the time you read this. Some camp sites will even charge a premium for bookings that cover this weekend.
Another option for a quieter camp in August might be to avoid the weekends altogether, if you can afford the time off work. Avoid the Friday evening chaos; set off on Sunday, return home days later before it all starts again. Many people will still be at work during your trip.
I plan on driving up Saturday morning (“early…”), doing a walk, reaching the camp site mid afternoon; walking over the next two days before returning after third night and possibly taking in a stop on the way home. This is all weather permitting, of course!
I do hope you have some considered plans to get away over the next month and, if you have any further tips or suggestions to add, please leave a comment below. I hope this has been useful and interesting,
11 thoughts on “Camping in August: Thoughts”
A timely post. I haven’t camped since I was a teenager, but went and bought a tent yesterday. Scotland is relaxed about wild camping, and thought I’d give it a try. Have you done any wild camping, Olly? If so… maybe a topic for another blog post?
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Hi Ruth! I’m glad to hear you’re giving camping another go. Yes, many parts of Scotland seem to welcome it and Dartmoor is similar.
I’ve not yet done any wild camping but do have most of the kit. One item I may still look to buy is a water filter.
How long will you be camping for? Is this part of your coastal walk? I look forward to reading about it, in time. 😉
I’ll think it will be one night only. For my first outing anyway!
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I’m viewing my first attempt in the same way.
So, you have a tent… What about all the other kit you might need? Giant Midge repellant?!
I’ve got something called Smidge and a midge net for my hat. As for other kit… oh yes, um, I’ll need a sleeping bag and something soft to lie on. Would a yoga mat do? I don’t plan to do any cooking.
Yeah, Smidge is supposed to be good and also for the environment, I think. You could probably get away with a light weight 2 season bag, maybe even a 1 season. Most roll mats are about 8mm thick. I wouldn’t go any thinner. I was okay with them for my first year but now use a self-inflating mat.
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Good plan Ruth. I’ve done a bit of camping on my coast walk already and really enjoyed it but like Olly I think the tip is to try avoid August, not only for the crowds but as a light sleeper, camp sites are far too noisy during the school summer holidays (barking dogs, children getting up early, adults being rowdy late at night etc). I also try to avoid sites where you are allocated a “pitch” and prefer places that let you go where you want, so you can find a quiet spot. Of course none of these things are an issue with wild camping in Scotland where you can find somewhere quiet easily.
I’ve realised probably the only way I’m going to do the far north west coast of Scotland is to carry a tent and camp overnight, I think I will be able to do all my walks in Scotland I have planned this year from a base (Thurso), but next year I will get to the parts of Scotland where it is too remote to find hotels/B&Bs to spend each night (e.g. around Cape Wrath) or buses (or even taxis) to make it viable to walk one way and travel back to your start point. So far my camping trips have been from a base, usually by car, so I don’t have to carry camping equipment around on my walks. But I think that will have to change to make it around Scotland. It gets even trickier when you factor in the need to find somewhere to get food/drink.
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Yes. That might be the best way to tackle the north west of Scotland. But… the thought of carrying everything…. so I’m hoping my husband will come in useful. I know that’s lazy!
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I’ve never camped in August, it will be interesting to read how your trip went.
Hi, fellow Outdoor Blogger!
Thanks, yes, I’m also looking forward to it. Still hoping it won’t be too busy; planning one of my longer walks for a weekday. Do you normally avoid camping in August for similar reasons?