Campsite review: Henry’s campsite, Lizard, Cornwall

A few weeks ago we stayed at Henry’s campsite on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall. It’s taken me a while to write up the review, but I think that just reflects the laid back and relaxed vibe of the site (for holidaymakers at least, the owners work hard).

I’m a Trip Advisor junkie and like to check out places before we visit so as usual I read up in advance of our trip. The word most often used to describe Henry’s campsite in the reviews was ‘quirky’. Now that we’ve visited I agree it is definitely the best description of the site.

Henry's campsite entrance

Henry’s campsite entrance

The campsite is located on the edge of Lizard village in Cornwall. The village isn’t much to write home about but it was handy to have the local amenities, including an excellent fish and chip shop just a short walk away. However the Lizard peninsula is a fantastic part of the country to visit and there’s lots to do in the area, including some great coastal walks straight from the campsite.

Our pitch at Henry's campsite

Our pitch at Henry’s campsite

Our pitch was great. Located on a small flat terrace it was surrounded by shrubs which offered some privacy. The campsite is full of these type of pitches; hidden amongst sub-tropical plants with flowers spouting out of walls. We had a view of the sea from our pitch and were treated to a couple of great sunsets.

Seating area, Henry's Campsite

Seating area, Henry’s Campsite

There’s lots of artistic touches around the site. I particularly liked the wooden seagulls and the bench and seats. There are sculptures hidden in little nooks and crannies and murals on the toilet buildings. There’s lots of recycling in evidence, many items appear to be made from something else.

Free wi-fi is available near the reception and shop area but I felt a little guilty using it; it’s definitely the kind of site where you should abandon all technology.

Seagull art

Seagull art

The campsite shop was legendary. Whilst it was only small it was one of the best stocked camp shops I’ve ever come across and it always seemed to be open. Even better, you could buy items individually. One marshmallow toasting stick for 4p, a peg for 10p, a slice of bacon for 40p or a single egg for 25p. Jugs of Rosie’s cider appeared to be rather popular in the evenings!

Campsite shop

Campsite shop

The campsite has plenty of animals. Newly hatched ducklings and chicks were in kept in cages up by the shop area, whilst the older ones just wandered around the site. There was a lovely affectionate dog too.

The alpaca field - and football goal

The alpaca field – and football goal

The football field is shared with the alpacas which is a little unfortunate as it meant you couldn’t just send the kids off for a football game; they had to be supervised by adults whilst in the field. It was also home to a couple of Houdini goats who managed to unhook the latch on the gate several times during our stay.

Sea view from Henry's campsite

Sea view from Henry’s campsite

There is a relaxed festival feel to the campsite. During the season they have live music at the fire pit a couple of times a week. It’s undercover which is great if the weather is dodgy. Alternatively you can hire a brazier and light your own camp fire.

The toilets and showers are split across 3 buildings; a couple of them were shack like but they were always clean. The only negative was that they were unisex toilets and showers. Call me a prude but I don’t want to share bathrooms with the opposite sex. If a lady is hogging a washbasin you can jump in to wash your hands quickly, but when it’s a man having a very long wet shave it’s a bit more tricky!

Despite the toilets it’s a great campsite and, whilst it’s not for everyone, I’d happily recommend it to friends who would appreciate its quirky side.

More info:

  • We paid £31 per night for our tent, 2 adults and 2 children. One minor gripe was having to pay an additional 20p for a 2 minute shower. I’d prefer the cost of showers to be included, so much easier than scrabbling around for 20p pieces.
  • Further details available on Henry’s campsite website.

Family days out in the 2014 summer holidays

Need ideas for a family day out over the summer holiday? Look no further as this bumper post contains a suggestion for every day of the English school summer holiday. Whatever your budget or interest, I hope you’ll find something of use in the list below:

summer

Saturday 19 July

Big nature count at the Nature Discovery centre in Thatcham, Berkshire. How many species can you spot? Tree walks, pond dipping, dragonfly walks, butterfly spotting; booking advisable. Free event.

Sunday 20 July

Festival of history at Kelmarsh Hall, Northamptonshire. Historical re-enactment on a huge scale! Two thousand performers taking part in recreations of battles, jousting and family shows. Family ticket £61 per day (£35 for English Heritage members).

Monday 21 July

Become a nature explorer at Slimbridge Wetland Centre, Gloucestershire. There’s a different theme every week of the summer holidays, activities may include pond dipping, moth trapping or a mini beast hunt. Family entrance charge £34.50 covers cost of activities.

Tuesday 22 July

Improve your biking skills at Brockhole, Lake District Visitor Centre near Windermere. Free event, bikes and helmets provided.

Wednesday 23 July

Seaside science at the Scottish seabird centre, North Berwick. Learn survival skills on the beach or take part in an environmental art workshop. Family entrance charge of £25 covers cost of activities, free to members.

Thursday 24 July

Time Travellers at the Museum of Liverpool. Archaeology arts and crafts, free drop in event. For more things to do with kids in Liverpool read our blog post here.

Friday 25 July

Roll up for the Big Cheese Festival in Caerphilly. Street entertainers, fire eating, music, fireworks and the Great Cheese race! Free event.

Saturday 26 July

CBeebies Prom at the Royal Albert Hall, London. Music and presenters from CBeebies programmes. Tickets £6-12 plus booking fee.

Sunday 27 July

St Andrews Highland Games. Caber tossing, tug of war and highland dancing. £6 adults, £4 concessions.

Monday 28 July

Bournemouth carnival week starts today. The programme kicks off with a sand building competition, treasure hunt and a duck race. The glamorous granny competition takes place later in the week! Small charge for some events.

Tuesday 29 July

CSI Classics: become a detective and uncover the culprit at the University Museum of Classical Archaeology in Cambridge. Free event, booking essential.

Wednesday 30 July

Dangerous Science of Mining show at Snibston Discovery Centre in Leicester. Interactive family show covering the interaction between science and mining. Family ticket £24.25

Thursday 31 July

Culdrose Air Day, Cornwall. Visit a working military Naval Air Station, includes ground and aerobatic displays. Family ticket £35 in advance.

Friday 1 August

Have a go day at Crawfordsburn Country Park at Helen’s Bay, County Down. Try out new activities from mountain boarding to zip wires. There is a charge for some activities, pre-booking required.

Saturday 2 August

Vikings Attack at Lindisfarne Priory, Northumberland. Explore a Viking encampment and witness a deadly battle. Adults £6.50, child £4.50. English Heritage members free.

Sunday 3 August

Saving nature day at Suffolk Owl Sanctuary, near Stowmarket. Meet rescued hedgehogs and find out about badgers, bees and bats. Family ticket £25, 50% discount for local residents.

Monday 4 August

Marvellous Marine Day at Reculver Visitor Centre near Herne Bay, Kent. Go rock pooling and take part in other marine activities. Suggested donation of £1.

Tuesday 5 August

Robin Hood Festival at Sherwood Forest Country a Park in Nottinghamshire. Costumed characters, woodland walks, craft stalls and activities. Free event, £5 car parking charge.

Wednesday 6 August

Wild Wood Wednesdays. Make boggarts and clay faces at Wendover Woods, Buckinghamshire. Free event.

Thursday 7 August

The first day of the Bristol balloon festival. An evening display of balloons lighting up in time to music, followed by fireworks. Free event, charge for car parking. Ascent is weather dependent.

Friday 8 August

Watch a fireworks display, the Red Arrows and a RAF Typhoon to celebrate Cowes Week on the Isle of Wight. This is, of course, in addition to all of the sailing! Free event.

Saturday 9 August

Archaeology open day at Silchester Roman Town, Berkshire. Tours, talks and children’s activities at the excavation site. Free event.

Sunday 10 August

Flying displays at Blackpool Airshow. See the Red Arrows, Falcons, Typhoon and many more at this free event. How busy are the Red Arrows this summer?!

Monday 11 August

WW1 discovery day at the Staffordshire Regiment Museum near Lichfield, Staffs. Tour the trenches and find out what life was like for soldiers in the Great War. Adults £4, children £3, pre-booking essential.

Tuesday 12 August

For children that like big bangs and can stay up late, there’s the British Fireworks Championship in Plymouth, Devon. Funfair and entertainment on the Hoe from early evening. Free event.

Wednesday 13 August

Make your own plaster scarab beetle at the Ashmoleum Museum, Oxford. Free event, connected to the Discovering Tutankhamun exhibition. Exhibition runs from 24 July-2 November, £10 for adults, children under 12 free.

Thursday 14 August

Kite making workshop at Birling Gap, East Sussex. Fly your creation on the Downs afterwards. Children £3.

Friday 15 August

Nature night walk at Godolphin garden and estate near Helston, Cornwall. Meet nocturnal residents, including bats and owls. Adult £4, child £2, booking essential.

Saturday 16 August

World pipe band championships in Glasgow. Listen to thousands of pipers from >150 bands. Also includes Highland dancing and Highland games. Advance family ticket (online) £27.

Sunday 17 August

Roman weekend at Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire. Throw a pot, watch a falconry display and find out what it was like to be a metalworker. You can even get your hair done Roman style! Garden admission charges apply, National Trust members free.

Monday 18 August

Science at South Foreland Lighthouse near Dover, Kent. Learn about light, colour and the moving image. Family ticket £12.50 admission charge (free to NT members) plus £5 per science kit.

Tuesday 19 August

Celebrate Augustus the Roman Emperor at the National Roman Legion Museum in Caerleon, Gwent. Wear a toga, make a head wreath or Roman coin. Free event, drop in.

Wednesday 20 August

Make a miniature Japanese zen garden at the Oriental Museum in Durham. Family ticket £3.50.

Thursday 21 August

Find out about herbal medicine at Chelsea Physic Garden, London. Make your own ointments and syrups. Pre-booking required, adult ticket £11.90, child ticket (age 12+) £8.60.

Friday 22 August

Victorian Delights at Wrest Castle in Bedfordshire. Meet Queen Victoria and discover Victorian inventions and toys. Family ticket £23 (free to English Heritage members) plus £1 per activity.

Saturday 23 August

Sand sculpting at Millisle, County Down. Get tips from an expert and learn how to create sand sculptures and castles. Free event.

Sunday 24 August

Grasmere sports festival in Cumbria. Includes tug of war, wrestling, fell racing and a dog show. Advance family ticket (online) £20.

Monday 25 August

Big Bang at Royal Gunpowder Mills near Waltham Abbey, Essex. Rocket launching and explosions, bigger and better than the usual experiments! Family admission ticket £30.60.

Tuesday 26 August

Family stroll from the Lulworth Visitor Centre in Dorset. Learn all about the geology, ecology and ancient history of the area. £1 adult, 50p children.

Wednesday 27 August

Twilight bat walk around St Fagans Natural History Museum in Cardiff. £4 per person, booking essential.

Thursday 28 August

Pond dipping at Holkham, Norfolk. Find out what’s in the water at Holkham lake.  £2.50 per child.

Friday 29 August

Falmouth Tall Ships regatta. Visit the sailing ships in dock before they start their race on Sunday. Free event.

Saturday 30 August

National Paralympic Day at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London. Watch wheelchair basketball, swimming, boccia and goal ball. Tickets for events £5 each, lots of free entertainment throughout the park. Click here to read about our recent visit to the Park.

Sunday 31 August

Bunkfest, family festival in Wallingford, Oxfordshire. Folk music, dancing and a beer festival for the adults. Most events are free (charge for camping, boat trips and workshops).

Important:

Some events run across more than one day. Information is correct at time of publication but please reconfirm all details, particularly timing and booking requirements, before you visit.

I hope you’ve found something of interest. You can also check out my microadventures for families post which has lots of suggestions for local adventures.

Moths of Neptune Wood, Oxfordshire

How many species of moth can you name? More than 2400 different species have been recorded in the UK but I could only identify a few without resorting to an ID book. Or at least, that was the case before we visited a Bug Blitz event at Earth Trust, near Little Wittenham in Oxfordshire, this weekend.

moth6

Bug Blitz was a 10 hour biological survey, open to everyone, which aimed to record as many invertebrate species as possible. We visited to take part in a ‘Morning of moths’ session.

The moths were captured in traps set the previous night in Neptune Wood, an area of mixed woodland planted to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar. The moths are attracted to the bright light of the trap, and are caught safely and humanely inside it. They are released again after studying.

The moth traps

The moth traps

We were there bright and early, in fact so early that the stands were still being set up when we arrived at 8am. Strangely enough there weren’t too many other visitors at that time on a Sunday morning!

Inside the moth trap

Inside the moth trap

Our reason for arriving so early was to view the catch before the day heated up as this would unsettle the moths. We’d timed it well as the moth experts were just taking out the trays from the first trap. It was rather strange to see cardboard egg trays being used but their rough surface evidently gives moths a good grip to latch on to.

From top left (clockwise): swallowtail moth, large emerald, clouded border, common emerald

From top left (clockwise): swallowtail moth, large emerald, clouded border, common emerald

The experts estimated there were around 150 different moths in the first trap. I would not have had a clue about most of these so it was fantastic having such knowledgable people on hand to identify and tell us about the moths. It was amazing to see so many different species which are usually only active at night.

Although a few of the moths flew away when the trays were taken out most stayed in situ so we were able to see them up close and study for as long as we wished. I really wish I had taken my proper camera! It gets so few outings these days but it would have been perfect for macro shots.

Moths of Neptune Wood

Moths of Neptune Wood

Being an amateur it was the large and colourful moths that excited me, particularly the hawk moths. These are relatively common locally so most of the experts were more interested in checking out the smaller species.

From top left (clockwise): Poplar hawk moth, small hawk moth, privet hawk moth, elephant hawk moth

From top left (clockwise): Poplar hawk moth, small hawk moth, privet hawk moth, elephant hawk moth

Whilst I could have stayed for hours the kids had wandered off by this point. Fortunately they found a stand where they could make clay animals so we now have a large variety drying out on our parcel shelf. We decided to head for home shortly afterwards; probably a good decision otherwise there wouldn’t have been much clay left for the other visitors to use!

It was well worth the early morning start; we all learnt something new. If you ever get the opportunity to see the opening of a moth trap I can highly recommend it.

More info:

  • Most people know Earth Trust as the home of Wittenham Clumps, a hill in a rather flat part of Oxfordshire. However it also incorporates several areas of woodland, farmland (open for lambing days) and an arboretum. The nature reserve and Wittenham Clumps are open every day and are free to visit. Find out more here.
  • If you’d like to find out more about moths, check out this website. If you’re looking for a book we use the ‘Field Guide to the moths of Great Britain and Ireland’. It’s expensive but well worth the money (the illustrator was at the moth event; surprised my other half didn’t ask him to autograph his book).

Microadventure ideas for families

I was excited to see Alastair Humphreys book ‘Microadventures’ drop through our letterbox recently. Ordered by my other half, I had to wait a few days before I could secretly snaffle it away for a quick browse. Packed full of Alastair’s exploits his microadventures include wild swimming, overnight bivvying and mountain trips across the UK.

Our Lake District adventure

Our Lake District adventure

It’s a great read but its target audience isn’t families. One of his recommendations is about not taking too much kit as that’s what mums do on family days out. Er, that’s me then!

Inspired by Alastair, I’ve decided to redress the balance with suggestions below for family microadventures. Some of these are watered down versions of Alastair’s trips but they all share the common feature of being an adventure you can have close to home.

The one piece of kit you will need and know how to use is your local OS map. These are often available to borrow from libraries or you can get snapshot maps of your local area from online sites.

1. Stay overnight in your local Youth Hostel then walk home

With more than 270 official Youth Hostels across the UK there’s sure to be one near you (find your local one here). A couple of years ago we took a train to our local hostel, had a yummy evening meal, a night in a private room and a full English breakfast. We then spent the rest of the day walking home (and working some of those calories off). Staying in a hostel means you can bring minimum overnight gear so no worries about backpacking home with a huge rucksack.

If you’re looking for something a little more adventurous why not try walking between two hostels? Whilst not local to us, we walked between Ennerdale and Black Sail Youth Hostels in the Lake District, read here for our review.

2. Canal path cycling

The beauty of canals is that they’re flat, off-road and often have official cycle paths along them. Perfect for families as long as the kids don’t fall into the water! Why not spend a day cycling along one?

We cycled along the Kennet and Avon canal from Newbury to Reading, which you can read about in our blog post. Alternatively check out canal path cycle routes near you here.

3. Tracking

When I was a kid we used to do this all the time but you hardly ever see the tell-tale white arrows chalked on paths today. You may be lucky enough to have a family friendly hashing group near you (groups of runners/walkers who follow a cross country flour trail laid by a ‘hare’) but do check their ethos first as a lot of clubs focus on beer not running! If not, you can easily set up your own trail along local footpaths with small blobs of flour or stick arrows for the kids to follow.

4. Geocaching trail

Many readers will be familiar with geocaches, but for added fun why not follow a geocache trail. These are usually walks of around 4 miles that have several geocaches hidden along them. This site has an easy to use map which allows you to browse for geocache trails in your area. You can then link to your app or the main geocaching website for specific cache details.

5. Buy an explorer ticket for your local bus company and see how far you can travel.

Our local bus company offers a £13 dayrider ticket which allows the family to travel all over the county. Why not check out your local buses and let the kids plan a route? You could give them a challenge, perhaps see how many miles they can travel or get to the furthest point in the county. Just remember to check the bus timetables will get you home again.

6. Sleep out in your garden

This might not sound very adventurous but kids love it. Assuming you have a relatively secure back garden, set up a tent and let the kids sleep out. If you have young kids you’ll need to give up your comfy bed for the night and sleep out too, otherwise leave them to it.

7. Follow a stream

This might involve some preparation with your local OS map. Find a small stream and see how far you can follow it for. If it goes underground try to follow the course overground and see where it re-emerges. Remember to keep to official rights of way unless you are in an area with the ‘right to roam’.

8. Walk part of a National Trail

There are more than 4000 miles of National Trails (long distance routes) throughout the UK allowing you to walk alongside coasts, rivers and mountains. These routes are well-maintained, clearly signposted and many are perfect for families. Even in London you can walk the Thames Path, whilst other family friendly routes include the Cotswold Way, South Downs Way and the Norfolk Coast Path.

Find out more about National Trails here. If you think your children may need some encouragement take a look at my top tips for walking with kids post.

9. Pin the spot on the map

Alastair does this in his book but he heads off to the wilds of Scotland. For your family microadventure I’d suggest keeping it close to home. Open your local OS map, close your eyes and place a pin on it. You then need to visit that exact spot without using your car.

We’re definitely going to do this; I wonder where it will take us?

10. Climb the highest point in your county

Wikipedia lists the highest point of each county so why not make it your goal to visit your local hill. I live in a relatively flat county but if you’re in a more mountainous part of the UK you might want to modify this according to the ages and walking experience of your family.

11. Go on a night walk

A great option for a winter evening. We went on a walk around our local nature reserve in the dark and finished up with ghost stories around a campfire. If the sky is clear you can combine it with night sky observing. Even if it’s cloudy it’s much more exciting exploring a place in the dark; look out for nocturnal animals and listen for owls.

12. Get the kids to cook and eat dinner outside

By this I don’t mean on a gas BBQ! A campfire is best but if it’s not practical use a camp stove instead. Keep the food simple, perhaps beans and sausages, followed by toasted marshmallows. There’s no need to try too hard with the food as anything eaten outside usually tastes great.

13. Night sky observing

This is another activity for winter evenings as it gets dark earlier; just remember to wrap up warm. Hunt out a suitable location away from light pollution and look upwards. Binoculars and a night sky smartphone app are handy to help you identify the planets and stars. I wrote this blog post about what to look out for, there’s much more to see than you might expect.

14. Sunrise walk

Whilst it takes minimum effort to get up at sunrise during the winter months, you’ll have a more solitary experience if you aim for a summer sunrise. Head up your local hill to watch the sun coming up or perhaps listen to the dawn chorus in a nearby wood or park. Bring a flask, a breakfast picnic and enjoy a few extra hours in the day.

15. Dice walk

The Dice Man is a cult book about a man who makes decisions in life based on the roll of a dice. Over the years it has inspired plenty of others to do exactly that so why not let the dice decide which way you walk or cycle. You’ll need to decide in advance what the numbers on the dice stand for, and then roll as you travel. For example, roll a 1 = turn 1st left, 2 = straight on, 3 = mum chooses the direction. You get the idea!

For more adventurous ideas please pop over to Alastair’s website. Even if you prefer armchair adventures I guarantee you’ll find inspiration to get outside and do more!