Campsite review: Denfurlong Farm campsite, near Chedworth, Gloucs

I was in two minds whether to write a review of Denfurlong Farm campsite or not. Partly because it’s a simple set up so there’s not really much to say about it. And partly because it’s our new favourite campsite which I’m not sure I want anyone else to discover!

Location

Denfurlong Farm campsite is on the outskirts of Chedworth village in Gloucestershire. It’s the perfect location for discovering the local Cotswold villages and countryside. Cirencester is a 15 minute drive south of the campsite whilst the tourist destinations of Northleach and Bibury can be reached in the same time.

Denfurlong Farm campsite on a sunny June weekend
Denfurlong Farm campsite on a sunny June weekend

We stayed over a gorgeous sunny weekend in June. There were only about 10 other people on the site, I couldn’t believe how quiet it was given the location.

Facilities

This is not the place to visit if you expect extensive facilities. There’s a field, one Portaloo and basic shower, a water tap and waste disposal. There are a small number of electric hook ups for caravans but it’s not your typical caravan site.

Toilet and shower facilities, Denfurlong Farm campsite
Toilet and shower facilities, Denfurlong Farm campsite

New toilet and shower facilities are underway; we had a peek and it looks like they’ll be a big improvement when they’re finished. Although I’m a little worried the campsite will become too popular when the facilities open!

*Update August 2015* – the new toilet block is now open!

The new toilet block at Denfurlong Campsite
The new toilet block at Denfurlong Campsite

The campsite has loads of space for children and dogs to play. Our kids enjoyed playing on the rope swing and exploring the area up behind the tents. There’s a communal campfire pit in the middle of the field which we didn’t get a chance to use but would be perfect for toasting marshmallows. If you do plan to cook you can hire cool boxes and barbecues from the farm shop.

Denfurlong Farm campsite rope swing
Denfurlong Farm campsite rope swing

There are a couple of bell tents to hire too. They look quite roomy inside and can be hired with or without equipment. I always enjoy staying in my own tent but these would be handy if you don’t want the hassle of putting up a tent.

Cotswold Hills Bell Tents, Denfurlong Farm campsite
Cotswold Hills Bell Tents, Denfurlong Farm campsite

Chedworth Farm shop

Aside from the location, the main reason I chose this site was because of the farm shop cafe which is only a couple of minutes walk away.

The cafe is open on weekend mornings for bottomless fried breakfasts (£7), unlimited coffee (£2) and plenty of other breakfast choices. The kids had a smaller fried breakfast for £4.50 each but it was still pretty big!

Kids breakfast, Chedworth Farm Shop cafe
Kids breakfast, Chedworth Farm Shop cafe

The farm makes its own ice cream so we felt obliged to test this too. The lemon meringue flavour was the favourite from our choices although all were good. I didn’t get around to eating any cakes but they also looked tempting.

The only downside was that the cafe had a ‘fried smell’ about it. It wasn’t really obvious once you were sitting inside but was a little off-putting when you first walk into the farm shop area.

Things to do nearby

Corinium Museum in nearby Cirencester is a great place to learn about the Roman history of the area. The museum contains locally found mosaics and wall paintings, along with plenty of Roman artefacts and information.

Corinium museum mural, Cirencester
Corinium museum mural, Cirencester

The ruins of Chedworth Roman Villa are around 3 miles away from the campsite. It’s one of the largest Romano-British villas in the country and well worth a visit. Keep an eye out for large snails around the site; their ancestors were brought over by the Romans to be fattened on milk and eaten as a delicacy.

Chedworth Roman Villa
Chedworth Roman Villa

We’ve been to the villa before so didn’t visit this time. Instead we went for a walk in Chedworth Woods and Nature Reserve and then made use of the National Trust cafe and toilets at the villa.

Summary

We loved this Cotswold campsite and are already planning our return. We are back to basics campers so don’t mind the lack of facilities but it won’t suit everyone. For us though it is the perfect place to spend a night or two in the Cotswolds.

More info:

  • We paid £10 for our grass pitch, this included 2 adults and 2 children. Prices increase slightly during July and August but are still a bargain for the area. Further details and booking information can be found on the Denfurlong Farm campsite website.
  • Corinium Museum in Cirencester is open from 10am-5pm Monday to Saturday and 2pm-5pm on Sundays in the summer months. Different opening times apply out of season. An adult ticket costs £4.95, children age 5-16 cost £2.45.
  • Chedworth Roman Villa is open 10am-5pm during the summer months. Entry is free to National Trust members, alternatively a family ticket costs £22.50. Check the website before visiting out of season.

Campsite review: CosyCamp, Chamaliéres-sur-Loire, France

We decided to venture to France for our holiday this year, and after much trawling of the internet came across CosyCamp. This campsite only opened in 2013 and already has plenty of positive feedback on the various review sites. Read on to find out how we got on.

Location

CosyCamp is situated on the outskirts of Chamaliéres-sur-Loire, a small village in the Haute-Loire department. It’s in central France, in the southern part of the Auvergne region. The area hasn’t been discovered by the tourist masses but there’s plenty to do locally.

I’ve detailed some of the attractions we enjoyed in my things to do in the Haute-Loire post and our day out in Le Puy-en-Velay post.

Getting to the campsite

We flew to Lyon with British Airways and took advantage of a combined hire car offer with Avis. It was a straightforward 1.5 hour drive to the campsite, although we did have a moment when the Sat Nav suggested a U turn on a dual carriageway!

By the looks of the car park, the majority of guests drive to the site, either from the Netherlands or the UK. According to Google it’s a 9 hour, 548 mile, journey from Calais.

The grounds

The campsite runs alongside the River Loire. There’s a grassy area between the tents and the river bank but it’s not fenced off so you need to keep an eye on young children. A big positive is that cars are not allowed on site. There’s a car park just outside the main entrance along with trolleys for transporting luggage and camping gear.

CosyCamp grounds
CosyCamp grounds

The different types of accommodation and tent pitches are mixed throughout the 4 acre site so there’s no regimented feel. The grounds are flat with well maintained garden areas, including herbs and vegetables.

Gardens at CosyCamp
Gardens at CosyCamp

Accommodation

Whilst most guests bring their own tents we decided to hire a safari tent for the week. This was the basic accommodation option but it was luxurious compared to our usual camping experience. The other lodgings include wooden cottages, luxury safari lodges, a treehouse and a gypsy caravan. There is a separate area for camper vans.

Our safari tent at CosyCamp
Our safari tent at CosyCamp

Our safari tent had two bedrooms, split between a double room and a kids bunk room. The bed was incredibly comfortable and I slept well the entire week. The kitchen area had a fridge, microwave, kettle and camping stove. We used the communal campsite toilets and washing up areas. Outside on the deck we had chairs and a small table.

Inside our safari tent at CosyCamp
Inside our safari tent at CosyCamp

We took our own duvet covers and pillowcases, although you can hire them. We had a slight issue with ours, as the pillows were square but we’d brought standard oblong pillowcases, whoops! We managed to make them fit with a bit of fiddling.

For some reason our tent attracted earwigs and we had to clear them out every evening (sorry earwigs). On a positive note there weren’t any mosquitoes.

Campsite facilities

There are three toilet and shower blocks. These were unisex and contained a mix of showers, toilets and washbasins in cubicles. We sometimes had to queue for toilets, particularly if parts were closed off for cleaning. The showers were warm and free.

The campsite has a strong environmental ethos. We were given a recycling bag for plastics, glass, cans and cardboard. There were also compost bins for food waste, conveniently located near the washing up areas. The lights in the wash blocks were motion activated and the showers had push buttons rather than a constant flow of water.

Washing up facilities at CosyCamp
Washing up facilities at CosyCamp

There were plenty of dish and clothes washing sinks. The site also has a laundry room with washing machines, dryers and ironing facilities.

There isn’t a shop on site but we were able to order croissants, pain au chocolat and baguettes (all 1 euro each) for collection the following morning.

Campsite activities

We visited in August and there were lots of children on site. I’m sure that plenty of couples stay outside of the school holidays but the campsite is definitely geared towards families (kids up to about 12 years of age) and the activities reflect this.

Our kids found a badminton court, table tennis, basketball hoop and football area, all with equipment nearby. Some were in almost constant use but they managed to have a go on most things throughout the week. There’s  a small playground which looked good for younger children.

CosyCamp playground
CosyCamp playground

There’s an outdoor swimming pool and paddling pool, which were very popular (I had to wait until the evening to get a photo with no-one in). There’s also a heated indoor pool that can be hired for sole family use for 10 euro per hour; this has massage water jets, coloured lights and music.

Swimming pool, CosyCamp
Swimming pool, CosyCamp

The campsite offers free weekly organised nature activities for children; these are advertised on the information board in reception. Opposite our tent there was a den building area which was popular with kids building and demolishing structures.

Hut building area
Hut building area

There are also a couple of canoes (with lifejackets) to borrow for outings on the River Loire. Next door there’s a horse riding school. It’s not part of the campsite but appeared to be busy with kids every time we went past.

Evening activities

Evenings were low key, with many guests heading to the cafe bar for a glass of wine or two. We spent several nights here playing board games, which we never do in England! There’s a family room above the cafe with a TV, games and books to borrow. Downstairs in the reception area were tourist attraction leaflets, walking books (in French), maps and large coffee table photographic books of the area to help you plan the next day.

CosyCamp cafe and family room
CosyCamp cafe and family room

We ate at the cafe a couple of evenings during our stay. It primarily serves pizza and salads, along with a daily speciality. Prices were very reasonable, with pizzas costing 8-12 euros. We really enjoyed our pizzas although there were quite a few flies in the dining area which was off-putting.

 Staff

Richard and Sophie own the site and do an incredible job, I dread to think how many hours they work. They were usually around the reception area, advising on places to go and helping with bookings. Issues were dealt with promptly, for example we reported a problem with our stove. Richard came almost immediately and fixed it (well, turned a valve, it wasn’t broken). Later in the week my daughter had an infected cut. As it was a Sunday everywhere was closed, again they came to the rescue with a loan of antiseptic cream.

The bar and cafe staff were also friendly and hard working. Everyone spoke English, or French, depending on your preference.

Summary

We loved our safari tent and the campsite. It might be too quiet (lack of evening entertainment) or too noisy (lots of kids) for some but it was perfect for us. We really liked the surrounding area too, even though there aren’t many ‘must see’ tourist destinations nearby.

Overall, it was one of the best holidays we’ve had in France.

More info:

  • CosyCamp is open from the middle of May to the start of October.  A basic tent pitch in August costs around £20 per night (for 2 people, small extra charge for children). A fully equipped safari tent costs £58 for 5 people per night. Outside of school holidays the prices are significantly lower.
  • Further details can be found on the CosyCamp website.

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.

Campsite review – Sands Caravan and Camping, Gairloch

Sands Caravan and Camping site is a bigger and busier site than we usually choose, but it was its outstanding location in the north west highlands of Scotland that pulled us in.

The site

Sands is 3 miles out from Gairloch village, out along a coastal road.  It offers camping, touring and static caravan pitches and wooden wigwams. The camping and caravan sections are set apart from each other, with campers able to pitch their tents in amongst the dunes. The pitches all looked pretty flat and spacious.

The campsite is in a fabulous location, as you’ll see from this picture.

View from wigwam at Sands Campsite
View from wigwam at Sands campsite

In front of our spot, over the dunes, is the sandy beach.  The small uninhabited island of Longa is visible directly in front, with Skye a little further out. On the other sides are mountain vistas. Could the location be any more spectacular?

Our wigwam

I’d booked us into a wooden wigwam, partly because it saved us carrying all our camping gear and partly as protection against rain and midges.

Rona - our Sands Campsite wigwam
Rona – our Sands campsite wigwam

The wigwams are basic enclosed wooden shelters with platforms and mattresses to sleep on. You need to bring your own sleeping bag and pillow.  There is a small storage area, a kettle and a heater, which we definitely didn’t need.  Each wigwam also has a picnic bench and fire pit outside.

Inside the wigwam at Sands Campsite
Inside the wigwam at Sands Campsite

We needn’t have worried about the rain as it was unexpectedly warm and sunny throughout our stay. However the midges drove us crazy!  We were near enough confined to our wigwams once they came out each evening.  Due to the heat the wigwams resembled saunas as we kept the windows and doors shut in an attempt to keep the midges out.

Campsite facilities

There were plenty of toilets and showers, and they were kept pretty clean given the number of people using them. Annoyingly, the shower buttons had to be pressed every few seconds to stop the water turning off.  Very tricky when you’re trying to wash your hair!

You’re not allowed to cook in the wigwams, and as we’d managed to forget our camping stove we were thankful for the hob in the undercover cooking area (£1 for 20 mins of electricity). There’s also a dining area, which some people were using to escape the midges.

If you don’t fancy cooking, there is a small onsite cafe with home baking, lunches and breakfast rolls.  It’s open from 9am-5pm, then reopens again 6-8pm for evening meals. We popped in for drinks and cake, but didn’t eat there in the evenings.

Sands Campsite cafe
Sands campsite cafe

The camp shop is well stocked and sold just about anything you could possibly need on holiday. It opened at 8.30am, and we were always there ready to pick up freshly baked chocolate croissants each morning. Very tasty and highly recommended.

The shop has tourist information and details of walks in the local area. Directly across from the campsite entrance they’ve created a 1km looped trail, which was popular with the dog walkers. If you fancy a little more action you can also hire bikes (£12 a day) and kayaks (£25 a day) from the shop.

The beach

Beach at Sands Campsite, Gairloch
Beach at Sands campsite, Gairloch

The sites biggest attraction for families is the sandy beach which the campsite fronts onto. I’m guessing that for most of the year its pretty wild and windswept, but during our stay it was the scene of sandcastles, paddling and beach BBQs.

One last tip – if it is sunny during your stay, head up to the dunes to watch sunset (which can be pretty late in summer).   The pinks, gold and orange reflect onto the sea, creating an amazing spectacle. Certainly an impressive end to the day!

Sunset at Sands Campsite beach
Sunset at Sands campsite beach

More info

  • To book, or find out more,  see the Sands Caravan and Camping website.

Costs

  • Our family of four paid £48 per night for the wigwam. This was peak summer pricing. You can get smaller wigwams, these cost £32 for two sharing.