Camping! Oh how I whined about it as a teen and vowed I would never be holidaying this way with my own family. But then of course you grow up and realise (or at least naively think) how much fun a camping adventure with the kids would be. You see how good it feels to get back to basics and spend time together surrounded by beautiful scenery and nature and, whilst it isn’t our number one choice for a holiday (we love AirBnB too much) it comes in close as a good option!
Camping with the kids is a lot of fun, but it can also can be rather annoying too to get them settled at night and into a different way of life. But we persevere because on the whole it is good (plus we realised last year that if we could get into camping, we could unlock so many more travel experiences, opportunities and adventures) – it is such a cheap accommodation option and also a fun adventure!
We really enjoyed our first “proper” family camp (4 nights) that we did last week at Ingleton in the Yorkshire Dales. There were a fair few wasps at times on camp (evil!) and a couple of rain showers too… the odd frayed emotion over where to eat for dinner, but overall it was a lot of fun and was certainly the fantastic adventure we imagined with our friends.
We first tried camping with the kids last summer for 1 night in the peak district– and it was totally fine. So, when my camping pro friends asked us to go away it was both exciting and a little scary when we quickly realised that we were amateurs! Both Nathan and I have camped loads throughout our lives so aren’t completely clueless, but of course it is different to doing it with our own kids…for 4 nights!
We camped walking distance from Ingleton in the dales at a lovely little campsite which offered great facilities. It had rental fire pits, lovely hot showers, a washing up room, tiny tuck shop and good toilets (practically zero cobwebs or “daddy long legs” like the old days). These made it all the more comfortable and such a massive difference to life in a tent for a few days. I have decided that campsite and a cosy bed in the tent can make or break your camping experience and meadow falls made ours. As a base it was excellent for 4 days of camping in the Yorkshire dales.
Day 1 – Climb a Mountain!
For the last 2 summers I have wanted to take the kids up a mountain and so, much to many of our friends initial dismay (they loved it eventually I promise you), on our first day we finally accomplished that goal! Having done all 3 peaks,
We I chose Whernside, and whilst it is the highest in Yorkshire and rather a long walk, it was also the best for little legs as it offers an easy footpath all the way up and minimal climbing. The footpaths are well maintained and the climb up is gradual.
We took our time strolling up as let’s be honest – living in east yorkshire we don’t have that many hills! The weather was fine (aside from a couple of showers on the way down) and we took little breaks as and when adults and kids needed it (or just to admire the incredible views of the dales). We had a break for lunch about half way up and then shouted for joy when we reached the top!
Altogether we walked just under 10 miles on that first day (which completely shocked me) with minimal whining for the kids (the adults were another story)! I was proud to see Ethan and Megan tackle their first mountain and to see little Alice’s determination too – she did the first half and reached the summit no problem, then slept on my back on the way down. There is something truly exhilarating about conquering a mountain and hiking in such beauty. It fills the soul with joy and the experience was made so much more by being with our friends and having plenty to chat and laugh about as we went… such a brilliant day and start to our adventures – It felt incredible (and a little sore the next day!).
Day 2 – Lake Windermere
With being only half an hour from the lake district (40 mins realistically), we decided to head for a day at Windermere. This again opened up an array of beautiful scenery and lush views, and despite being a tourist hotspot, it was another pleasant day out. Some friends had a boat ride on the lake (I think it’s about £35 for a family ticket for 90 mins!) whilst the rest of us found a secluded spot to chill and allow the kids to paddle and swim. I have been to Bowness-on-windermere before and it is a really beautiful part of the country. I would have liked more time to see the town, as I know a few others did too, but we were set on finding food for dinner and a place that accepted the 101 dogs we had with us!
We ended the day around the fire, telling stories and eating treats whilst overcoming the tea time dramas!
Day 3 – Morecambe
The seaside town of Morecambe was also only a 40 minute drive away from where we were staying in Ingleton and, with a welcomed sunny day on day 3, it seemed like a really great idea to have a beach day, followed by fish and chips for tea!
There was however one, maybe 2, minor hiccups to this seemingly flawless plan – Morecambe was not at all what we expected (I describe it fondly as “a dump”!) and of course, dogs and beaches in Summer do not tend to mix!
We parked for the afternoon at a car park across from The Midland Hotel (art deco building on the seafront) and next to “Rita’s” cafe! We then walked along the prom to a dog friendly beach which had a splash pool above. As the tide was in, the kids made use of this – they loved it, and then as it began to go out, some of us had a swim! I really enjoyed being next to the beach and swimming in the sea – it was great! But then I felt put off by the near by nuclear power station and signs of sometimes temporary pollution in the sea (hello extra toes maybe?)!
Morecambe was filled with things that made us laugh (but not for the right reasons unfortunately) and, with no disrespect to it’s residents – it was just a little too weird for us (I guess that’s the result of being a stranger in a new place)! I suppose coming from the East coast, it’s hard to comprehend why there were no doughnut shops or chippy’s lining the sea front and why we had to drive a few miles out to find some (isn’t that a British seaside essential?)! And then there were a whole host of other things too, but we shall save those hilarious memories for our own reflection!
It was a fun day, don’t get me wrong, but it is a very very tired seaside town and it was certainly not the fun times I remember as a kid there! There were a lot of odd things but, like we always do – we made the most of it and went with it – making some unforgettable memories in the process before heading back to camp for smores!
On day 4 we broke camp and headed home – tired but thankful for lots of fun together with our friends! Camping feels so good for the soul and whilst we don’t have our own tent yet, we were kindly lent one by my parents, which did the job wonderfully. It was small but cosy and it was great to get into the flow of proper camping with the kids and build up our confidence in being able to be campers going forward.
The Yorkshire dales is such a stunning part of the country, and is also that gem that makes you super proud to be from Yorkshire! We used to go annually as kids with our cousins and I loved the nostalgia of seeing our favourite childhood places again and sharing stories with the kids! The scenery in the dales is simply beautiful and the company we were with was brilliant – I hope we can do it all again sometime soon! It was so great to be in the presence of people, who like family, take you as you are, are never short of a joke and banter, and create an environment where you can feel totally comfortable (in your onesie around the fire)! We have a better idea of what kind of tent we want now and look forward to many more camping adventures as a family and with friends!