One of the best camping trips I’ve had with the children was an unlikely success: 10 days (nine of them rainy) in windswept west Cornwall. We had a lovely time staying on my friend Frances’s field surrounded by heather and birdsong with views over the sea. This year, she’s opening it as a campsite to the public, through Pitchup.com.
During our stay about four years ago the weather was a trial: I shared a two-man tent with my two small boys and some nights they slept soundly as the water came in creating a small lake around my airbed. At the time the youngest wasn’t potty trained; we spent a lot of time in the laundrette. But when the wind dropped and the clouds cleared, the sunsets were spectacular and we managed one blissfully hot day on beautiful Sennen beach.
The joy of Numphra Downs Farm, is that this is real back-to-nature camping. You’re on the edge of a moor (a local heath regeneration project); water is from a hand-pump, washing up is open-air with views over the heather; the toilet is compost loo; and there are no mod cons. Me and the boys loved it.
It’s very Green and very friendly, with a gentle, hippy vibe. Frances and her partner Nick offer relfexology, African/Afro-Cuban drumming lessons in the barn, Flamenco or folk guitar,Tai Chi, and even didgeridoo.
For the kids, there is a low-level climbing frame made of logs, a trampoline, and lots of space to play safely with football, sticks and their imaginations; there’s also an outdoor hot-tub, a big fire pit, and – if it does rain – a dry communal barn with wood-burning stove and space to sit and chat with other campers.
And you’re just a few minutes drive from some of my favourite beaches in Cornwall. Sennen and Gwenver beach are great for surfing and Frances will also point you in the direction of lesser known coves that need a bit of a scramble down to the beach. The area is wonderful for walking and cycling. Lands End and the Tate Gallery at St Ives and other attractions are near enough for the rainy days.
I’d really recommend a stay at Numphra Downs Farm – if you want to get close to nature – and don’t mind risking the weather!