As we made our way around the coastline we noticed wherever we went there would always be camper van or two parked nearby. In remote car parks, picnic areas, quiet harbours and viewing points we would find a scattering of big white vans.
Somewhere someone had obviously written a guide of where to go; they turned up in the most unlikely, but practical places. Many bore European number plates.
Early on we thought all this a little rude. There were plenty of campsites around. Should these people not be herded into purpose built spots and keep the rest of the countryside tidy? They would support local businesses on the way of course.
But somewhere along the way our attitude started to change a little, campsite standards varied greatly and not always in a good way. We paid between £7 and £30 per night, and as a general rule anything of more than £20 was usually a little suspect. Of course the less you paid, the less you would expect, but facilities and cost were often out of kilter.
Paying £20+ and then having to find a handful of coins for the shower was a regular occurrence. For a late arrival, after the reception had closed, this could be a real pain in the bum. Just add a pound to the fee for heaven’s sake and dispense of the coins. It’s less hassle for all and you are not going to lose out unless everybody takes 6 showers a day.
The daily campsite budget grew to a not insignificant amount of money. We found ourselves on campsites with no hot water, no lighting, no toilet paper, wire grills over the tops of cubicle doors to prevent toe-rags nicking your clothes while you showered, we stayed close enough to railways lines that the van shook as the train passed, and listened to midnight karaoke and drunken three-in-the-morning music. Cost and expectations were often out of kilter. It was definitely an up and down ride.
And if you really want to get a feel for the worst of British Society then a long-term camping trip will most definitely give you that, and more. Eventually you start to despair you live on the same planet.
So after a while we started to wonder just what we were paying that £20 for? Now we could start to see why so many chose to go al fresco as such.
But then going wild had moments too. We awoke to find the boy racers of Borth had come within a few feet of wrecking the van and on the Wirral we counted ourselves lucky to survive the night unscathed.
But it wasn't all bad of course. We had many a friendly welcome. There was the peaceful bank-holiday site hidden in the mist near Bude. The friendly campsite at Scourie was a magical place, facilities, view and atmosphere couldn't be faulted.
The site at Shingle Street was memorable for the impressive facilities and pride of the owners. It was almost too tidy.
While the fishing ponds site at Mablethorpe was a truly magical, relaxing place where we had a very friendly welcome. Scattered around too were plenty of basic but friendly and peaceful farmyard sites, I won’t forget listening to the piggies snoring down at the Lizard or watching the moon over the hills at Drigg. And of course, the first and last day were spent at Trefalen Farm, a special spot - basic but knowingly welcoming. The man had a background somewhere on the way.