Bakesdown - the long story

Back to nature – nearly wild – eco camping – nature therapy – sitting in a field

These are the phrases I choose for those forms that will apparently help browsers to find our site online. They are all true, but my favourite (and the one which is most useless for those forms) is the last one. That is largely what we have to offer you here; a chance to sit in a nice field. I say this with the great pride of knowing that this is a very marvellous thing to offer indeed.

What Bakesdown Farm Camping is all about    

      

Our camping spaces have been evolving over the past 10 years. ‘Eco tourism’ is an interesting balance between maintaining the natural environment and providing beautiful, safe havens for that perfect restorative holiday.

The countryside is fabulous, we know this. However, in its natural state it is also often prickly, muddy and certainly untidy. Many of us have become accustomed to a strange, sanitised version of the countryside, where there is always a path to follow and that patch of stinging nettles will be sprayed off at once! It is sometimes difficult to keep our wildlife and human habitats coexisting in harmony.

On our first foray into holiday accommodation, our goal was to produce one of those ‘perfect’ slices of the countryside. We had a lovely showman’s wagon, we put it in a lovely field and we advertised on a very expensive ‘glamping’ site. It was all really rather unsuccessful. We spent a few years desperately trying to keep up with expectations, then called it a day and sold the wagon on.

Those years had involved much apologising for the apparent disappointment of our farm and the inadequacies of our facilities. We thought our facilities were fine and we knew that the farm was beautiful, so why were we apologising? For not having concreted car parks, lighted walkways, hot tubs and televisions on our 'eco campsite'? It was time to stop apologising.

This is how we realised that our first allegiance was with the farm and all its wild inhabitants, and that our holiday spaces would need to work around that. We also discovered how proud we were of these values, and that by explaining these beliefs properly to our guests, they would be too; enjoying their holiday all the more for it.

So, in practical terms, what I’m saying here is this. You are NEVER getting a hot tub (the power needed, the gross cleaning chemicals, the waste of water!) at Great Orchard Cabin, but as a trade off you can watch the barn owl hunting across the lower field from the comfort of the porch... and you know that is SO much better.

Since the wagon days, things have marched steadily towards the holiday spaces that we offer now. There was a tipi for two years, a yurt for five, and now we have our cosy Great Orchard Cabin.  'Exclusive Pitches' (where you bring your own tent, but still have a private field and facilities) are now our most popular camping spaces, and the Simple Camping field (with four well-spaced pitches) is still going strong. We do not overcrowd the farm, with at least two fields between each holiday space. This provides ‘corridors’ for our wildlife and privacy for our guests.

In the fields we use compost loos and gas-powered showers. A future plan is to try to use solar powered showers instead, but we’re hoping that the technology will advance first; nobody likes a tepid shower.

We are pleased to offer you no wifi and a very limited phone signal. There is a charging point in the yard, but otherwise no electricity across the fields. You have very little choice but to slow down and enjoy your surroundings.

It is amazing to watch the change in our guests after a few days detached from technology. I remember a slightly tense meet-and-greet with guests to the exclusive pitch a few years ago, when they realised how ‘cut off’ they would be...  “what, no electricity at all? But… not even a wind-up radio?”. As I left, they were muttering in bemused, horrified tones “it is very quiet though isn’t it?”. I met them in the yard a few days later and hardly recognised these relaxed, tanned individuals with sunny smiles. They proceeded to tell me all the bird calls they had now learnt and how you didn’t need ‘entertainment’ because “there is so much stuff going on in an empty field”.

 

I am proud to run a business that can allow people to make that discovery. Watching people arrive looking tired and tense, and leave with smiles and energy is a real privilege. So, THIS is what it’s all about:

Bakesdown Farm Camping hopes to provide a comfortable, happy space for you; whether you are a rabbit, owl, human, grasshopper or anything in between, you are most welcome.