Camping during COVID-19 – our experiences in England
At last! We have been able to hit the road once more for camping adventures. Our first experience of camping during COVID-19 was on the first full weekend after travel restrictions eased in England.
I know a lot of people haven’t had the opportunity to getaway yet so I thought I’d share what we found out for ourselves and what we’ve learnt from talking to other people who have been camping too.
We have several camping trips planned in the summer of 2020 so I’ve started this post in July and will update it as we roll along.
Here’s what I can tell you about our experience of camping during COVID-19 so far.
Our first camping trip after lockdown eased
On the weekend of 10 July we hit the road from Devon to Cornwall for a weekend on the North coast. We’d decided to stay within a few hours of home to avoid hours in traffic if lots of people had the same idea.
As things turned out, the traffic was fine and we arrived bang on time to check in at Haven’s Perran Sands Holiday Park near Perranporth.
Check in was managed through emails and online forms before we arrived and the team were at the entrance to guide us in. We didn’t need to leave our van until we got to our pitch.
We were camping for two nights in our VW T5 day van with awning and a porta potty for nighttime use. The campsite’s shower blocks were open 24 hours a day for us to use too.
There were staff outside the site’s two blocks throughout the day to control the number of people going in. Every toilet, shower and sink is sanitised after each person. There was signage everywhere to remind you to wash and sanitise your hands, keep your distance and catch coughs.
The staff couldn’t have done more to make campers feel welcome and safe.
The onsite shop allowed five people at a time and had a one way system. Staff were at the door offering hand sanitiser and directions.
A couple of the park’s restaurants were open for takeaway only and there were a few socially-distanced activities available like segways.
The site’s usual programme of entertainment is suspended during 2020 and the swimming pools are currently closed but the playgrounds are open. There is also lots of place to play on the edge of the campsite area, which is surrounded by sand dunes.
One of the very best things about this site is that it has direct access to Perran Sands beach where we spent most of Saturday playing in the water.
We had a brilliant first camping weekend. I’ve written a full review of Perran Sands Holiday Park with more about this great family site.
Our second camping trip during COVID-19
In July we stayed at a big name holiday company’s site in Cornwall and all the COVID measures were being carried out impeccably. Our second trip at the beginning of August was to somewhere at the other extreme of commercialism.
Wilton Farm is an eco-camping site overlooking Salcombe in South Devon. All their bathroom and washing up facilities are in huts dotted around the two main camping fields and the loos are compost toilets.
Before we arrived we received an email about the measures in place. These included:
- Check in is contactless – there’s a sign at the gate with details of how to pay in cash or by bank transfer
- The site is operating at 1/3 capacity and all campers are requested to leave 5m between tents
- There’s hand gel outside all camper facilities
- The toilets, showers and pot wash are being deep cleaned and there are signs up reminding you to social distance, use the hand gel and disinfectant sprays
- The honesty farm shop is open and has hand gel outside. Customers are asked to bring the exact change for their purchases
- In 2020 campers can only dispose of food waste, recyclable plastic, nappies and dog waste on site.
We saw the toilets and showers being cleaned at least three times a day. There was anti-bacterial hand wash by the sinks and the hand sanitiser dispensers were always well topped up.
This is the type of site where you have to rely on your fellow campers being considerate. Some left empty toiletry bottles in the showers and washing up gear by the pot wash, but these were usually dealt with by the campsite team within 24 hours.
One notable thing that I thought the site might have been doing is taking camper’s addresses should track and trace need to come into play. However, they were taking car registration numbers, so these could be used in the same way.
Aside from that, this is a green field campsite where facilities are low key and people are asked to use the back to basics facilities with common sense. We thought it worked well as long as everyone followed the instructions given.
Here’s my full review of Wilton Farm Campsite on my other blog, Devon with Kids.
Camping at Roadford Lake
Our third camping trip of the summer was to Roadford Lake in West Devon. It’s a campsite next to a South West Water activity centre.
We picked this site for a four night stop off on our way to North Devon mainly because we wanted to paddle board on the reservoir. It was absolutely ideal for this. The lake was just a short walk away from our pitch.
When we booked online we received an email with check in information and the measures that would be in place when we arrived including what facilities would be open.
We paid for everything and reserved our pitch online. It looked like the site was nearly fully booked when we picked our pitch on the online site plan but there were plenty of empty spaces during our stay so it didn’t feel busy.
When we arrived we just needed to put our head through the door at reception and give our names.
The campsite shower block was closed and campers were being asked to use the activity centre changing rooms. These were ideal for social distancing with plenty of room inside. There was hand gel at the entrance.
Some of the sinks, toilets and showers had been closed to reduce the numbers in the block at any one time. The only hiccough with the system was you didn’t know how many people were inside until you walked through the door.
However, there were quite a few motorhomes on site so people are using their own facilities. We didn’t have to queue to use the activity centre block, there was rarely anyone else in there and it was always spotless.
You could see a cleaning sheet which showed the block was checked and cleaned by staff three times a day. In-between, campers were asked to use a pool of blue paper and disinfectant spray to clean any surfaced they’d touched.
The only other difference staying this summer was that the laundry room was closed. We had access to waste bins, glass recycling and a communal barbecue area (social distancing was advised) as well as a washing up area.
Our stay felt really relaxed. It was also great to get out on the lake with our paddle boards and see other people enjoying socially distanced activities like kayaking and sailing.
Here’s my full review of camping at Roadford Lake on Devon with Kids.
Are all campsites following the same COVID-19 procedures?
It’s important to say that the examples above are our experiences of these campsites. I will be writing about others as we visit them. But you have to expect things to be a bit different wherever you go camping during COVID-19.
All campsites have to follow the Government’s guidelines on increased cleaning and social distancing. However, they will not all have the same procedures in place as every campsite is different.
I have spoken to people who camped at different sites in the first month of travel restrictions easing and they had different experiences.
Some had their temperature taken on arrival at their campsite. Some had to wear face masks in communal facilities. Others had to book times for the shower block.
Sadly, some didn’t feel cleaning was carried out as effectively as they would have liked and they were worried that large groups of people had been allowed to camp together.
It is up to each campsite to manage how they follow the Government guidelines, taking into consideration the size and layout of their site, their facilities and staffing.
Please check with each campsite before you book or visit, and pay particular attention to information you are given when you arrive.
If you feel that guidelines aren’t being followed speak to the campsite owners direct.
Have you being camping during COVID-19? What was you experience?