Regular readers are probably aware that I am not a huge fan of commercial campsites. Camping for me is all about escaping into the hills and pitching a tent in the wilds, far from the hum drum of city life. Commercial campsites bring to my mind cramped conditions, uncontrolled children running amok or drunken idiots in huge 24 berth tents. Not something that I want to experience on holiday.
For our break last week, my partner and I wanted to experience the outdoors together, which is something that we rarely do. Corrina would not mind me saying that we have differing ideals as to what would make an ideal camping holiday. For me it’s about escapism, without sounding like a misanthrope, I like to get as far away from other people as possible. Corrina likes to be comfortable and prefers facilities to be top-notch. We therefore wanted to find a campsite that would live up to both of our expectations, without either of us having to compromise.
For this trip it was a case of searching out that ideal campsite and then seeing if it was in a location that we wanted to visit. Trawling the internet we finally came across Ty Parke in Pembrokeshire. It sounded like a perfect spot, a campsite that would tick all our boxes and in an area we both wanted to visit.
The campsite has ten pitches in total, along with a couple of yurts and a tipi. The main camping field has five pitches and they also have five ‘wild’ camping pitches dotted around the farm. We chose the most popular wild camping pitch, the Dingley Dell hideaway pitch when we booked.
We arrived about an hour before dark after a much longer journey than anticipated, Pembrokeshire is a long way from the East Midlands! We were met by Gary the very pleasant and enthusiastic owner who showed us around. He gave us directions to our pitch which was a good five minutes walk from the main facilities, completely hidden from view. He did warn us that as it was the last week of the season the pitch was now a little rough around the edges. The last incumbents had been pitched there for two weeks and made the best place to place a tent a little muddy.
With a car full of every conceivable camping luxury we bounced down a long grassy track through a couple of fields to the wonderfully secluded pitch. Unfortunately Gary’s description was correct and although a lovely spot, an extended stay had killed off the grass. A little disappointed we decided instead to camp at the next spot a couple of hundred metres away.
Our pitch was huge and included a picnic bench and fire pit, a normal campsite would have crowded several tents in there but we had the place to ourselves. If the site had have been full, the nearest campers would still have been at least a hundred metres away. With our sleeping tent and Tentipi pitched we set about the most important task of the evening, building a fire. You can either bring your own wood or take from the woodshed, £2.50 for more than enough to last the night. It was great to sit there in the darkness with a beer in hand, whilst the stars came out. It really did feel like we were wild camping, the barn housing the facilities far away in the distance. In fact so far away that one night I got lost after paying a visit, you can read about the embarrassing experience here. Those facilities however are top-notch, the shower rooms being better than many b&b’s that I have stayed in.
You may have noticed a few new trees planted in some of the photos above. Since 2007, Gary has planted 17,000 of them to eventually provide shelter in windswept Pembrokeshire. The site will look stunning when they have matured.
The only downside to our visit was the weather, it was suitably rubbish for most of the time and we eventually got fed up and came home a day earlier. Also the price was a little steep at £22.50 a night for two of us and the dog. However in the height of summer when other campsites are full to bursting, I think that would be a price well worth paying. However Gary’s model must be working as he says that he is already nearly booked up for the school holidays next year. He said that he is visited by people who do not like ‘normal’ campsites! Now, if someone else could come up with a similar model but surrounded by some of my favourite mountains I could well become a regular!
I will do a post about the wild Pembrokeshire coast in the next few days, it really is a lovely rugged area.