With our trial run over Spring Bank half term saw us head off on our first proper camping trip as a family. This time we didn’t have the luxury of our warm dry beds being just 20 minutes away. No, this time it was a proper family holiday.
We decided to head up to Derbyshire and after reading about it on a couple of websites selected Callow Top as our base for three nights. I lived not too far from Derbyshire for most of my childhood and there were loads of local places that I wanted to revisit with the family and the convenience of it only being a couple of hours up the M1 made it an attractive choice.
Callow Top is quite a large holiday park and perfectly located for days out in various places across Derbyshire and the Peak District. Turning in off the main road the first thing that struck us was the fact that the site itself is actually quite well set back from the road meaning it gives you a feeling of isolation – well as much as you get being on a large holiday park. Upon arrival we were greeted by some very friendly reception staff who gave us directions to field number 7 where we were going to be camping and details on all the on-site facilities.
There are two camping fields at Callow Top in addition to other areas with hardstanding for caravans and camper vans. None of the pitches have EHU, and whilst that wasn’t a problem for us, I realise it might put off some families. One thing that did surprise me though was there there was just one toilet block for the two camping fields. Only four or five female toilets and I think four (although possibly only three) wash basins. Not that many when you consider how many tents there were and on several occasions I found myself having to queue up with the kids. Not what you really want. In fairness the toilets were kept in a good state of cleanliness, but there was still a time when there was only loo roll left in one cubicle and it did make me wonder what state they get in when it’s the height of summer and the site even busier.
One of the big reasons for picking Callow Top was that there were facilities on site like an open air swimming pool and a pub, complete with its own micro-brewery. Yep, you read that right, they brew their own beer there at Callow Top. I’m delighted to report back that the beer was indeed fine, and the kids loved splashing about in the pool too. The food and general organisation in the pub wasn’t quite so great though. We arrived for the advertised curry night on the Saturday to be told that there was a 30 minute wait before they even took our order and then a further wait for the food itself. Ok – that’s understandable off the pub was busy, but when we arrived we had a choice of tables and even by the time we finally left there were still some empty tables. And surely if you have a curry night most of the curry is made in advance and then just served up? Maybe I’m missing something here?
As for the camping itself – we’ll I’m pleased to report that it all went rather well. There were absolutely no problems at all with our tent (unless we talk about the grey guy ropes which Mr C is planning to take up with Vango) and everything went according to plan. There was a good grassy space for the kids to play in our field and Master C in particular enjoyed playing with some of the other children there. On our final night there was one group nearby who seemed determined to play Spotify dance anthems via their car stereo for all to hear, but when it got to quiet hour the site security guy did come round and ask them to be quiet. Personally I’d rather he’d been round about an hour earlier, but maybe I’m just an old fuddy-duddy?
All our camping kit seems to be in check now. There were only a couple of minor things that we need to add to our packing list now and I also learnt that thermals are still necessary in May even if it is sunny all day! The new camp kitchen that was a late addition to our kit list worked well and it was definitely worth persevering to get one that didn’t wobble.
One thing that probably surprised me most with our trip was how well I managed to sleep. We’re not exactly on the most luxurious of mattresses, but I still woke feeling like I’d actually had a decent night’s sleep. Luckily the same can be said for the kids. They were certainly much later than usual going to bed, but didn’t wake until at least gone 7am which is impressive when you consider how light it is in a morning at this time of year. The overall lack of sleep did catch up with them though and that first night back home saw them both sleep until nearly 10am! Absolutely fantastic.
The hardest bit of the whole camping trip though had to be getting the tent back in its bag at the end of the holiday. Luckily all that practice seemed to pay off!
The real test is going to be next week though. I’m off camping on my own with the Women’s Institute at the annual Tea and Tents weekend. I’m incredibly looking forward to it, but more than a tad nervous about whether or not I’ll manage to get the tent up, keep it up all weekend and get it packed away again successfully. I guess only time will tell!