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Let’s Go Camping, our beginners how to guide.

What should we take with us?

Safe Stowing - You need to think about safe storage while your vehicle is in motion.

Remember that anything not secured could potentially fly through the car if there was an emergency breaking situation. Try not to cram so much in that you can’t see out! You can take as little or as much as you like, some people like to camp with the smallest amount of kit: tent, sleeping bag, roll mat & off to the pub for food. Others like to take everything and the kitchen sink, the choice is yours.

Basic setup:

You do not need all of this, these are merely suggestions.

Why not ask to borrow some items from family or friends who might happily lend you some kit, .

First Aid Kit

Tent, Pegs, Poles & Mallet

Sleeping Bag

Blanket & Pillow

Roll mat of some sort

Torch & spare batteries

Local Ordnance Survey Map & Compass (learn how to use them)

Water Carrier

Food Supply

Table (for cooking and serving food)


Saucepan, frying pan

Cup, plate, bowl & cutlery

Washing up bowl & cloth

Dishwashing liquid/Tea towel

Rubbish/Re-cycling Bags

Chair or waterproof sit mat

Notepad & pen (useful to leave notes for each other at camp i.e. where you've gone)


Wash kit & spare toilet roll

Hand sanitiser

Spare clothes & Waterproof Jacket

Walking Boots, Wellies, Shoes, Trainers (leave outside shoes at the tent entrance)

Tent slippers or socks (something cosy for relaxing & keep the mud outside)

Sun Cream

Sun Hat (don't get burnt!)

Small kit of bunting, scissors, string, clips, clothes pegs

First Aid Kit

Basic First Aid Kit but with a few added larger dressing pads and some eye wash is a good starter kit.

   Piriton or an anti histamine for bites and stings.

   You could be a long way from help, hopefully you'll be fine but better to be safe.

The Bell Tent

Remember to pack the Tent, Tent Pegs, Tent Poles and Mallet - you'd be surprised how even experienced campers forget one of these!

If you are pitching the bell tent yourself, read through the tent pitching instructions before you leave so you feel confident when you arrive at camp. You could even have a dummy run at home if you’ve got time but it should be a fairly straightforward process. 

If you can’t find the printed version, it’s also on our website. 


You’ll want to be able to socialise outside so allow enough room at the front of your tent to set out your cooking area and space for chairs etc. You may even have one of our Coleman Event Shelters or a tarpaulin to shelter from the sun or rain showers.

   Try to pitch:

On a reasonably flat location. 

Look at which way the sun will travel during the day.

   You’ll probably want to take advantage of the sun for light, relaxing and warmth.

   Work out where natural shade may occur during really hot weather, hedges can offer good wind protection and shade. 

   Try to avoid:

Very wet ground, this could flood if more rain comes. 

Dips in the ground, where surface water can run and gather which could suddenly become an unexpected mini pond!

Rocky areas - they are likely to rip the groundsheet and will be very uncomfortable to sleep or walk on and tricky to get pegs into.

Under trees - branches could fall off, old or diseased trees can loose branches without warning.

   Look up to see if there is any obvious dead wood which could fall down.



Their canopy can offer great shade on hot days, just try to camp to the side of them if possible.

They are great for attaching tarpaulin or hammock lines to but look above to check for any dead wood.

If there is dead wood or obvious loose branches, try and find some different trees for your lines. Should you try to reach the dead branches, please remember they are likely to be very heavy and care should be taken to avoid any injuries.

   Think about:

Washroom/toilets - do you want to be near or further away?

Water supply       - how far do you want to carry water and what are you going to use? 

Car parking         - some sites will let you park right next to your tent but others may require you to either

                                 pitch and re-park or walk from the car park, check with your site.

                                 Just remember you might need to carry everything to your pitch. 

Lakes or rivers    - flying insects will be more numerous, so remember to shut the fly screen and take some insect bite cream with you. 

Slopes                - if you have to pitch your tent on a slope, ensure that your head is up the slope, this will help stop your blood flowing down to your head, which could make you feel unwell. This position will also help prevent you rolling down the hill during the night.


You’ve chosen the spot, now what? 

Remove as much debris from the ground before you pitch the tent. Twigs and small rocks will be very uncomfortable to sleep or walk on inside the tent.

Lay out the footprint (separate groundsheet), you can then be sure how large a space you need and rotate until you are happy with the position. This also helps to protect the zipped in groundsheet from getting too muddy and easier for packing away at the end of your camp. 

Follow the separate printed instructions or from our website pages 'setting up/breaking camp'

Sleeping Bags & Beds

If it’s your first time camping and you are not sure whether you’ll ever camp again or transport could be an issue, you can hire sleeping bags from us.


It’s worth spending a bit of time looking at sleeping bags, you need to be comfortable and get a good nights sleep.

There are a wide variety to choose from and it’s probably best to visit a shop to have a look and if possible try them out to ensure a good fit. Generally the closer fit around your body the less air you need to heat up i.e. it will be warmer. 

Mummy    - sleeping bags are designed to fit snuggly even around the foot area. 

Square fit - have more room all the way around.

Pod          - are a bit larger and more circular for wriggly people that like more room.

Most sleeping bags will have the sizes in centimetres written on them.

They will also suggest a season rating from 1 to 4.

1 = Summer                       

2 = Spring & Summer        

3 = Spring, Summer & Autumn

4 = Spring, Summer, Autumn & Winter

Some sleeping bags will be more specific and indicate a suggested temperature guide. 

Man made fibres or natural? 

The price ranges are huge, you could find a man-made sleeping bag for just a few pounds at a supermarket or spend several hundred pounds on a specialist version. 

Think about where you are going and at what time of year. If it’s the middle of Summer in the south of England you probably won’t need an arctic sleeping bag, unless of course you like to be really warm at night! 

Duck & goose feather are at the higher end of the price range, they are more breathable and warm but try to source them from an ethical supplier. 

Some suppliers to look at (in no particular order) Go Outdoors, Sports Direct, The Range, Cotswold, Mountain Warehouse, Decathlon, Camping International, Halfords, the list of retailers is vast. 


This could be your new best buddy, if its chilly in the evening this will make you nice and cosy wrapped around either ike a shawl or poncho style.

N.B. Man made fibres are flammable so don't go near any naked flames.

Pure wool is flame resistant and also keeps you warmer.

Once you retire to bed you can pop the blanket over your sleeping bag for extra comfort during the night.


We hire a range of beds and mattresses, please see our Home Page for details.

What else is available to buy?

Roll mat, inflatable, self inflating mattress  (SIM), foam, camp bed, military cot, fishing bed or a de-luxe double bed?

A roll mat or similar are essential to insulate your bed from underneath. 

Roll mats can cost from £3 to de-luxe around £100. The choices are endless, try them out if you can to make sure whatever you choose is comfortable.   

Many of us have a camping evolution with our bed choices. As a child we probably just have a thin roll mat on the ground, graduate to a slightly raised bed and then have a bed that’s not so low and easier to get out from. 

Most of the shops listed above in the sleeping bag section will have beds & mattresses for you to try out. 


The countryside can be very dark, your eyes (night vision) should adjust to the darkness. If there's a full moon and clear skies you should have great nigh-time visibility but its always a good idea to take a torch.


Take a basic store of food that you have tried and like. Maybe even some of your favourite herbs & spices.

Check if there are local shops before you go, there's no point filling your car to the brim with tins etc. if there is a shop and bakery 2 minutes away from the campsite! 

Remember to store meat, dairy and other chilled products carefully in a suitable chiller box.

   Some campsites will freeze cool-blocks for you overnight or a bag of ice can work well but obviously thaws so you need to keep an eye on the melted water.

Local producers may supply a bulk quantity of meat and will store it in a refrigerator for you, the joints can then be collected as needed.

Get everyone involved in the buying/preparation/washing up, it's not just one persons job!

There are all sorts of delicious things to cook at camp, the more you practice the better you'll get at adapting favourite recipes.

Pretty much anything you cook at home can be cooked at camp, there are lots of recipe books or ideas on-line.

• If you would prefer less actual cooking, there are huge ranges of de-hydrated light weight foods and boil in the bag options available.

   These can cost around £4 or £5 per packet, although you may be able to get a multi purchase discount. 


You can hire a single ring gas stove from us with 2 gas cylinders for around £10


Do not cook inside the bell tent

• How many of you are camping?

   1 to 4 people, 1 or two gas rings.

   5 or more people, at least 2 rings and some larger pans.

   10+ talk to us about group catering solutions

Most camping shops will sell single ring gas cookers for around £20, the butane gas cylinders cost about £10 for 4.

If you are feeling more adventurous there are a huge range of cookers and fire pits to choose from which are widely available at most outdoor retailers.

Single ring butane gas      £20           

Multi ring gas butane gas £70           

Jet Boil (gas)                     £120

Cadac Gas BBQ               £230

Kelly Kettle                        £50 (this uses small pieces of wood or pine cones)

(Prices are only a rough indication, retailers will have something for most budgets)

Check if your campsite allows open fires

   There's nothing quite like cooking over an open fire, you can cook lovely stews and even bake your own bread in a Dutch Oven. 

   Some campsites may allow raised from the ground fire pits, these do not burn the ground underneath.

Do not be tempted to bring any kind of fire into your tent, this is extremely dangerous through fire risk and also

   Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, which can cause death.


Bucket of Water near to open fire

   Burns - If anyone burns themselves the affected body part should be kept in cold water for at least 10 minutes.

   You should seek medical attention if required as soon as possible.

   Fire - If a log falls out of your fire, you can use the bucket of water to extinguish the flames.

Tools for Cooking

• Long handled utensils are ideal for stirring and serving.

• Leather gloves if you are having an open fire, useful for lifting hot kettles and also placing logs safely using fire tongs and gloves.


4G WiFi

You may not always have a WiFi signal, some parts of the UK are not covered. Try slightly higher ground or go near the local town to pick up a signal. 


What 3 Words

Whether you are experienced with the outdoors or not, this is a great App for anyone. 

The whole world has been divided into 3 metre squares and referenced with three unique words for each square.

It’s a great aid if you are lost or even need to meet someone. The Emergency Services now use this in the UK.

 The Countryside Code

Respect other people

Please respect the local community and other people using the outdoors. Remember your actions can affect people’s lives and livelihoods.

Consider the local community and other people enjoying the outdoors

• Respect the needs of local people and visitors alike – for example, don’t block gateways, driveways or other paths with your vehicle.

• When riding a bike or driving a vehicle, slow down or stop for horses, walkers and farm animals and give them plenty of room.

   By law, cyclists must give way to walkers and horse- riders on bridleways.

• Co-operate with people at work in the countryside.

   eg. keep out of the way when farm animals are being gathered or moved and follow directions from the farmer.

• Busy traffic on small country roads can be unpleasant and dangerous to local people, visitors and wildlife - so slow down and where possible, leave your vehicle at home, consider sharing lifts and use alternatives such as public transport or cycling.

For public transport information, phone Traveline on 0871 200 22 33 or visit

Leave gates and property as you find them and follow paths unless wider access is available

• A farmer will normally close gates to keep farm animals in, but may sometimes leave them open so the animals can reach food and water.

   Leave gates as you find them or follow instructions on signs. When in a group, make sure the last person knows how to leave the gates.

• Follow paths unless wider access is available, such as on open country or registered common land (known as ‘Open Access land’).

• If you think a sign is illegal or misleading such as a ‘Private - No Entry’ sign on a public path, contact the local authority.

• Leave machinery and farm animals alone – don’t interfere with animals even if you think they’re in distress. Try to alert the farmer instead.

• Use gates, stiles or gaps in field boundaries if you can –

   climbing over walls, hedges and fences can damage them and increase the risk of farm animals escaping.

• Our heritage matters to all of us – be careful not to disturb ruins and historic sites.

Leave no trace of your visit and take your litter home

• Protecting the natural environment means taking special care not to damage, destroy or remove features such as rocks, plants and trees.

   They provide homes and food for wildlife, and add to everybody’s enjoyment of the countryside.

• Litter and leftover food doesn’t just spoil the beauty of the countryside, it can be dangerous to wildlife and farm animals –

   so take your litter home with you. Dropping litter and dumping rubbish are criminal offences.

• Fires can be as devastating to wildlife and habitats as they are to people and property –

   so be careful with naked flames and cigarettes at any time of the year.

   Sometimes, controlled fires are used to manage vegetation, particularly on heaths and moors between 1st October and 15th April, but if a fire appears to be unattended then report it by calling 999.

Keep dogs under effective control

• When you take your dog into the outdoors, always ensure it does not disturb wildlife, farm animals, horses or other people by keeping it under effective control.

This means that you:

· keep your dog on a lead, or

· keep it in sight at all times, be aware of what it’s doing and be confident it will return to you promptly on command

· ensure it does not stray off the path or area where you have a right of access

• Special dog rules may apply in particular situations, so always look out for local signs – for example:

· Dogs may be banned from certain areas that people use, or there may be restrictions, byelaws or control orders limiting where they can go.

· The access rights that normally apply to open country and registered common land (known as ‘Open Access’ land) require dogs to be kept on a short lead between 1 March and 31 July, to help protect ground nesting birds, and all year round near farm animals.

· At the coast, there may also be some local restrictions to require dogs to be kept on a short lead during the bird breeding season, and to prevent disturbance to flocks of resting and feeding birds during other times of year.

• It’s always good practice (and a legal requirement on ‘Open Access’ land) to keep your dog on a lead around farm animals and horses, for your own safety and for the welfare of the animals. A farmer may shoot a dog which is attacking or chasing farm animals without being liable to compensate the dog’s owner.

• However, if cattle or horses chase you and your dog, it is safer to let your dog off the lead – don’t risk getting hurt by trying to protect it.

   Your dog will be much safer if you let it run away from a farm animal in these circumstances and so will you.

• Everyone knows how unpleasant dog mess is and it can cause infections, so always clean up after your dog and get rid of the mess responsibly –‘ bag it and bin it’. Make sure your dog is wormed regularly to protect it, other animals and people.


Plan ahead and be prepared

• You’ll get more from your visit if you refer to up- to-date maps or guidebooks and websites before you go.

   Visit or contact local information centres or libraries for a list of outdoor recreation groups offering advice on specialist activities.

• You’re responsible for your own safety and for others in your care – especially children - so be prepared for natural hazards, changes in weather and other events.

   Wild animals, farm animals and horses can behave unpredictably if you get too close, especially if they’re with their young - so give them plenty of space.

• Check weather forecasts before you leave, conditions can change rapidly especially on mountains and along the coast, so don’t be afraid to turn back.

When visiting the coast check for tide times at, don’t risk getting cut off by rising tides and take care on slippery rocks and sea-weed.

• Part of the appeal of the countryside is that you can get away from it all. You may not see anyone for hours, and there are many places without clear mobile phone signals, so let someone else know where you’re going and when you expect to return.

Follow advice and local signs

England has about 190,000 km (118,000 miles) of public rights of way, providing many opportunities to enjoy the natural environment.

Get to know the signs and symbols used in the countryside to show paths and open countryside.

Yellow - Footpath – open to walkers only.

 Blue -   Bridleway – open to walkers, horse-riders and cyclists.

 Plum -  Restricted byway – open to walkers, cyclists, horse-riders and horse-drawn vehicles.

 Red -    Byway Open to All Traffic (BOAT) – open to walkers, cyclists, horse-riders, horse-drawn vehicles and motor vehicles.


 National Trail Acorn – identifies 15 long distance routes in England and Wales and the England Coast Path.

 All are open for walking and some trails are also suitable for cyclists, horse-riders and people with limited mobility. Check the National Trail website at www. for information including maps, trip planning tools and trail diversions.

Open Access land – 865,000 hectares of mountain, moorland, heathland, down land and registered common land (mapped under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000) is available to people to walk, run, explore, climb and watch wildlife, without having to stay on paths. Similar rights are being extended in stages on coastal land in England (identified under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009). Check the Open Access web pages at wps/portal/oasys/maps/MapSearch for maps, information and any current restrictions in place.


A ‘negative’ access symbol – may be used to mark the end of area-wide access although other access rights may exist, for example


The suggestions listed above are described purely to aid the novice camper, it is not intended to be a comprehensive list.

Please use your common sense while camping. 

You should endeavour to research and compile your own lists and practice as much as you want to before setting off on any camping trip.

We do not accept any liability or responsibility for any mishaps or injuries.

Wherever you choose to go, the countryside in the UK is truly beautiful, enjoy some time in any of our lovely counties.

If there is anything we can help with, please just ask.

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