Cloud Farm, Exmoor, South West England

http://www.cloudfarmcamping.com/index.htm

Cloud Farm is hardly a secret in this part of England. And at peak times it gets pretty busy but it still scores very highly for me. If you get there at a good time you can pitch next to the river (Badgworthy Water), which tumbles along merrily and, it has to be said, fairly noisily along the bottom of the valley. There is a fence presumably to stop small children falling in, but there are handy gaps at intervals so you can climb down, clamber over the rocks, and do all the other things that picturesque rivers require you to do.

Camping right next to Badgworthy Water.

Arriving mid-week the place is lovely and empty.

On the oppposite side of the river is Exmoor. Although you are in a valley the views are lovely, there is a cute footbridge over the river from the campsite or if you are brave a few places you can step across on stones with only slightly wet feet, depending on how high the river is! It is well worth exploring this area. In one direction along the river there are several deep pools, very peaceful and beautiful and in the other direction you will find the ford where the occasional car or tractor splashes through and the kids can have a great paddle, next to which is a rather a sweet gift shop and a cafe. All most satisfying.

Nearby is Lynton and Lynmouth, the stony beach of Porlock and if you venture through the Valley of The Rocks near Lynmouth you might stumble across Lee Cove, a gorgeous cove which reveals acres of gorgeous sand as the tide recedes. The guy who runs the campsite is a yachtsman so ask him about tide times!

Fantastic cove that reveals acres of sandy beach as the tide recedes.

Fires are allowed, indeed encouraged, you can’t book so try and get there early for a riverside pitch. The site does spread a long way along the river but the furthest parts are quite a hike from the toilets. There is a shop with some basics and a lovely cafe selling crean teas. Yum. All set amongst the gorgeous wildness of Exmoor. A definite favourite.

 

Since, this review written I have visited Cloud Farm again, please have a look at my thoughts second time around!  You may also be interested in this ‘Alternatives to Cloud Farm’.

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Campsite Review: Priory Mill Farm, Brecon, South Wales

Where: Priory Mill Farm, Brecon, South Wales,

How Much: £7.50 per adult, £4.50 per child (2-11)

Campfires: Yes, only in braziers but you can borrow them free of charge.

Wood: £5 per bag of logs

Facilities:  Lovely toilet and shower block, a river and short walk to Brecon.

So much about this campsite is great. It has been well thought out, the facilities have been built with skill and charm, the Mill House is beautiful, they do not overcrowd the site and they do rent out fire pits. The site lies in a fairly narrow ribbon alongside a lovely tumbling river, just the right sort for kids to play around in, making dams etc.

On the down side, as you are down in a small valley it does feel a little enclosed, I was frustrated that I was in the Brecon Beacons with no mountains in sight. The road next to the site, although minor, is fairly busy during the day and being in a small valley the noise is a bit amplified. Where we were pitched was perhaps the worst spot.  The river is behind a big screen of trees and down a steep bank so I did not feel able to leave the kids (one of whom is only 3) to play in the river by themselves, as I couldn’t see them. Of course, no fault of the owners and I certainly am not suggesting they should cut the trees down but just an aspect that made it slightly less than perfect for me, however, it was a good patch of shallow river great for building dams etc and would be great for slightly older kids.

Unfortunately, I had been unable to book a fire pit, having been assured that one would be available.  When we turned up I was rather disappointed when it turned out there were none left. They did agree that we could use our fold up barbeque as a fire pit, and I was a happy camper once again. But I fear my experience was slightly tarnished in those important first moments of arrival. In addition,  having set up camp at the far end of the site on a rather scrubby bit of land as we were in a campervan, I was somewhat miffed to find a campervan parked right in the middle of the lush meadow the next day.

The Brecon Beacons is a fantastic national park and our explorations of it are far from over. Priory Mill has done a lot right but I think you need to pitch in the right spot to get the most from it and try to insist on reserving a fire pit!

Or you could buy yourself your own Portable Fire Pit!

UPDATE

I have since been in contact with the owner of Priory Mill and I told her about my experience.  She had the following to say:

‘Hello Hazel,

I’m really sorry that your experience with us was not so great.

I’m not sure when it was that you came to stay, but it really is very rare for us to run out of fire-pits.

We had a few fire-pits stolen from our site towards the end of last year (quite disheartening) which meant that a couple of times we ran out, but only over one or two weekends at the end of the summer holidays. Noel has since made some more to replace these.

We are still planning on sticking with our honesty system this year (and lending our fir-pits out) rather than a deposit system (too complicated) in the hope that people will honour this and not take them home!

We have done quite a bit more clearing on the river bank this winter so that the river is more accessible than it was…. and sunnier too.

We have an area at the far end of the field that we use for campervans as it has hard core under the grass. This means that we can have campervans park there without damaging the grass where the ground is much softer.

Occasionally we have had people taking their campervans onto the softer grass area….. (possibly misunderstanding our directions to the hard standing area?)….. it is then difficult for us to insist that they move once they’ve set up, but I can see that this could be annoying to witness as a camper who has followed our request!

We endeavour to keep both the site and the grass in as good a condition as is possible until the very end of the season (end of October), but a very wet summer can make this quite a challenge. Keeping vehicles off the grass helps to prevent a late summer mud bath !

Once again I’m really sorry that your stay with us was not more enjoyable and I hope that if you come again it will be a better experience.

Best wishes’

Beeches Farm Campsite, Chepstow, South Wales

Fires and Views!!

http://www.beechesfarmcampsite.co.uk

Waking on a rainy morning, opening the doors of the van to the sight of clouds wrapped around the thick woods of the hills opposite and sinking down into the Wye Valley. Now that’s what camping is all about.Not much else at the site but, wow, what great views!

Views!!

Beeches Farm also provides great stone circled fire pits and sells logs and kindling. There is walking access to the woods from the campsite. And nearby is Tintern Abbey, a ruined Abbey famous from Wordsworth’s lovely ditty. The facilities at last visit were adequate, nothing to rave about but did the job. A lovely, simple campsite, one of my favourites.