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The Rough Guide to camping in Britain touts itself as containing over 300 of 'Britain's best campsites.' It comes in at just under 400 pages so is quite chunky. Each edition comes out at regular intervals. This refers to the 2010 edition.
It is a paperback book and the front page folds over so that when you open it you get a small and useful ' how to use this guide'. Here it has the key for symbols that are used in the guide eg icons for where there are good walking areas, restaurants, suitable for families and groups of friends.
Just inside the front cover there is a quick reference point where it lists all the different areas that it features and the page numbers where you can go straight to them. This means if you wish you can go straight to the section you want without having to go into the index. Each area also has a different colour tab for quick and easy reference.
The campsite sections are split into the following areas: Devon and Cornwall, The West Country, Southeast England, East England, The Midlands, South Wales, North Wales, Northwest England, Yorkshire, Cumbria and the Lakes, North East England, The Lowlands, The Highlands and The Scottish Highlands.
The number of campsites featured in each geographical area varies obviously according to their geography.
The campsite review vary in size between a whol e 2 page spread to a couple on one page. They all have photos to accompany the text also.
Each site has a summary briefly describing where it is set, what is particularly special about it, the local area and any opinions that the writer may have had, for example they may mention if the staff are not particularly helpful.
Accompanying this is the practicality section which has the following information for each site: the fully address and telephone number, pitches and price, facilities eg showers, sinks, laundrys, shops, any wifi or disabled access, loos etc, restrictions -ie no dogs or campfires, when they are open and finally getting there - how they might be accessible by road or public transport.
There is a very short introduction and this is followedby a two-page spread entitled 'Britain's best campsites' which is basically an introductory list of examplar sites under a few categories eg 'bring the kids' and 'first timers.'
Throughout the book the sections are broken up with useful camping related articles. There is ones on 'equipment' which lists what type of gadgets and tools you should take for a comfortable camping trip as well as useful websites t get these from. Next there is a section on the relatively modern phenomenon of galamorous camping or as it is better known 'glamping.' This part talks about sites it particularly recommends with their contact details.
There is also a one page article on 'adventure sports where it suggests a number of areas for activities such as surfing, bushcraft, diging and extreme walking. The next article is on campsite cuisine which essentially just lists the essential equipment and stock you should keep in for cooking.
There is another article on festivals recommending some of the smaller , less commercial festivals. The final article s on 'wild camping' which is essentially camping off the beaten track such as beaches and farmers fields etc with tips on how to do it legally with appropriate online links.
Obviously this is by no means a comprehensive guide but a fair and assessed view of campsites that you may like if you enjoy camping and are looking for sites which have facilities but are uncomeercial or more off the beaten track.
The campsites featured are not just given fluff pieces, if there are issues within the site which might be off-putting to some visitors they are in the book. The areas are well researched so the search for your ideal campsite does not appear to be so daunting.
Whilst most of the sites are standard campsites, they also contain 'glamping' sites which had yurts and permanent tents. Local restaurants and shops are mentioned by name, thereby encouraging visitors to support local enterprise in the area which I feel is a real admirable quality.
Where the area has particular historical or natural interest, this is noted. Where appropriate the history of the campsite is also mentioned and the owners are quoted by their approach. I find this to be fair and refreshing.
From reading this book I have explored a number of campsites that they have mentioned for future travel and have felt reassured that the information that they have given me will help me to make the right decision particularly when it comes to areas of the UK that I do not know particularly well. This is particularly important as location is equally important as the site itself when it comes to exploring the local area.
The style of writing is casual and friendly and well-informed.
If you are keen on camping at sites which are not all mod-cons and commercialism then you could do a lot worse than start with this one. Obviously being a book, it becomes out of date almost as soon as it gets into print but the depth of information in it means that it is just as much a travel guide which details the sellable points of certain areas as it is a list of campisites that meet it scriteria. And obviously, the fact that it give such good detailed information means that you can just go to their website and see of any updates that you may need to know about, particularly when it comes to price.
The photography is beautiful and appropriate to the sites and areas it represents.
In conclusion, this is a really good comprehensive book which gives good quality advice and is well in keeping of what I would expect from the Rough Guide brand.