Carry on camping… the #staycation of choice for summer 2020
And here’s where it gets really tricky, to find a spot in a campsite complying with Covid-19 rules and regulations the length of your arm, that’s not already booked out until the end of August.
Camping is back in vogue, no mistake about it as families clamour to get out of the house with the kids, and ditch those cabin fever blues in favour of blue skies and the great outdoors. In fashion terms, camping is the new black.
Okay, it’s #staycation Ireland so make that the grey outdoors trading as the great outdoors, with blue skies an optional extra… like the charge for showers, electricity and awnings on most Irish campsites.
Nevertheless, hail, rain or… more rain, this is Ireland and the beaches are thronged and the campsites are booked out and we’re not going to let the odd shower spoil our lust for life post lockdown. We’re going to carry on camping! Everyone is going camping somewhere this year.
|Sunset at Dick’s Field, Ardmore. (Photo credit Pat Sheridan)|
Recently retired RTE presenter Seán O’Rourke has hit the road and was spotted this past week in Dick’s Field, Ardmore in his 142 Hobby. Munster and Ireland rugby legend Ronan O’Gara has been tweeting up about the delights of family camping in Biarritz. (The best way to tackle Biarritz – see review here).
|Even rugby legend Ronan O’Gara has been bitten by the camping bug.|
With a second Covid wave potentially lurking around the corner, travel bans, quarantine, self-isolation, ferry (and flight) cancellations and a rather uninviting, underwhelming and downright confusing ‘green list’ of destinations, well camping is your only man, woman and child.
|Camping in the Kingdom. This popular Goosey Island site is situated in the picturesque village of Sneem.|
|Camping in the stunning Connemara Eco-Camping near Clifden. Physical distancing comes naturally.|
Those who have already made a break for it are reporting comets in the night skies, ice cream cones, fish’n’chips fresh from the boats in Dingle, Killybegs and Kilmore Quay and stunning scenery to beat the band. What’s there not to like?
|Day or night the scenery is stunning. It’s part of the appeal of camping.|
The upsurge in renewed interest in camping and the curbing of overseas options has led to many of the more popular coastal campsite locations being completely booked out for the peak season through July/August.
While there is some midweek availability, some campsites have not opened for the 2020 season at all, many are not taking tents, most require advance booking, and the majority are operating with reduced services with wholesale restrictions on kitchens, showers and even toilets. Numerous campsites are notifying that they are entirely booked out until the end of August, while others are only accepting campers with their own self-contained units.
|Camping is fun but one of the additional challenged this season is that many campsites are declining to accept tents due to Covid restrictions and the closure of shared facilities like kitchens, toilets and showers.|
At the same time there is mounting evidence that while campsite services and capacity may be reduced, prices are not, and indeed the indications are of price increases. Experienced campers are reporting prices upwards of €40 per night for a unit and two adults.
Furthermore there has been an upsurge in ad hoc parking in towns and villages with no designated spaces or where campsites are unable to cope with the spike in demand.
Not surprisingly, this has led to tensions in certain localities with residents complaining of an influx of vehicles and what they view as illegal parking.
|It’s deplorable scenes like this that give campers a bad name and raises public objections.|
Such is the level of concern the issue has been raised at local authority meetings around the country in the past week, including even in Kerry, where there are objections to motorhomes camping overnight in town centre car parks and beauty spots in and around Killarney.
There is growing talk of more restrictions, Council by-laws prohibiting overnight parking and barriers at scenic areas to prevent access by campers in places such as Hook Lighthouse in Wexford, where kerbside and pier parking in Kilmore Quay is also raising hackles.
While such prohibitions have already been introduced along quaysides in Galway city, Mullaghmore, Leitrim and Dungarvan, there were further episodes of negative reactions to campers developing in places normally welcoming of motorhomes in Kenmare, Portumna, West Cork, Westport, Ardmore and Achill.
|A sign of the times. Restrictions on camping are becoming more commonplace just as it becomes more popular.|
|Camping restrictions in Achill where there has been disquiet over the numbers of vehicles ‘wild camping’.|
Elsewhere in the Shannonside Tipperary village of Terryglass the local tidy towns organisation were moved to intervene over what they say is wholesale indiscriminate overnight parking, littering and anti-social behaviour. There were even complaints of illegal dumping at the popular and usually well respected Aire in Cobh.
The experienced campers cry foul, plead innocence and point the finger at others. It is not in the interest of regular and veteran campers to burn their bridges as they appreciate the symbiotic relationship between themselves and local communities.
There is little doubt that some wreckless first timers and newcomers are spoiling the camping opportunities for everyone else.
Pulling up willy-nilly off the street, blocking a working pier, encroaching on yellow boxes, taking over multiple parking spaces (with awnings & BBQ’s), over-nighting in a car park and leaving a mess behind for others to deal with hardly constitutes ‘wild camping’ or ‘going off grid’, as some like to rebelliously portray themselves, compounded in a minority of cases a downright reluctance and refusal to pay for any kind of services.
There is levidence that for some the so called ‘wild camping’ is little more than an excuse to have a party and piss-up on the dunes, in the park, at the forest or on the banks of the lakeside or river and try pawn it off as a camping weekend.
|The Garda were prompted to issue a security warning this week due to the spate of caravan thefts.|
Camping is fun. Camping is good. Camping is good for you, so how do we keep it that way as the peak August bank-holiday weekends approach in Ireland and the UK, and newly converted camping fans snap up the last of the outdoors gear and bargains.
Here are some pointers, tips and insider info that may make the difference in ensuring that you remain a happy camper… and that everyone else enjoys the experience also.
First and last rule of camping – leave no trace. It’s self-explanatory, leave the camping spot the way you would like to find it, that includes cans, bottles and cigarette butts and of course the toilets. Basic respect for others.
Get online and join one of the many useful camping and motorhome forums on Facebook. These are run by vastly experienced campers with a wealth of knowledge which they are only too willing to share. While they are all glad to be supportive and help on a wide range of camping related topics, some of the questions being posed recently border on the ridiculous, trivial and downright lazy. They are not, as one recently pointed out, travel agents, so do make a basic effort to inform yourself and then avail of the vast knowledge and insights of your fellow campers.
Parking up at Lidl is not ‘wild camping’. If you are going to go wild, go wild in the country.
With that in mind a rain jacket, walking boots, a bike, a kayak or a surf board are vital pieces of camping kit as you take a break from Netflix.
|Good camping kit is vital. This range of useful accessories from Alo Donegan, Portlaoise.|
August means peak camping. The ‘full house’ signs are up all across the country’s most popular campsites. Try booking and plan ahead.
In this regard it is vital to inform yourself of all the options and real time info available from the numerous camping forums on Facebook. Just key in motorhome, campervans or camping and a range of options will pop up. There are even ones that specialise in camping with kids, camping for adults only, camping near pubs, wild camping, pet friendly camping and yes, wild camping.
Learn how to pack light in a one bag strategy but always bring the essentials like fresh water, tea, coffee, sugar, as you’d never know when you will get stuck.
No camping trip is complete without the obligatory BBQ. You will also need basics like a bottle opener/cork screw, matches, cool box/fridge, a mallet, spare gas, a torch, high-vis vest, first aid kit, toilet roll, and a good map (you won’t always have a signal for Google maps coverage). Make a list.
Remember, first and last rule, leave no trace.
See also: 25 tips to make you a Happy Camper