* This week marks National Camping and Caravanning Week. My piece for the Daily Mail was held over but here’s a preview.
I don’t get glamping.
Indeed, as the black sheets of rains swirled around me on the drive through rural North Wales, I couldn’t find much glamour in a blustery Bank Holiday weekend of camping.
But, with National Camping and Caravanning Week running May 25-31, The Camping and Caravanning Club has a new plan to lure skeptics like me to their sites – Ready Camp.
The concept is simple: a turn-up-and-stay, ready pitched tent sleeping up to six people amid some of Britain’s most glorious scenery. There’s no need for camping equipment or wrestling with guy ropes in a storm as everything is prepared for you.
You simply bring bedding and towels, and stop at a supermarket along the way to stock up on supplies.
Ready Camp tents are now available at 17 Club sites around Britain and I had to come to the small, rural site near Baal Lake, Snowdonia [picture above], to test drive the concept with a night under canvas.
“Ready Camp a stepping stone from urban to country life,” said site manager Graham Bland, showing me to my brown-canvas tent.
“It’s a soft option for first-time campers like families and young couples.”
As I unzipped the flysheet I was pleasantly surprised.
The tent comprises two bedrooms with proper beds and an open-plan kitchenette/dining area with a few home comforts, such as a sofa and a microwave oven. There are sockets to plug in electrical devices and WiFi is available at a charge of £2 per day.
You can also hire an electric heater from reception for chilly evenings.
The campsite itself, popular with outdoors types and rail enthusiasts visiting the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway at nearby Porthmadog, was compact and tranquil.
Beyond the bathroom block and laundry facilities, I could hear the sound of a gurgling stream running alongside the pitches. Red kites and buzzards soared overhead as I made myself at home.
“This is our favourite site to work on,” explained co-manager Tina Bland, arriving with teabags from the handy on-site shop.
“I just like the feeling here of being close to nature.”
That night, after some home-cooked pub grub and a couple of pints of Purple Moose, a local microbrewery ale, at The Bryntirion Inn, I was feeling more relaxed – despite the steep, two-mile walk back to the campsite.
The clouds had cleared and the stars emerged to bathe the rolling hills in a silvery glow, the outside lights of my Ready Camp tent a beacon in the distance.
So, did the Ready Camp concept convert me?
Well, after a surprisingly snug night under canvas, breakfast on the patio with views of the Berwyn range of mountains and a slap-up brunch the next morning at Rhug Estate, a nearby farm shop with a fine line in local organic produce, I was coming round to the idea of glamping
Maybe I could yet be a happy camper.