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Sites to behold

JEMIMA NELSON packs her overnight bag and heads to four UK campsites to seek out fire food beside the tents, pods and tipis

 Jemima Nelson   Summer 2022

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FOOT OF THE DOWNS

This is a small glamping site on a farm in the West Sussex village of Fulking, in the heart of the South Downs National Park. Paythorne Farm has been farmed by the Harris family for over a century. David Ellin is the farm manager, with Foot of the Downs managed by his wife Angela.

Opened last summer, Foot of the Downs has two fully equipped glamping pods and a shepherd’s hut. All have heating, a bathroom and a kitchen and are open all-year round. 

“We are a farm diversification project supplementing our business income. Being in such a wonderful location it’s great to bring guests to the South Downs National Park to experience the rural life, chat to my husband David and learn about farming,” says Angela Ellin.

“We are a quiet site, aimed at families and couples and promote sourcing and using local produce and being sustainable in our choices.”  

Foot of the Downs has fire pits with utensils and wood, as well as BBQ food packs, including the likes of burgers, sausages, lamb koftas and chicken skewers. There is a Full English breakfast pack too, with the meat supplied by local butcher Clive Miller from Hurstpierpoint.

“We love a barbecue; I particularly enjoy the smoky flavour of cooking chilli con carne on the firepit. It is such a lovely, sociable way of cooking, getting friends and family round the firepit, eating great food and enjoying being outdoors together.”

CAMP MELA

Camp Mela is five tipis set in a two-acre meadow in the north Norfolk countryside near the market town of Reepham.“Our ethos is reflected in our low impact approach, working sensitively with the land and respecting the energy of the place,” says Maddie Packman from Camp Mela, inspired by a lifetime of outdoor adventure. “It is important to tread lightly and we have used many reclaimed and locally sourced materials.”

 

 

Each traditional Sioux tipi at Salle Moor Hall Farm has its own BBQ firepit with cooking utensils and dry seasoned logs, mostly oak and ash. Central to camp is the big communal firepit cooking area. The firepit is made from a repurposed lorry wheel hub that has had a circular hot plate welded onto it. 

There is a tripod, chain and trammel hook for hanging cooking pots and kettles, or hanging meats and vegetables for cooking over the fire. “We provide all the outdoor cookware for use over the fire, cast iron and Petromax products being favourites. Guests bring their own barbecue food, but we have fantastic local producers, such as Swannington Farm to Fork just a few miles from camp.”

There is even the All Day Brewing Company down the road, with craft beers to slake camp thirsts.

“Campfire favourites are marinated skirt steak with chimichurri, grilled aubergine and summer squash and BBQ tail-on tiger prawns skewers with garlic butter, mopped up with ciabatta. Cooking over a fire outdoors is an essential part of the camping experience.” 

CATGILL FARM

In the rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales, just outside the village of Bolton Abbey, Catgill Farm is an award-winning family-run camping and glamping destination.

A family-run North Yorkshire farm for the last 60 years and originally a dairy farm, owners Oliver and Cat Barker opened the campsite in 2014. It offers timber pods and bell tents with log-fuelled hot tubs, as well as feasting by firelight in a designated Dark Sky area. The owners also recently took over the neighbouring Howgill Lodge campsite, with its hillside terraces, 10 minutes away. 

“We love nothing more than firing up the barbecue and cooking over the open flames under a canopy of stars. Our glamping accommodation features a large fire pit with built-in grill and pizza oven for barbecues and toasting marshmallows. BBQ boxes from Keelham Farm butchers in Skipton can be pre-ordered. Great food makes for great camping,” says Oliver Barker.

“You can enjoy a hearty breakfast over the coals with our Rise and Dine packs. As night falls, a Keelham BBQ feast perfectly complements the magic of gathering around a roaring fire. Food favourites are BBQ steak, peri-peri and vegetable kebab, chicken peri-peri fillet, pork and apple burger and classic corn on the cob.” Guests can bring their own portable grills, but they must be raised off the ground.

WOODFIRE

In a corner of West Sussex, one small gourmet campsite is pioneering a new way of living and eating outdoors.

Woodfire owners Stella Gurney and Mark ‘Griff’ Griffiths are blazing a trail to show both traditional campers and city diners just how good life outside can taste.

In 1950s Italy, rural areas experienced an exodus to the cities as small-scale farmers struggled to make a living. The Italian government intervened and funded agriturismos – smallholdings with homecooked food, aiming to bring tourism to the source of the produce, rather than sending that produce into cities. 

With Woodfire, Stella and Griff are introducing this concept to the South Downs by creating an affordable campsite that combines sustainable outdoor living with delicious food, all cooked outside over fire and sourced from neighbouring farms.

As well as cooking up seasonal fare for their weekend campers, Woodfire also hosts feast nights during the week, that bring together some of the country’s best open-fire chefs from top London restaurants such as Temper, Scully St James’s and Ottolenghi’s ROVI. Together, chefs collaborate on multi-course menus to showcase the outstanding quality of produce from across Sussex.

“As hospitality struggles to find its groove in a coronavirus-conscious, post-Brexit world, eating outdoors in small but perfect one-of-a-kind events is Woodfire’s first step towards providing a new, unique type of dining and camping experience – acres of space and greenery, fresh air, roaring campfires, stargazing and delicious, homecooked food,” says Stella Gurney. 

BBQ magazine is working with Hipcamp (www.hipcamp.com), the world’s largest provider of outdoor stays and backed by Jay-Z, which earlier this year acquired London-based Tripadee and its Cool Camping brand.

 


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