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25/05/2016

Glenariffe Forest Campsite - no more tents

Sadly Glenariffe Forest Campsite in Co Antrim, following it's revitalisation, will no longer be accepting tents. It has spaces for caravans and future provision for some glamping pods but tents are not welcome. 

This post follows on from a Facebook Discussion on Northern Ireland Campsite Forums Facebook page. One of our members, Laura, was appalled to find that her favourite campsite would no longer be available to her. 


Laura had written to the Forestry Commission and had received a response which was posted on Facebook. 


"The new caravan site was constructed following discussions with the local District Council who had previously commissioned a report into tourism provision within the Moyle area. At the time of design it was considered that the greatest need was to provide a 5* caravan site in the first instance and to leave space within the site for ‘glamping pods’ which could be added later if demand requires this." (extract from response by customer.forestservice:daera-ni.gov.uk)

So what's in a name. There is the term 'Caravan Site'. How many of them have pitches suitable for tents? The answer is that the majority of Caravan sites are also Camping sites and the majority of Camp sites have pitches suitable for caravans.

The name is not regulated by law. A provider can call their camping provision whatever they like, and accept any units regardless of the name which they use to describe the facility as long as they have the relevant planning permissions to operate.

"I was disappointed to hear on Facebook that the new campsite at Glenariffe will no longer be offering pitches for tents. This is despite the fact that it previously did. There also appears to be campers facilities provided, which is at odds with the lack of tent spaces. Caravans and Motorhomes do not need a 'campers kitchen' as they already have these facilities on board." (extract)

The Forestry Commission has decided to exclude tents in this instance and the question is why. What is the  point of excluding part of your revenue. As a tenter I often pay exactly the same as a caravan pitch which can be anything from £18 to £25 per night. I also use a hook up which is often an extra £3 to £4 on top of that rate. I'm happy to do so as I think it should not matter what kind of unit you are in - the pitch is being paid for regardless of whether it's a tent, a caravan, a camper van or a trailer tent. 

They also state that they are a 5* facility. 

Does this mean that tent campers aren't deserving enough to use a 5* facility? I guess this is going back to the old misconceptions about campers. 

Recently a discussion took place on Northern Ireland Campsites Forums Facebook page about Caravanners attitudes towards seeing tents on site. Unsurprisingly it proved to be controversial with some members having a somewhat snobbish attitude towards campers. However the overwhelming opinion of the majority of members stated that they were happy to see campers on site. Indeed many of them had been campers themselves at one time or other in their lives.

All of the people, regardless of whether they are campers or caravanners and who use these campsites have some money in their pockets which they are willing to  hand over in order to provide themselves with their chosen form of accommodation. 

I can only surmise that the banning of tents and therefore campers is discriminatory and will needlessly reduce the amount of accommodation cover for the area which is very popular with tourists. 





10/05/2016

Curing my addiction to tent buying

I have, amazingly, sold not one but five tents in the past month. There is a variety of reasons for this. Partly, the Bell Tent is such a success now that I don't envisage me not using it for the majority of camping trips. Partly, it was getting ridiculous, the amount of tents I had stashed in my attic. Lastly, I am going for my annual fortnight long camping trip to the Lake District this summer and the sale of a few tents has offset the cost of the ferry between Belfast and Cairnryan. 

But do not worry my tent buying loving amigos, I did buy one little ickle tent. It hasn't arrived yet as the release date is a few weeks off yet. This is a replacement for the Vango Halo 300 which I sold recently because I was finding that it wasn't quite the 'no faff' tent I wanted. That third pole was tricky to install. It held its value well and now someone in Somerset it the owner of my not oft used Vango Halo and I hope they get years and years out of it because it is a great tent. 

I have bought an Olpro Pop, which is a two berth dome tent. At £59 it was cheap anyway but an extra 10% off on a Bank Holiday sale certainly made me feel even better. The poles are already in situ on the tent, Khyam stylee. Where it wins over the three berth Vango Halo is the extra 10cm head height inside. It is also, for a two berth, bigger inside. It's 210mm by 210mm whereas the Halo had a useable inner of 210mm by 180mm. The pack size is comparable to an umbrella fold camping chair. 

This is my 'no faff' tent (I hope) for those times when the sun is out, the weather is predicted to be great, and it will probably just live in the car boot most of the summer. Then, when I go camping to the Lake District with my son, he and his girlfriend will be taking up residence in it as a pup tent, preferably on the other side of the camping area. 





02/05/2016

Jordanstown Loughshore Camping and Caravanning site

Loughshore Camping and Caravan Park is on a stretch of coastline looking across Belfast Lough to Hollywood and where you can see passing ships navigate their way in and out of Belfast harbour. In the distance you can see the landmark Structures Samson and Goliath cranes which are situated in Harland & Wolff Shipyard where the Titanic was built. 

The campsite itself is along side a landscaped park area comprising of a kids play park and walks along the shore. There are picnic tables and steps down to a stony beach and there is a cafe selling drinks, buns and some hot food in the same building as the campsite amenities. The other side is a busy road and there is some road noise however it is not that intrusive. 


The way in is barred with a substantial gate for vehicles and a pedestrian gate alongside, with a keypad system to get in and out. I was sent an email with my four digit number along with my booking which was also done online. In fact I never met the warden, I believe there was one but because I'd booked online I didn't need to go to a reception. 

The gate is on the side of a building and the 'front' of this building is the coffee shop and some public toilets. The back side of the same building is amenities for the campers and caravanners. There is a Laundry room, office, sluice all with their own doors then the end door leads to male and female toilets and showers. In the female side there was two toilets, two separate showers and a row of sinks. There was a free to use wall mounted hair dryer and the showers were also free. My shower wasn't terribly warm after the first minute but at least it wasn't hyperventilating cold.





All the amenities were quite clean and well maintained. There is also an area set aside for leaflets and a map on the wall. It's all quite well thought out. 

The camping pitch I had was a little on the small side but I was delighted to find it 'fully serviced' in that it had a post with EHU and a tap with corresponding drain. The pitch just about held my 4m Bell Tent which is quite a modestly sized tent compared to some. I paid £15 and did not actually know I was going to get EHU. There are only four camping pitches in all and three of them are on the other side of the roadway, therefore backing on to a green space. That means that there is a little more room for a bigger tent. I went for Pitch 4 which was between the road and the fence overlooking the view. The fence is tall, similar to the type you get around a school. I felt quite secure but at the same time it doesn't look like a 'security' fence.







The pitches are mostly caravan pitches with a hard standing and a grassed area. Unfortunately if you wanted your caravan facing the view you had to forgo using your awning as the grass area would be on the wrong side. I did notice that most caravans were facing the view and therefore the 'wrong' way. 

The only negative I have is that when you are sitting down, trying to enjoy the view, the hedges which are planted on the far side of the fence are getting too tall to see over. I noticed that there are also climbing plants being trained to grow up the fence. If this is left unchecked then the point of the camp site, which is the view, will be null and void and to me there is no point going to this camp site any more.

It was a Bank Holiday weekend and the weather recently has been very chilly with even some snow and hail, although luckily I didn't endure that on this camping trip. It was still very cold at night and I was delighted to find that I had access to EHU, and luckily I'd brought the cable and a small fan heater just in case. 







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