We sent Nina and her family to South West Wales on the Pembrokeshire coast to experience low-impact camping at Eco-Escapes.
“I was a little nervous about camping this time, after a few years off due to illness. Would this trip reignite my passion or blow out that flame for good?”.
Well I am pleased to say I really shouldn’t have worried. This eco-site, nestled in the heart a working farm in Pembrokeshire is a beautiful, calm, quirky and lovingly made little gem of a site.
You could instantly feel the calm vibe as we pulled in. Blending in perfectly with the rural landscape, you don’t know its there until your at the heart of it. Wind turbines are the most ‘man made’ looking thing near the site, but they are surprisingly quiet and unimposing .
On arrival we were were trusted to find our own pitch (unlike the bigger sites today), armed with very good instructions from the hosts, which was a nice touch. The site is set two fields back from the quiet road, with two gates that are kept shut for child and animal safety.
It is surrounded by hedgerows too and another two gates into the forest so it is very safe and secure. There are no concrete roads on this site, just grass and trees and nature at its finest. We were in the meadow area, with a huge pitch including fire pit, picnic table, bbq and wood store.
The children could roam free while we pitched the tent- it felt like we had been transported back to the 1950’s and the stress and strains of modern living was already melting away. It wasn’t long before we met Andrew; a warm well spoken chap that runs the site with his wife.
A working farm, they branched out to include some wind turbines and the intimate eco-site. He told us of a lovely walk around the site and into the forest, and was really helpful without being over bearing or reeling off a list of do’s and don’t (like so many of the bigger sites now!!).
After 5 plus hours in the car, we couldn’t wait to stretch our legs.The camp site has some pitches in the forest too and access to the rest of the most beautiful forest, that leads out onto mud flats and a cove. We spent a couple of hours exploring the winding paths finding so many hidden gems. The kids adored the farms prized pig ‘Ernie’, the big daddy who lived in the forest and was living the best life a pig could dream of, I was a little jealous of him.
We learned, the muddy way, why one area was called ‘Dead Mans Lake’ (quick sand is not a great place for kids, dogs and extra anxious mothers!!) The walk takes you around in a 3 mile circle and back to camp, although not for the faint hearted , it’s like a back drop to the Enid Blyton “Enchanted Wood” series, magical and a little crazy.
The site doesn’t have a shop, but it has a sheltered wooden information area, with sinks and a recycling area.
The 2 main toilets and showers are also wooden, built from reclaimed timber by the owners and all spotlessly clean.
I found Kirsty; wife of Andrew and co owner, to be equally lovely and helpful when I met her later into the stay. She told me her husband had made everything from recycled wood.
As they both have many other commitments including running the farm, they have slowly but surely built the place from scratch. The showers have plastic roofs so you feel like your showering outside, they were actually great fun, very hot (or cold depending on your liking!!) and the kids actually showered more than at home!!! They were heated by gas bottles and I thought they brilliantly made.
They also provided Ecover cleaning products, which contain less chemicals than normal products, so these guys really do put thought into what they are doing.
He had also made a wooden swing from a tree for the kids and it didn’t take them long to meet friends there and it seemed to be the place to hang out. Good old fashioned fun and not a screen in sight – heaven!.
Despite its wonderful rural location, not having a shop on site is not a problem; Mildford Haven has plenty of places to get supplies and a little further drive is the large town of Pembroke, which has many lovely shops.
We were again really helpfully recommended three beaches by Kirsty (Newhaven, Sandy haven and Barafundle bay) which we decided we must explore. This part of the welsh coast line has to be one of the most beautiful and dramatic places I have ever been in the world.
Literally breath taking and so much contrast. The first day we spent exploring Sandy Haven Beach, only a 5 min drive from the site – a tiny little dog friendly cove that literally revealed its self before us as the tide went out. The kids spent hours exploring the rocks and coves. We even had a paddle in the crystal clear sea.
There are a few boats to watch and the occasional dog on a surf board. There no toilets or ice cream shops here, but there is free parking (how lovely is that), its easy to get to and then only a 3 minute walk. There is no chance you will be bored with a beach almost to yourself.
Back on the site, we cooked under stars and watched the world go by. Other than a few wasps it was perfect, avoid fizzy drinks if you are not a fan!
The next day we headed off to Barafundle Bay 25 min further along the coast. In contrast to little Sandy Haven, this beach has tea rooms, ice cream shop and plenty of toilets and is again dog friendly. It also comes with a huge parking area and the standard parking charges, but my word its worth the £6!
Parking up, we followed a lot of other people out and up onto the wild rugged cliffs. A good 10 minutes across fields which feels like forever and you start wondering if this ever has an end…and then suddenly there it is, an almost secret cove, its like we stumbled out into Cyprus.
Crisp pristine white sands and an emerald sea lie below the dramatic cliff tops. This beach comes with a lot more people but no less beautiful and we happily lost an afternoon here people watching and building sand castles.
The walk back was powered by promises of ice cream, and we were not disappointed with the locally made produce sold in the shop by the car park. A perfect day was finished off by local fish and chips in the van on the way back to the site.
Day three we couldn’t leave Pembrokeshire with visiting its famous castle – about 25 minutes drive from the site, a really fun and pretty drive too. Pembroke castle even got the teenager interested (finally once we were there!!) However if you have a fear of heights, losing your kids or your kids trying to fly off the top of a castle) then maybe take a flask of gin to calm your nerves.
The kids spent the afternoon transported back to Norman times and luckily there is plenty of green space for them to re enact battles and try to kill each other. And guess what – it is dog friendly too, the Welsh have their priorities right.
A fantastic afternoon out, we took a picnic but there is a cafe if you wanted food or ice cream too. On the way home from the castle we stopped at Newhaven Beach (another recommendation from Kirsty) to see the sunset. This place blew us away and not just literally – it was as staggeringly beautiful as it was windy and it was virtually empty. Cue crazy dogs and kids time, oh the freedom!!
Our host was right about the sunset too, as the light faded and the rather rare cliff-dwelling Chough’s circled, it changed the colours of the beach and with it brought a vivid warm glow to everything. Back through Pembroke town we picked up proper Italian pizza which was such a treat, I was glad of the spot of rain that was my reason for not cooking at camp!
That night brought true Welsh wind and rain and a broken tent – which was a giggle; but considering we had three full days of sunshine, did three beaches and a castle, cooked wild, had a camp fire, and went in the sea every day we really cannot complain. We all loved this site, its simple yet quirky, rural yet not cut off, it is peaceful without being boring and has an honest, warm friendly feel to it.
We all slept well and waking to the sound of sheep and not cars was really lovely.
This campsite just gets it right, a lovely area of a working farm, giving campers fantastic access to nature while still respecting it. I actually felt quite relaxed after the 4 nights, instead of frazzled. I cannot recommend this place highly enough and cannot wait to return.
For more info, and to book your escape, CLICK HERE!