In my travel podcast series, I have a podcast interview with Dixe Wills, author of the Tiny Campsites guide, we discuss the benefits of slow travel and the things that make the campsites in this guide so special. You can read my review of the Tiny Campsite guide and hear Dixe’s tips and resources for those who want to travel in an environmentally friendly way. Like the Tiny Campsites Guide, this interview is guaranteed to leave you wanting to pack your tent and get out to enjoy these quirky and characterful campsites, handpicked by Dixe and all under one acre in size.[powerpress: http://traffic.libsyn.com/heatheronhertravels/10-Tiny-campsites-Dixe-Wills.mp3]
I met Dixe when we were both camping at Trericket Mill and Dixe was cycling around Wales to research his Tiny Campsites guide. We discuss how he got into travel writing when he was wondering how to pay the mortgage and on the spur of the moment wrote to the Guardian Newspaper travel editor to pitch an article on Wild Camping. However Dixe suggests that aspiring travel writers should take a reality check, as most freelancers barely make a living from travel writing and he claims to live on the LILO principle – Low Income,Low Outgoings.
We discuss how Dixe decided not to travel by plane any more after he had lived in Guatemala and after many transatlantic flights decided that the impact on the environment was too great – now he travels by train, public transport, on foot or by bike. Dixe finds that travelling slowly enhances his experience of travel as he spots different places from the train he might like to visit in the future and when walking or cycling appreciates the small details around him as well as connecting with local people and culture. He quotes the Arab saying that your soul only travels at the speed of a camel, which is why travelling too fast leaves you disorientated and gives you jet lag.
Dixe recommends the following resources to plan his travel by train and other public transport;
- Seat61.com – a website to help you plan train travel worldwide, named after the founder’s favourite seat on the Eurostar train. The site offers advice and information on planning different routes, train operators and the cheapest way to book your ticket.
- Transportdirect.info – for planning travel by public transport in the UK giving door to door information on what transport to use to get to your destination.
- Tourism websites – Dixe recommends using local or regional tourism websites for the destinations you want to visit as they often give useful information on how to get there.
We discuss favourite places that Dixe has visited that are off the beaten track but can be reached by public transport and he recommends;
- Herefordshire and Shropshire in England which have beautiful countryside for walking such as the Long Mynd Hills but unknown as tourist destinations – mainly because they have very few motorways running through them.
- The Cévennes in France is a large area of National Park with a small population as well as beautiful old stone villages – it was visited by Robert Louis Stevenson who wrote a book called Travels with a Donkey through the Cévennes. Dixe travelled to the Cévennes by taking the Eurostar from London to Paris and then the train on to the Cévennes region.
- West Sweden – Dixe will soon be visiting the lake district of West Sweden called Dalsland , which he plans to reach via Denmark on a combination of ferries and sleeper trains.
Dixe told me how he came to write the Tiny Campsites book when was cycling across Devon looking for a campsite to stay the night and could only find a large commercial site, but luckily spotted a small camping sign that led him to a small campsite on a farm. He looked for a guide to help him find other similar tiny campsites and realised that, as there wasn’t anything available, he would have to write his own. Over the years he had visited or had recommendations for many delightful tiny campsites and in order to research the book he cycled all over the UK to visit all 75 campsites in the book and more to select the best ones to include.
Although there are a wide range of Tiny campsites from farms to back gardens to pubs and museum gardens, the thing that unifies them all is the charm, character and beautiful locations or just an indefinable something that makes you want to go and camp there, as Dixe put it ”a little bit of heaven”. Although I am slightly put off camping by the changeable British weather, Dixe has found that crazy weather can be found anywhere and he recommends June and September as beautiful times to camp, with more settled weather than the July and August.
We discuss the trend towards more unusual or luxurious camping experiences from yurts, to campsites like Broad Meadow House in Cornwall where in addition to the normal camping area, there are a couple of permanent tents with beds and B & B facilities where a delicious breakfast can be delivered to your tent in the morning.
I asked Dixe for some favourite campsites from the book and his suggestions were;
- Great for families – Park Farm in Kildale, with fantastic views and walking and a camping barn on the same site where you can dry off if the weather is unkind.
- Fantastic Views – Middle Ninfa Farm with only 4 pitches, two of them beside a croquet lawn and amazing views over the Usk valley
- Coastal adventure – Piel Island in Cumbria – which can be reached by ferry or by walking at low tide with a ruined castle to explore and a pub where the landlord is known as the ‘King of Piel Island’
You can find more information about the Tiny Campsites guide at www.tinycampsites.co.uk and the book is widely available priced at £10.95 in your local bookshop or from the internet book sellers.
By the way, I featured Dixe and the Tiny Campsite guide because I love his travel philosophy and writing and not because of any financial inducement although I was previously given a copy of the guide to give away in my review.
If you enjoyed this travel podcast please check out my other podcasts in my Travel Podcast Archive