Cornish Tipi Holidays: A secluded camping getaway
In these strange times of social distancing, it’s almost a given to be feeling a little anxious while travelling. Travel restrictions and uncertainty have given rise to staycations in the UK and it shows – available housesits are few and far between as people abandon their plans to holiday abroad. While we’ve managed to secure a handful of wonderful housesits since hitting the road again in July, the process of doing so has definitely changed as the number of housesitters continues to massively outweigh available housesits. Finding ourselves with a few days in between sits earlier this month, we decided to make the most of it by booking a camping trip. At the beginning of 2020 we set out many travel plans that never made it into fruition (thanks, lockdown) so we’ve been itching to tick off at least one thing on our list! That’s not to say we went into this lightly – we did thorough research about the facilities at multiple campsites, as well as considering the location of the sites. We finally settled on Cornish Tipi Holidays – a twenty acre site in the countryside in Cornwall.
To ensure we had the safest stay possible, we chose to book one of the private pitches available. CTH has a new Coronavirus Booking Guarantee, outlining a more flexible approach to booking cancellations and deposit payments required, as well as implementing new enhanced cleaning procedures in their toilet and shower buildings. Signs outlining these new procedures were posted up in every building we saw, along with expected busy times for the shower blocks and planned cleaning times, letting campers know when to avoid being in close proximity to others.
As has always been the way with this pandemic, everyone seems to be handling it to varying degrees and we can only do what we feel is necessary for our own safety, and let others do the same. We’re not about to waste time telling someone off for not adhering to guidelines – we’ll just anti-bac our hands and carry on with our day.
None of this detracted from our experience at the site, which is simply stunning. Spread over twenty acres, including a natural lake that was part of an old quarry, it’s cleverly laid out so you have maximum privacy. On arrival, we drove past the large wild camping field where campers find their own pitch, which was relatively empty. The site was super quiet when we arrived at reception in the afternoon, and a member of staff welcomed us and gave us a map of the site. Every staff member we encountered during our stay was friendly and chatty, which made the experience all the nicer. Once we’d unloaded at our pitch, and put up our tent (this took literally two minutes – we have a pop-up tent which is FAB) we headed out to explore the site and get our bearings.
A short walk down the hill from our pitch at Sky 5, we followed the sound of water to find our way to the secluded lake. A small wooden jetty from the water’s edge was lined with rowboats, canoes and kayaks, along with the appropriate oars and paddles, available for campers to use for free at any time. Over our four-day stay we tried out every type of vessel, sometimes together, sometimes separately. Chris loved the kayaks while I definitely favoured the two-person canoe – positioning myself at the bow and living a Pocahontas fantasy, paddling gently through the water and basking in the late summer sunlight bouncing off the lake.
At the far end of the lake were three wooden pontoons, perfect for rowing up to and sunbathing on. We saw another camper pull one of these large, anchored pontoons from one end of the lake to the other, towing it with a rowboat for what seemed like an eternity, all so he could sunbathe closer to his partner who was sitting on the jetty.
We spent most of our stay on site, choosing to relax and enjoy some time in nature instead of venturing out. The lake made for such peaceful afternoons filled with swimming and rowing on the water, or reading and talking on the jetty. Some gaggles of younger people disturbed the peace at the lake on a particular hot day during our stay, but other than that we hardly heard other campers – particularly at our pitch.
After a lazy morning at the lake, we’d come back to our tent via the tree-lined stony path and make ourselves lunch on our camp stove, simply enjoying the tranquility and privacy of our pitch. The pitches are basic, with just a fire pit made from stones and a picnic bench to sit at, but it was honestly all we needed for our stay. A wooden barrier separated us from the cliff edge, where we looked out over the lake and could just about see some tipis poking out from amongst the trees below.
Up at the pitch we spent our time cooking, playing games, chatting and making nice toasty campfires to snuggle around when the evening drew in. Aside from the odd zip noise from other campers entering their tents, the only sounds to be heard were those of the wildlife all around us: rustling leaves, owls hooting, campfires crackling, and the scurrying of a curious rat who popped into our pitch one evening to admire our fire. Snuggling up in our tent at night felt super cosy and safe, and it felt amazing to be deep in the heart of peaceful countryside. Once we turned off our solar-powered lanterns, it was pitch black and on a clear night we sat out to admire the star-filled sky.
One thing we’ll say about the site is they’ve got the important things right, namely: the showers! The wooden blocks available at the private pitches were gorgeous, and HOT! It felt so good to have a swim in the (freezing) cold lake and come back up the hill for a warm shower. The cubicles are simple, with a gap at the top to admire the trees around you as you bathe, but they have a ceramic tray in the bottom to ensure proper drainage.
Having previous experience with compost toilets helped us navigate the ones available at Cornish Tipi Holidays. They were well maintained and we noticed they always had stacks of Who Gives a Crap toilet paper. If you don’t know about WGAC, they donate 50% of their profits to charity to help build toilets in underdeveloped areas across the globe, and are generally awesome! Little touches like this made it clear to us that Cornish Tipi Holidays are serious about being as eco-friendly and sustainable as possible. For those that aren’t keen on the compost loo experience, however, there are also flushing toilets at each end of the campsite!
All in all we enjoyed a lovely stay at Cornish Tipi Holidays – it was the perfect peaceful getaway we needed for a few days of total relaxation. We spoke to a member of staff about how quiet it was at the site, and he said it had been completely overrun in the previous weeks! We were lucky to book our stay a couple of weeks after a lot of children had gone back to school, so I guess we missed the last-minute-holiday crush. We spent one afternoon exploring the entirety of the site, admiring the view of the lake from the opposite side, the tipi pitches and wild camping field with the on-site cafe. We didn’t try out the cafe during our stay, though we saw posters dotted around the campsite letting campers know what was on the menu each week. Each night had a different theme for its cuisine – from Turkish and Persian to Greek and Mexican – and everything sounded delicious!
The biggest thing that struck us about the site was how well organised the space is – although some pitches are close together, the trees and bushes surrounding them have been cleverly planted to provide shelter and privacy for everyone. One thing worth mentioning is the steep hills at CTH – as its built in the footprint of an old quarry, you can imagine the landscape. The hill from the car park down to most of the pitches is rubbly and winding, and for this reason the staff drive around site on quad bikes. The steepest incline unfortunately was the one from the lake to our private pitch at the Skies, but we like to think this gave us some good exercise over the course of our stay!!
Cornish Tipi Holidays is also perfectly situated to visit some of Cornwall’s best known areas. Just a ten minute drive from this Bodmin site and you’ll find yourself in the pretty seaside village of Port Isaac, where the ITV show Doc Marten is filmed. This makes it a popular destination for fans of the show, and we tried unsuccessfully to visit the village during our stay only to have to turn around at the full car park – which many people were still queueing to get into! We chose to drive to Rock, another sweet coastal fishing village across the water from Padstow, only to have to give up there too. During high season (or post-lockdown times) these pretty coastal villages are shaped with tourists and we accepted defeat. We did, however, find an absolute gem of a pub as we left Rock and found ourselves devouring a delicious lunch in the sun-trap garden. If you’re in the area, definitely check out The Pityme Inn for gorgeous decor and even more gorgeous food!!
We’d definitely recommend staying at Cornish Tipi Holidays when exploring Cornwall. It’s the perfect way to get back to nature, and it’s a stone’s throw away from so many quintessential Cornish villages, as well as the legendary ruins at Tintagel Castle. We paid £44 / night for our private pitch overlooking the lake, which we think is well worth the cost for privacy and a bit more seclusion. There are cheaper pitches available in the wild camping field or, for something a little different, you can book their hand-painted tipis for a more quirky stay!