Camping holds so many happy memories for me. We used to go to Cornwall most years to camp and I loved it as a kid. I remember clearly helping set up the tent and my camp bed. Driving round the campsite sat on my Dads lap. Making friends with the kids in the surrounding tents and staying up late to see the stars.
I always knew I wanted to take the girls but didn’t think we would go so soon, it was when Asda got in touch to see if we wanted some camping gear that I decided there was no better time than the present, and with the extension and renovations coming up, I knew it was unrealistic financially for us to go abroad this summer, so camping felt like the perfect solution for us to get some time away together.
There is so much I want to talk about in this post, so I’m going to break it down into three parts, what we took with us, the things I found useful and the things we didn’t. Where we stayed, our campsite and my thoughts about that. Then what we got up to whilst we were there including where we ate (my god we ate some good food)… so take from it what you will, and I really hope this post is helpful to anyone thinking of taking the plunge into camping!
What We Took
Firstly, we took ALOT. You need a lot of stuff. Our car was fit to burst but we did manage without a roof box, someone messaged me on Instagram with the best tip ever that I will pass on here… pack your clothes into big Aldi Bags rather than a big suitcase, that way you can squeeze them in and around everything, I also kept our clothes in the car the whole time to minimise the risk of everything getting wet.
I made lists before we went, then re wrote them once I had my final lists so I will post them here for you to see or screenshot. There is something I find a bit more helpful about handwriting a list, for some reason it just sinks in a bit more when I use an actual pen! To be fair there may be quite a few things on my list that others would probably manage fine without and albeit there were a few things we didn’t use but I’ll get onto that.
We were very kindly gifted stuff from Asda, including a tent, torches and headlights, a cold box, table and chairs and sleeping bags… we took all of this with us and used all of it. The tent made a great ‘first camping trip’ tent and was on offer recently for a very affordable £80… a lot of their camping stuff is sold out now but definitely worth keeping an eye out for next year. The tent was a good size, kept us dry in the (ridiculously massive) storm and was easy to put up… a few downsides were the zips weren’t the sturdiest and I missed having a sort of enclosed porch type area to sit in when the weather was crap… but for the price, a great tent to have a try at camping with and not the end of the world if you realise it really isn’t your bag!
We took inflatable beds with us, a double from Tesco that we’ve had for ages, you can inflate it plugged into mains (check your campsite has somewhere to do this!) alternatively you can get doubles that you can plug into the cigarette lighter of your car and pumps that do too. We took a pump that plugged into the car borrowed from my parents. We also took a single blow up bed for Abs from Aldi and an infant blow up bed for Isla, which was fantastic, it was from a brand called Kampa bought from Amazon. They both slept fine, in fact more than fine, better than they do at bloody home so I’m considering just sticking them outside in the garden from now on in sleeping bags.
For our cooking set up we didn’t go too mad as we knew we would eat out in the evening and for lunch, so we only needed a basic set up to make hot drinks and breakfast. We borrowed a portable camping stove from my parents which was the perfect size and ran off a small gas canister. Then we took a picnic set for 4 people from Mountain Warehouse (which I LOVED) it came with plates, cups, cutlery, chopping board, salt and pepper shaker plus a huge compartment at the back to keep food cold and a drink insulator on the side, plus a couple of different sized pans and a kettle. Mountain Warehouse have an amazing selection of affordable camping accessories, they kindly gifted us these bits plus games and beach toys but I would 100% recommend them and they very often have offers on for 10/20% off so worth keeping an eye out.
The things we took and I didn’t rate were the Toaster attachment thing from Kampa… it took nearly 7 years to toast 4 bits of bread which wasn’t ideal plus a Thermos Flask… I thought we would make up Tea/Coffee and take it out for the day… I have no idea why because we would never do this at home! So they were a bit wasted on us! Also we didn’t end up using a the speaker because we were so knackered at the end of the day we just crashed out with the kids.
The things I took that I loved and were a lifesaver were loads of socks for the kids… we went through so many pairs because I wanted to keep their feet warm at night but they would be in and out of the tent and would need them changing again before going to bed (no one wants to sleep in wet socks). Snacks. SO MANY SNACKS, anything to keep them occupied whilst you are tackling a tent up/down in ridiculous weather. My new Pink Tiba and Marl Rucksack which I now adore, fits everything in it, Nappies, Wipes, Snacks, Drinks, 2 iPads, Camera, extra Camera Lens, Suncream, Talc, Hand Sanitiser… the list is endless… my back is buggered, but it was practical and looks amazing.
And last but not least, Keep Em Quiet travel packs, the gift that keeps on giving… the girls loved these and there was more than enough stuff in there to keep them entertained when we were rained in/in the car/at lunch or dinner.
Oh and one last thing… battery powered Fairy Lights. I was a bit worried I would look like a right wanker at the campsite rocking up with my fairy lights in front of all these seasoned, serious campers but turns out everyone loves a bit of the twinkly action… and it made the tent feel so cosy of an evening!
So I’m pretty sure that covers everything worth talking about where it comes to what we took and loved.
Where We Stayed
So initially we were going to stay at the campsite I always used to as a kid. It is based near Penzance, has a shop on site, toilets, showers… basically everything you need, then I fell into a Trip Advisor hole and it was looking bleak. So I had a little Google, did some more Trip Advisor review stalking, and came across the absolute little gem that is Lower Penderleath Campsite
It is located on the top of hill, not ideal for gale force wind and rain but the most stunning views around and of the sunset (when it was sunny). It’s about 2 miles from St Ives and 5 miles from Penzance. It was the perfect location for us and the places we wanted to go. There were showers with plenty of hot water that were always clean enough, toilets, somewhere to wash pots and pans and the icing on the cake… a room with a mirror to plug my GHDS in… (what can I say, you can take the girl out of Essex…).
Russel the campsite owner was friendly and helpful and there were plenty of sockets in his office to leave your phone on charge if need be. Plus a Fridge and a Freezer to leave any food or drink in, simply labelled with a Sharpie kept on the side.
We paid £26 a night which was a steal of course and meant we could eat out every day without feeling too extravagant! I would 100% recommend this campsite, it was well kept and quiet in the evenings, lots of families and friendly faces… I feel like everyone is so happy camping, even when it pissed down. Another huge plus was going Blackberry picking with Abs down the road of the campsite, seeing her face light up every time we spotted one ready to pick was just priceless.
We will definitely be going back to this campsite when we next camp in Cornwall.
What We Got Up To
We packed an awful lot into 5 days and 4 nights. We managed to do everything that we wanted to do and more. We spent a lot of time in St Ives and quickly realised that if you are visiting in Summer Holidays then book where you want to eat out if you can! We loved every single place we ate in so I’m going to tell you in detail about them all because well food is life.
For Breakfast I would recommend The Front Room in Penzance, very cosy, very Instagrammable and incredibly family friendly… perfect Poached Eggs with a Full English and fluffy stacks of American Pancakes fried in Butter with Bacon and Syrup (drool). It was a welcome start to a very wet and miserable day.
We also ate at an amazing Thai Tapas restaurant in the harbour at St Ives called Talay Thai, we shared Chilli Salt Squid, Chicken Satay, Massaman Curry and Pad Thai between all of us, the kids even ate it which says alot. We very nearly went back here for a second meal but there are so many good places to eat it felt a waste to eat twice somewhere.
Other places I would recommend visiting are Peppers Pizza and Pasta for a cosy Italian Vibe… not quite so cosy for us as Isla was a nightmare from start to finish but I downed a Pinot and had an incredible Chilli Crab Linguine one handed so all was not lost.
One more place we ate and loved was The Hub. It’s where you want to be for dirty Burgers and Fries. I had an epic Pit Burger which had shredded Beef Brisket and Coleslaw inside plus Cheesy Fries because I couldn’t not have them. It was again super family friendly. Every single place we ate the service was amazing and they always provided crayons and colouring for the kids which is a big plus in my eyes.
And last but not least Trevaskis Farm. We went here on our last day after packing up in the rain. We were both stressed to high heaven, starving, cold and wet. We ate what I can only describe as the most devine plate of comfort food I’ve ever had. Not the most appealing to look at, it wont be making the ‘gram but let me just break it down for you. Homemade Beef, Ale and Mushroom Pie with Steamed Veg, Broccoli Cheese and Roast Potatoes. It was amazing and it fed my soul with pure happiness and comfort, I very quickly forgot about the tent and the rain.
Trevaskis is also very well known for its Dessert counter and rightly so, plus an amazing Farm Shop, Pick Your Own and even animals for the kids to see, well worth a visit if you are nearby!
So thats all the food related recommendations. Now onto the things we actually got up to. We spent time on Porthmeor Beach, which is stunning and just next to St Ives Harbour, its also the home to St Ives Surfing school so it was nice to spend some time sat watching some lessons.
St Michaels Mount is a MUST. You can walk across the causeway in the sea when the tide is out to get to the castle. We didn’t pay to get into the Castle but the grounds are lovely and we had Ice Cream and Coffee and sat in the Gardens taking in the view. The beach at Marazion where St Michaels Mount is, is a child’s dream. Rock pools, rock climbing, miles of sand, huge open space, plus an amazing playground just off the beach. I remember loving it there as a kid and it was definitely a highlight for both of mine.
We also visited Lands End. It was pretty cool to actually just go there and tick it of the list of things to see in the world. There are a few naff attractions you can pay to do once you are in but we didn’t bother, it was nice to just explore and Abbie was just running around and not too bothered to do them anyway. When we went the weather was so bad but we were still smiling and I would say its worth a visit!
St Ives harbour is packed with things to do. It has an amazing atmosphere and is very busy. I would recommend booking the places you want to eat if you can or at least choosing somewhere and getting your name on the list an hour or so before you want to eat, we spent our first night trying to get in somewhere to eat and struck lucky on our 6th attempt!!
Be prepared to park up the hill and have to walk down it’s not miles but parking is limited and also make sure you take plenty of change for parking, something we came unstuck on a few times, there’s no RingGo in Cornwall!
The harbour is the perfect spot for crabbing and Abbie caught her first crab she was hooked (excuse the pun) and it’s all she keeps telling everyone about. We were also so lucky to spot some Seals in the sea by the lighthouse, they came right up to us, it was such a lovely moment and the girls loved them.
Then finally if you are after a beach day, Porthcurno is stunning. It’s one of my favourite places and when the tide is right out you can walk to neighbouring bays.
It’s surrounded by cliffs and you are quite well protected from the wind, it’s about a 10 minute walk down to the beach from the car park and not the friendliest for small children, I saw quite few people with wagons on wheels which was a great idea I thought for getting everything down there. The waves are big and great for wave jumping if you can brave the cold. We got Pasties and Sandwiches for lunch from the beach bar near the car park which saved having to take and carry food!
And that’s just about everything!
Going back to the camping I would say just go with the flow, I thought I would be stressed to high heaven but can honestly say, despite the weather, this is the most relaxed I’ve ever been on holiday with the kids. The fresh air is actually magic and I loved the simplicity of life just being there, it was really good for the soul and just seeing the kids so happy and free was the icing on the cake. Plenty of warm clothes, snacks and an iPad with a few films downloaded on to it and you are good to go.
I really hope anyone planning a camping trip/trip to Cornwall had found this helpful! So many people have said I’m so nervous to take mine camping etc… but trust me they will love it and if they are anything like mine the fresh air just knocks them out so they slept fine!
Happy Camping 😝