Find out if Camping Unplugged at Abbotstone Wood is for you

Travelbetter review of Abbotstone Wood Campsite following our stay.

The Travelbetter Tent at Abbotstone Wood Campsite

Thunderstorms, marshmallows and campfires

Thunderstorms, marshmallows and tents were all part of our recent camping trip to Abbotstone Wood campsite in Hampshire.

Now, while we always hope every trip will be great this was very much an experimental camping trip on a number of levels.

Read on to find out if our camping trip was as a success and whether Abbotstone Wood camping is any good.

Camping as a holiday option for the Travelbetter Family

Plenty of play space at Abbotstone Wood Campsite

We are not avid campers and never have been.

It is not that we haven’t enjoyed past camping experiences but it was just never high on our lists when we were choosing holidays and breaks.

But, after having children and undertaking a weekends camping last year we realised that kids love it.

They love the open space, the fresh air and the ready supply of nature on the doorstep (or crawling inside sometimes).

Plus, we are slowly coming to the realisation that since Travelbetter Girl started school the cost of air travel has sky rocketed impacting on our choices for a family holiday.

Now, while we continue to work on ways to fly cheap with Children, we had to recognise that camping was fast becoming one of our holiday choices,

Therefore, we planned to use this weekend as a testing ground for a longer camping holiday.

More precisely we went on this trip with three specific tests to complete.

  1. Enjoyment – could we, as a family, enjoy a camping holiday and if we didn’t what would improve it.
  2. Equipment – We wanted to understand what camping equipment was essential and what was not to ensure we packed smart due to the limited space in the tent.
  3. One car – could we get all our camping equipment in one car and therefore keep any holiday cost down.

So on Friday afternoon I began the familiar game of car Tetris with the goal of getting all our camping gear into one car and still being able to take the kids.

Surprisingly, I got everything in with minimal items squeezed between the front and back seats (under the kids feet).

I felt quite proud of myself as we headed off to Abbostone Wood.

Unfortunately, the next morning when I pulled out the bacon and frying pan I realised I’d left the cooker, utensils and bbq bricks behind.

I dashed home (we were only camping 20 minutes away) and got these forgotten items.

But, as I was frying up the bacon I knew I had possibly just tipped the edge on the packing and getting it all into one car.

Still that was a problem for Sunday and we had Abbotstone Wood Campsite to enjoy first.

Read on for our review of Abbotstone wood and learn more about unplugged camping.

Review of Abbotstone Wood Campsite

Unplugged Camping at Abbotstone Wood

Abbotstone Wood is an unplugged campsite that markets itself on getting back to basics with limited services.

So, what exactly does unplugged camping mean?

Basically, a campsite with not much more than the very basics of toilet and shower blocks and lots of space to camp in. Including some very traditional drop toilets.

Open Fires at Abbotstone Wood Campite

One of the main selling point for us with Abbotstone Wood Campsite was that they allowed open fires and helped get you started with a safe fire with ready made fire kits.

The flip side of unplugged camping was that there was only limited hot water every day for the shower block and washing up, and the site was just a field.

This meant no road or paths for people to drive or walk on so as the rain came down everything started to get very muddy on the well-trodden and driven routes.

As a result we and the kids were getting muddy very quickly.

But, had limited washing options at night (unless we wanted an ice cold shower) and so went to bed feeling quite dirty and yucky.

Yes I did say yucky but this is the best word to describe it.

Choose from Woods or Fields for your Pitch and Abbotstone Wood Campsite

The campsite has two options for camping, in the wood or in the field.

We opted for the field as we felt the shadows and noises of the wood might scare the kids (and us).

The field was a great open clearing and provided plenty of space to put up the tent and for the kids to play.

The campsite was fully booked over our weekend but they aimed to make sure everyone had space.

To help achieve this Sid the site manager made an effort to help every camper select the perfect pitch.

Play time at Abbotstone Wood Campsite

Building a Tower of Pens to keep busy in the tent during the rain

During the weekend the weather switched every thirty minutes between bright sunshine and thunderstorms.

This added to our muddy woes but also meant play time continually moved between the outside and inside of the tent.

When stuck in the tent we were worried about the kids getting bored and starting to fight.

However, we found that generally they could entertain themselves very well with the limited toys and drawing items we had taken.

This included making up their own games such as how high Travelbetter Boy could build a tower of pens.

When the sun did shine it was great to get outside and run around, play football and throw the Frisbee.

We found that generally we had got the balance right on the toys for this weekend.

But, for a longer break we would either need a couple more toys or make sure we had plenty of days out planned.

What’s it like sleeping at Abbotstone Wood Campsite

Needed some coffee to wake us up on this trip

To help with our equipment trial we ditched the usual airbeds this weekend and instead opted for self-inflating camping mats in an attempt to take up less space in the car and improve our set up times as you just unwrap the mat and let them self-inflate rather than spend an hour blowing up beds.

Somewhat to our surprise they were fine to sleep on and in fact better than an airbed as they didn’t make the same amount of noise as an airbed when you moved around.

We also purchased new POD sleeping bags that allowed for a lot more room than a traditional sleeping bag so you weren’t forced to try and sleep in one position all night.

These were great and again added to our comfort but as a result of being bigger than your average sleeping bag they took up more room in the car and probably balanced out the savings made from the camping mat.

The downside of camping is that you have no way to shut out the light so at 4am as the sun was coming up we found ourselves in a well-lit tent which woke me and Travelbetter Mum up and turned deep sleep into dozing at best.

Additionally, along with the light came the birds and a dawn chorus that was very, very, loud. Usually, the sound of birds chatting away in whoops and whistles to each other would sound great, but not at 4am in a brightly lit tent.

I began to understand how the phrase “Early to bed, early to rise” got associated with Campers.

Note: Since this camping trip you can now get a tent with blackout bedrooms and this is what our latest tent offers.

The kids slept better than we did and were able to stay sleeping to the more usual time of six am.

However, this had some drawbacks as we were letting the kids stay up later as we were away so in reality they were getting less sleep than usual and this started to show at times during the day manifesting itself in the usual tired moans.

Packing up and going home

Our car full of camping gear

By Sunday morning Travelbetter Mum and I were feeling very tired and very yucky (that word again) and were keen to get back home.

We ended up taking our time packing up making sure to note down what we thought was a useful item and I had to rearrange the car many times to try to get all the stuff back inside.

After much shuffling and stuffing of items (including wellies under the driver’s seat) I had everything back in the car and we headed home.

Once back the car was unloaded and we all took hot showers to remove the yucky factor from us.

Travelbetter Mum and I also enjoyed some strong coffee to keep us going for the rest of the day while we reviewed our experience at Abbotstone Wood Campsite.

Abbotstone Wood Campsite and our three camping challenges

Overall, despite the simple facilities we had fun at Abbotstone Wood Campsite and it was great to be able to have a campfire and make s’mores.

Abbotstone is an unplugged campsite and this was well advertised so was not a surprise to us but was outside of our comfort zone so you should be prepared for a basic campsite and be a bit dirty for a few days.

Abbotstone Wood Campsite was run by friendly staff and had plenty of space for the kids to play in.

For us it was probably too unplugged but I must stress this is us and not something the campsite did wrong. The facilities were fine but basic.

We fall more into the bracket of comfy campers and need more facilities and a lot less mud.

Now, back to our camping challenges and how we did:

  1. Enjoyment – there were moments of great enjoyment but for now we don’t think camping is much more than a weekend option for us and to make it more enjoyable we need it to be comfortable with hot water, paths to avoid (or reduce) the mud factor and take along plenty of nice food and drink.
  2. Equipment – We came away with a good list of what is our essential camping list.
  3. One car – we did manage to pack all our equipment into one car but it was very rammed and we only had enough clothes for a weekend away so while in theory we could do it I think it would make for a very uncomfortable trip and anything longer will need two cars.

Comfy Campers

This trip to Abbotstone Wood Campsite very much highlighted that we are comfy campers.

Learn more about what it means to be a Comfy camper.

Useful information for Abbotstone Wood Campsite

Planning, or thinking about, a trip to Abbotstone Wood Campsite?

To help you and make sure you have a great time here are some useful facts about the Campsite.

How much does Abbotstone Wood Campsite Cost

We stayed at Abbotstone Wood near Alresford in Hampshire in July 2016 and it cost £75 for the weekend plus £10 for a bag of fire wood.

The latest prices on their website now quote £15 per adult per night and £8 per child so for a two night family stay this will cost £108.

For more detail see the latest pricing for Abbotstone Wood Campsite.

Where is Abbotstone Wood Campsite

Abbotstone Wood is located just outside of the Hampshire village of Alresford (home to the Watercress Line) and it is best reached by car via the M3 or A34.

Critical equipment for a trip to Abbotstone Wood Campsite

We recommend you take the following equipment with you on your trip to Abbotstone Wood Campsite.

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More Camping from Travelbetter

We’ve done lots more camping trips since this one back in 2016 and with each trip we always made notes and updated our guide on what makes a great family camping trip, check it out now.

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