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Camping in Autumn and Winter

Camping in Autumn and Winter

“There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”
Alfred Wainwright, taken from ‘Coast to Coast’ (1973).

As the weather gets cooler and the nights draw in, why not take some inspiration from the celebrated British fell-walker and novelist Alfred Wainwright. Indeed, there is no such thing as bad weather, or more to the point camping or touring in bad weather, only unsuitable equipment and lack of decent facilities!

Choosing to camp or tour in autumn or even winter, requires slightly more (although not much more) planning than the same trip would during the summer months. Autumn weather can be extremely changeable when it comes to temperature, with us all reaching for suntan lotion one week and bobble hats the next.

However don’t let the shorter days put you off, with a fantastical colour changing landscape and misty mornings on the edge of the Somerset Levels, there is something magical about camping or touring in Martock during the autumn months.

Our tips below will help you prepare for out of season camping trip at Southfork Caravan Park and, as long as you are prepared, then there is no reason for you to experience anything other than a successful trip.

Weather watch

In the days leading up to your camping trip, keep your eye on the local Somerset weather. We all know that UK weather is very changeable, you can be at the highest point of Exmoor (Dunkery Beacon for those that don’t know!) and have driving rain, yet when you reach the Somerset Levels it can be warm and sunny. Don’t let the weather put you off, check the forecasts daily, pack accordingly and be prepared to change plans at the last minute.

Equipment checks

If you are camping in autumn make sure your tent is weatherproof. Fortunately, most modern tents are already covered in a waterproof membrane or treated with some kind of waterproofing agent. Likewise if you are touring, make sure any awnings you have are in good condition. Checking your tent prior to camping is always a good idea, especially in the colder months, to make sure there are no holes where any rain or cold air can penetrate.

The right kit

Whatever time of year you are planning on camping or touring, there are always items that you will need to take year-round, regardless of season – cooking equipment, first aid kit, utensils, sleeping facilities and food to name a few! However the type of kit you take can make a huge difference to staying warm and toasty or cold and miserable.

  • Even if your tent has an in-built groundsheet, it may be worth investing in a second external one, this will add an extra layer of warmth and should hopefully help stop any damp from penetrating through.
  • If you usually sleep on airbeds, consider changing to camping cots. This raises you off the ground and should help you feel slightly warmer. If this is not an option then putting some extra blankets underneath your airbed will help with insulation.
  • Make sure you have sufficient batteries for anything requiring power (think lights!) – remember the days are shorter so you will need a source of light and something to power it, much more so than summer months!
  • Depending on when you travel a 3 or 4 season sleeping bag is a must for the colder months, you can now even get lightweight ones if you are concerned about the bulkiness. Always go for a sleeping bag with a slightly lower temperature rating than you are expecting as it is much easier to cool down and wear less clothes than it is to try and sleep shivering all night with a less than adequate bag. Remember – always try to make sure you are warm before getting in your sleeping bag (go for a quick walk, do some star jumps etc) as it is much easier to warm a sleeping bag up if your body temp is higher.
  • Taking suitable food is a must for the colder months. You will need something nutritious, calorie packed and (obviously) tasty to keep your body high in energy and warmth. Don’t forget to pack a decent stove and power source as in the colder months you want to be coming back to a warm meal.

Clothing, clothing, clothing!

The key to keeping warm when camping in colder months is clothing and lots of it. Layering works by trapping body heat between layers so, wearing more slightly thinner layers is much more effective than wearing one big woolly jumper. Ideally you should have a base layer, mid layer and decent outer layer. Always take more clothing (if you can) than you think you need, putting on damp cold items of clothing from the previous day will keep you cold and make you very miserable. A hat is also essential to keep you warm and can be worn at night. Again, make sure you pack spare gloves and socks also.

Campsite arrangements

Choosing a suitable pitch for your tourer or tent is important in the colder months, location can make or break a trip. If you are an inexperienced camper it may not be the best idea to camp somewhere high and remote, in the warm summer months this would be lovely, but not so great in driving rain and wind (possibly even snow). A level pitch is a bonus, this will help to ensure that no rainwater can pool under your tent and will be better for drainage.

So you’ve decided to camp in the colder months...

It is true that camping during the colder months does need slightly more planning than in the summertime, however please do not let that put you off. In Somerset, the colder months have as much to offer as the warmer months.

Our touring and camping pitches at Southfork are located within easy reach of the facilities which is a must in the colder months - trust us you don’t want to be walking too far for an early morning shower! All our pitches are level and can be booked with or without electricity. Some also offer more shade than others, which helps to provide some ‘natural’ insulation from the elements. Our staff at Southfork are friendly, knowledgeable and always happy to help you find the best pitch for your needs so please do contact us if you are looking for advice.

Southfork Caravan Park is located on the Somerset Levels, which are well known for delicious locally produced food, beers and ciders, there are a number of excellent pubs and eateries located right on our doorstep. In terms of keeping warm and insulated for the night in a tent or tourer, a hearty meal eaten in front of a log fire will certainly help!

Perhaps you are not convinced (yet!)…

If you have read through the above and are still not quite convinced about traditional camping, well there is an alternative in the form of ‘glamping’.

Our luxury camping cabin, provides all the joy and freedom of camping but without having to put up the tent. Fitted with a double bed and all the linen you need, the camping pod is insulated and has 12v electricity powered by a solar panel.

For more information and advice on camping in Autumn/Winter at Southfork Caravan Park, please contact us. If you’ve decided you want to go for it then please visit our booking page to search for availability.