We spent the last week of the summer holidays camping in our beloved bell tent at Fakenham Farm, a tiny campsite on the Isle of Wight. We stayed for seven nights, our longest sojourn under canvas this far, and it was utterly blissful.
Fakenham Farm is a very small campsite set within a small farm just outside St Helen’s village, and a ten minute walk from St Helen’s Duver (the nearest beach). Now, if you want spotless facilities, a swimming pool, a club house and so on, I have to tell you - Fakenham Farm is probably not for you.
If, on the other hand, you want wide open green spaces, sheep passing by a metre away from your tent, a glorious sea view, a few other campers dotted around in caravans, friendly owners who basically leave you to get on with it other than freezing your ice packs on request, and don’t mind sharing a single WC and shower, then you’ll love Fakenham Farm campsite as much as we did.
We occupied a massive pitch - I’d estimate about 200 square metres - with a view of the sea to the front, and the animal farm to the side. Fakenham Farm is home to a delightful assortment of fauna, including black fell ponies, Shetland ponies, ducks, geese, chickens, pigs and piglets, emus (rheas? my large bird knowledge is limited), sheep, and a very loud donkey called Moses who brayed at substantial volume at any hour of day or night that he damn well pleased. As campers, we had access to roam freely around amid the animals, who were separated off from the camping area by a wire fence, but otherwise appeared to be largely cohabiting together (the ponies, large pigs, emus and grumpy Moses had their own areas)
There are also absolutely loads of random old cars and trucks in one of the fields. The kids loved roaming around peering into them.
We managed to pack an absolutely tremendous amount of equipment into the car. Two adults, three kids, three dogs. One large five metre tent with awning. Five chairs, four sleeping bags (one double), five sleeping mats. Two tables. Eight colourful plastic tubs. Ten metres of bunting, twenty metres of fairy lights, one stove, two belly baskets, two rugs, three duvets, seven pillows, one faux fur electric blanket, one baby Weber bbq, two wicker hampers, five sacks of clothes, four pairs of wellies (Andre is too relentlessly urban to wear wellies), four parkas, four anoraks, one sun tent, and one dog crate. Boom!
At night time we toasted marshmallows on the Weber, switched on the fairy lights, and snuggled up under the awning drinking gins in tins while the girls slept like sweet little exhausted possums all wrapped up warm and snug in their sleeping bags.
Fakenham Farm has a lovely cafe on site called the Solent View Cafe. It gets mixed reviews on Tripadvisor, but we found it to be absolutely charming with a delicious menu and incredibly reasonable prices.
We didn’t eat at the cafe every day - cooking in your tent is part of the fun. After a few days of classic camping fare I could feel scurvy coming on, so bought a bag of spinach, wilted it in a pan, and ate the whole thing. Scurvy dodging at its finest.
Part of the fun of camping in a bell tent is the accessories. I have more accessories for the tent than I do for our actual house :-)
We absolutely loved camping at Fakenham Farm and will be back next year. The whole week cost just over £100 including electric hook-up, which is insane compared to how much we normally pay for a week in a cottage in Bembridge.
Bye bye, lovely tent. We’ll see you in May next year. Or maybe in December cos I’ve read about people using their tents to create Christmas grottoes in the gardens which sounds amazing and I’m totally planning on doing it :-)