Brockwell Woods is 26 acres of ancient woodland, with large natural pitches hidden amongst the trees and only 7 miles away from Newcastle upon Tyne. Blaydon Burn Farm owns the land and camping here is for those who want a real back-to-nature experience as there are no shops, toilets or showers on site. It’s real wild camping. You can build a campfire in your readymade fire pit (clearing up afterwards) and experience real nature in a real forest. As it’s an experience pretty close to being in the wilderness it means campers have to drive rough tracks through the trees to get to their pitch and then carry their gear the rest of the way, but man it is SO worth it.
On arrival you get a map to find your way and a spade to bury human waste!! Like I say, pretty wild! So if you’ve not camped before it may be something to add to the bucket list when you’ve a little more experience.
After we signed in at the socially distanced registration tent next to the farmhouse we picked up our spade, map and logs. When we camped there wasn’t a lot of fallen or felled dry wood around so we bought a sack of logs for £6 at the farm. We didn’t want to miss toasting our marshmallows over our ‘homemade’ campfire! We also ordered some sausages from the farm which were £5 for a pack of 8. They also sell beef, chops and burgers so you definitely won’t go hungry – as long as you can cook them!! Steph, the owner, brought them out to us when we arrived and gave us a little rundown of the map.
Getting to your pitch
We drove across 2 fields opening and closing the gates as we did so. It hadn’t rained for ages so we found the drive in my Mini Cooper absolutely fine along the tracks. If it’s rained hard it could get pretty muddy and a bit tricky. There are a few places you can park up on the way if the field doesn’t look like a good idea, but it does involve carrying your gear a little further. We parked pointing down the hill in the closest field to the wooded area, to make sure we would be able to pull away okay the following day if it rained overnight.
We were in pitch 9A, if you can call it a pitch. It’s more a clearing that has been made available and as such is gorgeous and unspoilt. It took 2 trips to get all our gear from the car to the ‘pitch’, around 20 minutes altogether. We put the tent up under a canopy of trees. With no tent carpet we used picnic blanket inside the main area of the tent, as the ground was quite stony with lots of twigs.
Having wild camping fun
Our cooking facilities were our camping stove and BBQ, so next on our to-do list was food! With the BBQ going and cooking our sausages it was tine to build the fire. We had some kindling and matches with us and it was easy enough to get the logs burning. We were actually excited for it getting dark at this point!
It was a beautiful warm day and as the sun lowered in the sky, it shone quietly through the trees. I am really glad we made the decision to wild camp. It’s such a different experience to a campsite. It was so quiet with just the rustling of the trees and the occasional bird tweet. But as the sun went down, the noise went up – goodness, nature is sooo loud! And dark! Even though you are prepared for the darkness it really is still a shock when it gets that dark. You literally can’t see anything but the campfire and shadows. Wild camping is exciting and a bit spooky!!
Luckily we had cooked our next meal on the camping stove before it was too dark and we could just about see it to eat it. We definitely would have struggled if we’d left it much later. Dinner that evening was Meatballs and Pasta we purchased from the Wayfarer camping foods range. They only take a few minutes to warmed through in the pan on the stove. Following this, hot water from our kettle to make hot chocolate.
It’s night time
It was pretty dark at this point so out came the camping lanterns, which we hung up in the trees. Then the marshmallows! There is nothing better than toasted marshmallows around a real campfire. By now we were used to the rustling and squawking and general weird noises coming out from behind the trees. There were actually no other campers in the woods on this night as we went right at the end of the school holidays, but if there were, the closest pitches aren’t actually that close. They position each clearing in such a way you can’t see the other tents from your own pitch.
We sat up for ages around the campfire until we couldn’t keep our eyes open any longer. I didn’t want to go to sleep as I didn’t want the night to end. But eventually it was time for bed. So with all the food packed away and the campfire dwindling we turned in for the night.
Considering how active the nocturnal animals are in the forest, I slept really well. The next morning we were greeted with an early dawn chorus and a lovely sunrise.
We were only camping for the one night and changeover time is roughly midday. That left us with time for some toast on the camping stove and a quick cup of tea. After that we made the journey back to the car with our first load and packed it in the boot.
On our second trip to the car we were greeted by a large number of cows and calves surrounding our car. They found our lonely mini sitting in the field very interesting. We waited behind the gate for a while as we couldn’t even get to the car. The cows approached a bit closer to check us out too. We clearly weren’t interesting and they quickly moved off. Just the, with the tent packed in the car a little calf ran towards us. He was kicking his heels up and mooing, with mummy cow not far behind! I must admit, we did do a dash into the car and shut the doors quickly behind us!
You have to leave your pitch as you found it, including bagging up any rubbish or toilet paper to take away. I haven’t gone into too much detail about using the spade for you-know-what. I’ll let you figure that one out for yourself!
We avoided the herd as we drove back over the farmers’ fields. Feeling tired, a bit achy and a little bit muddy but had a terrific time wild camping. It was such an experience, wild camping is something I’ll never forget.
And as Steph put it, ‘Take only memories, leave only footprints’.
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