Ruberslaw Wild Woods Camping, Scotland
Camping has been something I've been doing for a really long time. I can remember with one of my first paychecks buying a tent, a sleeping bag and mat and heading off with some friends to St Andrews for a weekend. I thought I had everything I needed to be comfortable, but boy was I wrong. One freezing cold sleepless night later, I knew that I had zero experience with being under canvas and that I'd need to buy and take a whole lot more stuff. Twenty odd years later the amount of stuff that we take fills the car. And no matter how many nights you go for, you still NEED all those things. But it is a holiday I love with a passion - sleeping under canvas, the pitter patter of rain on the roof (this always happens, even when it's sunny!), cooking on a little stove and that first cup of coffee in the morning out in the fresh air. It's bliss.
Some campsites though are better than others. We once did a tour of Scotland back in the mid nineties (before the boy came along) and pitched our tent in a different location each night. The first few sites were fantastic, beautiful scenery, little shops to get milk and bread, nice facilities etc etc. And then we arrived in Aviemore. The camping field was an add-on from the caravan site and wasn't very well maintained although it did have a small portable toilet block. We got our tent up as the wind howled and the heavens opened. We huddled under the duvet and blankets and ate some bread and cheese as we couldn't get out to cook. After a couple of glasses of wine, we needed to use the facilities. Which was when we discovered that the toilet block entrance door didn't close properly so that the rain water gathered and to go for a wee meant paddling through about two feet of water with no welly boots. It wasn't so bad for my husband who obviously could whip behind a bush but I spent most of the night crossing my legs as I didn't want to make any return visits. Then every hour on the hour through the night the Intercity train to London passed right next to us, blowing its horn. Funnily enough, I've never returned to Aviemore since.
Sometimes I miss those days of being able to throw our stuff in the back of the car and make no real plans of where to go or stay. But once you've got kids, everything changes and you have to find a campsite that suits a family. Now I do a lot of research before we head off and always check the Cool Camping site first as it's great how it highlights the best places to camp for families. It's how we found the wonderful Ling's Meadow last year which was superb and you can check out my post on it here. This time though after visiting the Secret Herb Garden in Edinburgh, I thought it would be nice to camp for a few nights in the Scottish Borders and discovered Ruberslaw Wild Woods Camping.
Located near Jedburgh, it's a gem of a site that offers many different ways to camp. Run by the Bailey family and managed by Alasdair, they are so friendly and welcoming to all visitors. Every single aspect of the site is spotless, with a great emphasis of eco living and treading lightly on the land. Families can camp in the Walled Garden, the more adventurous can walk up the hill and pitch their tent in the woods or if you don't even have a tent of your own, you can glamp in one of the Safari Tents. This time we chose to camp in the Walled Garden as I thought it would be the best place to start for us. Pitches are located in the restored Edwardian garden with a centre point called 'The Hub'. This is a place to gather, to sit next to the open fireplace and chat with the other campers. It's a super friendly site and most people I spoke to had been several times because they loved the site so much. You can also charge your mobile phone here and access the free wi-fi. The Hub also houses the toilets, shower blocks and most importantly - a kitchen. Yip, with fridge, freezer, microwave, oven, hob, kettle, four big sinks and even a washing machine. Everyone can use these facilities and they are brilliant. Especially as it rained quite a lot whilst we were there and cooking on a little gas stove in the pouring rain is not an easy thing to do. Even cooking amongst lots of other campers was super easy and everyone got along! It was lovely sitting in there every evening, drinking red wine, smelling the wood smoke and enjoying the swallows nesting in the eaves. There is also a little shop that sells essentials like milk, bread and eggs. Or more importantly to Harry anyway, jaffa cakes and a giant bar of Dairy Milk.
But what I loved most about Ruberslaw is the garden and it's Edwardian Vinery glasshouse. Inside you can sit amongst the grapes, play Giant Jenga, read a book and just chill out. We spent a whole afternoon in there just enjoying the experience and hanging out together. You can also hire a garden chess set, quoites, boules, crocquet and giant pick-up sticks to play on the Games Lawn, although we didn't do that this time as it did rain a fair old bit! And then there is the chicken - she wanders around the camp all day long. in and out of tents, she popped in to see what we were up to in the Vinery and hilariously tried to steal from the barbeque that another camper had going. Kids shrieked in laughter at her as well as trying to protect her from burning herself and obviously stealing their dinner! She's a true legend.
This is a campsite we'll return to again and again. It's just superb, although next time I think we're going to try the wild woods part - I love the idea of being properly nestled in nature surrounded only by the sounds of the birds. But I would miss that chicken.