Badgells Wood Camping
It is almost a disservice to call Badgells Wood 'a campsite'. It feels more like you’ve driven into the woods, found a tranquil coppice clearing and slept the night hidden from the rest of the world. Such is the seclusion and simplicity of this back-to-nature spot that you forget it's really a carefully managed woodland, crafted so that every camper can have that authentic outdoors experience. In an ancient setting where campers play second fiddle to badgers, squirrels and chirping birdlife, Badgells Wood is a dreamy woodland escape.
Set in the 30 acre corner of a sprawling 250 acre forest, the campsite has ample space for pitches, each in their own unique spot and varying in size. Whether you want to tuck yourself away with a two-man tent, or park up a campervan with a group of friends, there’ll be a pitch to match and, with peace and quiet top of this campsite's agenda, you can guarantee you won’t be disturbed. Instead, kick back in your pocket of woodland paradise, kindle the campfire and let your kids loose amongst the trees.
With an interesting history as an old World War II training area, Badgells Wood is striped with concrete tracks and access is still easy by car. From the pitches themselves, trodden pathways weave through the bluebell-clad floor to a sanitary block (built of wood, naturally) that houses sinks for washing up and lovely hot showers. The ablutions offer some everyday luxury amid the wilderness, whilst compost loos are also dotted throughout the campsite.
Though a hop in the car can take you to famous castles, pristine gardens and a host of family attractions, Badgells Wood Camping is a place to forget the modern world. In fact, you could easily forget the car altogether. On weekends, bushcraft courses are run by experienced outdoorsmen (and women) who tailor the course to all ages involved. Then the rest of the week can be spent refining your new skills, whittling around the campfire or building dens between the trees. Children will love the rope swings, hanging from sturdy oaks, or investigating the nature trail, while those in need of a stroll should take to one of the woods many footpaths
As the Badgells team rightfully proclaim, “if you prefer your campsite with mown lawns, plastic playgrounds and a swimming pool then we’re probably not for you”. But those with a romantic yearning for an off-grid woodland escape should head straight for the Kent Downs. Badgells Wood Camping will certainly do the trick.
Pitches consist of small clearings connected by footpaths. A wooden area with a corrugated plastic roof houses washing up sinks and fabulous hot showers, while compost loos are dotted across the site. Rope swings hang from trees around the 30 acre site and Badgells Wood is also connected to far larger Whitehorse Wood, a huge expanse of forest riddled with footpaths and crossed by both The North Downs Way and The Weald Way. The woodland was once a World War II training ground and old huts, tracks and even a trench can still be glimpsed among the trees. Campfires are permitted onsite (in the fire pits provided) and grills and dutch ovens are available to hire for cooking. The reception sells a few camping essentials and also has books with ideas for kid's nature fun. Locally sourced firewood and kindling are also available at reception – foraging for wood is not allowed under the site's conservation management plan as deadwood is an important part of the woodland ecology and a habitat for insects, mammals and fungi.
Nature lovers, families, groups, tents and well-behaved dogs that won’t chase the wildlife onsite. – yes. Groups with an average age under 21 – no. A limited number of campervans are also permitted.
Connected to Whitehorse Wood there are plenty of excellent trails for walking, including The North Downs Way and The Weald Way. If open space and country parks are your thing, stroll across the private parkland at the edge of the site to the top of The Kent Downs AONB (01303 815170) for magnificent views. Walk a little further to Holly Hill or the cafe at Trosley Country Park (01303 815170). The megolithic Coldrum Stones (01732 810378) are also just a 20 minute walk from camp. Leeds Castle (01622 765400), Rochester Castle (08703 331181) and Heaver Castle (01732 865224) are all less than 45 minutes drive away, while the house and gardens of Knole (01732 462100) and Ightham Mote (01732 810378) are also nearby.
Food & Drink
The nearest pubs are the Amazon and Tiger (01474 814705) in Harvel or The Green Man (01732 823575) in Hodsoll Street. Head down to the Nevill Bull (01732 843193) in Birling – Kate and Paul will give you a warm welcome and make sure you're well fed. Otherwise, there is the The Duke of Wellington (01732 842318) in Ryarsh, The George (01732 822462) in Trottiscliffe or the Vigo Inn (01732 822465) for some live music or comedy. Those shopping for local produce should head for Harvel House Farm Shop (01474 814433) open on Friday and Saturday, serving up their home-reared meat perfect for the BBQ. The Kent Brewery (01634 780037), a microbrewery located on Birling Estate can organise some local brew for you.
Easter – Halloween
Forget the car and leave a Hansel and Gretel trail into the trees to find the best pitches in this vast woodland site. Campfires, tire swings, old tracks and trenches make exploring every inch worth while.
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The site is 2.5 miles from the turning off the A227, between Meopham and Wrotham, near Vigo village. Turn onto Harvel Lane (signposed Vigo & Harvel – and with a brown sign for Trosley Country Park). If you are heading north the turning off the A227 is not long after the Vigo Pub on your right. If heading south and you get to the Vigo pub you have gone too far. Follow the road along for two miles and you will go past the turning on your left to Harvel. You will then pass a couple of houses and Fairseat Fencing. Keep going for another 1/2 mile and you will see the campsite entrance on your right and the reception in front of you.
ReviewsAdd Your Review
Rated ★★★★★ over 19 reviews
Tranquility Base, the beard has landed
A magical place...
Woodland with some comfort
My favourite quick getaway
Perfect place for spare of the moment camping when the sun is out!! 30 minute drive from SE London, beautiful woodland, secluded pitches, open fires, rope swings!!
When The Bluebells are out it feels very special.
This is Camping!!!!!
We live in south London and run a business there and when we discovered this place (just 1hrs drive from SW9) we thought our luck was in! it certainly was! Woods, Bushcraft, Archery, Fires, trenches, Swedish candles etc........ did I mention woods????? . Our son and ourselves love this place so much we have the camping gear at the ready pretty much every week so we can leave at the drop of a hat.
Thank you Karina and Mike
As always a great camping experience with added fun :)
Ross, Beky and jon
- Stayed April 2016
Lovely site in the woods
We stayed for a few nights mid week to weekend and the difference was huge! Our first night and day was blissfully quiet, hardly any others on site and we really enjoyed listening to the sounds of nature and the ability to allow the children to wander around near the tent without any concerns. At the weekend, however this changed, the site was extremely busy and we ended up with two tents extremely close to ours. This is not the fault of the campsite, however we were in the area where you could park close to the sites (due to having young children) and others were less considerate about where to pitch. It also didn't help that one tent close to ours was pitched in the dark pretty late in the evening. After wandering around the site, we found the pitches that were further away (the ones you need wheelbarrows to get your kit there) and in retrospect, we would have preferred to use one of these pitches as there were still toilets within a reasonable distance and they seemed much more secluded and quiet.
The site itself was definitely 'camping in the woods' as our children named it. We loved having the fire and cooked most of our meals on it. The wood to purchase from the site was a reasonable price for a huge bag and we only needed one bag for the long weekend! We will admit that we were surprised at the cost of hiring the grill as every site we have visited in the past has provided them. If we had realised we would have taken something ourselves. The children had a great time on the first day building dens and we enjoyed walks through the woods. The compost loos were fine - the children found them a novelty!! We were impressed with how well they were maintained, we often saw someone re-filling toilet roll and hand gel and at least a couple of times in our stay, sawdust was added. I will admit that by the last day (weekend) the smell was becoming a little over-powering but not through lack of maintenance by the campsite staff.
Other facilities were all fine and well maintained. The rope swings were great and enjoyed by our children and many others!
Overall, this is a great site, however suffers a little by its own popularity. A busy weekend will be busy. If we visit again, we will go for a quieter time of year and choose a site further away!
Gorgeous location - each pitch feels really secluded even though there are quite a few dotted throughout the wood. Beautiful woodland and plenty of lovely things to do nearby. Gets too busy on weekends though. Also compost toilets need to be maintained better, they were a bit whiffy. (Use sawdust!) Don't forget to bring your own drinking water as the site is totally off grid.
We'll be back!
We came in a group of 3 families, 7 children in all, 6 adults and 2 dogs,...and every one of us enjoyed our stay! plenty of walks to be had, the kids enjoyed the rope swings immensely, there were plenty of composting loos dotted about the place, 4 sinks (with warm water!) for washing up, we found at least 5 other pitches on our walks about the place that'd we'd like to try out in the near future. the scenery is amazing. there's not much more you could ask for.
Also the neolithic stones nearby are beautiful and completely worthwhile if you can manage the trek. my 6 and 7 year old coped just fine, so don't let the walk put you off.
If you love trees as much as i do then this campsite is not to be missed!
Not quite what it says on the website
Badgell’s wood is a great location, very easy to reach from London and the owners are very friendly and helpful. However there are quite a lot of claims on their website which didn’t really match up with the experience I had.
Firstly, don’t expect piece and quiet, in fact it was pretty noisy. Also, don’t expect to be able to park just off the road and camp next to your car, once the limited spaces that allow this are gone you have to park in a car park and wheelbarrow all of your stuff for quite a long distance.
The shower block is really well designed but the water coming out of it was stone cold when I used it. The toilet block nearest to us ran out of water for washing hands regularly, ran out of toilet paper and was quite messy most of the time.
Make sure you take lots of bottled drinking water with you because there is no drinking water on site and it isn't cheap from the camp shop.
Overall. I'd give it another because the location is so good but only at a quiet time of year.
Bluebells covered the woodland floor - magical..
It wasn't until I went for a wander I realised how big this site is! ..I could easily have thought it was just contained to the allocated pitches which are ideal if coming with kids as the areas and space allow lots of freedom but in such a way as the littles ones wouldn't be so free range as to lose their bearings. It's as close to real wild woodland camping without the thoroughly wild bit. I loved the extra touches of straw spread under the tree rope swings dotted about the place, I recommend adults and children alike have a least one go on them! Exceptionally good for kids who like to explore and build camps etc.
They also have some adults only areas which are tucked away on the edges of the site, great if wanting some RnR away from occasionally raucous kids where adults can let their own hair down!
Showers are devine, I rarely shower while camping preferring to bath myself in the woodsmoke and dirt but with ecological lavender shower gel provided i couldnt resist! Along with washing up liquid at the sinks and hand santiser in the superior compost loos so many small thoughtful things which make this campsite really great.
Good local walks too, plus the chickens are great, really helpful and friendly staff, in fact I found myself having many a brief conversation with other people using the site as people were just plain friendly! Highly recommended.
NB. It's woodland camping so while there are wide open spaces and also extra large pitches its not camping in a field, I only mention this as we did skip our usual game of rounders as we couldn't play directly in front of our tents due to being in the woods!
If I give a fantastic revue, more people are going to come here and there is a possibility it will become spoilt. If I say it's bad, we risk losing an amazing camp area.
4 families with 10 kids between the ages of 4 and 14.
5 of the kids slept in hammocks, it's that sort of place. Brilliant.
The kids just enjoyed the space, the adults enjoyed the freedom the kids had. And the flavoured vodka we brought :)
DO NOT EXPECT LUXURY OR FLUSHING TOILETS.
^ that is why this place is so amazing.
Amazing site like being in the wild
Such an amazing campsite! I love Badgells Wood. I stayed with my family for on an April weekend (sadly a tiiiiny bit too early for the blurbells) and don't think I've ever been on quite such an awesome site. It's super basic – no running drinking water, composting toilets and so on – but perfect if you want to go wild camping. We were in a campervan, parked up in the trees had a campfire and it was bliss! highly recommended if you're looking for a wild feeling site.
Perfectly Magical - you must check it out.
We're just back from the bank holiday weekend with our four and seven year olds. You must visit this campsite and give wilder camping a go.
I was looking for something a bit more natural and this is certainly that but with really well designed hot showers and plenty of toilets. Unlike the review below, although it was busy, I was amazed at the diligence of the guys there (Steve and Mike) in keeping everything running like clockwork and amply topped up. Although there was only four showers I never saw a queue, or indeed all four in use.
Once you're pitch is found (and the guys are on hand to help identify a suitable patch to call home) you feel a palpable sense of relaxation come over you and you could be anywhere in the world.
The kids on the other hand are in heaven. The perfect mix of adventure and independence (even for our 4 year old went off for hours with the other kids) along with safety and comfort for parents. Although if you are particularly health and safety obsessive then this place probably isn't for you. It's all about good old fashioned fun - kids running through the woods, building dens and playing on rope swings.
All of this within easy reach of London - they've created something truly amazing.
Mother nature welcomes you with open arms !
What can I say, I've been all over Europe and found this campsite on my doorstep and have to say I have never felt more at home among the trees. This has to be if not the best, then certainly one of the best places I've stayed at. I have already booked for the next couple of weeks. To see the sun go down with a camp fire roaring, the crackle of other's fires in the distance, and the echo of children's laughter through the trees..this truly is a very magical place. From the moment we arrived, we felt it was home and nothing over the 2 days we stayed changed that. I hope this place touches your heart like it did ours. Your children will grow up to be better people for having stayed here filled with memories of freedom, love and laughter, we cannot wait to go back to what feels like our real home.
Beautiful Campsite & Lovely Hospitality
A camping experience to remember!
I stayed at the campsite for 2 nights in early-August with my best friend and 4 sisters (2 teens and 2 children). So we were in search for a campsite to suit the bunch! Having initially planned to stay only one night, we loved choosing our own camping pitch, exploring the woods and starting our own campfire! It was like family-friendly wild-camping which was really nice.
Reasons for spontaneously staying a second night: Walking in a different direction the next day, we felt like we were in a different woodland! Very clean, woods maintained, new toilets, comfortable showers. We felt like we were free to camp in a way which we enjoyed and free to leave at our own leisure in the morning.
Thank you Mike, for helping us charge our phones and catching a hen to stroke for my little sister! Your hospitality was lovely, helpful and very welcoming. And a great thanks to Karina for helping us book in the first place and attending to all our queries. It was a pleasure to have stayed in your camp and we wish you every success in the coming year.
Improvement: Have drinking water available at the taps please.
Only thing we regret is not coming in May/June for the bluebells!
Lovely wood, too many pitches for the facilities
Badgells Wood is a characterful wood. There aren't many places you can camp in the woods, so they get 4 stars from me just for that.
There is a real charm about the place. Everything has been done thoughtfully with respect to the surroundings.
The only negative is that we went on a busy saturday and the place was rammed with campers. People, pitches and cars everywhere. The wood is large but the clearings for camping are limited.
The composting toilets were great, but they were consistently out of toilet paper, sawdust and water. I'm sure it would be fine when it's quieter, but I think they are letting too many people on to the site at peak times. It might be ok if they cleared more pitches and made sure the toilets were checked and restocked regularly. I will be back again, but hopefully when it's less busy.
Loved the woods
Stayed here for just one night; a party of two families made up of four adults and three little ones - two of them 4 and a half and the other one 18 months. It was basically a bit of a trial for us to see how we'd like camping with kids. While I'm not entirely sure that it was worth all the upheaval and effort for just one night, what I can confidently report is that Badgells Wood is a cracking venue.
The are a few small clearings that pass as pitches but it doesn't particularly matter where you set up. The people running it are really friendly but you still feel like you're alone in the woods even though there's other sets of campers around. Frankly, our children were just entertainment with larking about in the woods, walking down trails and settling themselves into the little shelters that you'll find dotted here and there.
Probably the only thing I thought was a bit odd was that foraging was strictly forbidden. That seemed kind of weird because there was tonnes of wood about. As it happens, we foraged for our fire wood anyway. Sorry about that. Other people were doing it and it seemed fair given that it was only fallen bits and pieces that we took. Nothing was chopped down. Anyway, that's my confession over.
The point is that this is a lovely place to be. Some really magical woodland and our kids came backed rosier cheeked than I've ever seen them.<
Response from Badgells Wood Camping
Thank you for your lovely review – I'm really glad that you all enjoyed yourselves and hopefully we will see you again soon. I would like to respond to your point about foraging for wood so as not to encourage anyone else to join in..! We are only able to operate the campsite within our beautiful ancient woodland by sticking to strict conservation management principles. One of the most important of these is not to allow the collection of deadwood. Deadwood is a really important part of any woodland and supports insects such as wood-boring beetles and fungi that are not found elsewhere. Any piles of deadwood can provide suitable cover and potential hibernation sites for reptiles and small mammals. It's not that we are being difficult, simply that the deadwood is a really important part of the woodland ecology. Lesson over..!
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