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UK England South West England Dorset

Milborne Wood Campsite, Milborne Wood Farm, Dewlish, Dorset DT2 7NQ

Proper, back-to-basics tent camping with campfires in an ancient Dorset woodland

It’s testament to how beautiful this part of Dorset is that you can go less than 100 metres from a convenient A-road and you’ll find yourself amongst a setting as richly green, natural and bio-diverse as Milborne Wood. The sun-flecked leaves of the canopy and the soft tapping of the branches as they clatter together in the breeze, cloak the woods from the outside world and the perimeter trees have long absorbed the sound of traffic by the time you reach your tent pitch. It’s no surprise this ancient woodland is still home to all sorts of rare wildlife. Roe deer frequent the place, though elusive to even the quietest of campers, and species of moth and butterfly thrive. How lucky that today us humans, too, are allowed to share the space.

On the edge of Dorset’s designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, 180-acre Milborne Wood is a small campsite that keeps nature at the fore. Don’t expect shiny facilities and adventure playgrounds; it’s the 1000-year-old oaks and the charming chirp of morning birdsong that offer the real appeal here. That and the space. In total, the campsite has provisions for no more than 15 tent pitches at any one time, meaning that, mathematically speaking, there’s over 12-acres per tent! In reality, of course, the pitches occupy a collection of clearings right in the heart of the wood, with the trees spreading out in all directions like a vast arboreal wilderness. Even so, space is hardly at a premium.

While adults test their lumberjack skills, stockpiling firewood for that essential evening campfire, children set off to challenge the Guinness World Record for the world’s biggest stick den. If they haven’t finished before it rains, there’s a handy hanging parachute for campers to shelter under – one of the few simple facilities, which include a makeshift kitchen shelter, heat-your-own-showers and loos crafted from Milborne Wood’s own oak, ash and sweet chestnut. Wheelbarrows are also provided to help you cart your camping equipment from the car park beyond the trees. Sadly they can’t be used to wheel home bottles of wine from the neighbouring vineyard (a pleasant 15-minute walk away). Perhaps that, too, helps preserve the quietness of the campsite!

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