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Old Bidlake Farm

UK England South West England Dorset Bridport

  • Laundry
  • Campfires allowed
  • Groups welcome
  • Beaches nearby
  • Good walks nearby
Dubbing the experience they offer “hassle-free camping”, the proprietors at Old Bidlake provide campers the opportunity to connect with this one-of-a-kind natural environment, but not without all of the comforts of home
Cradled between the beautiful beaches of the Jurassic Coast (recognised as a World Heritage Site) and Dorset’s highest hills within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, lies the Marshwood Vale. If all of the aforementioned recognition isn’t clue enough, the Marshwood Vale is home to an epically picturesque landscape. The atmosphere and views of Marshwood Vale may be little changed since the area provided the backdrop to some of Thomas Hardy’s best-known novels, but the comfort and convenience of Old Bidlake’s Farm’s camping field, with its four ready-erected bell tents, is most certainly up-to-date.

Making your arrival up the well-trodden track, you park in the farmyard where the wonderfully welcoming Sue will meet you with a tin of her delicious home-made apple cakes and show you around the eight acres of quiet pastureland. Guiding you through the pretty orchard, which at night is illuminated by a row of pretty solar lights, you're taken to the one-acre camping area of a six-acre meadow field .

 Nestled within each outward corner of the camping area (allowing plenty of privacy for guests and plenty of room for kids to roam freely and safely) are the four traditional canvas bell tents. Each tent is named after the four hills that surround the field, and is equipped with a double futon and up to three child sized futons, solar-powered lanterns, hot water bottles, crockery and a cool box – and there’s also a toilet in the wooden 'wash hut' if you don’t fancy walking to the shower block in the barn extension at night.

Outside, you'll find a picnic table and tree stumps fashioned into chairs to sit on while you cook under the stars on the very efficient rocket stoves. For more ambitious meals, the cosy field shelter houses a gas camping stove, portable wood fired pizza oven and stove top smoker and the nearby barn kitchen has an oven, microwave, fridge and freezer, running hot water and a large dining table where you can enjoy communal meals.

And if you’re a family of foodies, this is definitely the place for you. The small honesty shop in “The Potting Shed” provides home grown fruit and veg and eggs from Old Bidlake's happy hens as and when available. It also stocks vital camping staples such as wood for the rocket stoves and marshmallows.

Sue is incredibly accommodating and has thought of everything to make a family camping holiday run smoothly – there are windbreaks, sunshades, high chairs, child size deckchairs, baby baths and even buckets and spades to borrow. A washing machine, washing line and iron eliminate tiresome trips to the launderette and she is happy to give advice about local activities and recommendations. Kids will feel like the Famous Five as they ride their bikes, explore the sprawling (to them at least) small-holding, help out with collecting the eggs or pick the fruit and veg. They can even go riding at the stables next door – and if they tire of that, the dramatic Jurassic Coast beach at Eype is only three miles, with the lively fishing harbour of West Bay just a fifteen-minute drive away.



Campfires permitted using the campsite fire pit and rocket stoves only. May–September: 4 fully-equipped, ready-erected bell tents or bring your own bell tent – get together a group of friends, or come on your own, but bell tents only. Each tent is a massive 5m in diameter and furnished with beds for up to 2 adults or a family of 5. Some bedding, including a bottom sheet and an assortment of blankets is provided, but campers should bring their own sleeping bags or duvets. Cutlery, crockery and cookware are also provided and neatly stored within each tent, along with lanterns, a water carrier and a family-size freezer box. Outside your tent you’ll find a wood burning stove and a picnic table for dining alfresco. A short stroll away, housed within the barn extension, are 2 private washrooms complete with flush toilets, hand basins and electric showers. Next door is the communal kitchen featuring camping cookers, an electric oven, a fridge and freezer, a dining area and a sink with plenty of hot running water. The honesty shop in ‘The Potting Shed’ provides fresh eggs and seasonal fruit and veg, plus other basics.

Suitable For

Families and small groups – yes. Caravans & dogs – no.


Riding is available right next door at Bidlake Riding Stables (07796517888). Mackerel-fishing trips at West Bay. A mere two miles away you’ll find the charming market town of Bridport, recently voted ‘Best Local Food Town’ in Dorset. Dubbed a “Notting Hill on the sea”, Bridport offers a varied selection of independent shops and an abundance of wares to please foodies, book worms and art & vintage-lovers alike. The bustling Bridport Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays is a browser’s delight – check out the quirky mix of stalls selling everything from delicious pots of homemade curry and cakes, second-hand screwdrivers, antiques and bric-a-brac to local arts are crafts.

Food & Drink

The nearby Ilchester Arms (01308 422600) at Symonsbury is a child-friendly, fifteenth-century village pub with an open fireplace, serving good value meals and local ales. Half a mile away, Washingpool Farm Shop (01308 459549) sells a wide selection of produce from local farms and bakeries, while Samways Fishmongers in West Bay (01308 422201) is the place to get your fresh local fish and seafood. The Hive Beach Café (01308 897070) at Burton Bradstock features freshly caught seafood to enjoy on the beach. Come here to enjoy anything from a crab sandwich to an extravagant seafood platter. Brassica Restaurant (01308 538100), Beaminster, serves innovative seasonal fare from an award-winning chef and the River Cottage Canteen (01297 631862) in Axminster features a menu which changes daily based on what comes in from local farmers and fishermen. Bridport has a good selection of cafes, bars and restaurants to choose from.


April–September. 6 pop-up tent camping pitches running from late April – end of May.

Are you the Owner?


Contact Old Bidlake Farm, Broadoak, Bridport, Dorset DT6 5PY

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Getting There

Head south on the A35, then turn left onto the B3162 through Bridport. Continue along the B3162 the Dottery Crossroads, where you turn left towards Broadoak/Shave Cross. The campsite is signed on the right after about a mile.  The nearest train station is Crewkerne, which is on the main line from Waterloo, and the nearest coach station is in Bridport. Sue or Nick can pick you up from the train or bus station if arranged in advance.


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Rated ★★★★★ over 10 reviews


Not ideal for young children and poor customer service!

Bidlake is a pretty and well maintained camping and glamping site in a reasonable location in Dorset. But we had a dreadful experience and for that reason can't recommend this site for families with young children. What follows is our personal experience, simplified for brevity: * Our 2 year-old daughter woke up crying in the night and we calmed her within 15 minutes. We then took her to the toilet block (she was no longer crying at this point) and were met in the dark by the owner who asked if there had been an accident, then told my daughter that "you can't make noise like that while camping, if you do then your mum and dad will have to leave". * We were pretty shocked! The site claims to be family friendly but this made it clear that there's not much tolerance for normal young child behaviour. Imagine if it had been a full-on toddler tantrum! * We left a day early and wrote to the owners expressing our disappointment and to formally complain about how we were treated. Since then we've faced an absolute barrage of aggressive, deeply personal and offensive emails, threats of legal action to try and silence us, and online abuse on other review sites. Our conclusion is that Bidlake is a nice camping site but is not at all child- or parent-friendly. This is our truthful and honest review, based on our experience of staying for two nights at Old Bidlake Farm in June 2018.
Response from campsite owner:
We are most definitely a family friendly campsite. In 2017 88% of our guests were families with babies, pre-school or primary school children.We know and expect that families with young children create all sorts of noise. The reviewer has posted several 1* reviews across the internet. He did not raise his complaint to us during his stay but when we received his email of complaint I responded immediately in a courteous and truthful manner, apologising for any unintentional upset and as a goodwill gesture offering a full refund. We are saddened by his decision to write these reviews but we sympathise with the anger that he feels towards us. He has a right to his opinion and we wish him no hard feeling, but we do hope that readers will not make harsh judgements about us from one negative review amongst so many positive ones.
Jul 3, 2018 by Richard

Lovely Bidlake Return Visit

Brilliant beautiful Bidlake.   Once again a lovely stay in Sue and Nick's idyllic campsite.  The facilities under their careful management are second to none.  The kids loved the big table for games when the weather was not quite as sunny as last year.  The fridge and freezer were a positive boon when there are so many great farm shops and delis in the locality.

A definite recommendation for those camping for the first time or those with younger kids - the traffic free, quiet surroundings make for a perfect setting.  

Jul 11, 2016 by ScottishJo

Wonderful West Dorset Wooch

We're just on our way back from sleepy, sunny West Dorset. Sue and Nick were relaxed and welcoming hosts who went out of their way to ensure we had everything we needed.

We stayed in the Bluebird vintage caravan in a buttercup filled orchard at a sunny spot on the beautiful Bidlake site. The caravan interior was charming, cosy and clean. The facilities on site were spotlessly clean and well equipped. 
Clare met her best friend the Wooch at Bidlake who she will never forget for ever and ever. We also loved the company of the explorer chickens and thought Vladimir was an exhilarating addition.
Definitely worth a visit for a proper camping experience without the faff.

Four go wild in Dorset

Our first glamping experience and what a treat. Sue and Nick have thought of just about everything - a talent indeed. But talent is one thing...a glorious setting with rolling hills as far as the eye could see across Hardy's Wessex is a unique and romantic proposition altogether. 

We couldn't believe our luck when we arrived to enjoy the solitude of our well equipped bell tent, peacefully nestling in an open field alongside just three other families. The facilities are ideal with sheltered dining areas and mod cons should the weather turn. Once the kids were asleep, we relaxed into our deck chairs and watched the sun go down behind the vale of buttercups. We couldn't have had a more relaxing weekend. But don't just take our word for it...

Jun 2, 2016 by KTQ

Dorset on the doorstep

A great location for exploring western Dorset, close to Bridport (10mins drive away) and the Jurassic Coast. Sue and Nick are very welcoming and the site itself is peaceful with a good outlook onto the surrounding countryside. This includes nearby Pilsdon Pen where a short climb rewards you with marvellous views of patchwork fields and hedgerows for miles around. The site is also notable for its spacious feel, allowing lots of room for youngsters to explore. This is complemented by the modest number of pitches so that the facilities, which are clean and freshly decorated, don't feel too overstretched. Our children particularly enjoyed meeting the other campers on site and feeding the chickens.  Recommended.

Jun 1, 2016 by The Adams Family

Great for families

We loved it here, a few other families with young kids, great facilities (in fact all mods cons so you don't need to bring much), sheltered bell tents with so much room and great views. Plus Bridport, Seatown etc on the doorstep. 

May 26, 2015 by ShanHandy

Bo Scalway

We spent a fabulous weekend camping here in June. We put up our bell tent in the beautiful orchard and cycled along the Jurassic Coast over two days . We loved returning to peaceful Old Bidlake Farm , the loos and showers were immaculate (and with piping hot water)  and not to mention the very well equipped kitchen  and of course the spectacular views, it really was  glamping . Thank you Sue and Nick, you are the perfect hosts . See you in September. 


Jul 17, 2014 by bo

A very special place to stay

We stayed here in August and had a lovely time. The summer of 2013 welcomed back the sunshine after what seems like years of fairly mediocre summers.  However, we seemed to pick one of the only weeks with quite a bit of rain, but it didn't stop us having fun. On the first night we sat outside our tent with the little ones tucked up in their beds (eventually, after all the excitement) and breathed a contented sigh- definitely camping without the hassle. Many a camping trip have we had to pack up the tent in the rain and peg it home with a boot full of damp canvas, but not here. Those dreaded 3am trips to the toilet, delayed until the last possible minute to avoid unzipping a cold tent in the middle of the night; fumbling for a torch, wellies and a jumper in the dark, are not an issue- there are little toilets close by- ideal with small children. The tents were spacious, the beds comfortable and you have the choice of cooking on a little rocket stove (bag of fuel provided) or if that is too much like real camping, you can always use the well-equipped kitchen area- complete with a fridge to keep the local scrumpy nice and chilled.  The hosts were friendly and helpful and this place is nestled in beautiful Dorset, close to the stunning coast.  What more can you want?  Our children are very young (18 months and 4 years) and I have a feeling this place will become a firm family favourite.

Sep 7, 2013 by Janie23

Sunny August holiday 2013

We returned to Old Bidlake Farm for our third year running, the simplicity and charm of the place never failing and the familiar ritual felt like returning to visit friends. But there were also changes because each year Sue and Nick take on board suggestions and they have new ideas about how they can tweak and improve your visit without ever compromising the space and quality of what they offer.

So for this year new delights were the lovely cabin built for rainy evenings in the camp field but which acted as a great place for children to share secrets and to learn new games – my children were taught top trumps this year by a newly made camping friend. Along with the new little shed toilets between the tents for middle of the night wee’s – so much easier with a little one in the dark.

Each year Sue and Nick buy new tents to give the season’s visitors crisp fresh canvas and this year we slept for the first time in Bell Tents (previous years they had been Lavvu). The bell tents were even more spacious.

This year we were lucky too that Sue and Nick arranged sunshine for every morning we woke up and we even saw a magical orange moon, along with many many stars.

Although we have been visiting Dorset for a number of years we still found new places to visit because Bidlake Farm is so well located and this year we traveled into Devon for the first time visiting a beautiful fishing village, Beer, here we hired a motor boat that my children loved. We returned with Mackerel to BBQ on the rocket stove but I’d forgotten to get gutted - Nick came to the rescue and kindly took that job on for me. Another day we ate an amazing meal at the Watch House Café in West Bay and we also visited one place so magical I don’t want to share here in case it becomes too busy (sorry) – but Dorset really is a place for family discoveries and adventures and at the end of each day you can return to the comfort of Old Bidlake Farm (and warmth on a cool night because you are provided with hot water bottles).

The camp kitchen provides an easy way to cook if you don’t feel like getting a fire going in the rocket stove but of course you can’t cook marshmallows on an electric hob!

Each day the camp returns to the glory of the last, the showers and kitchen are always clean, there is ALWAYS hot water in the showers which are just lovely. There are clever tricks so that toilet paper is held on craftily devised wooded rods in the roof so that you never ever run out.
This year because we asked for a last minute extra night and we were kindly offered the opportunity of a night in the Chaffinch. The caravan was set in the orchard for us, and we cozied up in the sweet space for a final evening. My daughter loved the caravan – she had her own curtain across her bed – which she adored and for a while that evening it seemed the rest of the camp kids liked the van too as they sat playing cards on the little bed. I loved the kitsch and the wall paper patterns.

We love Old Bidlake Farm, my 9 year old daughter says that she will go there with her children when she grows up. My son just loves the camp and the freedom and Daisy the dog especially. It is situated in a beautiful part of Dorset with so many choices of places to visit.

Just to add we are campers and we do camp in other sites too each summer in our own tent – but the ease of turning up and having everything on hand, sleeping under canvas (such a treat if you are used to nylon) – and having the space that you are given here is just amazing. We haven’t been to a campsite like it, the love and care that go into making your holiday special are above and beyond. It has a special place in our heart. Thank you – we will be back!

Sep 6, 2013 by SarahWrightCampbell

Beautiful site

This is one of those reviews that I was tempted to keep to myself because I (selfishly) don’t want the place to become to popular! We had a lovely stay at Old Bidlake Farm, warmly welcomed by our hosts, and (despite grotty weather) our 3 year old son’s first camping trip was hassle free and he wants to go back :-) Definitely a good spot for families, this site offers as close an experience to ’real’ camping as you can get without the hassle of pitching your own tent when you arrive (oh and the added luxury of your own private toilet tent!). So much to do nearby as well, can’t recommend this site highly enough.
Jul 11, 2012 by Daisylea

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