Karow Meadow Cornwall

UK England South West England Cornwall Bodmin

  • Campfires Allowed
Off-grid, bell-tent camping for back-to-nature couples and families in North Cornwall

Eco-friendly, back to basics, back to nature — call it what you will, but there's a vogue for this kind of camping and when it's done well, it can be an amazing experience. And to do it well, you need to commit properly, which is where off-gridders Ellie and Liam walk the walk and talk the talk in their little slice of back-country North Cornwall. Their bell-tent meadow site is not only a passion project, it's their life, as the two hosts live on-site in a small caravan, showcasing their low-waste, natural-living aesthetic and expertise. If you want to go wild swimming or deer-watching (karow means deer in Cornish) or learn how to cook great one-pot meals over a wood fire, Ellie and Liam can help you out with that, confirming that "this isn't your typical camping."

The meadow site is a former tree nursery — there are plans to turn it into a sustainable smallholding — where five bell tents are sited on two adjacent fields, reached by mown paths through the tall grasses and wildflowers. Three of the tents are four-metre size, ideal for a couple plus an extra child's bed. The other two are five metres and could sleep a family with up to three kids. Everything is simple, cosy, rustic, and entirely off-grid — so no WiFi, electric power, or lighting in any of the facilities. The mattresses are on raised pallets and, while there's a cheerful, country vibe with the soft furnishings, there's not a whole lot more to the tents save bedside tables and a lantern or two.

A couple of minutes' walk from the tents are the compost loos and covered cold-water shower, cutely built from reclaimed and recycled materials. An inventively fitted outdoor kitchen-shelter has the gear to knock up simple meals and heat water, with communal barbecues and fire pits also available. Grab a fire tripod and you're set for open-fire cooking, which costs you a hundred quid a head in a fancy restaurant these days but is yours for the price of a bag of wood and some ingredients from the local farm shop. You're welcome to bring your own cooking stuff if you like — barbecues, burners, and fire pits — as long as they are raised off the ground and you stick to the mantra of 'leave no trace'.

It's true that this may not be for everyone — it's charming, homemade, homespun camping, not high-end glamping that some may be in the market for. But it's done with passion and soul, and for those willing to embrace a simpler way of life, even for just a few days, the rewards are enormous. Nature is ever-present — the local deer might appear at dawn and dusk — and there's something about chilling out, slowing down, and mucking in that soon grows on you. You'll learn to kindle up the rocket stove, heat water for a morning cup of coffee and a shower, and spot stars at night around a campfire. You'll make mealtimes a collaborative effort, listen out for the birds, and sleep soundly under canvas. When it comes down to it, there's not a whole lot else you need, and the outside world will still be there when you get back home.

Details

Facilities

There are three four-metre bell tents in one field and two five-metre bell tents in another, with the tents set well apart. Each has a raised pallet double bed, with linen, cushions, and throws, but you'll need to bring your own bedding and pillows — and maybe an extra duvet or blanket, depending on the weather forecast. Camp beds are available for children, but extra adults will probably want to bring their own blow-up mattress, plus linen and duvets or sleeping bags.

Close to all the tents is a separate 'shed on stilts' which houses the compost toilet, and there's also a hand-built shower shack (with another toilet and shower to come). Showers are cold by default but you can heat water for a warm-water shower if you wish. Bring your own towels.

A shack-style, outdoor kitchen comes with all the pots, pans, and utensils you need, including barbecue gear. It's equipped with a twin-burner tabletop gas stove, sink, and running cold water, undercover seating around homemade tables, and a small herb garden that you're encouraged to use. You can heat water (for coffee, drinks, or showers) on the woodsman-style 'rocket' stove — you just need to add kindling. There are also communal barbecues (charcoal available for purchase) and a communal fire pit with log seating. Fire tripods are available for cooking and, again, you can buy wood to cook on. Anything else you bring — barbecues, burners, or personal fire pits — needs to be raised off the ground, though the two larger bell tents do have their own off-ground fire pit.

Suitable For

Small, intimate groups, families, couples – yes. Large groups, parties, dogs, pets, campervans, caravans, tents – no.

Nearby

Karow Meadow is off-grid and surrounded by nature, but it is close to a road, which means that to explore beyond the site you're really first going to have to jump in a car. The central Cornwall location (nearest town, Bodmin) offers the best of both coasts since it's only a 30-minute or so drive either north or south to spectacular coves, harbours, and beaches. Liam and Ellie can point you to some of the less-visited spots, such as the fishermen's cottages and beach at Gorran Haven or the broad beaches and cliffs of the Roseland peninsula.

Historic Bodmin is only five miles away — the newest attraction is the immersive experience that is the 18th-century Bodmin Jail (01208 76292), where you can investigate the darker side of Cornwall's history. You're also right on the edge of dramatic Bodmin Moor (01872 322350), an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty of unenclosed heathland, extensive peat bogs, and the granite hills known as 'tors'. Brown Willy is Cornwall's highest tor, at almost 1,400 feet — you can reach it from the Forestry England car park at Rough Tor (0300 0674800), about a 30-minute drive from Karow Meadow, around the western side of the moor. Bodmin itself also marks one end of the Camel Trail, an 18-mile, mostly traffic-free route from Bodmin to Padstow – a brilliant day out if you've brought your own wheels, but there are also bike rental places available in local towns, including Bodmin. For a gentler excursion, drive the seven miles east to Respryn Bridge (01208 265950) and amble through the woods on a circular trail through the National Trust's Lanhydrock Estate.

Food & Drink

The nearest pub is the Lanivet Inn (01208 831212), but while it's only a mile and a half away, you'll have to drive as the road is too busy to walk there safely. It's a nice place to have as your local though, with good beers, a large beer garden, and a pretty good bistro menu, strong on locally sourced produce. Three miles the other way, at Inches, the farm shop at the Real Food Garden (07825 240677) is the place for sustainably grown seasonal veggies, herbs, salads, eggs, and bread. If you're out on the Camel Trail, the Camel Trail Tea Garden (01208 74291), halfway between Bodmin and Wadebridge, is a real gem you shouldn't miss — you can walk or cycle straight there (or park close by) and enjoy snacks, lunch or a cream tea in their charming apple-orchard cafe. Best fish and chips? Probably not where you think (ie, out on the coast), but a ten-minute drive to the Port and Starboard (01726 860270) at Indian Queens, for sustainably caught fresh fish and Cornish potatoes by award-winning farmers-turned fryers.

Open

September–October.

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The Owner Says

Karow Meadow is an eco-friendly campsite in North Cornwall offering cosy bell-tents, compost toilets, woodfired showers, an outdoor kitchen, a rocket stove and a firepit for starry nights and cosy mornings. Nestled away in the meadow are 5 bell tents, fully kitted out with off the ground beds, soft lighting and cosy décor. Everything you find at the meadow is hand built by the hosts and their friends, using as much reclaimed and recycled local materials as possible.

Karow Meadow caters to couples, small intimate groups and families. This site is suited to those who welcome a wild and rustic off-grid experience. Situated amongst meadow grasses and wildflowers, the facilities at Karow Meadow have been built with adventurous guests in mind. Use the rocket stove to warm your hot water for a shower, or take some time out to see how many insect species you can find in the meadow. If you are quiet and lucky enough, you’ll find out where this campsite got its name. Karow means deer in Cornish, and at dusk or dawn these mystical creatures can be spotted resting in the long meadow grass.

Hosts Liam and Ellie are both Cornish born, and after some years travelling and studying International Studies, returned home to pour their passion into Karow Meadow. You’ll often find Liam with his head in the compost heap or wormery - with his passion for the natural world at the forefront of everything he does. Ellie Is often found on the yoga mat, making seasonal wildcrafts, dreaming up new fire food recipes or cold water swimming. They’re both on hand at the meadow, living full time in a small caravan on the land. Ask them for advice on local nature, low waste living or natural places of interest nearby.

Karow Meadow isn’t your typical camping. Whilst there is no wifi, electric or flushing toilets, you’ll experience a snippet of low waste, eco friendly living. Bring a power bank if you wish to stay connected, or go the whole hogg and switch the phone off. Despite the site being close to a road, the sound of meadows full of insects, birds and other wildlife brings nature to the forefront of your stay here.

Accommodation

Three four-metre bell tents, sleeping a couple plus one extra child's camp-bed if required. Two five-metre bell tents, sleeping up to three adults or a couple plus up to three children.

Oak

Bell tent Sleeps 3
4 metre bell tent.

Elder

Bell tent Sleeps 3
4 metre bell tent.

Holly

Bell tent Sleeps 3
4 metre bell tent.

Thistle

Bell tent Sleeps 5
5 metre bell tent

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Location

Contact Karow Meadow Cornwall, Redtye Cottage, Lanivet, Bodmin, Cornwall PL30 5JA

Show Map

Getting There

Use postcode PL30 5JA. After reaching Cornwall Services, from Newquay, drive along the A30 and take the exit towards Victoria/ Roche/ B3276.

National train and bus routes run to Par, Newquay, and Bodmin, from where there are local trains throughout the day to either Roche or Bugle train stations, which are both within five miles of Karow Meadow. You'll need a taxi from either station — book in advance with Harmony Private Car Hire (07909 558623). From Roche and Bugle, you can get to Newquay by train in 35 minutes, Par in 20 minutes, and Bodmin Parkway in 40 minutes.

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Why book with Cool Camping?

  • Best Price Guarantee, with no fees
  • Instant booking confirmation
  • Trusted for over 10 years
  • A chance to win prizes in our regular competitions

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