Finding the perfect pitch
Wherever you chose to camp you’ll need to think carefully about selecting your individual pitch.
Think before you pitch
On some sites you’ll be told where to pitch, but even then you should give some thought to where and how you put the tent, caravan or motorhome in the space.
Tent owners in particular will need to consider which way the wind is likely to blow and whether you can find some shelter from it. And what will happen if it rains?
Take a look at our checklist below to help you get pitched perfectly:
The perfect pitch checklist
1. Near the loos or far away?
Do you want to be near the amenity block or other facilities? It could be convenient for night-time trips to the loo and speedy washing up, but can also lead to more people walking around your pitch.
2. Play areas are great fun
If your children are small you may want to be close to the children’s play area so you can keep an eye on them from your tent. However, remember that other youngsters may still be playing enthusiastically when your little ones should be asleep.
3. Find shelter
Hedges and other units can form great windbreaks on an exposed site.
4. Beware of trees
It can look appealing to pitch in the shade of a tree, but the grass is often poor because it’s protected from the rain, trees can drip sap and birds have a habit of roosting and leaving little presents on your lovely unit beneath. Rain will also drip from trees long after a storm has passed. It can even be dangerous to pitch under a tree if there’s a thunderstorm.
5. Choose flat ground
…if at all possible.
6. Check surrounding water
Rainwater has to go somewhere, so try to make sure it won’t travel through your tent or under the path from your motorhome or caravan on its way. Likewise, avoid hollows and marshy ground.
Setting up camp
Once you’ve chosen your pitch, check it’s free from anything that could damage your groundsheet or unit, including pegs left by a previous occupant.
Strong winds are an enemy of tent campers. Try to pitch with the door facing away from the wind, especially in a tunnel tent, which can make an excellent kite given half a chance. It’s also more pleasant to walk out of your motorhome or caravan with the wind behind you, rather than in your face.
If you have to pitch on a slope, aim to keep the door of your unit downhill to prevent rain coming in. It’s reasonably easy to get a caravan or motorhome level using ramps under the wheels, but it’s better to have a flat pitch in the first place.
In a tent with a sewn-in groundsheet, you can generally peg out the corners of the groundsheet first, making sure it is not too tight. The rest of the pegs can be put in after the tent is standing.
Take care when inserting the poles. If they don’t slide in easily, check whether they’re caught in the fabric before forcing the issue. On many tents, pole threading is often a two-person job. If you’re using modular poles, which are held together by elastic, you will need to push them through rather than pulling them, to keep the joints sound.
Pegs should be driven into the ground diagonally at an angle of 45 degrees, with the point towards the tent. Unless you are using screw-in pegs, it’s worth having a mallet to drive them in well.
Guylines should normally follow the line of the seams of the tent for greatest stability. Position the adjusting sliders so there’s room for adjustment during your stay and check them regularly to make sure they’re not loosening or getting too tight.
Also consider the way to position your bedding. Would you prefer to lie along the slope or with your feet lower than your head?
Hard facts about hardstandings
On many large sites you’ll find hardstandings for motorhomes and caravans. They are useful if the campsite is soft and muddy, especially in winter or after heavy rain.
Hardstandings are not generally suitable for tents, but the Club has developed new ‘green hardstandings’ using recycled plastic mesh. The mesh is buried flush with the surface of the pitch, then filled with soil and a hardwearing grass seed. Once the grass grows, these green hardstandings are barely distinguishable from normal turf but have the advantage that even heavy vehicles can be driven over them without damage.
They are suitable for all kinds of campers, but one warning, they can be a little slippery when damp, so be careful.
Take advice about a pitch
If you do get a choice of pitch then spend a little time working out exactly the best place to stop. Don’t be afraid to take advice from other campers who are more familiar with the site. They may tell you that the perfect-looking pitch you have spotted is actually one that floods regularly with heavy rain – you’ll be glad you asked. As your experience grows you’ll find the time and thought spent picking your pitch will reward you over and over again during your stay at the campsite.
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