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Take me to church: the rise of champing

Take me to church: the rise of champing

Camping is always marching on, always diversifying, always presenting something new. But who would have thought of putting camping and churches together?

The Churches Conservation Trust, that’s who.

Take a disused church steeped in history. Take friends and families who are always looking for the next adventure, something different, something to feed the soul. Put them together and you have champing. Church camping. A juxtaposed stay as down to earth yet as close to heaven as you’ll ever get.

The Champing churches can sleep from 2 to 16 people. The hire of a church is completely exclusive; you won’t be rubbing shoulders with any strangers, apart from maybe the odd spider or two. Child-friendly, dog-friendly, group-friendly, picnic-friendly, alcohol-friendly, the experience is surely one to consider if you’re looking for an authentic, unforgettable mini-break experience.

Facilities are basic with camping beds, rugs, cushions and camping chairs supplied but you will have to rely on your own bedding and blankets to keep warm. It isn’t fancy yet there is a certain magic and humour about having the free run of a church for a night or two that makes it seem actually quite spoily. Think of it as a massive tent filled with history. Imagine lying there with the moonlight coming through the stained glass windows, pondering awhile on all the people who have paced the flagstones over hundreds of years. Imagine the kids playing hide and seek in the churchyard and swapping spooky stories by torchlight. That is quite something. And to top the Blytonesque experience, a steaming breakfast butty will be delivered to you by a friendly local in the morning. Sold.

Brainchild of Peter Aires, director of the Churches Conservation Trust in the south east, the scheme was piloted in 2014 and launched officially in 2015 with three churches. More than 150 holidaymakers stayed at a champing church that year, including Andrew Flintoff, the former England cricket captain, who documented his overnight stay in Aldwincle on Sky One after England won the Ashes series.

In 2016 the trust opened a further four more churches for their champing experience and nearly 700 guests came through their doors. The movement (for it certainly feels like a movement) is increasing to twelve churches in 2017. It is an imaginative way to generate income to maintain these congregation-less churches while offering a new phenomenon in camping.

Champing is certainly making the press sit up and take notice. It has been featured in the likes of The Times, The National Geographic, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Independent and even on national TV. It really feels like there is a wave to catch here. With a new website launched today at www.champing.co.uk and our online booking facility in place to support them, the Churches Conservation Trust is already ramping up the bookings, even from as far afield as America.

So, are you going to frequent church anytime soon? We most certainly are. Champing. It’s the one to watch.

Will you be providing mild camping next season?

Will you be providing mild camping next season?

A new camping industry trend has been identified by VisitScotland and is set to roll down the length and breadth of the British Isles over the next few seasons.

Dubbed ‘mild camping’, it is a type of camping for people who want to experience the wild outdoors but in a safer environment. It sits somewhere between wild camping and the kind of experience you’d get on a traditional family campsite. So rather than hanging off a cliff edge somewhere by yourself hoping for the best, you might be pitched in a wild field with the landowner within reach for greater security. It provides a down-to-earth, exhilarating experience without the worry.

It is almost anti-glamping, the other end of the scale. No marked-out pitches will be necessary, electrical hook-up will be a no-no, campfires a must. Mud won’t be frowned on, facilities can be dressed down and basic. The phenomenon opens a new world to landowners, holiday parks and campsites already in business or those starting out. It lends an opportunity to re-evaluate land stock, rebrand, or launch a business in a more environmentally sustainable way.

In an age of increased digital immersion and fast-paced living, the desire among consumers to escape to the simplicity of the great outdoors is staggering. Some are turning their backs on holidays abroad completely in favour of camping among the undulating hills and hedgerows of our fair isle. This gives the camping industry both the need and the opportunity to continually diversify, which is good news for camping businesses and good news for us. Mild camping is a new craze within the industry but it most certainly won’t be the last.

If you are a camping business looking for an online booking system to get you connected to the right marketplace and with the functionality to keep your business up with the changes, sign up to Anytime Booking now. We are the camping people.