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  1. View The Northern Lights At UK Campsites

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    According to experts at NASA, November 2013 is supposed to be the best year ever for the Northern Lights, a natural phenomenon which causes unearthly-like colours to dart around the night sky. What better way to view them than from a great British campsite where light pollution is at a minimum and you can lie back and enjoy the view? The north east of England and Scotland are said to be amongst the best potential viewing points in the UK so Pitchup.com has compiled a guide to Northern Lights spotting from some of its best-positioned sites.

    • Bluebell at Birdsong Garden is a cosy glampervan located in a secluded English garden in Alnwick, Northumberland. This is a perfect location for enjoying views of the night sky as there is no light pollution and a double outdoor hammock in which guests can lie back and look towards the glowing night sky. A two night stay in November costs £90 for the van.
    • Ayres Rock Hostel and Camp Site on the Isle of Sanday in the Orkney Islands is about as remote a location as anyone could wish to find for spotting the Northern Lights. With a clifftop location, visitors enjoy panoramic and unspoiled views for miles around. During the day there are beautiful sandy beaches to walk along, wildlife to spot and a lighthouse to explore. Accommodation options include tent pitches, camping pods and a two bedroom holiday home. Prices start from as little as £12 per pitch, per night.
    • Tan Hill in North Yorkshire is another location that is expected to offer a stunning light show and Usha Gap Campsite is just five miles away. Set on a working farm, campers on this site can pitch a tent or bring along their own touring vehicle. With beautiful views of the surrounding valleys and hills it’s an ideal choice for enjoying the night sky. Pitches cost from £24 per night.
    • For a more rustic experience, Cowclose Woodland at Consett, County Durham is a wild style campsite where visitors walk 1km to their rural peaceful site. The idea is for visitors to truly get back to nature. There are cooking facilities on site including wood fired pizza ovens, barbecue grills and fires for warmth. Once on site, visitors can truly get in touch with nature and enjoy their natural surroundings – another great spot with no light pollution. There is room for just 20 tents and pitches cost from £20 per night.

    Multi-award winning Pitchup.com is a free guide to all types of camping and caravanning in the UK, Ireland and France. The site provides users with a simple platform in which they can search and book a camping or caravanning holiday. The site goes beyond traditional searches by allowing users to search for a site based on more than 80 criteria, such as adults only and campfires allowed, and view nearby events, Good Pub Guide pubs and VisitBritain attractions.

    For more information, visit www.pitchup.com

  2. Making The Most Of Simple Campsites

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    Camping completely independent of any facilities, being truly self-contained, has always appealed but it needs careful organisation and easing of standards and expectations – it’s a tough person who rolls naked across a field for a grass bath. A simple campsite is one that offers the basics of loo and water and has that difficult to define element – ‘character’. It may come from the setting, the wider context or the personality of the owners. Some attract campers who enjoy privacy; others have an air of camaraderie from the moment you start to pitch your tent. Shops, pizza stalls, swimming pools, closely packed pitches and licensed bars add a layer of complexity to sites that shift them from camping holidays to holiday camps.

    However, where simple farm sites once cost just a couple of pounds, ‘modern’ simple sites can rack up charges that reflect location, unmarked pitches and character. The emergence of web-based campsite guides – www.ukcampsite.co.uk; the Cool Camping series – www.coolcamping.co.uk ; and Tiny Campsites – www.tinycampsites.co.uk –  have all not only spread the word about exceptional sites but actively helped to develop a new theme in sites. More privacy, open fires and an awareness of sustainability are linked to pubs in walking distance to make up a rounded package that delivers a more ‘authentic’ camping experience.

    The downside of many smaller, simpler sites is not being able to book them in advance. Over the years, word of mouth and pot luck have been as useful as printed and electronic guides. No pre-booking means risking turning up to be turned away. Or, perhaps, finding that secluded site you enjoyed last year bursting at the seams. It pays to have alternatives up your sleeve and to be flexible in what you expect. You can book National Trust campsites online; many are run by tenant farmers – www.nationaltrust.org.uk.

    Campingninja is a free, independent campsite booking site that allows you to browse with search filters for campsites, find availability and book on-line all in the same place – no more phone calls or the frustration of unanswered emails. With hundreds of campsites in the system, Campingninja co-founder Rhian Evans said, “We have a great variety of campsites to book including eco-campsites, small campsites, campsites where you can have a campfire, campsites for all kinds of activities – the list is endless and you can easily search on all of these criteria and more.”

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