Sometimes the best sites are the one’s without any single, stand out feature. No converted London taxi with a king sized bed in the boot; no boutique glamping tree house made from scientifically modified satin; no £20 ‘rainbow breakfast’ delivered to your tent. Sometimes, keeping it simple is precisely what keeps it special and when the whole thing comes together just the usual camping offerings can be all it takes to create a sociable and friendly atmosphere.
Riddings Wood is exactly this sort of place. It’s 11 acres of open space and woodland offer nothing far from the ordinary, yet somehow the site retains a wonderfully traditional campsite feel, making it stand out as a real gem in Central England. Campervans and tents mingle on the grassy stretches, kids playing in the ample space between, and caravans park around the top of the site, where serviced hard standings offer a convenient space to pitch. All have easy access to the large washroom facility – a wooden clad building with a slightly alpine, mountain lodge look about it. Within the block everything has a wooden, Swiss-like finish and under floor heating is a welcome luxury touch.
Location-wise, Riddings Wood also offers a handy middle ground. The mighty slopes of the Peak District National Park are a 20-minute drive away – too far to form a dramatic campsite backdrop – yet its proximity to the key roads of the area make the campsite handily accessible from all directions. As a result there’s a pleasant mix of campers. Outdoorsy types, use the campsite as a convenient basecamp for heading north into the hills, while stop-off visitors looking to visit Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield also fill the crowd. Rallies and organised groups are all welcome and there's a smattering of picnic benches around the site that make for pleasant evening focal points when dinner time rolls around. Campfire smoke smudges the air and there's a general atmosphere of inclusion.
By day campers scatter, each heading off in their own direction with an itinerary to suit, yet by the end they all return. Adults briefly tap on the WiFi, kids briefly play on the playground and everyone slowly drifts off to bed. It's the simple circle of camping life and precisely what makes this easy-going site a winner.
FacilitiesThe shower and toilet block features underfloor heating, disabled facilities, baby changing facilities along with washing and laundry. Children have a playground with climbing frames and swings and there are great family picnic areas around the park exclusively for all caravan and camping visitors. There's free WiFi available, electrical hookups and chemical waste disposal.
Suitable ForTents, campervans, caravans, trailer tents, groups, dogs – yes.
NearbyIt's a 20 minute drive to the southern section of the Peak District, ideal for walkers and cyclists. Even before the national park is reached, however, there are several excellent road-cycling routes for those looking for quiet roads. It's a little longer (around half an hour) to Chatsworth House (02465 65300). Gawp at the grandeur of the 1st Duke's Painted Hall and State Apartments with their sumptuous decoration and visit the 19th century Library, Great Dining Room and Sculpture Gallery. The house and grounds deserve a great deal of the time, though it's worth popping another 5 minutes to Haddon Hall (01629 812855), a privately owned tudor mansion that also vies for the heritage hunters attention. Closer to home, garden lovers can find quiet spots at Cascade Gardens (01629 822813) and Lea Gardens (01629 534380), both around the Matlock area and privately owned.
Food & DrinkThe family run, Moulders Arms (01773 602445), is the only thatched pub in Derbyshire and has the traditional feel that the look suggests. There's an ever changing variety of local and national real ales, cask ales, real cider and perry and good food at reasonable prices. How far? Just over a 5 minute walk! Another top pick is community pub, The Seven Stars – 6 miles away. Real ales aplenty here too, along with free WiFi and regular family fun days.
Directions from the M1 (North/South): From the M1 (North/South) exit at Junction 27 and take the A608 Heanor. Turn right onto the B600 for Alfreton/Selston and follow the B600 before turning left onto the B6016 Jacksdale. Follow the B6016 and Riddings Wood is on the right hand side.
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