Badgells Wood Camping
It is almost a disservice to call Badgells Wood 'a campsite'. It feels more like you’ve driven into the woods, found a tranquil coppice clearing and slept the night hidden from the rest of the world. Such is the seclusion and simplicity of this back-to-nature spot that you forget it's really a carefully managed woodland, crafted so that every camper can have that authentic outdoors experience. In an ancient setting where campers play second fiddle to badgers, squirrels and chirping birdlife, Badgells Wood is a dreamy woodland escape.
Set in the 30 acre corner of a sprawling 250 acre forest, the campsite has ample space for pitches, each in their own unique spot and varying in size. Whether you want to tuck yourself away with a two-man tent, or park up a campervan with a group of friends, there’ll be a pitch to match and, with peace and quiet top of this campsite's agenda, you can guarantee you won’t be disturbed. Instead, kick back in your pocket of woodland paradise, kindle the campfire and let your kids loose amongst the trees.
With an interesting history as an old World War II training area, Badgells Wood is striped with concrete tracks and access is still easy by car. From the pitches themselves, trodden pathways weave through the bluebell-clad floor to a sanitary block (built of wood, naturally) that houses sinks for washing up and lovely hot showers. The ablutions offer some everyday luxury amid the wilderness, whilst compost loos are also dotted throughout the campsite.
Though a hop in the car can take you to famous castles, pristine gardens and a host of family attractions, Badgells Wood Camping is a place to forget the modern world. In fact, you could easily forget the car altogether. On weekends, bushcraft courses are run by experienced outdoorsmen (and women) who tailor the course to all ages involved. Then the rest of the week can be spent refining your new skills, whittling around the campfire or building dens between the trees. Children will love the rope swings, hanging from sturdy oaks, or investigating the nature trail, while those in need of a stroll should take to one of the woods many footpaths
As the Badgells team rightfully proclaim, “if you prefer your campsite with mown lawns, plastic playgrounds and a swimming pool then we’re probably not for you”. But those with a romantic yearning for an off-grid woodland escape should head straight for the Kent Downs. Badgells Wood Camping will certainly do the trick.
Pitches consist of small clearings connected by footpaths. A wooden area with a corrugated plastic roof houses washing up sinks and fabulous hot showers, while compost loos are dotted across the site. Rope swings hang from trees around the 30 acre site and Badgells Wood is also connected to far larger Whitehorse Wood, a huge expanse of forest riddled with footpaths and crossed by both The North Downs Way and The Weald Way. The woodland was once a World War II training ground and old huts, tracks and even a trench can still be glimpsed among the trees. Campfires are permitted onsite (in the fire pits provided) and grills and dutch ovens are available to hire for cooking. The reception sells a few camping essentials and also has books with ideas for kid's nature fun. Locally sourced firewood and kindling are also available at reception – foraging for wood is not allowed under the site's conservation management plan as deadwood is an important part of the woodland ecology and a habitat for insects, mammals and fungi.
Nature lovers, families, groups, tents and well-behaved dogs that won’t chase the wildlife onsite. – yes. Groups with an average age under 21 – no. A limited number of campervans are also permitted.
Connected to Whitehorse Wood there are plenty of excellent trails for walking, including The North Downs Way and The Weald Way. If open space and country parks are your thing, stroll across the private parkland at the edge of the site to the top of The Kent Downs AONB (01303 815170) for magnificent views. Walk a little further to Holly Hill or the cafe at Trosley Country Park (01303 815170). The megolithic Coldrum Stones (01732 810378) are also just a 20 minute walk from camp. Leeds Castle (01622 765400), Rochester Castle (08703 331181) and Heaver Castle (01732 865224) are all less than 45 minutes drive away, while the house and gardens of Knole (01732 462100) and Ightham Mote (01732 810378) are also nearby. Riverhill Himalayan Gardens (01732 459777) is highly recommended for families, about 30 minutes away near Sevenoaks. The Whitehorse Equestrian Centre (01373 822057) is also just around the corner in Harvel.
Food & Drink
The nearest pubs are the Amazon and Tiger (01474 814705) in Harvel or The Green Man (01732 823575) in Hodsoll Street. Head down to the Nevill Bull (01732 843193) in Birling – Kate and Paul will give you a warm welcome and make sure you're well fed. Otherwise, there is the The Duke of Wellington (01732 842318) in Ryarsh, The George (01732 822462) in Trottiscliffe or the Vigo Inn (01732 822465) for some live music or comedy. Those shopping for local produce should head for Harvel House Farm Shop (01474 814433) open on Friday and Saturday, serving up their home-reared meat perfect for the BBQ. The Kent Brewery (01634 780037), a microbrewery located on Birling Estate can organise some local brew for you.
Easter – Halloween
Forget the car and leave a Hansel and Gretel trail into the trees to find the best pitches in this vast woodland site. Campfires, tire swings, old tracks and trenches make exploring every inch worth while.
No availability showing at Badgells Wood Camping.
The site is 2.5 miles from the turning off the A227, between Meopham and Wrotham, near Vigo village. Turn onto Harvel Lane (signposed Vigo & Harvel – and with a brown sign for Trosley Country Park). If you are heading north the turning off the A227 is not long after the Vigo Pub on your right. If heading south and you get to the Vigo pub you have gone too far. Follow the road along for two miles and you will go past the turning on your left to Harvel. You will then pass a couple of houses and Fairseat Fencing. Keep going for another 1/2 mile and you will see the campsite entrance on your right and the reception in front of you.
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