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A small, green, pop-up campsite in the heart of North Devon

Like all the best campsites, there’s not much to see at Bales Ash for most of the year. It has a quietly ephemeral feel that almost makes you wonder whether a campsite really calls this patch of Devon's Taw Valley home at all. There’s no playground and just a few faint lines traced in the grass by vehicles that disappeared in mid September.

But summer is an altogether different story. Alive with the colour of canvas tents and infused by the sound of children's laughter, the distant strumming of a guitar and the evocative aroma of smouldering barbecues, you realise that the campsite is perfect entirely because of its lack of all things permanent. This is a lesson in how all campsites should be: pop-up, fuss free, sheep-mown aprons of grass and refreshingly understated.

Camping at Bales Ash is very much of the chilled-out variety. There are a handful of electric hook-ups for small campervans that don’t mind the country lanes and two spacious fields where up to 30 families or groups can spread themselves around. After that. It’s up to you to find the excitement, whether that be impromptu games of football that rope in strangers from the sidelines or communal evening campfires where kiddies gorge themselves on marshmallows.

That being said, animal lovers will enjoy checking in with the rabbits in ‘The Bunny House’ opposite the shower block, while parents and young children alike will revel in Hungry Gorilla’s Story tent where a friendly life-sized gorilla (don’t worry – he’s stuffed!) has taken up residence for the summer with a selection of children’s books for you to enjoy together.

Yet for all its simplicity, Bales Ash still has everything you could possibly need. Campfire pits are rented out at just £3 for your entire stay, high spec hot showers and top notch compost toilets are available for use and there’s even Wi-Fi. It’s the very antithesis of the holiday park scene, right down to the beautifully furnished bell tents (aka 'The Belles of Bales Ash') nestled against the hedge in the small field. If you don’t fancy putting up your own tent and seek a bit of luxury then one of the Belles may be the girl for you! And whilst we’re talking about luxury why not treat yourself to one of Ann, Debbie and Caro’s unbeatable cream teas whilst enjoying the view from outside their Victorian summer house shop and café? (Remember we’re in Devon here – cream first, jam after).

Beyond, views over the hedges to Exmoor draw you out from your camping cocoon. It’s a half hour drive to the national park, though footpaths closer to home offer similarly pleasant rambling routes even if not feeling quite so ‘remote’ – after all, who’s going to complain if you take in a few pubs en route? To the north, Barnstaple and the coast are closer still (about 20-35 minutes in the car) and boast some of the best surfing beaches in the country, with Croyde, Saunton Sands and Woolacombe all sharing the spoils of the swell that rolls in across the Atlantic. By the time winter comes back around you'll never look at an empty field the same way again.

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The campsite owner says

Bales Ash Campsite sits above the Taw Valley in beautiful North Devon countryside with views across to Exmoor providing complete escape from the pace of modern life. We offer relaxed camping in two beautiful sprawling fields for just a few weeks each year. We welcome all types of tents, small camper vans, awnings and even the odd gazebo or event shelter. Sit and chat around the communal firepit or just enjoy gazing at the stars and experience the complete stillness of being away from it all. Bales Ash is a place to chill out and get in touch with the other side of you.

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