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Get back to basics and discover the real essence of camping

There’s been a campsite in this field on the Gower Peninsula for 60 years, and there are no prizes for guessing why. High above Port Eynon Bay (the climb up from Oxwich is not for the faint of leg), Eastern Slade Farm commands tremendous views across the Bristol Channel to Ilfracombe and Hartland Point in Devon. Even far-off Lundy can be seen on a clear day: look along Port Eynon Point to the Helwick marker, whose bell rings dolefully out in misty weather, and the island is beyond it on the horizon. However, it’s not just the views that make this a great campsite.

Many campsites in the Gower aim big, and as a result they cater for the masses, with lots of facilities but not much soul, and not always the greatest of locations. For a Cool Camper there’s no real escape. East Slade Bay has just two facilities: a tap and a portable chemical toilet in the slopey half-acre field.

Offsite facilities are also pleasantly sparse. It’s a 10-minute scramble over rocks with no formal footpath down to Slade Bay, but once you’re down there it’s virtually your own private beach – a world away from the chips and postcards of the nearby resorts. The rockpooling opportunities are also excellent. 

If the sun doesn’t shine on this south-facing beach there are also plenty of walks to do, best of which are those in the opposite direction to Rhossili. Or there’s an excellent multi-terrain route, which takes in Three Cliffs Bay, Nicholaston Woods, Penrice Castle estate, the King Arthur pub in Reynoldston and the Gower ridge walk. If you’re hankering for a touch of civilisation, the breakfasts at Oxwich Bay Hotel come highly recommended. And there’s also The Mumbles, which is a more refined choice of seaside town.

For all their protestations that they are ‘dairy farmers first and campsite owners second’, the owners are extraordinarily sociable. They are often to be found around a fire of an evening offering an open invitation for campers to join them for a bottle of beer or a glass of wine. Their conviviality tends to rubs off on all who visit, making this definitely not the sort of site where people use windbreaks to stake out their own personal fiefdom.

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