Whether it’s because we’re all appreciating nature a bit more, or that we just want to hide in the countryside to escape from the news, camping has been more popular than ever this year. Not only is the outdoors the safest place to be in terms of the old corona, but camping is also a good opportunity to reconnect with each other without all the usual distractions.
We always try to squeeze in a family camping trip or two each year, and this year we followed the recommendations of many friends and booked a night at The Hideaway at Baxby Manor. A great opportunity to try out our new bell tent (we also have a humongous family tent, but wanted something faster to put up for short trips), we packed up the car and did a short 40-minute hop towards Easingwold to see what all the fuss was about.
About The Hideaway at Baxby Manor
The Hideaway at Baxby Manor is a family-run campsite (ticking the all-important ‘support local’ box) close to York with a range of accommodation on offer. As well as wooden ecopods and hobbit houses and campervan spots, there are some incredible treehouses that need to be booked well in advance. There are plenty of tent pitches, too, making it the ideal place for us to try out our new (leopard print!) home from home.
The Hideaway is tucked away in the Yorkshire countryside, just over half an hour from York. It’s very easy to get to and, if you follow the instructions on the website rather than your sativa, you won’t get lost (which is all too often the start to our family camping ‘adventures’). It’s a very pretty, peaceful site with a little stream, oodles of interesting green space, trees and fresh air. The Hideaway is proud of its green credentials, and it’s lovely to see that everything they’ve built is sympathetic to the surroundings – no ugly toilet blocks or garish playgrounds. This is a well-loved, well-maintained site with character that respects its surroundings.
The camping pitches
I won’t bore you with tales of the terrible camping pitches we’ve endured in the past when we’ve been packed in with other campers or ended up rolling down a hill halfway through the night. Suffice it to say that we had none of those problems at Baxby Manor: each tent has a generous amount of space around it, meaning you’re a good distance from the next group and have plenty of privacy. There was even space for us to play a big badminton match using the rackets and shuttlecocks that are available to borrow for free. The pitches are flat, too, so no rolling issues to worry about!
The site is small enough that you’ll never be too far from the shop or toilet block, and you can park your a very short distance from your allotted pitch (wheelbarrows are available to borrow if you need them). We ended up with a lovely pitch right by the stream, which was ideal for us as it proved to be a source of entertainment for our whole trip. The stream location might be less ideal if you have a curious toddler drawn to the sound of water, but there are lots of options and you can look at the map on the website to choose your pitch in advance.
Facilities at Baxby Manor
Campers might vary in terms of what they want from a site, but we all agree on one thing: a clean shower block is a must. The Hideaway definitely has that sorted, with a great amenity block and some relatively strict rules that mean they stay in good shape. The ‘no outdoor shoes’ rule avoids muddy floors, and there’s a simple but effective limit on numbers allowed inside at one time to make sure that they comply with the Covid guidance. In fact, the Covid-related measures are very impressive all round, and we never felt anything but safe. The washing up facilities are perfectly fine, and there’s a great recycling system too, keeping the site clean and waste limited.
Despite only staying one night, we ended up with so much packed into our car that we could barely squeeze in a box of Cornflakes to eat. So we were very pleased to see that the small shop is well-stocked with all the essentials and some treats too, like local beer and eggs, ice cream and pasta and snacks for the inevitable ‘I’m hungry’ moments. Each camping pitch has a firepit – hooray – so we stocked up on wood for that, too. There are pubs within walking distance for anyone wanting to eat out.
Things to do
As soon as our kids saw the stream by our tent, that was it: they spent pretty much the rest of the time in and out of the water (without wetsuits – they’re hardy northern souls), screaming and laughing their heads off. Any plans we had to go out for the day were shelved because they refused to leave the site! Amazingly, that meant us grown-ups could sit and chat and read a book for a change. What a treat. Had we wanted to go out, there’s loads to do in the vicinity.
But for us, the joy of camping is taking it easy and not having a schedule. The things we all remember are the cooked breakfasts outside (we did pancakes for the first time – so easy and delicious! Just pre-measure the dry mixture, then add milk and eggs on the day), toasting marshmallows on the campfire and telling stories before bedtime. And, of course the stream.
Despite the usual minor disasters – punctured mattresses and – horrors – forgetting the middle pole for our tent and having to go home to collect it (the less said about that, the better!), we had a lovely stay at The Hideaway at Baxby Manor. We can absolutely see what all the fuss is about: it’s peaceful, relaxed and the perfect antidote to normal life. Family camping in Yorkshire doesn’t get much better than this. The next time we need to escape, we know where to go.