What midlife campers really want in 2022 is food and feasts – on site. After all, without having to carry your own ingredients and kitchen kit (and make sure the wine stays perfectly chilled for sunsets) or go eat somewhere else, you have even more time to enjoy precious hours in outdoors with your family and friends. . Fortunately, UK campsites and glamping sites are upping their gastronomic game for 2022.

“In the past, many campsites simply didn’t have the high quality food and drink options they have today. A portable stove was once an integral part of camping, but that’s changing,” says James Warner Smith, author and publisher of the Cool Camping guide series. He recommends Maju Glamping in Devon (just next to River Cottage HQ) as a foodie favourite. Community outdoor supper clubs in Maju come in the form of rustic three-course fire-cooked feasts by Masterchef runner-up Tom Morrell; consider Haye Farm lamb with smoked onions, salsa verde and mint new potatoes (herb pitches from £30).

Elsewhere, Pythouse Kitchen Garden in Tisbury, Wiltshire – an 18th-century walled garden and restaurant – has a new on-site glamping village with bell tents and a shepherd’s hut. You can enjoy garden-to-table dishes (red pug pea whip served with canola oil and garden herbs; rhubarb parfait with rosemary crumble) prepared by chef Darren Broom (who cuts his teeth cooking with Marco Pierre White) either in the restaurant or by an open fire in the secluded glamping area of ​​the orchard.

‘Garden Gathering’ evenings feature al fresco feasting around long trestle tables on balmy summer nights, with drinks and canapes on arrival (bell tents from £67.50 pp for a minimum stay of two nights). Clearly, camping dishes have come a long way from cans and plastic plates – although, as Warner Smith points out, there’s still room for a nostalgic DIY campfire or portable stove – it’s also the joy of camping (depending on who does the laundry upstairs).

“Mature people are at the age when they have experienced good food outdoors. They are demanding. They have traveled to Europe and know what it is like to eat fantastic produce alfresco rather than indoors on white linen tablecloths,” says Mark Griffiths, who serves barbecue banquets on dining tables Commons at Woodfire Camping in West Sussex. “They want to do the same in the UK in a relaxed environment while the kids play and have a glass of wine without having to drive. People are relaxed and happier outdoors, and food often tastes better. Griffiths recently introduced desserts with matching wines from the fully licensed bar (£19.50 per night for a budding tent pitch).

Glamping with meals is also appealing to older people who may not have been at all interested in camping before, says Richard Martin, founder of Ham Hideaway near Sandwich in Kent, which offers “table service » under the tent, including a three-course à la carte menu. a barbecue dinner or basket prepared in your tent by a grill chef (safari-style tents for four to six people from £250 a night).

“Not everyone wants to cook on holiday,” says Jo Pilkington, owner of Mad Dogs and Vintage Vans campsite in Herefordshire, where she serves hot pot chillies and curries, Saturday brunch and three-course dinners (vintage vans from £85 a night). “And the midwives love it here because the food brings all generations together. We even celebrated our 80th birthday.

Just as campsites are introducing catering for campers, restaurants and gastropubs are introducing camping for diners. The Lighthouse Inn at Walcott in Norfolk now has 15 pitches for campers, who are flocking for Brancaster Mussels (£14.50 a pitch). This year’s National Restaurant Awards winner, two-Michelin-star Ynyshir in Snowdonia, now has three tipis for guests who prefer to sleep under a canopy and stars and extend their stay (£170 per night for a tipi only with a minimum of two nights stay).

“Serving good food is key. Invest in a good kitchen kit and have a store box ready to go’

By Claire Thomson