Kids Camping Score: 6/10 - great if your children want to roam free and or you want to get them away from man-made fun, not so much if they are looking for on-site entertainment
My family and I (that’s me, my Wife, and our 2 children aged 4½ and 1½ ) finally took our first camping trip of the summer this June, to Masons Campsite in rural North Yorkshire. Along with 4 other families we were 5 tents, 10 parents, 10 kids aged 1-4, and 2 dogs! We had been to Masons Campsite last year in glorious sunshine, and thought it would be great to go back for another 2 nights and provide a review of the site.
But as it was, we had 3 days of wind and rain that I can only describe as biblical!
So let me tell you about the site and with the benefit of being there through glorious sunshine and driving rain. But before we get into it, here are the facilities onsite:
- The site is suitable for tents of any size, but also offer a range of glamping options (VW Campervans, yurts, and a new safari tent)
- Reception and on-site shop set in a 1967 vintage Airstream Caravan - it’s small but seems to have a bit of everything you could need and is pretty quirky. One of my few criticisms about the site is here though - it’s always so busy it feels like you’re on a conveyor belt rather than receiving a truly warm welcome - despite how cheerful the staff are, which they are!
- On-site coffee shop open daily serving barista coffee and fresh baking - all of which are gorgeous. I can honestly say the coffee is some of the best I’ve had.
- Free WiFi - it’s just near reception that it works, but it’s good to know it’s there if you need it!
- Electric hook up to all Main Field pitches
- Fire pit hire with logs for sale - these huge “cauldrons” go quickly so get one early if you want one
- A modern toilet and shower block which whilst fairly small was always clean, in good condition and really was a sanctuary to refresh us with plenty of hot water during bad weather
- Laundry facilities - drying room, washer and dryer
- Hairdryer and GHDs - I’m told… think they were in the ladies!
- Disabled/family room
- Undercover wash basins & sink area
- Recycling facilities
They say a picture paints a thousand words, so here’s some photo’s I took early one morning to give you a better idea. You may spot my boy in one of them!
The Site & Surrounding Area
Mason Campsite is, for me, what I like on a site for adults, parents and kids. There is either very little for kids (and adults) to do, or loads for kids to do, depending on your outlook. There are no swings or climbing frames. There is no swimming pool or entertainer. But there’s a wide field, hills, trees, a river and wildlife. No this isn’t a tree-huggers retreat, although I suppose it could be, it’s just a beautiful slice of nature that is rich in natural entertainment in a fairly small spot.
It has a slight hippy-ish feeling, with whimsical signs even to label grey waste… it’s a nice touch.
And what about the parents? The coffee shop etc give enough little luxuries to make the stay a joy. And there are a couple of pubs literally 5 and 10 (ish) minutes walk away. In two visits we’ve never got further than The Craven Arms which, whilst not being a “kids pub”, is very welcoming to kids and has a ‘Young Persons Menu’ which is much more about home-cooked goodness than microwave meals. I do advise booking in advance if you are a group wanting to go for a meal.
The Field Itself
Masons Campsite has a couple of fields, and 3 things I love about them are:
1 - they are pancake flat
2 - you can go anywhere, just find a space (although in the main field campers tend to pitch around the outside of the field, leaving the centre clear for kids to play in)
3 - it’s all mowed, so again, pick your spot
But some words of warning… being by a river last year we were eaten alive by midges! So take protection, or camp away from the river.
Also, whilst I love the open nature of the middle of the field, we did find that a lot of kids aged say 6-15 played football etc late into the night, and 1 year olds in our group were woken up by them. Their parents politely and apologetically stopped the kids from playing at 23:10 when I spoke to them, but kids will be kids and you don’t want to stop them from playing.
Things to Do
As you’ll have gathered, Masons Campsite isn’t full of man-made things to do, but I personally like that approach. So if you are going to Masons campsite think about how you will fill your time. Do you like to relax, walk, go to a pub (all very enjoyable here!)? If you have kids, you may want to take some toys to help them explore their surrounding (like fishing nets, bug jars, cameras) but also some things to do in a tent if the weather is bad, like colouring books, board games, and small toys. Of course a ball to throw or kick never goes unused.
There is a wide and fairly calm river next to the site with a good path along it if you want to go for a walk. The river of course is a great opportunity to take kids to play in and around, so if you have kids of any age almost I suggest having a net for them to catch things in (pebbles most likely!).
There are a host of nice villages around but if you want the nearest town (yes, we ended going to a soft play to get lunch, warm up, and shelter from yet another storm so wild we thought we may end up in Oz!) then Skipton is 30 mins drive away.
Will We Go Back Next Year?
Maybe. Probably. Last year we fell in love with Masons Campsite and, so some extent, camping because of it. The campsite has a magical feel to it created with real love for the natural environment that I’ve not felt to the same extent elsewhere.