Have the middle class ruined camping? We asked our readers


When Telegraph Travel published Ed Grenby’s tongue-in-cheek article on the scourge of glamping – ‘The middle class have ruined camping, here’s 31 signs you’re part of the problem’ – readers had plenty to say in response. 

It’s clearly a topic close to your hearts: amidst more than 450 comments, there were colourful recollections of camping in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, a smattering of handy tips (mostly booze-related), and some fun horror stories too – surely it’s a holiday rite of passage to have a tent-associated tale of woe? But the real debate that cut through the lively reminiscing was the contentious traditional camping vs modern glamping argument. 

Ed wrote in his piece: “Camping meant something rather different in those days, you see – and, arguably, something rather better” – and there were lots of people who both agreed and disagreed. 

Please read on to see what your fellow subscribers had to say and then share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of this article. 

Why traditional camping is best

Steve Smith: “Glamping is not my idea of camping. What’s the point in going ‘camping’ unless you’re going to get soaking wet, cold, food poisoning, and pneumonia?”

Clare Devey: “How pampered we’ve become, give me a tiny leaky tent on hard ground any day rather than this.” 

Alan Firminger: “You haven’t mentioned boots for a pillow – that’s real camping.” 

Ben Lovegrove: “You haven’t really been camping until you’ve cut the turf and set it aside, dug a shallow fire pit, surrounded it with rocks, gathered kindling, lit the fire (OK, I’ll let you off the matches or lighter), then nurtured it into a proper fire that’s big enough to cook on and hearty enough to warm a few people while star-gazing.” 

Simon Templar: “It does seem that the camper who just wants a tent and access to basic amenities is being driven out in the drive to get the more profitable glampers who will pay more to sleep in a yurt or shed on wheels than one might pay to stay in an hotel. I sometimes wonder if the farmers are chortling in their beds as the rain pelts down and the lightening flashes over the poor people shivering in their tents.”

Camping holidays UK

Childhood stories of camping are surely a rite of passage for all

Credit: Getty Images

‘Kaptain Khaos’: “I always thought of camping as the best possible holiday: i.e. cold communal showers, a trek at night to go to the toilet, uncomfortable beds, all the noise (because canvas doesn’t stop noise), cookers that were pretty useless, no fridge, battery powered lights. Basically really uncomfortable. What it did was make me appreciate the nice comfortable house in which I lived for the other 50 weeks of the year!”

Steven Cross: “It’s quite simple really. If you cannot carry it from one campsite to the next on foot, it’s not camping.”

David Anderson: “If you didn’t erect the accommodation yourself, then you’re not camping, you’re doing something else (probably staying in managed accommodation that just happens to be very small). (And then by definition, you can’t be ruining camping, since you’re not doing it).”

‘NGCP Banbury’: “Oh for the days when tents didn’t have sewn in ground sheets and you woke in the morning in half an inch of water from the overnight rain.”

Richard Mullins: “My preferred form of camping – my only form actually – is a tarp stung between two walking poles. I’ve done this with my kids many times over the years. If you have a good sleeping bag all you need is a bit of rain cover.”

‘Mister Mister’: “If you want old school camping then just find the cheapest campsite you can and pack none of the paraphernalia you list in the article. You’ll be immediately zoomed back to your 1970s camping utopia.”

Mike Smith: “Well the answer is simple, leave them to it. Go your own way camping, away from the fake campers. Plenty of places to go which they would find too uncomfortable.”

Andrew Wood: “Camping = sleeping on the ground.”

Why modern glamping is the only way

Matthew Tom: “You are glorifying nightmares and have clearly forgotten the misery of being uncomfortable, wet and cold. Anyone who still wants to do it is very welcome, but I am writing this from a tented chalet in the Dordogne with power and a USB port by every bed and it is a million miles better.”

Paul Buddery: “The absolute last thing I want to do when I reach my destination for the night is to start building my own accommodation. That’s just eating into valuable gin and tonic time.”

David Hamilton: “Camping, if done properly, is barbaric. I see little virtue in choosing to be less comfortable during the few weeks away from the desk that we steal each year. There is a reason that the indoors were invented.”

Michael Stork: “I like to go for the fresh air, which comes in handy pumping up the tent’s three-piece sofa and queen-size double mattress. And the list of inflatables keeps growing, the electric kettle is a must though.”

Camping glamping UK

Is it really ‘camping’ if you have a living room bigger than your own at home?

Credit: Getty Images

David Balchin: “I do not care whether city and town folk take their luxuries on their camping trips. If it gets their children out into the countryside to see what this country is about and where their food comes from then job done.”

Adam Power: “Just came back from a great festival. Stayed in a log cabin with double bed, shower, loo, fridge and kettle. Loads of good music, Michelin-starred food served in a tent above a pretty lake, Champagne on tap.”

M Wilson: “I used to enjoy proper camping, but at 78 years young I would now struggle with many/most aspects of it. So would you scorn my preference for, say, a yurt or shepherds hut with a bed I can get up from, and a little more comfort? Or even a toilet?”

Murray Evans: “Fab piece, made me smile, thanks. Having spent most of my life camping in one form or another my expertise grew as I got older. From a sweaty tent and a ground sheet through to a sherpa caravan with beds, huge tents, carpets, kitchen and more. My motto was if you can’t stand up in the morning to put your pants on then your tent is too small. I took all the luxuries to make camping more bearable.”

Val Law: “As a 76-year-old singleton female with two dogs, I have sadly turned to glamping after my tent blew down on top of us. But minimal glamping. The one luxury I cannot do without is my own in-tent loo.”

Kara Gray: “Depending on your age and the condition of your back and joints, a great camp mattress and comfortable chair is very much needed. I’ve just had a week camping with the family with those little luxuries and it was fine, I couldn’t rough it on a thermarest nowadays.”

Tee Platt: “Oh the shame. I have multi-use pronged forks and everyone we met on our glamping trip had fork envy.”

What happens when it all goes horribly wrong

‘Phil the Fluter’: “A week after passing my driving test, I drove to Cornwall in an 850 Mini with my mate and his tent. Came out of a club late and pitched up in a farmers field. Woke up the next day to find we were in a sewage farm.”

Royston Collier: “I remember pitching a tent in a field one night, and waking up to find a landowner and a policeman having a chat outside… in the front garden of a huge manor house! They found it quite amusing, fortunately for me. Those were the days.”

Sue Benjamins: “My husband and I pitched our tiny tent on a good level spot in the dark one night after hours of driving. Come daylight, we found ourselves in the middle of a neat front lawn; the lawn of a rather posh owner of a detached house in Sussex – the tolerant residents gave us tea and toast as we blushingly packed up to move.”

Jennifer Carter: “While camping in the Matopos Hills in Rhodesia, I saw a cobra go into our tent. I watched anxiously and, luckily, it did come out. After that, I was delighted to have tents with a built-in groundsheet.”

Susan Wilcock: “Loved this funny, lighthearted article. My overriding memory of camping is a trip to the North Wales coast when our children were very small. There was just one cold water standpipe and one toilet. Our tent blew down in a storm and a kind-hearted B&B owner made up some makeshift beds for us in the attic because all of the letting rooms were occupied. Didn’t put us off going again, though we always checked the weather forecast first.”

Anthony Box: “Memorable moments from my camping past:

1. Being woken at 3am by the farmer asking for help rounding up his sheep that had escaped.

2. Getting untangled at 5am from the remains of the tent that had just been crushed by the inquisitive cows released into the field that morning.”

Simon Bell: “One night, having pitched on the shore of an Italian lake, a storm blew up and Mum and Dad spent most of the night holding on to the awning to stop it blowing away. Us kids slept through the whole thing.”

Michael Joseph Wimbs: “Having pitched our Scouts tent “in a fallow field” in Basel, after arriving late, we were curious next morning to be wakened by the patter of raindrops on canvas despite strong sunlight penetrating the same. Sticking our sleepy heads out to solve the mystery, we were instantly and pungently shampooed, to the evident delight of the Swiss farmer driving past on his muck-spreader.”

Feeling inspired to join in the debate? Carry it on in the comments section below

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