A while back I bought a book called Tiny Campsites (Link Here) and whilst my focus over the summer has been wild camping, I figured that I’d give one of the sites in this book a try. Flicking the pages, I quickly established that the author clearly had a soft spot for a campsite not too far away called Middle Ninfa Farm so I looked it up on the 24k OS Maps on Streetmap.co.uk to see whether there was any interesting terrain around. Sure enough, the site was in fact situated about 250m up the side of a hill called Blorenge not too far from the Welsh border and only 2 hours drive from Northamptonshire. Promising good views, fresh air and somewhere more interesting than your typical camp site, I emailed the owner to book a pitch.

Planning

The OS map indicated a reasonable trail running route around the Blorenge so my plan was to camp at Middle Ninfa on the Saturday night, then go for a run on Sunday morning. I had plans with family on Sunday afternoon so I had to be back by 1pm which meant I had to keep the route pretty short. With my route planned, GPS programmed and car packed, I headed off leaving Northamptonshire at 5:45pm. I arrived at the farm at 7:40pm.

The owner had kindly explained when I booked that he and his family would be away that weekend, but that a friend would be on hand over the phone if I needed any help.

Arrival

My plans meant that, of course, I arrived in the (very) dark and I really was the only one there as far as I could determine. There was a map pinned to a post near the house which indicated the position of my pitch (Skirrid View pitch). Amazingly, I had full Vodafone 3G signal (I was not expecting that) so I loaded up Google Maps satellite view and dropped a pin in roughly where I thought the pitch should be from the site map.

Gallery

I had packed quite a bit more than I would normally take (since I was essentially car camping) however I knew there was a bit of  walk to the pitch once on site so I packed only what I could carry in one trip: two rucksacks and my tent which I hand-carried.

Finding the Pitch

I headed off, trying to navigate this maze of a farm in the dark (with my head torch) with only Google maps to guide me since I could not find any signs directing me. Eventually, after a few wrong turns I ended up stepping over a stile, walking through a field, down through a gate and emerged at what looked like a dismantled Yurt. My ‘pin’ on Google maps indicated that the pitch should be somewhere around here however walking around for a bit I couldn’t really find anywhere I would consider a suitable pitch.

After a while, I admitted defeat and decided to call the contact provided by the owner. She was very helpful and quickly knew where abouts I was and that I had simply walked a bit too far and that if I backed up a bit and stay close to the fence, I should find the pitch and sure enough there it was. I thanked her and began to set up the tent.

The Pitch

The pitch itself was situated at a small flat area by a clearing in the fence/bush and offered a good view of the valley which I hoped would be lit up by the  sun in the morning light. I began clearing the pitch of sticks and tent pegs and other bits and bobs left by previous occupants. I found the pitch ground to be quite hard and I ended up bending a few pegs in the process. I have a few stronger y-shaped pegs which I was able to hammer in with a nearby rock.

Climbing into my tent, I noticed that I must not have removed all potential puncturing items from the pitch as a few pointy sticks could be felt under the ground sheet so I popped out again to clear them from under the tent.

The site allows campfires which I think is great and I wish every campsite allowed this. However, I was quite late this evening and didn’t really feel like hunting for the wood store in the dark and trying to start a damp fire so I got on with cooking my super noodle dinner on the JetBoil, then settled down with my Kindle in my sleeping bag.

The Night

It began to rain at about 10pm and it was at this point that I realised I’d forgotten to bring my ear plugs. I did manage to sleep but I was awoken a few times during the night by the rain, however one thing I didn’t mind listening to throughout the night was the hooting of a nearby owl. I nice touch for the campsite in my opinion, it’s not a sound one hears often.

My alarm went off in the morning and after a snooze, in an attempt to catch up on a bit of lost sleep, I got up and began boiling some water for my porridge. This was accompanied by another unexpected sound: hoof beats and a snort. I popped my head out the tent to find a large horse very interested in my porridge. It seemed friendly enough and actually stuck around until I had finished packing away my tent! I suppose it was expecting me to share my apple however out of courtesy to the owners, who probably wouldn’t thank me for feeding the horse, I kept the apple for myself.

Morning and Run

The view in the morning was clear but overcast. It was, however, still a great view to wake up to.

After I’d packed away the tent into the car and filled up on some water and more food, I headed off on my run at about 9am. The run took me past the ‘punch bowl’ which is a picturesque pond only a few hundred yards up the hill from Middle Ninfa farm. In the summer, I imagine this would be a great place to come for a swim.

The run around Blorenge was ideal for my level of fitness, which is not a very high level, but nonetheless was interesting and varied with long flat tracks and a few steep sections sprinkled in. Incidentally, the route would be ideal for mountain biking, if a bit muddy in places. After about a mile I felt I could just keep going and going. It felt good and I really want to go back soon with more time to do a longer run.

I was back at the car by 10:30am and home by 1pm after stopping for some lunch. Overall, a pleasant experience and I will definitely visit Middle Ninfa farm again especially in the summer and hopefully with my daughter.