Camp layout and planning: general. considerations

Observation of established campgrounds in various countries and locations suggests that there are different varieties of layout to suit different user groups. Sites can be designed to cater for one group or be varied so as to offer different settings to suit different preferences.

Open sites with free or flexible access

In much of Europe, especially Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany, more open campgrounds often seem to be preferred. The populations of these countries are high, space is at a premium, distances to sites are not great, wild or remote places are relatively rare, and more gregarious layouts seem to be acceptable. In Britain and the Netherlands, where woodland cover is quite low, open sites frequently cannot be avoided.

It is typical for a site to be laid out with an entrance road leading to a loop or series of loops from which access is freely available to pitch a tent or park a vehicle and caravan on a grassy surface. At peak times such sites can be very densely arranged. Open campfires are not usually found, and so most people bring gas stoves or charcoal barbecues for cooking. In partially wooded sites, such as the New Forest in the south of England, the trees help to disperse camping or caravan units and reduce the impact of a large site.

One advantage of open sites is the flexibility to increase densities at peak times if the users are tolerant of such close proximity. If use is dispersed at other times, parts of the site can be closed off to allow vegetation to recover or to reduce the area of the site to be maintained and supervised.

Open sites can be windy and exposed to external views, whence they may appear very unattractive. Planting of small trees or shrubs and the use of landform can lessen the wind and help to screen the impact of the site, as can the use of landform. Using the same techniques, the site can be broken down into smaller and pleasanter spaces with some increase in privacy. On the other hand, windy or at least breezy sites can be advantageous in insect-ridden places. Midges and other pests cannot fly in a stiff breeze, and the speedier drying of open sites after rain can further reduce their incidence as well as making the site drier underfoot.

As well as the tents, caravans or mobile homes, there will be other structures needed around the site, such as fire hydrants, extinguishers or sand buckets, taps or stand pipes, rubbish bins, grey water or chemical toilet disposal points, electrical hook-ups, information signs and ablution buildings. These will be more visible and potentially have greater visual impact on open sites. Enclosures or clusters of these facilities should be considered, and a comprehensive approach to their design should help lessen the impact and visually unify the site.