Motor camper, caravan and camping
around Sidmouth. Also information on Sidmouth FolkWeek festival Bulverton campsite and
festival bus services. Updated August 2023. You are advised to read this page carefully:
there are many options.
For people who don't fancy risking the 'official' (Bulverton) Sidmouth Folk Week campsite in bad weather, or who find the 'in town' motor home sites far too expensive, details of alternatives are given on this webpage. Please read all of this page carefully and notify me if you think there are any errors.
Historical note: In 2014 a new location was proposed for the official campsite - but the change never occurred - details here.
Historical note: In 2021 there was no 'official' campsite. Nevertheless, a mini-festival was organised, designed to be covid-safe. It worked very well despite the weather - some photos and comments are here. Some people said they preferred the relative calmness and lack of sales pressure in 2021: certainly, the town felt more like it was hosting a village green event. In 2022 there was a full scale "post-covid" festival - but attendance was down and the festival was short of stewards at some venues. Attendance in 2023 may also be down owing to the 'cost of living' crisis and with interest rates getting back to a normal level.
Small private garden campsite at Sidford, 2 miles from Sidmouth
Email address for enquiries = stevewozniak42 (AT) hotmail.com - please replace (AT) by @
Link to pay camping deposits via internet banking - click here.
Description of Site.
My front garden is primarily for motor homes or small caravans that have all their own facilities for washing etc. I also have space for tents in the rear garden - it is very scenic. Tourists take photos from the bridge by my garden. My garden is largely flat (unlike most of the FolkWeek campsite).
The principal advantage of my garden is that it is easy and safe to cycle into the centre of Sidmouth along a dedicated cycle track well away from motor traffic. It is also a pleasant safe walk into town (30 to 35 minutes) and a convenient location for shops and buses (every half hour into Sidmouth or Exeter). The bus journey into Sidmouth takes only a few minutes. There are fields adjacent by the river for dogs. There is a countryside walk into Sidmouth via fields and along the river. Lawn areas of my garden are irrigated using river water and so remain green during heat waves (2018, 2019 and 2022, for example).
There is 24 hour free car parking on-road. Cars cannot normally be left on my driveway or in the front garden. Village shops are a minute away (SPAR with post office 7 days a week until 10pm), Waitrose is a 20 minute walk away, ditto LIDL. The only petrol station in Sidmouth is adjacent to LIDL. There is a regular bus service into the centre of Sidmouth and to Exeter, Seaton, Lyme Regis and Honiton (Honiton is the nearest rail station). The bus map shows the location of LIDL etc. You can get a number 9 bus (frequently during working hours) from the rail station forecourt to Sidford/Sidmouth. Recent changes to the 9 and 9A Stagecoach bus route have included cancellation of some late night services.Risk factors.
You stay AT YOUR OWN RISK! Mains power available for motor-campers or caravans (at 13 amp only) via your own extension leads, again at your own risk (and via a dedicated 32 amp ELCB). All power outlets in the garage are protected by an ELCB.
The following are amongst the other risk factors you accept in booking to stay: the garden is basically flat but with a few bumps and maybe holes to trip you up. There is the river. The rear door to the garage is used to access the WC and shower. The door has a high flood barrier in place and you will need to step over it. You accept the risks in accessing the garage area. The garage contains many things that can injure you especially if you stray from the designated pathway. Any campsite may contain trip hazards such as guy ropes. The pathway to the rear garden should be illuminated at night (motion sensor lights) but this is not guaranteed. You may wish to bring a good torch.
If (as happened in 2019) a motorhome has to be left at my home after the festival because of illness or mechanical breakdown, I require keys to be left so I can move it about if I need to, but there would be no extra 'storage charge' for a few weeks. I may be insured to drive any vehicle but NOT for comprehensive cover. You accept any risks if an incident occurs when I am driving your vehicle - but I have never had an accident in over 50 years that was in any way my fault.
Barbecues and gas stoves of whatever type are not allowed in proximity to the bungalow or close to other tents. Small gas stoves for making tea may be allowed but must be kept well away from my home, and well away from my hazel trees.
Deposits and charges.
A deposit (payable upon booking) is required in the FolkWeek period. Bookings for motorhomes open on 1 January. Campers may book whenever they wish - most usually book at the last minute. The 2022/3 rate for moderate or small sized motorhomes is £100 per week (7 or 8 days) and includes water and moderate use of electrical power. The rate for shorter periods is around £20 per motorhome per night, subject to space being available. Tents are charged from £7 per tent per night, sometimes £7 per occupant per night for larger units, it depends on space availability at the time. Large multiple occupancy tents could be £20 per night.
If you are interested in bringing a motor-home, caravan or tent please email me full details ofyourselves and what you would intend to bring: (number of people, ages, occupations, size of caravan / tents / motor-camper, required dates, etc). I will try and reply promptly, usually within a few hours. (I do not live my life attached to a smart phone.) Email details are at the top of this page in the green box.
Facilities on site.
A disposal point is available on site for your own chemical toilet or similar system. Cold mains water, recycling bins and landfill waste containers are provided. There will be no access to facilities in my house but a washbasin, shower and toilet is available in my garage, subject to any queue. Priority is given to campers because people in motor-homes may have their own facilities. Public toilets (locked up between 10 pm and 8 am) should be available in the village centre, two minutes walk away. There are two pubs nearby.
|The overall space available in
my front garden is about 6 metres by 13 metres (20 feet by 45 feet).
Reversing a small caravan in from the road is possible only using a motor-mover. You assume all the risks. An 6.5 metre motor home can be reversed in easily. It is a quiet level road.
There are two areas of 2.5m by 6m for medium sized motorhomes - shown roughly by the blue and pink circles. Also room for one smaller motor-home on the grass - orange circle.
Because the garden is close to the A3052 there is some traffic noise during a busy day but virtually none at night. Street lamps ensure the site is never in total darkness. The front garden is screened by hedging.
As of 2021 I have a new 13m long 3.5m wide driveway (slope 1 in 20) constructed from 8 cubic metres of high strength concrete. I did most of the work myself - as an alternative to dancing to keep fit during lockdown. It can be used for motor-home(s) or a caravan.
|Children are OK at your risk -
the river is at the bottom of my rear garden and I have a small pond also. There are
slowworms and sometimes a grass snake (both harmless and the latter quite rare). The first
photo was taken in 1997 - when the beech hedge was planted.
The view from my rear garden 20 years ago: nowadays rather more obscured by hazel trees.
It is an easy, mostly level, and safe 2 mile cycle ride into Sidmouth via 'the Byes' cycle path.
An example of a tent that looks bigger than it is owing to its height - still classed as medium for charging purposes.
|Part of the rear garden can be seen here in 2012. The whole of the rear garden is now suitable for camping - or you can use the front lawn if you prefer and if there are no motor homes or caravans expected.|
|In late August 2017 a family
of seven travelled from Ellwangen in central Germany for a holiday in Devon in this VW
After a few days camping in my garden they spent a week on Dartmoor and travelling into Cornwall before returning home.
This was outside of FolkWeek - hence there was room for their vehicle on the front lawn as well as three tents in the rear garden.
|My rear garden has room for
about 7 small tents - these three take up about a third of the total available area but
are closer together than normal owing to belonging to one family group.
Bicycles can be chained to various trees (if you wish!).
Barbecues and gas stoves of whatever type are not allowed in proximity to the house or close to other tents. Small gas stoves for making tea may be allowed.
Mobile phone or tablet charging is available: there are multiple power points in the garage.
Photo from 2017.
|View from my rear garden
across the River Sid, July 2018.
There are worse places in the world to live!
Commercial campsites in the Sidmouth area.
1. The official festival site at Bulverton.
The main 'folk festival' campsite, which has space for a limited number of caravans and motor homes, is the Bulverton site (some photos here).
Booking details are always on the official website (but no photos of what it can be like in poor weather). Be aware that you are not allowed to use this official campsite unless you purchase a season ticket or a major 'event' ticket for each day you wish to camp - the rules seem to change every year but it always works out to be quite expensive.
The Bulverton campsite is not ideally suited to use of bicycles because the road from Sidmouth is a long hill - and the road is narrow in places with blind bends and fast traffic. The site is ideal for youngsters who don't mind its drawbacks - and it is close to the main late-night 'thrash-about' dance tent (the Bulverton marquee), although in 2023 there may be no wooden dance floor - allegedly as a cost saving measure. In very poor weather parts of this campsite can be horrendous with thick mud, flooding and animal dung all adding to the heady mix. There is usually a defining problem each year - in 2018 it was low water pressure and the showers not working for much of the time. In 2019 there was glorious weather for the first 5 days, then on Thursday night there was a downpour. Friday afternoon and evening were so windy the Ham marquee was closed and with events transferred to the Bulverton which is on the top of a hill. Wind whistles through it most years. Predictably, the events that had been transferred there were cancelled part way through the evening. The Bulverton is difficult to access in poor weather and therefore is not an ideal 'back-up' venue!
All other campsite options are not affiliated to FolkWeek. There are therefore no ticket restrictions - you pay just for the camping and facilities you use. More details are given below.
For the historical record, details of the old Supporters Club scheme are given below. It was one of the many 'variations' to the Sidmouth ticket and camping structure. From 2011 you could become a Friend of Sidmouth FolkWeek - which was the central idea of the Supporters Club in years past!
2. "Unofficial" commercial campsites in the Sidmouth area - these are not affiliated to Sidmouth FolkWeek.
Within central Sidmouth, both Sidmouth Rugby Club and Cricket Club rent out pitches for motor homes only during FolkWeek but those on the Rugby Club are usually booked up in advance by people who return year after year. Contact the club(s) to be put on their waiting list - and expect to pay about £35-£60 per night. Showers at the cricket club are communal but apparently 'OK', those at the Rugby Club are rumoured to be 'passable'.
In 2017 I was told that prices on the Rugby Club field were around £250 per week but around £400 or more on the Cricket Club field. In 2019 I was told it was £500. The cricket club has acquired a reputation for greed: people complain about how much money they make and what a small fraction of this they return to the festival. Certainly their car parking charges of £10 per day would go some way to accounting for the reputed £50,000 per year profit! As far as I know neither club publishes figures for their FolkWeek income and how much they return to the festival.
The Caravan Club (CC) operate their Putts Corner site (6 miles from Sidmouth along A375 towards Honiton). Tel 01404 42875. The CC also have a number of 'CL's' locally but officially you need to be a member of the CC to use these. Details are in the CC handbook and on their website.
Kingstown Tail is a large site a few miles outside Sidmouth along the busy A3052 towards Seaton. The whole site is quite flat and arguably rather bleak.
Salcombe Regis Camping and Caravan park is very popular with folks but gets booked up a year ahead. Tel: 01395 514303. Some camping pitches have a slight slope. It is 'a bit plusher' than Kingstown Tail but apparently more crowded.
Berry Barton Caravan park has static holiday caravans for hire as well as a separate field for camping. Facilities for campers are basic (and pitches are expensive) but the views are good. 01297 680208. This is on the outskirts of Branscombe and very quiet. The static caravan field is near the edge of the cliffs and can be windswept at times - as well as foggy with thick sea mist. The site is close to the Fountain Head pub - just walk up the steep hill by the pub car park. Public transport from Branscombe village is poor - it is served by the Axe Valley 899 bus, but infrequently.
There are several camping sites around Branscombe. You are advised to view recommendations on the internet - one social dance caller at Sidmouth in 2010 had a poor experience at what he termed 'Branscombe Farm' - there is no such farm as far as I know and the description could apply to several in the area. He said there were 60 or more units, a couple of toilets and an inadequate shower block - so be warned.
Remember that if you camp outside of Sidmouth and use your car for daily journeys into town you will have to pay to park either at the long stay Manor Road site (west side of Sidmouth) or on the official FolkWeek car park (which is some distance from the town) or at the cricket club (typically £10 per day but it is open only if the ground is firm enough for cars). There are other alternatives - all of them pricey. When you factor in the cost of bus passes and the inconvenience of camping in wet weather, a cheap B&B near to the centre of Sidmouth (if you can find one!) starts to look more attractive. Prices are typically £40 to £70 per night but sometimes over £100 per night. More details of hotels and B&Bs (not updated recently).
3. Festival shuttle buses.
Two quite distinct special festival buses operate shuttle services between campsites and the town centre during Sidmouth FolkWeek. Each operates into the small hours and serves late night revellers. For the official Bulverton site, there is the festival bus and this operates on a circular route taking in the primary venues of the campsite and the town centre, via the seafront area (near the Bedford Hotel). For 2013 and onwards (up to 2018) it also served the Stowford Rise evening social dance venue (opposite Waitrose) - different arrangements have been tried, none of them very satisfactory. Even in 2016 there were problems. It was better in 2017! The cost is about £3 per trip or you can buy a weekly bus pass. In 2019 the Stowford Rise venue was not used by FolkWeek - owing to cost and its inconvenient location. As an alternative, the music room at Sidholme Hotel was used. This apparently became available just as Stowford Rise were still arguing about hire rates. In 2022 evening social dancing (and a rudimentary bus service) returned to Stowford Rise.
The other (and quite separate) festival bus, the 'Alpha bus', serves several of the 'unofficial' commercial campsites. It is not associated in any way with FolkWeek. The Alpha bus serves Thorn Park, Salcombe Regis, Oakdown and Kingsdown Tail camping and caravan sites and terminates in Salcombe Road, Sidmouth by the entrance to the Byes (at the end of Millford Road).
Here are some comments from the 'mudcat' forum website from past years.
We camped at Salcombe Regis Camping and Caravanning and it very good. Excellent showers and constant hot water + electricity for the motor-home was a boon. (Not up to Caravan Club standards but still very good).
We used the Alpha Bus service which was basically hourly (with a meal/rest gap at lunchtime and evening). Last bus at 1.00 am which to be honest was a bit too early for a night owl like me).
Some of the Alpha services in the evening (late evening they are every 30 minutes or so) could be very crowded. But everyone got on and there was often some singing (generally "The Wheels of the Bus.......). The two drivers (husband and wife) were very friendly and the cost was £1.50 in each direction which was reasonable. No season ticket.
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