Last weekend we visited Wowo Campsite in Sussex with some friends. We were three couples with 5 children between us and we knew before we went that it was going to absolutely hammer it down with rain all weekend! Wowo had come highly recommended by a few people as an excellent place to camp with kids and we were desperate to see each other so we just thought f&*% it and off we went!
Wowo is a campsite specialising in family camping, they welcome large groups and also dogs. The campsite is made up of 3 areas – Upper Moat, Lower Moat and Middle Brook each area has it’s own toilets and washing up sinks. Within each area are plots each with their own fire pit, the fire pit has a metal grate for cooking over and wooden benches all around so you can sit and enjoy your wonderful log fire together.
We decided to camp in Lower Moat because this is where you find The Village. Now don’t get excited you won’t find a Tesco Local here but what you will find is a giant teepee and another large tent where all the campsite entertainment happens. There are also really huge picnic benches where you can go to eat as a group and some cute little yurts. There are various Yurts, Bell Tents, Shepherds Huts and Gypsy Wagons scattered around the site if you prefer to glamp rather than camp.
When we arrived the rain was really falling and we had to put our tent up whilst getting absolutely soaked. Luckily our friends had already put up a gazebo so we herded all the children underneath, put on our waterproofs and got on with it. This was only our second time camping and the first time we had ever used this tent – yeah we really like to wing it in this family! (If like us you want to give camping a go without breaking the bank this is the super cheap 6-man tent we bought and it didn’t leak!) It actually went surprisingly well and within about half an hour we had all our stuff in, dry clothes on, the rain had stopped and the men had got to work lighting a fire.
Logs for your fire can be bought from the campsite shop or from a man who comes round the site. They cost £7 per box and we used less than 3 boxes during our 3 day stay. You can buy fire lighters from the shop too. Once the fire was lit the men were all feeling very manly and pleased with themselves, we opened the wine and got out the giant marshmallows!
There was no way we were cooking on our first night which is why we were very happy to find that on Friday nights Wowo has food vans which arrive at the reception area of the site and sell pizza and fish and chips. We tried both and they were fantastic! You can also get free homemade soup on a Saturday night, coffee and waffles from a pop-up cafe each morning and on Sunday morning a pancake wagon arrived serving giant pancakes filled with Nutella and banana! None of this food is cheap but you’re on holiday so go wild!
Wowo is a child’s dream! In particular children that are an age where they can go off on their own a bit, the campsite is really very safe and just big enough that children can feel like they are exploring but small enough that you can find them easily and you don’t need to worry about them. When we were there groups of children were running wild, bare foot covered in mud, climbing trees, building dens, playing on rope swings. There is a barn that has the feel of a little youth club, with a TV and sofas and a ping pong table. I know this is the sort of thing I would have loved when camping as a child. A little place to meet the other kids and escape from the adults!
My two aren’t old enough to roam free yet but they still had a fantastic time playing around our camping area, visiting the donkeys that live in The Village, playing in the empty yurts and running round all the other tents to say Hi to the other campers. They loved being outdoors, even in the rain and mud and I think there was something really special about seeing them running free and just playing without a TV or Ipad in sight!
In the evenings at the weekend the campsite offer free soup (on Saturday night) in The Village and travelling musicians entertain the camp. They play for free to earn their stay. I really like this idea. There is no electronic music allowed at Wowo so we are talking strictly acoustic, family friendly singalongs. The Saturday that we were there a couple were doing the entertainment. They started with some children’s songs, they handed out percussion instruments and got all the children singing and dancing and shaking their tambourines. They also had a giant parachute which the kids sat on while we made waves around them and sang ‘We are sailing’. Honestly this sort of sing along usually makes me cringe massively but after a few cans of gin and tonic watching the children loving it was infectious and I was soon joining in. This is a really great way to wear the kids out before bed and make them feel like they were having a night out. The music continued for adults till about 10pm but it didn’t disturb us at all when we went back to camp.
In The Barn there is a notice board with lots of information on local attractions to visit, a list of local pubs and how to get to them. One of the pubs The Sloop Inn is sign posted as a walk from the campsite and we thought this was a great idea! We walked for about 15 minutes before we realised that the signs said the walk was an hour long! This would have been no problem without 5 small children but they were already getting a bit whiny so we turned back, jumped in the car and found a pub with a play area to shelter from the rain which was falling AGAIN! We went to The Blacksmiths Arms which was about a 20 minute drive away and we were very impressed by their menu, and their outdoor play area.
Lets talk about toilets! As a child I camped A LOT. I am used to campsite toilets and showers and I know they are never going to be luxurious. I have to admit I found the toilet and shower facilities at Wowo a bit disappointing, I dreaded taking the kids to the loo and I didn’t even venture into the shower! Now to be fair it was so muddy it was literally impossible to keep the floors clean and dry and i’m sure that people were running in and out of the loos and maybe not taking as much care as they should have, it’s possible that I saw the facilities over a very busy, very muddy weekend and they are usually better.
Two plus points. I not once went to a toilet that didn’t have toilet roll, not in the entire time I was there and that is a massive bonus. The other plus point is the family showers. Big shower rooms where the whole family can shower comfortably together. This is a great idea and I haven’t seen it anywhere else.
Overall I absolutely recommend Wowo Campsite, I would definitely return and so would the friends that came with me. I can guarantee that your kids will love it and you will return home wishing you could sit round an open campfire and toast marshmallows every night!
A few top tips I learnt from this camping trip.
- Take a doormat! Yeah my boyfriend laughed his ass off at me when he saw me packing a doormat but he wasn’t laughing when it was peeing it down with rain and the only way to stop the mud getting in our tent was to wipe your feet on my wonderful doormat. My doormat was the envy of the campsite. (Sort of)
- If you are camping with young children and you know it’s going to rain take at least 10 times more pairs of socks for them than you think you need. My youngest went through 4 of the 6 pairs I had packed in the first few hours of us being there because she couldn’t get down with taking her wellies on and off to go in and out of the tent.
- These Ready Bed’s were brilliant. They roll up tiny, inflate really quick and are an all in one lilo and sleeping bag. I also took the kids duvets to keep them warm.
Check out Wowo’s website here.
I hope if you visit Wowo you really enjoy it and I would love to hear anyone’s recommendations of other UK campsites that are great for kids.
thanks for reading