Camping has been one of the most popular outdoor activities in the Western world at least since the mid- twentieth century. It is practically the best possible way to “get close to nature.” However, in recent years the advance of technology with the development of tablet and smartphones, which are so small and easy to use that people bring them along even when they travel into the most remote and wild of places. There are also many machines, such as portable electric stoves, designed to make wilderness living more convenient.
As a reaction against this intrusion of modern life/habits to natural living, many individuals have gone back to what they call “retro” camping. Such campers also use the traditional canvas tent, rather than the more waterproof nylon tent— and these kinds of tents even feel like they belong to a different era! And if canvas is treated properly, it can be expected to last for years, so that you can use it for every retro camping trip you go on each year without having to buy a new one.
Sites for retro camping have sprung up all over Great Britain. There is the La Rosa Camp Site near Whitby, on the moors of North Yorkshire; it covers eight hectares. Caravans are available for rent. Another site at Lovelane Camping, in Cornwall, again with caravans for guests. At night one can read by the light of a paraffin lamp; there is no electricity in these facilities. Many attractions are also situated in the area: Home- made ice cream is served to visitors at Roskilly’s Farm, and the Bluebell woods provide a perfect, quiet place to go for a stroll.
Retro camping can bring one in touch with the way of life that was followed throughout most of human history (and prehistory), from Stonehenge days up until the Industrial Revolution. Contrary to what Hobbes once said, life back then was not “nasty, brutish, and short.” We, in fact, can be even closer to nature than pre- industrial cavemen and farmers were, in one sense: They were constantly working with— and sometimes against— nature, chasing down game animals and evading potential predators (and later defending their livestock against the same), hoping for enough sunshine and rain to feed their crops… Their lives were a constant battle against the forces of nature. But we in our era can simply sit back, relax, and enjoy nature’s wonders, which have been with us for millions of years and will still be with us for millions more.
For more information on retro camping, check out the BBC programme “Britain Goes Camping”