Where have we been and where are we going next?
A history of Vegan Camp…
1981 ~ Tywyn, Gwynedd, Wales
The first ever Vegan Camp was organised by Lawrence Main, assistant secretary to the Vegan Society. A venue was picked in South Wales and campers just turned up. To spot other vegan campers you had to look for evidence that someone else was vegan; A copy of a vegan magazine on display near where you were sitting worked. It is believed not all vegan campers actually met up at this event because of this. Dan Strettle, the general organiser for the subsequent years of Vegan Camp, did not even know that the event happened. Upon finding out that the second camp was also due for South Wales he asked the Vegan Society to hold one in a more central location, to which they replied that he was welcome to organise one in 1983 in the North.
1982 ~ Pendean, Gower Peninsula, South-Wales
After the inaugural year, Lawrence Main was again the organiser for the second camp. Quite a few campers re-booked and a part of the site at Pendean was reserved for Vegan Camp. Some weeks before the event Laurence dropped out of the organising process, as a result of this the Vegan Society contacted Dan Strettle and asked if he would take over – To which he agreed. Dan and family loaded up their car with all manner of pasties and bread for everyone (As 1982 was a very different time for vegans) and they arrived in Gower, after a 434 mile journey. From Dan bringing along lots of vegan food, the idea of the Vegan Camp shop had been born.
1983 ~ Goathland, North York Moors, Yorkshire
On the way home from the 1982 camp, Dan went via Ravenglass and The Lake District and found an ideal site at Seascale for the 1983 Vegan Camp. It was brought to Dan’s attention that unfortunately nuclear waste was being dumped into the sea nearby, so the idea of camping at Seascale was called off. A replacement campsite was found at Goathland in Yorkshire. This was one of the sunniest camps on record until the last day when torrential rain was experienced. A visitor to the camp this year was Freya Dinshah, the secretary of the American Vegan Society.
1984 ~ Wells-Next-The-Sea, Norfolk
By contrast this year’s camp was exceptionally rainy, it was warm but many campers had to buy waterproofs. A great trip to the beach on the local narrow gauge railway was had by all.
1985 ~ Isle Of Anglesey, North Wales Coast
This year’s camp was shared with many sheep that roamed freely through it. One trip was to a wonderful activity centre somewhere in North Wales.
1986 ~ Swanage, Dorset
We were promised sunshine for this year’s camp by the person who chose it, although the weather did not always deliver such conditions. When we arrived we found our field to be next to a herd of cows, who kept us all awake at night. Due to this, Dan managed to successfully negotiate a cheaper price. We had an interesting trip to Swanage castle and saw the area made famous by Enid Blyton’s Famous Five.
1987 ~ Bamburgh, Northumberland
Dan finally got his wish for a Northern camp when he found a site which met almost all of the now shortlisted criteria. The duration of Vegan Camp was now extended from 7 to 10 days. People from all over the U.K. and Northern Ireland came to our camp in Northumberland. Our site was also where the regulars used to play football, but this did not cause much of a problem. We were behind the hill, between the caravan site and the land towards the sea, with a lovely view and of course Holy Island and the Farne Islands nearby.
1988 ~ Glenridding, Penrith, Cumbria
Everyone really wanted to camp in the Lake District but finding a site there that would not only take us in the summer but was suitable for our growing numbers was not easy. However, a site near Ullswater fitted the bill. A youth camp within the main camp was organised this year, including cycling, canoeing and walking. We all visited a local waterfall, some of us swam at the base of it. We did have a storm this year and in the morning a large number of tents were flattened by wind and rain. That morning a rainbow appeared after the storm.
1989 ~ New Romney, Kent
This year’s site was selected by telephone. Dan only stayed and organised half of this Vegan Camp as he was part of a sponsored walk. However, he thinks he remembers the multi-participatory sports day organised most years by Chris Phillips.
1990 ~ Bamburgh, Northumberland
It proved difficult to find a site for 1990 as our list of criteria had become quite full with restrictions. We returned to Bamburgh for another successful camp. Visits to Chillingham, wild cattle, Bamburgh Castle, Seahouses, the Roman Wall, The Mountain the Cheviot, were some of the highlights of this year’s camp.
1991 ~ Tywyn, Gwynedd, Wales
The idea of going back to the same site visited 10 or 12 years earlier was formulated. So we looked at Wales and found a site which was almost perfect. This year we had a record 117 people attending the camp. Another memorable sight was a giant Suma wagon delivering foodstuffs for us all. This year the Vegan Camp shop was to be found in a tent of its own; courtesy of Helen and Keith Bevan for whom this was their first year and they have not missed one since.
1992 ~ Coldingham, Berwickshire, Scotland
This time Vegan Camp was held in Scotland, near Berwick. The longest journey for the southerners amongst us yet. There was a lovely beach not far away, very suitable for diving. Unfortunately it was decided that this site was too small for future visits.
1993 ~ Modbury, Ivybridge, Devon
This site was a bit of a commercial one and wanted to charge us by the pitch of up to six people. Consequently singles, couples and families had to be grouped into sixes so we all acquired some cousins and aunties and uncles as well as maybe some in-laws at Modbury.
1994 ~ Seamer, Scarborough, North Yorkshire
The management actually made us some directional signs and this helped campers find us from now on. We were pretty close together on this site and this was the first site at which we had a communal tent – which was part of the deal with the site itself. Situated away from the campers it became a haven for late night discussion and partying.
1995 ~ Caerwys, Flintshire, North Wales
Dan decided to hire a caravan this year but of course the rain stayed away for the duration. Vegan Camp was extended to the two weeks that it is now.
1996 ~ Creetown, Dumfries, Scotland
There was a bakery nearby and supplies came from there for the Vegan Camp shop. Around this time we had the mobile shop of John and Tina from the One World vegan shop in Birmingham to help us all enjoy a greater variety of food than previous years.
The people who ran this site also had a pub, café and swimming pool within the grounds, they went out of their way to make our stay a great one and the pub had a vegan menu for the fortnight too.
1997 ~ Hope, Peak District, Derbyshire
There were plenty of delicious meals out in the local health food shop’s café. This camp was not far from Edale and Sheffield, a lovely part of the Derbyshire countryside.
1998 ~ Horton, Gower Peninsula, South Wales
Due to our greatly increasing numbers, previous sites had become too small for Vegan Camp. This site had vegan chips and a swimming pool. A nice site on the side of a hill, with good weather for the duration.
1999 ~ Halvasso, Penryn, Cornwall (Solar Eclipse)
The best part of Britain to see a once-in-a-lifetime event such as a solar eclipse was to be Cornwall. However, when the site realised they could make more money out of others they cancelled our booking and left us searching for a replacement site. Dan encountered a drama company called Swamp Circus who owned some land at Penryn and were developing a camp site. Many of us became involved in supporting their project. All was promised to be ready and looked like it was until we arrived to find the toilets being dug out and only one shower in an old caravan. Some stayed, some left and we refunded their money. A really successful camp for those who stayed, and great resourcefulness was shown by the likes of Tony Martin who created some lovely natural showers. Tony and others creating useful things from scratch was to become a Vegan Camp tradition. To round it off, the eclipse was visible from nearby.
2000 ~ Snettisham, Hunstanton, Norfolk
Famous for Chris Phillips Vegan Camp Mastermind Quiz In The Sunshine. We had a great trip to a museum of fairgrounds and music machines with beautiful weather throughout.
2001 ~ Porthmadog, Snowdonia, North Wales
Right on the beach, with sand dunes aplenty. Dan fell over on our trip up Mount Snowdon and ended up in casualty. The friendly Veggies vegan burger van was on site this year.
2002 ~ Pooley Bridge, Ullswater, Cumbria
Dan found a site on the opposite side to Ravenglass and Windscale, near Penrith. We were put to camp on the field that they used for football in the summer, unless there were rallies in attendance like us.
2003 ~ Lyme Regis, Dorset
A wonderful but small site in this delightful area. Dan came all the way down here for three days out of the two weeks. He did however collect £70 owed to him by a post office in St Ives since he was last there in 1999.
2004 ~ Longhorsley, Northumberland
Most will remember 2004 as the summer when caravans and cars were swept off the coastline of Cornwall in the wake of a hurricane. Its effects were felt all over Britain, Vegan Camp having more than its fair share of torrential rain, and flooding sweeping away Terry and Laurie Barkers tent. Seven days of downpour interspersed with four days of sunburn and three days of cloudy wind.
2005 ~ Cardington, Church Stretton, Shropshire
After the trials of last year’s weather this camp was a gentle relief. A beautiful view of the Mendips and all round picture postcard countryside greeted us.
2006 ~ Isle of Whithorn, Newton Stewart, Dumfries
This was, to date, the best site ever. Yes it was in the middle of nowhere but had lovely on site activities and a pub with entertainment.
2007 ~ Abercrave, Neath, Swansea, Wales
A wonderful site with indoor accommodation too and close to the hills and valleys of this beautiful part of south Wales. A car boot sale was held on our field each Sunday, saving us having to drive to find one.
2008 ~ Austwick, Settle, North Yorkshire
We found the Royal Oak in Settle, where they catered for us wonderfully on two occasions. This site had a lovely flat field, indoor accommodation, meeting space and a bar of its own.
2009 ~ Rejerrah, Newquay, Cornwall
To find a site in Cornwall takes a lot of effort. We found the Monkey Tree site, all seemed fine and we agreed to book it. Of course we were well in advance, but in the meantime an animal farm and wild bird centre were built. These two things were obviously not compatible with vegan ethics. This threatened to cause disaster for this year’s Vegan Camp, with people not attending because of it. However we had another successful camp and the sun even shone for our visit in the rain to Lands End. (This site is now officially off the list).
(Details coming soon.)
2011 ~ Ashbourne, Derbyshire
This year saw lots of cave exploring, walks around Dovedale and sunny days.
2012 – Pooley Bridge, Penrith
This camp was a mixture of torrential rain and brilliant sunshine. The camp was quite muddy at times, but the sun soon sorted that out. We had our own field up a hill and away from other campers this year. At night the sky was so clear we could see the milkyway. Amazing!
Wild swimming, boat trips and BBQ’s. What’s not to love?
Let’s not forget the 70’s disco we arranged in the campsite clubhouse. Everyone got involved. Kids and adults alike.
2013 ~ Bude, Cornwall
A beautiful warm camp. We had food outside almost every evening, there were long bike rides, trips into Bude for lovely food, body boarding and even spending hours in the sea jumping the waves. The talent show was also particularly good this year.
2014 ~ Southport, Lancashire
The year of the hurricane. We spent a lot of time pinning tents back down and helping people get back on their feet. Camp community spirit won out and soon we were all up and running again with reasonable weather for the rest of the holiday. We were allowed fires on site this year so we toasted vegan marshmallows too.
2015 ~ Mersea Island, Colchester, Essex
(Details coming soon.)
2016 ~ Isle Of Whithorn, Dumfries, Scotland
2016 was a year of surpises. We had a couple of cold showers, great food in unsuspected places and SUNSHINE TOO! We feel we may have outgrown the site as a group, so we won’t be returning here anytime soon, but we had a great time nonetheless.