Camping at Adgestone on the Isle of Wight with The Camping and Caravanning Club.

We have just returned from our wonderful summer holiday on the Isle of Wight- one which exceeded all expectation. Not that we expect much - past holidays have seen us endure visits to A &E and the local garage. It generally ends in tears.

This time however for once everything went to plan and the only stress was cramming the children and all our camping gear into the car. I do like to be prepared for any eventuality!

car and camping gear

We were heading the The Camping and Caravanning Club site at Adgestone, just outside Sandown. They call it "The Friendly Club" and after meeting staff at Adgestone's reception I would say that the title is well deserved.

I have been camping since before I can remember and have experienced all sorts of sites. Wild camping, sites with a million rules, shower blocks with facilities better than home and toilet blocks from your worst nightmares.

I'm sorry to admit that I thought a site run by the Club (although it's open to non-members) might be one of the more rule-heavy with bias leaning towards retired folk with smart 'vans who don't want to be disturbed by children having fun.

I couldn't have been more wrong. From the minute we arrived, hot and tired, we were made to feel extremely welcome and not because they knew I would be writing about my stay. I saw other people arriving being treated like VIP's too.

Adgestone Camping and Caravanning Club site IOW
We were offered a choice of pitches with some sound advice from the warden as to which he thought would suit us best. He did remind us of the rules but in a very lovely way, and gave us a guided tour of the facilities.

Yes, the facilities. I chose the ONLY Camping and Caravanning Club site in the UK with a swimming pool and given the glorious weather we experienced during our stay I was patting myself on the back for that decision.

The site also had a little competitively priced shop, a cafe where you could get a full English breakfast if you couldn't be bothered to cook your own, and a takeaway which we took full advantage of on the first night. Scampi, battered sausages and a pile of chips to feed 6 for under £20- yum!

Activities at Adgestone campsite IOW
Our pitch was large with electricity and close to the playground aimed at older children. A note about that - if I had to criticise anything it would be the two playgrounds at the site which looked a bit tired. But there are swings and a slide and a climbing frame, a basketball net and football goals and near the site reception there's also a giant chess set and a lovely wooden noughts and crosses set which my youngest two loved.

And of course the pool. Heated, surrounded by grass for sunbathing and absolutely the jewel in this site's crown. Open during summer months only but fabulous for us visiting in August with the sun obligingly shining. It was busy but not too overcrowded and we had a wonderful time there.

The dishwashing facilities were clean and plentiful with lots of hot water, showers were if anything too powerful and I loved the family bathrooms and baby change/bath areas. I don't need them now but nice to see babies catered for.

Dogs are also welcome on this site and there's a dedicated dog walk alongside a waterway which runs behind one of the fields. I was a bit worried about dogs being on the site but all the owners I saw were very considerate and the dogs were no bother at all.

Facilities at Adgestone campsite IOW

Discovering the on-site washing lines was a lifesaver as I needed to wash and dry swimming kit and there were laundry facilities and even ironing boards and irons. (I never iron anything on a camping trip!) Everywhere was clean and there were lots of lovely floral displays and nice touches like pictures in the toilet blocks.

If you fancy camping but don't have the kit or fancy a more glamorous experience check out the Ready Camp option at Adgestone and other Club sites across the UK. The spacious well-appointed 2-bedroom tents sleep up to 6 people are complete with sofa, dining area, garden furniture, a fridge and real beds.

We could have stayed all day on the site but my children love beaches so we spent a couple of days exploring the island's coast. We enjoyed sandy beaches, swimming in the sea on lifeguarded beaches and hunting for fossils on rocky shores.

We also did a bit of shopping. The island is a real mix ranging from high end yachting stores to cheap charity shops. Food-wise you can feast on chips eaten with a sea view or splash out on fabulous seafood in London-quality restaurants- crab is the local speciality.

We visited The Garlic Farm which I can highly recommend although Grumpy has sensory issues and the smell made him first distressed then sent him into total meltdown. Yes I was that harassed woman frantically grabbing garlic products to bring home while my husband coaxed our red-faced and howling child from the floor of the shop back to the car.

If you don't have a child who freaks out at the smell of garlic I can highly recommend a trip to the farm - lots to do for kids and a foodie heaven with an amazing looking cafe and restaurant.

There are lots of attractions to visit but during our stay given the weather we were happy with the beaches and our site pool.  However there is definitely something to suit all tastes and budgets whatever the weather.

So where is the Isle of Wight and how do you get there?

The Isle of Wight is so close to Portsmouth on the south coast of England that travelling on our Wightlink ferry we could see our departure port and the island at the same time.

We chose Wightlink as we wanted to take our car. You can travel using ferries, hovercraft and catamaran and via other routes but since our eldest lives in Portsmouth we took the opportunity to visit him too.

Lots of accommodation providers offer ferry discounts if you book with them and the Wightlink site often has deals on offer too.
Wight link from Portsmouth

We had just enough time during the 40 minute crossing to Fishbourne to grab a Costa coffee, have a quick loo break and spend some time on deck before it was time to disembark. This is great for a first time ferry experience and we felt going on the ferry makes it feel more like a"proper" holiday!

I'm not sure what I expected from the Isle -I think maybe I thought it would look like Devon with windy roads and tiny harbours. Mostly it's not that picturesque. There are lots of bungalows and flats, some quite run-down areas and some luxurious new developments. The countryside is beautiful and we loved Cowes which was more like what we expected  - check out that bunting!

bunting at Cowes

The Esplanades which could be found in many of the coastal towns were kind of what I expected and my children loved the piers. We especially enjoyed Sandown where we ate ice-creams, dug sandcastles, played adventure golf and bought rock and fudge- it felt like a proper, traditional British holiday.
beaches at IOW

I mean that in a good way. I have such happy memories from similar holidays that it brought me joy watching my own children bury their brother in sand, be fascinated by the sea they could see under their feet on the pier and wolfing down chips as the sun set over the sea.

They've been abroad and had some fabulous holidays in hotels, villas and in mobile homes but they all said their Isle of Wight holiday in our tent was one of their favourite ever! It's in my top ten too - such a lovely relaxing break with my family.

madmumof7 and husband

Disclaimer: We camped for free (Thanks Camping and Caravanning Club) and were given a discount on our ferry crossing (Thanks Wightlink) for the purposes of this review. Views and opinions remain honest and my own.