Canvas and Campfires review – July 2019
Full disclosure – the very lovely Ellie and Dan at Canvas and Campfires offered our family a free 3 night stay in their new accessible tent in exchange for feedback on the accessibility. They are very keen to get this right so before opening the tents offered this opportunity to a few people with varying disabilities and needs to ensure they are meeting as many people’s needs as possible and haven’t missed anything.
Firstly, Canvas and Campfires is in a stunningly beautiful part of West Wales and the tents look over a lovely valley. Ellie, Dan and the kids are the perfect hosts, welcoming, thorough and around if needed, but never in the way or intrusive on your holiday. We stayed in Enfys (which means Rainbow so couldn’t have been a more perfect name!). I’m a manual wheelchair user due to hEDS and POTS and can walk very short distances, and my husband Ben, 5 year old and 2 year old were also with me.
On arrival we were greeted by Dan and shown down to the tent and given a tour and all the relevant campsite information. Enfys has a car parking space right next to it and there’s then a low incline ramp up to the decking at the front of the tent, where there’s a table and chairs. I was pleased to find the table had flip up sides which made it longer but also allowed me to fully get my legs under and sit at the table in my wheelchair. This was a lovely spot to watch the kids playing from or enjoy a drink while watching the sun go down over the valley. The doors into the tent are sliding doors and slid smoothly, giving level access from the outside decking into the tent. Inside the tent, there was a large dining table and chairs, which I could also get my chair under to sit at, and a sofa and coffee table/trunk. There was plenty of space to move around between the furniture in my chair. The kitchen had a roll under sink and pull out worktop which I will be copying when we redo our kitchen! This meant the main worktop was still useable to Ben while standing but I also had worktop available at the height I needed, which was a great use of the space.
Enfys has space to sleep 6 people, a super king sized room which can also be split into two singles, a bunk bed room and a cabin bed. The super king and bunk bed rooms were both easy to move around in my chair and both have access to the wet room. The cabin bed is within the living area and a stool is used to access it, so we put one of the children in there and the other in the bottom bunk. The wet room is wonderful! It’s very spacious and lots of space to move around. There’s a small sink next to the toilet as well as a larger roll under sink. The shower has a very comfortable shower chair which is on runners on the wall so the position can be adjusted as needed. There’s also an emergency exit from the wet room, and a hardcore ramp has been built outside, which I was asked to test and could get both up and down in my manual chair.
Overall, Enfys is the most accessible accommodation I have stayed in in the last 3+ years of being a wheelchair user. The website provides incredibly thorough information on dimensions, facilities, equipment available etc to allow each individual to decide if this is the right holiday for them. And they even offer a 10% discount for guests who require the adapted tents to be able to go on holiday. You can find their accessibility information here – https://www.canvasandcampfires.co.uk/safari-tents/accessibility/
The terrain of the Canvas and Campfires site does not lend itself to being as accessible as the tents, although Dan and Ellie have done what they can to ease this. There are compacted hardcore paths to the honesty shop (very close to Enfys up a small to medium gradient), the other tents, and around the farm. The terrain is naturally very hilly and even if the entire site was tarmac’d they would still be very difficult slopes for wheelchair users (and this would of course totally ruin the beauty of the area!). I would say I am a medium strength manual chair user, and I was able to get to the honesty shop and back without problems, down the hill (with care on the grass, but the campfire at the bottom and watching the kids having bucket baths beside it was totally worth the bumps!), and maybe a third of the way back up before I admitted defeat and asked Ben for a push. I needed a little boost to get up to the level of the pond (definitely do pond dipping, there’s a kit to borrow in the honesty shop), but could then move around the pond and chickens area freely. Each morning they do animal rounds and the guests are invited to join them. While we were staying, the sheep and pigs were in a field up the top of the hill but Dan immediately offered to bring them down so that I could also join in.
There’s lots to do nearby and Aberystwyth is a great day out, the prom is flat and has stunning views out over the bay (we weren’t lucky enough to spot dolphins this time), and there’s lots to do and see for kids and adults. We tried Aberporth beach on the other full day of our holiday, and in hindsight I think we went to the wrong beach for accessibility features! We went down a very steep ramp which lead down to soft sand, whereas pictures I’ve since seen of powered chair users on the beach at Aberporth look like they may have been on the other beach, just around the corner from the one we chose. We’ll give that another go next time as the sea was lovely!
Canvas and Campfires has a lovely relaxed atmosphere, the kids from the tents and the farm all played happily together on the field in front of the tents, while the adults could just relax or socialise while having a good view over the children below. The overriding feeling we got from our stay was contentment and relaxation.
Thank you to Ellie, Dan the the kids for a wonderful stay and we very much hope to return someday.