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Adam Buxton goes wild camping on Dartmoor

"It would be wonderful if we were all out foraging for food. I think a lot of parents probably have that fantasy of what family life might be like"

Published: Thursday, 13th April 2017 at 3:45 pm

In The Wild Weekenders, Adam Buxton, Arthur Williams and Clem Green explore what Devon has to offer the adventurous holidaymaker.


Green stays at an iron age B&B, Williams goes freedriving and Buxton beds down for the night on a tor on Dartmoor. We asked him how he usually spends his holidays and whether he'd take his family wild camping.

Where do you usually go on holiday?

We go to France and end up following the same routine, which is going off and kayaking down the river for a couple of days. If there’s a pool, then that’s a big part of the puzzle. And also there’s got to be wifi. That’s not so say that a holiday without wifi wouldn’t be wonderful and enriching in lots of different ways. But we’ve yet to clear that hurdle.

Are you the wifi addict or is rest of your family equally attached?

All of us are going to be individually delighted if there is good wifi because it means that whenever we want we’ll be able to escape for however long it is and fool ourselves that we’re connected to the rest of the world for important reasons. The adults are ashamed about that fact. The children are not yet old enough to realise that they’re supposed to be ashamed.

Do you camp or prefer more luxurious accommodation?

We’ve tried camping before and we weren’t that great at it. It would be wonderful if we were all out foraging for food and making soup out of leaves and singing songs to each other. I think a lot of parents probably have that fantasy of what family life might be like. But in practical terms it’s nice to have soft beds and clean towels. 

Is there anything else that puts you off staycations?

A lot of these destinations have an image of being quite anoraky. That’s probably a prejudice that I have in my mind and admit to. And it’s really not true of course: as soon as you go there you realise they are amazing and there’s a reason why they are popular tourist destinations. But for some reason people like me have got out of the habit of thinking of them as viable alternatives, perhaps because we were forced to go there as children. But actually the whole industry has come such a long way that people would be well advised to try those things again.

So what do you get up to in The Wild Weekenders?

There are three presenters and it’s all of us trying different variations on the British break. It was good for me because it’s the kind of breaks that I normally would not try. Normally I'd be too lazy to think of them, or I'd think a weekend in a campsite in Dartmoor sounds less attractive than spending a few days on the Algarve. So it was quite instructive seeing there are all these other options.

Buxton looking the part in The Wild Weekenders

You describe wild camping as an "experience", which suggests it wasn't entirely a pleasurable one. Would you like to experience it again?

I don’t know if I’d do it with my family at this point. My children are 8, 12 and 14 so it would be a hard sell. I’m sorry to say that they haven’t been brought up to be outdoorsy, so it would be a bit of a culture shock. I would probably wait until they’re a bit older before trying a trip like that with them. But I think I would do it. I would want to.

How about with your mates?

Definitely yes. In fact I already do with some pals of mine. We go off to Dartmoor every year and spend two or three nights out in the woods with a professional woodsman. We all chip in a bit of money and this guy comes along with us and takes the challenge out of it in a good way. So we turn up and he’s already set up camp and built a fire. We don't have tents, just hammocks, and he shows us the right knots to tie. It's all blokes so there's an element of us pretending to be manly men: making string out of nettles, then telling sexy stories round a campfire while we drink cider out of petrol cans.

You also stay in an eco-pod on Loveland Farm in North Devon. Is that more family-friendly?

Yes, each one has electricity, loos and a shower with hot water. I don’t want to use the word glamping or I might be a bit sick, but it is certainly the more comfortable and easy way of going on a camping expedition. It has some of the benefits without some of the drawbacks. 

Wild Weekenders is just a one-off. Where would you like to go if you make another episode?

It would be nice to go back to some of the places that I used to be forced to go to when I was at school, like Langdale in the Lake District or caving in the Mendips – trips that were probably really fun but because I was being forced to do them, it was a nightmare. I just wanted to go home and play video games.

So have you inspired yourself?

I hope so. As a family we have yet to act on it, but I hope we will.

The Wild Weekenders is on Good Friday on Channel 4 at 8pm

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