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Stoats Farm Camping, Weston Lane.Totland, Isle of Wight
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Stoats Farm Camping, Weston Lane.Totland, Isle of WightSmall, shy, retiring kinds of campsites are as rare as hen's teeth on the Isle ofWight, so while Stoats Farm may not entice the bat of a cockerel's eyelid anywhere else in Britain, here on Holiday Park Isle this is a campsite to treasure. Stoats Farm has a great location, nestling in a shallow valley at the far-western tip of the island. Rural is the effect -very rural - but it's all a cunning deception, for this is really a coastal site of some distinction.

Sitting outside your tent gazing quietly over the rolling fields; listening to the horses chatting to one another; absently tracking the hens pecking about; and casting your eye over the ancient farmhouse and its lovely ramshackle collection of outbuildings is a deeply calming, countryside experience. But if you wander up the hill across the lane, this charade of countryside rurality is completely unmasked at the top. For this isn't a hill at all, but the top of a ghostly white precipice falling away into the azure ocean below.

The quiet bucolic bliss, which had wrapped such a warm, safe blanket of gentleness right around you, has been ripped asunder by one of the most dramatic and vertiginous views in the land, and Stoats Farm now seems to belong to a different world. The cliff-top path soon leads to that icon of coastal views at The Needles, and then, on the way back to the warm embrace of the campsite, The Needles Park (a theme park firmly rooted in nostalgic soil) vies for your attention.
Shy, retiring, and a little ordinary this campsite may be, but its surroundings are anything but.

COOL FACTOR A countryside campsite on the coast.

WHO'S IN? Tents, campervans, caravans, dogs - yes. Groups - by prior arrangement.

ON SITE About 100 pitches; the simple but well-maintained facilities (toilets, 9 free showers, laundry, washing-up sinks, disabled loo) may be stretched if they are all occupied. Electric hook-ups available; ice packs can be frozen; and the onsite shop sells basics and home-produced veg and dairy. No campfires, but BBQs off the ground are okay.

OFF SITE The cliff walk from the site to either Freshwater Bay or The Needles is stunning, and a great day can be made of all of it by walking the rural route to Freshwater, then along the cliffs to The Needles, before heading back up the valley.

FOOD AND DRINK The High Down Inn (01983 752450; www.highdowninn.com), right next to the campsite, is excellent, offering imaginative pub grub, decent wine, and delicious vegetarian meals. In nearby Yarmouth, the Kings Head (01983 760351) is rated highly by the friendly folk at Stoats Farm for its traditional food and good cider.

GETTING THERE From Yarmouth's ferry terminal, follow the A3054 to Totland, then the B3322 towards The Needles. After 1½ miles turn sharp left into a minor road signposted Freshwater. The site is ½ mile ahead, just where the road turns sharply right.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT The regular Needles Coastal Cruiser bus travels between the site and Yarmouth in the summer.

OPEN 1 March-31 October. (Though a very well-behaved motorcycling group occupies almost the whole site on the August Bank Holiday weekend.)

THE DAMAGE Tent plus 2 people £12-£14 (depending on season) per night; additional person (over 4 years) £3.50, under-5s free; hook-up £3.75.




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