Three guys walk into a bar. Yes, really, that's how it all started. Local lads Mark, Gareth and Paul met at Mark's pub in Alnwick to chat about how they could turn this former RAF admin site into a campsite in an effort to provide a haven for campervans and campers on the north Northumberland coast amidst a huge spike in staycation tourism, driven by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Our site is a former RAF admin site which used to form part of the RAF Boulmer base. It was decommissioned in 1996 and the buildings demolished. All that remained were the access roads, trees and shrubs, which we've retained and worked with to make the site feel established, despite us only receiving the keys in May 2021.
in 2021, our aim was to quickly install services to the whole site so that we could rotavate and reseed in an effort to have a popup campsite ready for August.
We were given a 9 month lead time for installing power to the site, so we had to think outside of the box to create solutions for lighting and hot water, and power to our popup bar. This did really make us realise that you can achieve a lot being off-grid, and none of our guests seemed to mind.
Our 8 week, off-grid popup season went very well, despite only having 8 weeks to develop the site and have facilities in place. We welcomed over 1000 guests and sold over 500 pitches.
We brought in some fantastic local street food vendors on busy weekends and enjoyed some fantastic weather. The glamping tents were fully booked in August and guests loved them.
The real surprise for us were the amount of campervans that came to stay with us in all shapes and sizes. Providing tailor made areas for campervans soon became a priority for us and we recently developed additional grass and gravelled hard standing pitches and a motorhome service point, along with electric hookup points which are powered by a low carbon, solar hybrid generator.
We're continuing to work on the aesthetics of the site but want to keep it as simple and easy to manage as possible.
At Coast and Castles, we're by no means eco-warriors, but we are eco-conscious. Not only have we repurposed an abandoned site and diversified, but we're also trying to be as eco-friendly and sustainable as possible.
In developing the site there were a few hiccup's and some interesting surprises to be found, the biggest being two tennis courts buried underneath the proposed camping field!
We repurposed the tennis courts and used the material to build the track for our campervan field. All of the gravelled areas have been created using recycled road chippings from local roadworks, and all logs bought in for firepits come from a sustainable local woodland.
We use solar power where possible for lighting throughout the site, our toilets have water saving hand wash basins and we have requested recycling bins from the local council.
We're also in the process of rewilding the site, planting 300 hedging plants, 100's of native trees and creating a wildflower hill.