Getting back to our roots at Fforest

To describe Fforest as an eco-campsite is just part of the story.

In spacious and peaceful mid-Wales, near the Pembrokeshire coast and the mighty Teifi river, this acclaimed campsite has space, light, beauty and quiet, as well as a wide range of close-to-nature places to stay, from tents to glampy domes to so-called ‘croglofts’, a modern take on a crofter's cottage but with under-heated slate floors.  There’s home-grown organic food and wood-fired pizzas, as well as a little bar in an old stone shed. I’m not generally a happy camper, but washing in the open air, with the water scented by a cedar-wood shower stall is my kind of ‘simple life’.

Yet there is something more. Fforest’s website has a telling domain name, “Cold at Night”. Whilst you can be as comfortable and as warm as you like here (this is the sort of camping with a wood-burning stove option), the spirit of Fforest goes back to the owner’s childhood camping out in Scotland and the idea that what we want in such a place is to relax but also to be somewhere else, in a more ‘raw’ space that makes you feel more alive.

A sea bathe; waking at dawn to birdsong; gathering a rug around you to watch the sun set or to look up at the stars: these are times that are far away from screens and deadlines. Fforest is about a natural immersion in a beautiful place.

Wales, it's said, is “like Cornwall used to be”. You certainly don’t feel like you are part of holiday hoards here. After a walk along the Teifi, we found it hard to find a postcard in the local shops.

Fforest is also the setting for a diverse number of gatherings, as well as holidays. For the third summer, the site is host to Root Camp  which holds innovative residential courses that give 15-21-year-olds a real understanding of food, from gathering to cooking. 

The days revolve around gathering or picking food to cook lunch and supper and there are outings to the beach or hillside bilberry picking and informal talks on such matters as sustainable fish and beekeeping.

The genius of Root Camp is to harness teen energy and sociability and get them to cook feasts for themselves, with guidance from a number of good chefs, including Valentine Warner, Sylvain Jamois, Oliver Rowe and Jane Baxter, who used to be at Riverford Organics’ wonderful Field Kitchen restaurant.

I’ve been on a Root Camp and marvelled at how even kids who barely made a sandwich came to properly enjoy and appreciate real food, going from stay-in-beds to proud bakers in days. A great enterprise in a special place.

Root Camp's residential courses at Fforest cost £640 per person, with some places subsidised. There are a few places left for this year’s camps in July and August.