Just like campsites all over Britain, Bagwell Farm Touring Park, on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast had to close to visitors as our nations went into lockdown. Site manager Karen Kennedy got in touch to tell us what this meant to the campsite and what has been happening at the campsite during lockdown.
Karen says: “it was heartbreaking; making the decision to close the site to protect everyone. Phoning and emailing all of our expected arrivals to ask them to stay at home instead was a surreal experience.”
It soon became clear to the team at Bagwell Farm that there were a number of people on local sites who had nowhere else to go – carers unable to live in their normal home, workers stranded between live-in jobs, and full-time motorhome adventurers – and needed their assistance.
“With the help of our MP, emergency planning councillor and environmental health team we managed to get an exemption for these people to join us. So long as they met the exemption criteria, they were able to stay with us. We allocated a separate bathroom or shower room to each guest and left plenty of room between the pitches,” says Karen.
The team also got involved with helping the local community. “At the start of the virus outbreak, we delivered a letter to each of our neighbours offering to deliver essential groceries. We had a fabulous response of help from old friends, and from people that we had never met before. From a basket of shopping to the odd items that the online shops didn’t have, we delivered to the most vulnerable. We never expected to be sourcing bread flour in bulk sacks and weighing this out into paper bags, but it gave us something else to think about!”
During April, life on the park was very quiet. “Apart from the birdsong,” says Karen. “The positive part was that we had much more time and space to listen to and watch the wildlife. We have a lot of feathered visitors and we have spent time trying to learn to identify their songs and calls so that we can recognise them all from their sounds as well as their feathers. The kestrels have been very active and are now nesting close to the park. We have a large wildflower meadow and some areas which are deliberately mown less to encourage wildlife. This year the bee orchids have really flourished and the butterflies are enjoying the sunshine.”
With a reopening date in sight, the site is a lot busier, with its days now spent in producing, checking and updating cleaning and social distancing policies, installing posters, screens and one-way systems to keep everyone as protected as possible.
“We want to open as soon as it is safe to do so,” says Karen. “We can’t wait to see all our lovely guests again!”
With social distancing such an issue in hospitality, it is one of the last areas to open for business, with 4 July being the earliest date cited. Campsites are still awaiting guidance from the Government on the measures that should be taken and there is speculation that without that guidance washroom facilities will remain closed for this season.
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