If you’ve ever browsed the camping section of a bookshop or Amazon looking for a campsite review book, then there’s a good chance that you’ll have seen one of the many Alan Rogers guides. The Alan Rogers guides are well known and well established with the first having been published in 1968. These days there are several guides covering most major European countries as well as this one which is the Britain and Ireland guide.
The guides are updated and refreshed every year, and it’s the 2010 version that we’ve reviewed here (the 2011 version is released in November). Although many of the guides are based around a particular country, there are also guides themed around particular topics such as 101 best campsites by the beach, for outdoor activities, and a few others too. Dog owners might be interested in the best campsites for you and your dog. In the interests of impartiality, I should disclose that we were contacted by Alan Rogers Guides and asked if we would like a review copy of one of their books. I’ll be completely honest and admit that I was hesitant as I wasn’t sure whether they listed the kind of campsites that I would normally visit but I was intrigued to investigate further.
The guide lists around 600 campsites, and my initial impression is that it’s more of a campsite white pages reference than a coffee table tome – there’s no beautiful double page photography here for example. As a reference guide it works well though, listings are concise and cover all the essentials. Each listing has a description with information or history about the site, a section on facilities (both on site and in the surrounding area), directions (including OS grid references and lat/long coordinates), and a guide to charges. Sections are grouped by geographic area and are colour coded making it easy to flick through to the section you’re after.
It’s a shame that the listings don’t include the campsite’s own website link where available (they have email address and telephone number) – instead they have a link to the Alan Rogers website which repeats the same information as the book, but which sometimes also links through to the campsite. I only discovered the campsite directory on alanrogers.com/camping while researching for this review and it’s actually quite a useful resource being searchable by location and including a detailed google map of each site.
Any doubts I had about whether this guide would list the type of campsite that I like to visit were answered when I searched for all the campsites we’ve visited this year and well over half of them were listed. They are all sites that were found either online, or in one of the other popular campsite review books. I tend to do most of my campsite research online, and I’m guessing that as you’re reading this online, perhaps you do to. The way that I would use this guide would be as a starting point to generate a short-list of potential destinations that I’d then research further online. Or, if you’re the sort of person who drives to a destination on a whim without having pre-booked a campsite, then this would be a good book to have stashed in the glovebox – with 600 sites listed you stand a good chance of finding somewhere. If on the other hand you want a list of the top 50 very best camping experiences in the country with in-depth commentary and inspiring photography then one of the many other review books might be more suitable.