Mad Hatters Campsite, Ely, Cambridgeshire

We were really excited to visit this little campsite in Ely, where they have glamping options, a wood cabin, grass pitches, electrical hook up options and also cater for adult parties, group bookings and children’s parties.

Mad Hatters Campsite in Ely, Cambridgeshire, felt pretty unique and special in what owners Claire and Bryan have created. What started as just a brown field has been transformed into a thriving hub of wildlife, thanks to the carpet of wild flowers that they planted just a few years ago. We spotted insects all over, birds and bats, swallows were nesting in the washing up building and animal noises could be heard in the evening.

As somebody who really loves more of a woodland setting, and campsites where you have a truly secluded pitch to yourself, on first glance this may not have been my ideal set up, with individual pitches mowed out between the wild flowers, some still in fairly good view of one another, with pathways marked out between the pitches and facilities. However, I quickly fell in love with the quirkiness of the site, and what has been created here, something truly wonderful in it’s own right. Eco systems come in so many shapes and sizes, and this variety is vital; it was lovely to be staying within one that was so different to any place we had camped before and I developed a deep appreciation of this during our stay.

Wild flowers are vital for British wildlife. Insect pollination is needed for the growth of many fruits, vegetables and nuts that we love, and those insects need a wide range of wild flowers for their own food sources. Those insects in turn provide food for small animals such as birds, bats, amphibians and small mammals. The owners have also planted trees throughout the site and plan to plant even more this winter. So they really are creating a habitat for many creatures here, and you’ll have no trouble going on a mini nature hunt with the kids!

Not only does all of this effort make the site looks beautiful, the layout was also quickly sold to me as the children whizzed around the paths, like they were running through a maze, and pulled each other in the wagon from tent to play area and back again. The design of the campsite has become a playground in itself! It was nice to interact with some other campers on our way to the wash facilities, whilst still having your own designated area, with plenty of space to spread out, relax and, during the evenings when the kids were all in bed, feel like you had privacy whilst chatting around the campfire.

The campsite has a few features that stood out, especially when camping as a family, including a fridge / freezer available for all campers to use, a charging point for phones and electricals and a little on site shop with some eco friendly essentials (perfect when I realised that I forgot my daughters bamboo toothbrush and was having a moral dilemma about buying a plastic one in the local supermarket!) And, of course, the theme of Alice in Wonderland running throughout the site just added a little something different and a bit of fun for little ones.

During covid19 there were very well thought out measures in place to protect campers. A peg system enabled areas of the toilet block and shower facilities to be limited to 1 person or household at a time, which wasn’t just safer but also quite a luxury! We took our own pegs but they did provide some which were sanitised after each use. Hand gel was available throughout the campsite. We did have a temperatures taken on arrival which meant being a little bit patient as they worked their way around all the cars who typically arrived all at once! But by now, I’m sure we are all understanding of this new normal!

The facilities at Mad Hatter’s Campsite were great, although no compost toilets (sigh of relief for some campers?!) they are very big on the environment and this can be seen in various aspects of the site. Nothing on site ends up in landfill! There are so many recycling bins for all sorts of different packaging. Materials that aren’t recycled are used to generate power in Suffolk and there is also food waste disposal and composting bin. Apart from Covid19 sanitiser all cleaning products on site are eco friendly and cruelty free.

Electric is 100% renewable and the site is having a sustainability report and survey done to see where they can make improvements. Claire and Bryan are considering ground source heat pumps and solar panels to become 100% self sufficient eventually. You can see how passionate they are about the environment when you visit their website and take a look at the environmental page.

As for the area, you are just a 2.5 mile walk away from Ely, with the path leading straight from the campsite. If this is too much for little legs, there is plenty of free parking within Ely if you fancy a visit. We went to the Cathedral and waterfront and found some tasty vegan options at a Mexican street food stall in the market square, and even managed to get a vegan ice cream cone from the ice cream van which made my daughter very happy. There is a fully vegan cafe in Ely but this was sadly closed during our visit. There were plenty of little cafes dotted around, some offering vegan cakes, but finding somewhere to sit with 4 children during covid isn’t easy!

The Fens are a unique ecological area to explore, bursting with wildlife, and you can find more walks and things to do (perhaps more so during normal times!) on the Mad Hatters website. Cambridge is only 20 miles away, and if you are staying for a few days I highly recommend a visit to The Orchard Tea Garden, where you can sit outside on deck chairs and enjoy a walk along the river, a beautiful place for a spot of tea! Although if you are vegan or have other dietary requirements, call ahead, as I haven’t been for a few years and don’t recall many options.

All in all, I would highly recommend a visit to this campsite, and if you can afford to treat yourselves and go for the glamping options, they were beautiful and well thought out. Owners Claire and Bryan were very accomodating and friendly, which makes all the difference, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with them if you want to plan a more bespoke visit to this beautiful site.


By |2020-08-05T15:00:05+00:00August 5th, 2020|Eco camping|Comments Off on Mad Hatters Campsite, Ely, Cambridgeshire