Things to do

A guide to building a campfire

Campsites that allow fires – the only way to camp!

Having a campfire is one of the most popular of the camping activities at our woodland campsites. Toasting marshmallows, cooking on the fire and enjoying the company of fellow campers around the campfire is the best way to end (or start) a day in the great outdoors. We might be biased, but we believe it’s just not camping if your chosen campsite does not allow fires!

Remember that scene in Castaway when Tom Hanks finally succeeds in creating fire? Many of our campers long to feel that same joy and impress fellow campers with their mastery of the environment. But many fail when the flames won’t take. Even with a box of matches in hand, starting a campfire can be tricky if you haven’t done it for a while, so have a read of our tips before you start…

Choose campsites that allow fires

This one may be obvious but lots campsites frown open open fires. Check before you book your camping holiday. Are the places you choose to stay a campsite that allows fires? We positively encourage campfires. It’s a must to watch FireTV when camping!

Camping with campfires in Sussex

1. Get everything you need

Whether you are camping in the wild or starting a fire using pre-chopped firewood, make sure you have everything you need close by. Matches or a lighter, tinder – newspaper is good, kindling and pieces of wood or sticks of different sizes.

2. Forget the pyramid and go for the lattice

A lattice shape is a more stable base for a fire than the traditional pyramid, making it is less likely to collapse and put your fire out. Place two logs parallel to each other in your fire pit, close enough together to balance pieces of kindling across them. Tear a few sheets of newspaper in to smaller pieces, scrunch into loose balls and lay in between the two logs. Lay two or three pieces of kindling across the two logs, over the newspaper, making sure you leave gaps between them. Make a second layer by placing two or three more pieces of kindling at a 90 degree angle to the first layer and continue for a couple more layers.

Check out some campfire cooking recipes

3. Light your fire and feed it

Set the newspaper underneath your kindling alight in a couple of places and be ready to feed the fire. The paper will burn out quickly but you need it to keep going until the kindling lattice you have created is well alight. The way to do this is to keep feeding the flames with extra paper, so have plenty to hand for the first few minutes.

4. Build your fire

Once the kindling is well alight you can put on more logs. Start with smaller ones and use increasingly larger ones as the flames grow and the heat increases. This is the time to start thinking about the classic pyramid shape. Lean the logs inwards at an angle over the lattice, rather than plonking them on top where they might crush the lattice base and extinguish the flames.

5. Look what you have created!

Start cooking or sit back and enjoy the fire (and remember to only book at campsites which allow fires).

Cooking on a campfire at Beech Estate in Sussex

Here’s our campfire lighting tutorial video to help you out

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