The summer has drawn to a close but the camping season is just warming up at an eco glamping and campsite in stunning Wales forestry, with handcrafted huts providing a cosy retreat for autumn and winter guests.
Willow Springs Campsite in Afan Forest Park is open all year round, offering visitors the chance to switch off and reconnect with family, nature or themselves, whatever the weather. With the choice of a traditional Shepherd’s Hut, with a double bed and log burner, or two Camping Huts, each with its own veranda and interior heating, glampers can enjoy the Great Outdoors come rain or shine.
Willow Springs is a small, family-run site, with deliberately simple facilities to allow guests to escape the busy-ness of life. With 10 exclusive, non-electric pitches for tents, campervans and motorhomes, it’s set in beautiful forestry at the top of the Afan Valley – often called ‘Little Switzerland’ due to its Alpine-like appearance.
Afan Forest Park is renowned for having some of the best mountain bike trails in Europe, while there are also miles of family-friendly paths and more strenuous routes for hikers. With Swansea Bay and the golden beaches of Gower to the west and the Brecon Beacons and Waterfall Country on the doorstep, the forest park is a draw for adventurers, bikers, ramblers, horse riders, star-gazers, individuals and families.
The traditional, timber Shepherd’s Hut sleeps up to four. Outside is a food prep hut and a slab to site your fire pit and grill, whilst, inside, solar energy powers two lamps and a dual phone charging point. Light and airy by day, at night the Shepherd’s Hut transforms into a romantic retreat thanks to that wood burning stove and its secluded position.
Each Camping Hut sleeps up to six, with two sofa beds and room on the floor for an inflatable mattress. The bistro table and chairs can be used inside or on the veranda, which also has a cooking area. Although canine companions cannot stay in the Shepherd’s Hut, they are very welcome in the Camping Huts and on all camping pitches, and stay for free.
Owner Marc Souter, who opened Willow Springs with his wife Judy in 2015, said: “We wanted to create a site where people can really switch off and find balance in tranquil surroundings. We made the decision to keep the site small and without many of the distractions of more commercial sites, so our visitors can just relax, soak up the views and be as active or as restful as they choose. We’re very popular with artists and writers as a result, as well as European visitors, who usually find us when they’re travelling through the UK to Ireland.
“We love spending time with our guests, often ending up sharing stories around the campfire, and our decking area outside reception really brings people together, due to its comfy sofas! We love to point campers in the direction of local restaurants, cafes and amenities, many of which are within walking distance, and we also partner with local tourism providers, meaning we can arrange guided mountain bike rides and other activities, often at quite short notice.”
“Our site is the perfect spot from which to watch fireworks on Bonfire Night, not to mention a magically romantic escape for Valentine’s Day and our Welsh version, St Dwynwen’s Day, in January. We’re open over the new year too, and love celebrating with our visitors!”
Willow Springs is a Camping and Caravanning Club certificated site with three spacious shower rooms, a wooden shelter for campers to cook and eat in when the wet Welsh weather sets in and an information board, where visitors can even learn some basic Welsh words and phrases! It’s on National Cycle Route 887, which is accessible from Port Talbot railway station, and its eco-credentials are hard to beat, with water supplied from mountainside springs, bathroom waste bio-digested, 4kw of solar panels helping to power lights and heat water, as well as cardboard, paper, glass, plastic, food waste and gas bottle recycling.
Rates start from £40 per night for the Shepherd’s Hut and from £30 for the Camping Huts, whilst camping pitches cost £6 per person, based on a minimum of £12. Items such as firelighters, kindling, trails maps and shampoo bars can be purchased from reception, where campers can also charge their phones or freeze ice packs for £1.