Ian Weightman

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From six 'cycle campers', to more than half a million enthusiastic campers and caravanners

It’s hardly surprising that one of the keenest supporters of ‘The Year of the Bike’ celebrations in Britain during 2014 will be The Camping and Caravanning Club.

An activity which is frequently undertaken on Club Sites across the whole of the UK, cycling is also inextricably linked with the organisation’s history.

The Club today might help over half a million members reap the maximum enjoyment and value-for-money from their camping.  But its roots can be traced back to August 1901 when six people went camping in an orchard on the outskirts of Wantage.

The prime mover-and-shaker in all of this was Thomas Hiram Holding, a London-based journeyman tailor, who had developed a passion for camping at the age of nine while crossing the American prairies with his parents in 1853 as part of a wagon train!

Holding was a keen cyclist and one of the leading lights in the formation of the Bicycle Touring Club in 1878.

Years later, a chance conversation with a friend - who wanted to try ‘cycle camping’ -resulted in him designing some suitable lightweight kit and, along with four friends, embarking on a cycle camping expedition in Ireland.

In a book chronicling the experience (Cycle and Camp in Connemara) Holding invited interested readers to contact him for further information, and this resulted in the formation of the Association of Cycle Campers, with thirteen members, in 1901.  Its inaugural camp at Wantage, with just six people in attendance, was the first-ever meeting of the organisation now known as The Camping and Caravanning Club.

Camping and caravanning today retains its place as one of the most popular value-for-money holiday options, as well as an inexpensive option for staying close to some of the world’s leading sporting events.

The Camping and Caravanning Club took full advantage of the 2012 Olympic Games by setting up temporary sites within easy reach of the London venues.  And demand for its sites along the entire route of the Tour de France in 2014 has already been brisk. 

While The Tour de France is also expected to whet the appetite of cyclists nation-wide, The Camping and Caravanning Club has already plotted a cycling Tour of Britain on its website - and has also offered all kinds of additional cycling and camping hints, tips, advice and suggestions.

Five tours spanning the whole of the UK enable everyone to complete their very own Cycling Tour of Britain.  Each tour is around 100-150 miles long, and will take 4-5 days to complete - although there is always the option of adding some extra nights to explore the area around each of the campsites a little further.

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