You’ve heard of camping. You’ve heard of glamping. But have you heard about the new experience on the block: Champing?
Well, if you’re reading this Champing review, then the chances are pretty high that you know what it is.
But you might’ve also accidentally stumbled across this blog post or be reading it out of sheer curiosity. We’ll assume the latter as we share with you:
- What Champing is and what you can expect
- Our experience Champing in All Saints’ Church in Langport, Somerset
- Our tried and tested itinerary for a mini road trip around Somerset
But first, let’s clear up once and for all: what Champing is and what you can expect from the experience.
What is Champing?
As you might’ve already guessed, Champing is a play on the words: “camping” and “church”. When you go Champing, you’ll quite literally camp (or rather, glamp) inside a church.
Instead, the trust aims to bring these churches to life again. One of the ways they raise funds is by hiring the churches out for the night to those in search of a novel experience.
At the time of writing, there are 19 churches you can “Champ” in, which are dotted all across Britain. Your pet pooch or two are even allowed to join you!
As Scott and I (and our Rough Collie, Kai!) live in Bristol and we wanted to try the experience out for just one night, we looked for a Champing church that would be within a 2-hour drive or so from our house.
We had four to choose from in this area. Eventually, we settled for All Saints’ Church in Langport, Somerset.
Read on to find out what we thought about our first Champing experience and whether we’d do it again.
Our Champing Review: All Saints’ Church in Langport, Somerset
When we arrived, we noticed how homely the friendly “Champing Mice” had made the church look.
They’d carefully laid out carpets, camping beds, chairs and a table laden with amenities in one large corner/alcove of the church – away from the door, so it already felt quite cosy.
Twinkling fairy lights adorned the windowsills and tables. Flameless candles were dotted all around.
They’d also supplied plates, cutlery, tea, coffee, a pint of milk, scrumptious biscuits and even a water bowl and dog biscuit for Kai. We also spotted a little teacup full of mini Green & Blacks chocolates (you know, the nice kind!)
We wasted no time unpacking the car, going to the loo, kicking off our shoes and grabbing our slippers. We were all set for our first cup of tea of the evening.
But – before we’d had a chance to lock the door behind us – a tourist wandered in asking if she could have a quick look around. She just wanted to take a couple of photos and off she went.
I wonder what she thought when she saw all our camping gear? Scott and I had a bit of a giggle about it.
The church stayed light for a couple of hours and then the sun started to set, which cast a beautiful glow over the church before descending it into darkness. On came the lights!
In the evening, we played a few card games, had some snacks and watched TV on our tablets.
We even had a cheeky glass of wine because, yep, you can drink alcohol while Champing. Just don’t expect to be able to have some kind of raging party, of course!
And then came the time to go for our final loo break of the evening. But the ChampLav (portaloo) was on the other side of the graveyard! Safe to say, I got a little spooked and took not one, not two, but THREE torches with me to light up the way.
During the night, the beds were comfier than we expected and we didn’t get as cold as we thought we would. We both wore thermals and had thick sleeping bags and extra blankets, which probably helped.
Kai slept fairly well too. We think he enjoyed the flagstones as they were pleasantly cool for him. He got a little spooked in the graveyard once it was dark, but we just quickly ushered him inside before he had a chance to bark.
All in all, our night of Champing was fun, different and far comfier and cosier than you’d think when sleeping in an old church.
I’m glad we chose to stay at All Saints’ Church in Langport. Not only was the town pretty and in an ideal location for our mini road trip, but the church itself is beautiful and historic.
We saw an information board, which said one of the stained glass windows dates back to the 1400s! How incredible is that?!
Even though it was just myself, Scott and our dog, up to 12 people can sleep in this church.
It was such an amazing experience to have the church to ourselves for the night. We will definitely try Champing somewhere again!
Fancy giving Champing a go? The lovely folks on The Champing Team have given us a discount code for you to use. Use code WANDERER15 when booking online to get 15% off stays for 2 people or more. Book now for the rest of the 2022 season (open until 30th October) and 2023 stays (from 31st March to 29th October). You’ll need to hurry, though! This offer is only valid until 31st January 2023.
Somerset Road Trip: Suggested Itinerary
Fancy following in our footsteps to All Saints’ Church in Langport, Somerset? Want to make a weekend of it?
Here’s what we got up to during our Champing trip. We hope you find this mini itinerary helpful and inspiring.
Note: This tried and tested Somerset itinerary assumes you’ll have access to a car for a full two days. If you’re getting around by some other means, then you’ll need to make changes to the itinerary to suit your mode of transport.
10am: Blagdon Lake
Nestled in the northeastern part of the Mendip Hills AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) lie two stunning lakes: Blagdon Lake and Chew Valley Lake.
Seeing as you won’t be checking in for Champing until after 4pm, why not start the first day of your trip with a tranquil walk around either of these lakes? They may even be on your way to the church or only require a slight detour from the main road.
Although we loved the look of both lakes, we chose Blagdon Lake to start our mini Somerset road trip as we felt the walk would be longer.
We parked in Blagdon and walked to the lake, which was about a 30-minute walk (with photo stops along the way).
Once you arrive at the lake, you can walk on a pavement next to the road for gorgeous views across the lake and surrounding valleys.
After that, you can turn right into a small woodland that follows the curve of part of the lake for – yep, you’ve guessed it – more incredible views!
There’s a circular walking trail back to your car, but much of this is along a road.
So, if you’d prefer to take in some more of those views, then we’d suggest doing what we did and walking until you reach the end of the woodland and then simply turn around and walk back the way you came.
There are plenty of picnic benches en route, which make for a tranquil and beautiful al fresco dining spot. If you’re visiting in late August or early September, then you may even want to pick some blackberries as you wander along.
We spent about 2 hours walking and picnicking at a relaxed pace, so we could admire the lakeside views for as long as possible.
Next up, head southeast for roughly 20 minutes and you can be in the stunning city of Wells.
The city dates as far back as the 12th century with the construction of Wells Cathedral starting in 1175 and taking three centuries to build.
Take your time exploring Wells’ imposing gothic cathedral and its grounds. You might also like to visit The Bishop’s Palace next door, which features a moat, portcullis and drawbridge.
You can wander around part of the grounds of both Wells Cathedral and The Bishop’s Palace for free. But if you want to see inside the buildings, then you’ll need to purchase entry tickets.
Given the city’s history, you’ll probably also enjoy wandering along the many ancient cobblestoned streets found in Wells – some of which are over 800 years old!
4pm: Go Champing at All Saints’ Church in Langport
Now comes the bit you’ve been oh-so-patiently waiting for – it’s time to go Champing!
Wells to All Saints’ Church in Langport takes about 40 minutes and you’ll be heading deeper into the beautiful Somerset countryside as you do so.
The church is available for all your Champing needs from 4pm, but you may see the odd straggler as you lock up the church for the night.
Sit back, relax and enjoy the glow of the stained glass windows as the sun starts to set. Enjoy tucking into an indoor picnic as you marvel at your novel surroundings. Are you really going to sleep inside a church for the night? Why yes, yes you are!
Hopefully, you’ve awakened feeling well rested after your Champing experience.
It’s time to make the most of the second day of your trip. You need to be “checked out” of the church by 10am.
Start your day by walking into Langport. This pretty town features independent shops and boutiques, old stone houses and many, many cafes and bakeries. So why not grab a bite to eat for breakfast from one of them?
Follow the signs for the Riverside Walk from the high street and you could be tucking into fresh fruit and pastries with yet more stunning views.
There’s also a car park near the river you can park at if you don’t fancy walking into town from the church.
11am: Burrow Mump
Fancy walking off those pastries? Burrow Mump (roughly a 15-minute drive west of Langport) will help you to do that.
You’ll need to walk up a very steep hill to get to the church ruins at the top. It took us less than 10 minutes to walk it, but we were puffing quite a bit when we reached the top.
But oh the views! They are so worth it – especially on a sunny day.
The church at the top of the hill has stood here since 1793, but Burrow Mump itself is said to date back to the days of the Norman invasion.
Burrow Mump is open 24/7 and is free to visit for National Trust members. Donations are welcomed from all others (there’s an honesty box next to the kissing gate).
Burrow Mump is a great alternative to Glastonbury Tor, which can see record crowds at peak times. But Burrow Mump appears to be largely undiscovered in comparison.
12pm: Cheddar Gorge
Let’s head up north again to the Mendip Hills. This time, we recommend you visit the stunning village of Cheddar – especially if you’ve never been before.
Here, you can peruse the little shops and bakeries for some lunch and souvenirs.
You can pay to see inside the famous Cheddar Caves – the birthplace of Cheddar cheese.
Or you can admire the incredible views from the top of Jacob’s Ladder or the cliff-top gorge walk.
However you choose to spend your afternoon in Cheddar, there are plenty of things to see and do to keep you occupied and to help you finish your Champing weekend in style.
Discover More Beautiful Places To Visit in Somerset
Have longer to spend in Somerset? Fancy seeing or doing something else during your trip?
Check out our other Somerset travel blog and discover more stunning places to visit in this area.
Or, why not travel further afield with the help of our other UK travel blogs? Here are a few of our most popular articles to start with:
- 100+ Incredible UK Bucket List Ideas & Destinations
- 28 Beautiful Places To Visit In South England
- 12 Beautiful & Historic Literary Places To Visit In England
We hope you’ve found our Somerset Champing review and suggested itinerary helpful ahead of your trip. Have fun! Or, if there’s anything else you’d like to know, then please leave us a comment below and we’ll reply asap…
Don’t forget to use our discount code WANDERER15 to get 15% off stays for 2 people or more. This offer is valid until 31st January 2023.
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