The Novice’s Guide to Starting a Campfire

There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to exploring Scotland. With so much to see and do, it’s easy to overlook one of the most integral things of motorhome travelling: the campsites themselves.

Campsites are an important part of your motorhome holiday for two reasons. Firstly, they’re often going to dictate where you visit. For instance, while it might be a fun idea to go exploring through the heart of Knoyburn, there isn’t exactly a campsite nearby (in fact, you’ll have to travel all the way to Long Beach if you want to find a place to kip for the night). Secondly – and perhaps most importantly – you’re going to be surprised how much time you actually spend in them.

A large portion of travellers love motorhome holidays because of the communal feel you get within campsites. They’re not just a place to park up and rest, but a place to interact with fellow travellers and hang around with the family. 

What’s that, we hear you ask? There’s no chance you’re going to be hanging around campsites in the freezing Scottish cold? Well, that’s what many campsites have got fire pits for. Any experienced motorhome owner will know how critical campfires are to the travelling experience. They’re not only a way to keep warm outdoors, but they provide a perfect setting to get to know new friends, relax with family, and cook up some beautiful Scottish meats. 

If you’ve never made a fire in your life, however, they can be a little daunting. You don’t want to be caught out as a novice by your fellow travellers, especially if you’ve only just met. To give you a little help, here is a (secret) novice’s guide to get you prepared to create a campfire like a professional.

Know Your Campfire

Firstly, although campfires are common amongst a number of camping sites, they are not accepted in all of them. Every country is different, too, so if you’re going for a motorhome hire in Scotland, it’s important that you read the guidelines of each camping site and figure out whether you can create a fire in the first place. There are, however, plenty of inland and coastal campsites across the country which allow fires (so long as they adhere to certain rules), so do a little research and find out before you start building.

Wrap Up Warm

Of course, a campfire is still a fire, so it’s going to be hot, but it doesn’t change the weather. Remember, you are still in Scotland and this country gets a little chilly in the evenings, especially if you’re choosing to explore the Scottish highlands (which have had record lows of -16 degrees). The campfire is not going to entirely protect you, so make sure to wrap you and your kids up warm.

Keep Your Neighbours In Mind

Once again, campfires are a great way to form a little group and get to know fellow travellers. Not everyone, however, is going to get involved. There are plenty of families who prefer to keep to themselves on their motorhome travels, and you should be conscious of this. Don’t be too loud when you’re by the campfire. Make sure you create it far away from neighbours, and make sure the wind is not pointed toward the site, as this will cause the smoke to travel.

You Need A Good Amount Of Fuel

When preparing your campfire, make sure to get enough fuel that will not only light up the pit but keep it burning for a few hours (no, a few sticks shoved under the armpit is not going to do). Try to go out in a group to retrieve as much as you can, both large branches and smaller sticks for kindling. 

The Set-Up Is Key

Now for the actual building process:

  • Starting with an empty bowl, place down some dry grass and then a bit of kindling. 
  • After this is done, start to build up the size of sticks.
  • End with three of the thickest branches along the top, ideally forming a pyramid shape. 
  • If you have some firelighters, place them at various points around the circle, lighting each separately before blowing onto the grass to help it catch. 
  • If you don’t get it right the first time, don’t panic. Keep tending to the fire and, if you have fellow travellers nearby, complain about “the wrong wind” and that’ll throw them off the scent that you’re a novice!

Campfire Food Should Be Simple

In terms of cooking food upon your campfire, it should be plain and simple. Buns, sausages, and the job is a good’un. Don’t try to impress the family by cooking a lobster on your first night, as this is only going to end in tears (and, most probably, a painfully undercooked lobster). For the kids, grab a few marshmallows and long cocktail sticks or, if you want something a bit different, pick up some bananas and place them in tinfoil. Placing tinfoil-wrapped bananas and warming them up so they get all gooey is a drastically underused technique, but believe us when we say it, it’s delicious.

Fire Safety Is A Must

On a serious note, you should only be building a campfire if you are well aware of all the fire safety precautions. Fire is fire and it is very dangerous if you do not know what you’re doing. Make sure you place your chairs a few feet away and keep an eye on children at all times. Don’t take any risks when it comes to building and always cook responsibility, ensuring that the smoke isn’t too strong that it is irritating anyone’s eyes. 

Tidy Up After Yourself

Lastly, when you’re all done, it’s important that you tidy up after yourself. In the morning after, no-one should even be able to tell if a fire was ever made. That’s how particular you should be about the tidying up process. Not to mention, tidying up is a good thing for the environment and it shows respect to your fellow neighbours and campsite owners.