CAMPSITES | Little Oak Campsite, Retford, Nottingham – Review

Camping Blog Camping with Style | Travel, Outdoors & Glamping Blog

Our first proper camping trip of the year for our household, hurrah!

Once more we did the magical vanishing trick where we made all our gear vanish into a relatively small vehicle, though we’re now seriously considering adding a roof box so we have a little more room to start refining our camping experience. Our packing experience will be featured separately for those of you curious as to how we fit all our gear in one vehicle.

Read on to find out what we thought of our recent camping trip to Little Oak Campsite.

Location of Little Oak Campsite Nottingham

Where did we go?

Little Oak Campsite
Grove Coach Road, Retford, Nottinghamshire DN22 0PW
See the website here.

Our Stay

31st May to 3rd June (3 nights)

The location

This time we decided that we needed to find a site in the Midlands – somewhere reasonably small and quiet. Our reasoning was simple: we love to explore the country and try new places to stay, but we also wanted to find a bolthole. Somewhere with a simple grass pitch where we weren’t likely to be given a square on a massive field packed in with lots of other tents. Somewhere where Suse, the only driver in the house, wouldn’t have to face up to a four hour drive there and back again if we just wanted two quick nights at a weekend. Somewhere quiet where we can eat, sleep and read.

Arriving at Little Oak Campsite

Our chosen location was Little Oak campsite in Retford, an easy journey from home and a route that we already mostly knew.

The site was easy to find. The campsite itself is not very far from the edge of Retford itself. Satnav directions given took us to their nearest residential street, and then we dipped off the main road onto a beautiful restricted byway with a sense that we were immediately plunging into the countryside. After a few moments a squirrel bounced out onto the road and coincidence made it trot along the roadway in front of us for the three hundred yard drive or so that took us to Little Oak. Our very own guide squirrel, no less.

Location of Little Oak Campsite Nottingham

The site

Little Oak is a well kept field area behind the residential property, half merging with their back garden. Guests are allowed to wander about the whole property, including the back garden and the pond area. The toilet is in the workshop to the side of the residential property.

Arriving at Little Oak Campsite

It isn’t very big. The site advertises 15 pitches. While we were there – a chilly half term in June – I think there were 8 on site at any one time. It might feel more crowded with more, but at half full there was a lot of space between each tent area and there was plenty of room to have our cars on the field with us. 3 of the pitches are fire sites – two with brick circles and ours with an old bonfire site.

Campsite review Little Oak Nottingham

The pitches are all fairly level and well mown, with an overgrown nature area and mature trees surrounding the site. A clump of shrubbery does separate the field slightly so even if you’re not in a corner, you don’t feel exposed to the scrutiny of all the other guests.

We were slightly unfortunate with the weather – temperatures hovered resolutely around 9 to 10 degrees, cloudy, with heavy rain about an hour after we had pitched up. Dry by day 2 but the chill remained. As we were having a sit down and read kind of camping trip, we would have struggled with the chill if we hadn’t been lucky enough to get a fire site. Curling up around the fire made the whole holiday worthwhile – if we hadn’t have had a fire site, I would have ended up lifting the family offsite more to keep warm during the day.

Camp fire

There’s a swing – a delightful big hand strung swing between two trees – and the site is nice enough for older children to meander about safely.

There is a pond and a drainage ditch at one side of the pitch site, and the toilet room is a very short walk off the campsite through the back garden. The gate back up to the road was propped open and looks like it is nearly always open. While my child who is used to camping was safe while being independent on site, my husband managed to fall in the ditch while pretending bravery was an adequate substitution for good night vision.

Campsite review Little Oak Nottingham

If you are taking small mobile children, keep a very good eye on them and take plenty of things to keep them occupied safely. If you are taking partners with poor night vision, remind them that torches are a better substitute than bravery.

There were lots of songbirds out and about on the site – we saw two robins, several varieties of tit and I heard a chiff-chaff. Wrens are apparently very common in the area.


Little Oak is very much a back to basics place to camp, and utterly charming as a result. All pitches are grass pitches, with no electricity on the field or electric hookups. There is a water stand with a delightfully awkward nozzle. There is one toilet for the whole campsite, which is in the workshop next to the residential property, a very short walk up from the camping field itself. There is a small bathroom style sink in the toilet room, with hot water provided by a small electric water heater. Outside the toilet room is an electric socket that guests can use to charge equipment if needed.

Campsite review Little Oak Nottingham

Little Oak do provide a helpful renting and provisions service – for a small charge you can rent anything from a tent to sleeping bags and chairs. Cooking packs are a thoughtful touch – if you want to travel light you can pre-book a hot drinks pack, a bbq pack, a cooking pack (stove, gas, cutlery, crockery, cooking oil, spices, salt & pepper). With the right amount of notice it’s possible for you to turn up on site with just some groceries and still have a nice camping experience. Home made chutneys and jams are available to purchase and you could even prebook some handmade bread.

Campsite review Little Oak Nottingham

Wood for a campfire can be provided at £5 a barrow load and we found that a barrow load was a good size of mixed wood that kept us in heat for an evening. They also hire BBQs with included charcoal at £5 a night. There is a jar of marshmallows that children can help themselves from to toast if required.

Out and about

This was very much a kick back and relax trip so we deliberately chose not to explore further afield. The car stayed parked up near our tent except for once when we made a quick trip to East Retford for some sundry groceries and some extra charcoal. The site really isn’t very far from Sherwood Forest visitor area and all that surrounds it, so if you’re coming from afar with a mind to go there, Little Oak is decently placed.

Little Oak Campsite Location in Nottingham

We did go for an off road amble on cross-country footpaths, having taken a trusty OS Explorer map with us (271 covers Retford). I learned the cold wet way that walking through knee-high grass without gaiters or waterproof legs on causes one’s socks to become soggy no matter how waterproof their boots might be. We saw absolutely loads of songbirds and rabbits while we were meandering about. We went camera-free for that trip so you’ll just have to take my word for it that it was lovely.

Our Verdict

The site was good – absolutely as described and expected. No surprises. The owner Andy was very friendly and was frequently about the site should assistance have been required. The site is right on the edge of Retford. Although surrounded by countryside you can occasionally hear the odd bit of traffic and there is skyglow at night; this is the balance for being a gentle walk from the town and all the shops, pubs and eateries that this boasts. There’s a supermarket within 10 minutes drive so you can easily shop after arriving on site.

Campsite review Little Oak Nottingham

For us this was a delightful, charming back to basics campsite and the price reflected this. Our stay cost a grand total of £54 for 3 nights during half term. We could pick our own place to pitch and had up our 5m bell, a pop up ‘pup’ tent, an awning and our beach shelter. Our car was allowed to stay on the field (which turned out handy for stringing a drying line after the rain).

“Little Oak is a delightful, charming back to basics campsite, that I’m sure we’ll be back to again”.

I would recommend Little Oak as long as you are able to cope with the absence of facilities – no shower, and one toilet room for the whole campsite. If the weather is likely to be chilly and you’re not using this as a base to go out and about during the day, make sure you book a fire site pitch.

It is certainly very likely we will go back to Little Oak again in the future.

Find out more about Little Oak Campsite.

Suse Hammond-Pears