It’s that time again – the few months of the year when the sun is fairly consistent. So dust off that two-man dome, pack up your gas stove and blow-up bed, and head to one of the UK’s best campgrounds. Want a sea view? Fancy a hike in the woods? Not sure where to go? Our expert has done the legwork for you. Here is WideWorld’s pick.
Abbey Home Farm
Burford Road, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, Telephone 01285 640441
Spoil your inner foodie at Abbey Home Farm where the eco-conscious organic shop offers up farm-reared meats, home-pasteurised milk and veg from the garden. Up to five people can stay in the individual yurt and there’s a private campfire tucked away in a secret woodland glade. Alternatively, gather the troops and take over the four yurt eco-camp with scenic views and its own private (though basic) compost loo.
Featherdown Farm – Hollings Hill
Cradley, Malvern, Herefordshire, Telephone 01420 80804
More a glamper than a camper? This small chain of boutique campsites has an outpost on the Duchy Estate in the verdant Malvern Hills with its very own field spa. Enjoy the hot and cold showers, sauna and vast hot tub before smoking your own chicken or fish, tent-side, for supper with a side order of local scrumpy. The facilities are top-notch too: the spacious tents feature comfortable mattresses, running water (though cold) and flushing toilets – camping nirvana. Open April to October.
Teepee top tips
Broad Oak, Near Rye, East Sussex, Telephone 01424 713868
Make like an American Indian and escape the twenty-first century altogether at this quiet countryside site where you can bed down in a genuine American tipi. Sleeping two or four people, these snug dwellings are equipped with comfy mattresses, colourful cushions and rugs, and your very own open fire for wood-fired cooking. Almost everything is provided – just bring your sense of adventure. Open April to September.
Pot-a-Doodle Do Wigwam Village
Borewell Farm, Scremerston, Berwick-Upon-Tweed, Northumberland, Telephone 01289 307107
Guests at this well-equipped site can enjoy the great outdoors in comfort thanks to the fully insulated wooden wigwams complete with proper mattresses and fully functioning electricity. If you prefer canvas, head instead for the tipi village where each tipi sleeps six. Quad bike trekking, fishing and arts and crafts are all available on site and there’s a communal kitchen and licensed café and bistro.
Cool caravan chic
Goathland, Whitby, North Yorkshire, Telephone 07786 072866
There’s nowhere quite like La Rosa. This low impact site is constructed solely from recycled, reclaimed and found objects, powered by candles and fairy lights and accepts only 16 campers at any one time. Select one of the oh-so-individual caravans and step into a fantasy land fuelled by nostalgia where the stresses of the modern world are entirely absent (along with running water and electricity). Facilities come in the shape of a compost loo in an original wooden shepherds’ hut, showers in a converted byre, and an open-air roll-top bath in the orchard.
Isle of Wight, Telephone 07802 758113
Step back in time without surrendering any mod cons at this rural working farm just ten minutes from Newport and a few steps from the beach. The ten vintage American trailers are all decked out with stylish fifties decor and detailing (some even have their original refrigerators and ranges) and feature gas, water and electricity. You’ll have to leave to use the loo, but everything else is quite literally to hand.
Lap up the lakeside
Shepton Mallet, Somerset, Telephone 01749 831207
There are few places so idyllic to raise the canvas as the excluded lake-filled Batcombe Vale. Choose one of the 30 individual pitches in this designated area of outstanding natural beauty and enjoy all 120 acres of your tent-side stomping ground where miles of woodland trails and carp- and tench-stocked lakes abound. The log cabin ablutions block is well-lit and has free hot water. Open Easter to September.
Sea view stunners
Devon, Telephone 01271 863636
A three-mile-long lump of granite in the Bristol Channel may not sound like the camping holy grail but with snorkelling safaris in summer, an abundance of birdlife and the cosy Marisco Pub serving local ales and Lundy lamb, Lundy Island is a spectacular place to stretch those guy ropes. Perhaps not for beginners though.
Three Cliffs Bay
Penmaen, Swansea, Telephone 01792 371218
Located overlooking the lovely Three Cliffs Bay, this simple site has modern, well-maintained toilets, laundry facilities and a kitchen area. The on-site farm shop sells all the essentials from ice cream to hot take-away coffee and also offers phone and laptop charging so, unless you want to, you needn’t be out of contact. It’s just ten minutes’ walk to the beach and a ten-minute drive to Mumbles village. Open April 1 to October 31.
The Lizard, Helston, Cornwall, Telephone 01326 290596
Voted number one campsite in England by Cool Camping, Henry’s is what canvas-covered dreams are made of. A small, family-run site, you won’t find endless activities or boutique facilities here, just exceptionally friendly hosts, level pitches with spectacular sea views and a range of lovely beaches within bucket and spade swinging distance. There’s hot water, a washing machine and well-maintained toilets and showers.
Turner Hall Farm
Seathwaite, Broughton-In-Furness, Telephone 01229 716420
A fell walker’s delight, Turner Hall Farm is situated in the heart of the Lake District’s Duddon Valley with breathtaking views and a variety of footpaths right on its doorstep. Pitches are grassy and naturally private thanks to the craggy landscape, and there are basic toilets and washing facilities. For dinner, or if the weather really closes in, it’s a reassuringly short ten-minute walk to the local pub.
Longnor, near Buxton, Derbyshire, Telephone 01298 83648
Not feeling family friendly? Escape the kids at this adults only holiday park. Facilities are faultless and include free hot showers, a freezer and microwave, TV connections and wifi. The site is surrounded by woodland and provides easy access to the walking country of the Peak District. There’s also a putting green, badminton and boules on site, and the village of Longnor (where Peak Practice was filmed) is just over a mile away.
Llanbedr, Gwynedd, Telephone 01341 241453
This tent-only site on tidal Shell Island is a vast 300 acres, making it the largest campsite in Europe. Caravans are not accepted but dedicated tent-toters will love this secluded, quiet site which doesn’t allow campers to pitch within twenty yards of each other for extra privacy. Facilities are basic and if you’re basing yourself far from the central toilet block or one of the far flung portaloos you’ll need to bring your own. Open March to October.
Isle of Coll
Arinagour, Isle of Coll, Inner Hebrides
Get far from the maddening crowds and pitch up for free on the Isle Of Coll where wild camping is permitted in the ten acres of land behind the Coll Hotel. Switch off that mobile (it probably won’t work anyway) and enjoy the view over Arinagour Bay – you’ll probably have it to yourself. For the active, there’s bike hire, a nine-hole golf course and great surfing. There are toilets in the middle pier and the hotel can provide a shower for a small fee.
Nethy Bridge, Inverness-shire, Telephone 01479 821642
Only taking four small tents at any one time, this self-styled “light-weight” campsite and independent hostel puts the environment first – and what an environment it is. Located in the UK’s largest national park, the Cairngorms, the scenery here defies superlatives and offers up an enticing array of truly spectacular hikes. Facilities are basic but adequate, with flush toilet, hot-water bush shower and wet weather cooking shelter – as well as free range eggs when available. Open April to October; other times on request.
Herm Island, Guernsey, Telephone 01481 722377
Free from cars and abundant with wildlife, Herm is a place where kids can roam alone safely. Pitch your own tent on one of the wooden, sea-facing terraces for unforgettable views or hire a fully equipped static tent to avoid tangling those guy ropes. The island shop has basic groceries and there are several options for eating out. Toilets are adequate but the five showers require plenty of loose change.
Eskdale, Cumbria, Telephone 01946 723349
This family-focused campsite in the heart of Eskdale is a children’s paradise. There’s a fantastic adventure playground as well as rafting on the pond, a tree house and a thrilling zip wire, and the site even has its own stop on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway. The modern service block has free hot water (though showers are 50p), several hairdryers and plenty of washing up sinks, and the village shop has all the essentials. Open March to October.
Clippesby, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, Telephone 01493 367800
Several different camping areas are available at this huge site: the peaceful Pine Woods is dog-free, the spacious Cedar Lawn is family friendly and the exclusive Dell has plenty of private areas for couples camping. The facilities are top notch with unlimited free hot water, and swimming and tennis are available on-site from May to September. Open Easter to the end of October.
Dunvegan, Isle of Skye, Telephone 01470 521210
At the head of Loch Dunvegan on the Isle of Skye, this small family-run site is surrounded by stunning scenery and ideally located for some magnificent coastal walks. Explore nearby Dunvegan Castle, visit the seal colony and spot whales and basking sharks from Neist Point; or just soak up the scenery tent-side. Hot showers, a laundry room and free battery charging are available. Open April to October.
South Downs, Telephone 07780 871996
Safari Britain is to camping what Treetops in Kenya is to tree houses. In other words, it’s hardly the same thing at all. This is more of a luxury British tent adventure than a campsite. You’ll be staying in comfortable beds in large, candlelit yurts. Foragers, gamekeepers, ornithologists and bushcraft experts are on hand to de-mystify the English countryside and if you want the organisers to source your meals, you could be tucking into English snails, rabbit and squirrel stew followed by elderflower fritters.
Streat, near Ditchling, East Sussex, Telephone 01273 890035
You wouldn’t think you were just twenty-five minutes from Brighton at this woodland campsite – pitch your tent in one of the secluded clearings and you’ll most likely find the only company is the birds and the only noise their song. Mountain bikes are available for hire and a local map with suggested walks (many to local pubs) is given out to all campers. Toilets are basic and showers aren’t free but who cares when the surroundings are this enjoyable?
Think you know a better campsite? Mail us at [email protected] and let us know!