Camping is cheap, green, great fun and the best way to get up close and personal with Britain’s most sumptuous scenery. To celebrate the start of spring, we’ve toured the UK to bring you ten of our favourite places to camp and some individual site suggestions in each area to get you started.
Ahh, Scotland. Lochs, glens, heather-flecked hillsides – it really is the most wonderful place to pitch your tent. But did you know that unlike in most of England, Scotland’s relaxed trespassing laws allow camping in open country? Camping in the wilderness of the Highlands is a joy and it’s free! Be sure to follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. If you’d rather camp where there are some facilities there are some excellent suggestions on the Visit Scotland website.
If it’s sea and surf you’re after this is the place. Cornwall has cracking camping with access to some wonderful beaches, good weather and a relaxed lifestyle. A great family option is Trevornick Holiday Park in Cornwall overlooking Holywell Bay beach. Or try Dennis Cove Camping in Padstow with fabulous views across the bay. For loads more great suggestions check out the camping section of the Visit Cornwall website.
Believe it or not, there are several excellent campsites within striking distance of central London. You can save a packet by camping in the capital and it’s more convenient than you might think. Try Abbey Wood campsite in south London, only 35 minutes by train to the centre, or Crystal Palace Caravan Club that’s on a bus route to Oxford Circus. Camping is also a great value option if you’re visiting for the London 2012 Olympics.
Dartmoor National Park is a rugged, eerily beautiful place which is great for hiking, climbing and potholing. It’s also the only place in England where wild camping is permissible for a few nights. Pitch your tent under craggy gritstone tors and share your breakfast with wild Dartmoor ponies. Check the Dartmoor National Park website for advice and guidelines.
The Lake District, England
Camping in the Lakes is the best way to experience England’s most romantic upland landscape. Try the National Trust operated Great Langdale site. The facilities here are excellent and tents sit right in the shadow of the Great Langdale Pikes. Perfect for energetic hikes or quiet relaxation. For more campsites in the Lakes, have a look at the excellent Lake District Camping Guide.
The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is a Welsh jewel. Undeveloped, peppered with castles and about as charming as landscapes get, camping here is a rare pleasure. Fishguard Bay Caravan and Camping Park takes full advantage of this sweetest of spots, with stellar views across the bay.
Head east to the Norfolk Broads and the idyllic Clippesby Hall campsite. Bordered on all sides by lush greenery it manages to please all-comers with its mix of top-notch facilities and rural charm. Go boating on the broads or head to the coast. And proving there really is something for everyone, there’s an excellent pub onsite, too.
The New Forest, England
What could be better than sleeping under the ancient oaks and gnarled beeches of the New Forest? In fact, the New Forest National Park has much more to offer than woodland. The enormous Roundhill campsite, with room for around 500 pitches, is a beauty. Choose from private wooded glades or smooth heathland and go horse riding, cycling or exploring down the Beaulieu River.
Rough, rugged and with adventure sports aplenty, Snowdonia National Park is magnificent. And, yes, you’ve guessed it, the best way to get right in on the action is to camp. Gwern Gôf Isaf Farm is set right in the heart of the mountains beneath the brooding Tryfan and there’s abseiling and climbing terrain on site. For more Welsh camping suggestions check out the Visit Wales website.
Tired of tents? Try something new
If a traditional tent doesn’t appeal, why not stay in a tipi, yurt, wigwam or gypsy caravan? Mains Farm Wigwams in Stirling, Scotland, have traditional Sioux tipis or more substantial heated wigwams in a lovely spot near Loch Lomond. Down south, Cornish Tipi Holidays hire out tipis in wooded clearings not far from the popular resort of Rock and in Wales you can try a traditional shepherd’s hut on the Gower. For loads more ideas check out the selection of quirky options from Canopy and Stars.
A version of this post first appeared on visitbritain.com