No matter where you go in the UK, there’s a campsite close by. Camping is big business, which means people eager to take your money in return for somewhere to pitch your tent. It might be a farmer’s field with water from a nearby stream or it could be something hi-tech with the kind of facilities many small hotels would envy.
When it comes to campsites – best – is a very relative word. For some people the ideal is a place that’s as close to unreconstructed nature as possible, whilst for others it could be having every imaginable mod con on site or very close to hand. Maybe the only constant is an idyllic setting, whether for the view or close to some of the loveliest imaginable nature.
The Lake District
A favourite destination for walkers, the Lake District offers plenty of stunning scenery and countless places to pitch a tent. Around Buttermere, Skye Farm offers one of the loveliest places to look at the landscape, as well as being close to enough walking to sate the most hardened hiker. Located close to the village of Buttermere, there are shops and pubs nearby for relaxation and socialising.
Eskdale can give Buttermere a run for its money in beauty, although more rugged, and for those with active children the Fisherground campsite is a joy. Not only is there a station for the local miniature railway just a few years away, but there are enough outdoor pursuits to entertain anyone from five to 18, with rafts on the camp pond and an excellent adventure playground. Be aware, however, that it’s only open from March to the end of October.
Burrowhayes Farm is on the edge of Exmoor, with plenty of pitches for tents and caravans for hire for anyone wanting to sleep in greater comfort. The walking is excellent, or as an alternative hire one of the site’s ponies or horses to explore the moor (with some animals suitable for children). Although it’s just a mile from the famous village of Porlock, the site has good facilities, including a shop and laundry room, as well as heated shower and toilet blocks.
Trevornick Holiday Park, close to Newquay in Cornwall, is family camping for those who don’t want to rough it too much. The beach is just over the dunes from the site itself, and the owners make sure there’s no need to go elsewhere by offering a heated swimming pool, their own shops and restaurants, a health club and even a spa right at the campsite. It’s not even necessary to bring a tent; the site has them available to hire.
Anyone wanting the ruggedness of Snowdonia will find Gwern Gof Isaf Farm ideal. Located not far from Betws-y-Coed, it’s in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park, with room for both tents and caravans (the site has electric hook ups), as well as a pair of bunkhouses that hold 22 people well away from the elements. It offers the basic campsite facilities, but not the luxuries – this is one for those who want to be self-reliant and spent their days close to nature, especially climbers, who’ll find climbing and abseiling facilities at the farm, with the National Mountaineering Centre a mere three miles away.
At the other end of Wales is the beauty of the Gower, renowned for its beaches, and Three Cliffs Caravan and Camping site, by Penmaen is ideally located above a glorious stretch of sand, one that doesn’t receive many visitors, as there’s no car park close to the beach. It closes in October (and doesn’t open until Easter), and it keeps the facilities at a comfortable minimum. Be aware that the path down to the water is quite steep, so it might not be suitable for everyone.
Cromer in Norfolk is a popular holiday spot, and the campsite at Manor Farm in East Runton is close enough to enjoy everything the town has to offer while also giving full access to the beach and the North Sea. The campsite itself makes no pretence at five-star luxury, but with all the things people require no more than a short walk away, there’s no need; it’s better instead to revel in the scenery and stroll the unspoilt beaches and rock pools.
The Orchard Campsite, just outside Wickham Market in Suffolk is a place for all seasons. With the Meadow, the Woodland and the Pond, campers can choose the level of privacy they desire – there’s even a proper Romany caravan for hire. With fishing in the River Deben and the on-site pond, there’s also cycle hire (the area is flat and rural, so ideal for family cycling), while the shop has gourmet produce and even an off-licence, as well as all the standard campsite facilities, including a play area for children.