Best British campsites
Published 16/07/2011 | 05:00
From Cornwall to Cumbria Jonathan Knight picks the top places to pitch up this summer from his new guide 'Cool Camping England'.
Cae Du, Rhoslefain, Tywyn
Seeing this place for the first time, your heart will skip a beat or two, for lying right next to the sea is the coastal campsite of your dreams. Set in the Welsh seaside town of Tywyn, it's so detached from the real world, a week here will give new meaning to the phrase 'getting away from it all'. In fact, you'll probably forget what 'it all' ever was.
Even washing up will be a joy, as the sink is perfectly placed for taking in the most incredible view as you lather and scrub away. Cae Du is truly idyllic, and we don't use that word lightly.
Details: Open March-October. Tent plus two adults, €17 per night. Tel: 0044 165 471 1234.
Westermill Farm, Exford, Somerset
Westermill Farm began life as a place for local girl guides to earn their camping badges, and it hasn't looked back.
This secluded riverside site gives you the choice of four different fields at the base of a valley.
Campfires are allowed in the furthest from the farmhouse, and the clear, trout-filled waters of the River Exe swish right past.
Local events include monthly skittles tournaments in the lambing barn, complete with the added trappings of beer and homemade grub.
You'd best 'be prepared' for a wonderful camping experience.
Details: Open Easter-November. Tent plus two adults, €11.50 per night. Tel: 0044 164 383 1238; westermill.com.
Grizedale Ulverston, Cumbria
With the rugged scenery of the Lake District as a setting, Grizedale has a head start over the rest. But this is no typical site. There are trees here and a magnificent canopy that can easily be explored thanks to Go Ape's high-wire courses.
On the forest floor, those with nerves (and muscles) of steel can throw themselves round the North Face Trail, while campers with a milder disposition can cycle sedately through the dappled sunlight at their own pace. You can also treat yourself to a cosy yurt or pod.
Details: Open all year. Tent plus two adults, €8 per night; yurt (sleeping up to eight) from €57 per night; camping pods (up to four), €28.50 per night. Tel: 0044 122 986 0208; grizedale-camping.co.uk.
Ardnamurchan, Kilchoan, Acharacle
Ardnamurchan on the west coast of Scotland is a mix of all that's best about camping. A tiny site in a spectacular location, it offers great views over a loch.
The campsite is the westernmost in mainland Britain, and feels wonderfully remote from real life. There are lovely beaches nearby, as well as a remarkable remnant of a volcano nearby.
Every quaint quirk and eccentricity on this site have been handmade by the owner, all for the love of camping.
Details: Open April-September. Tent plus two adults, €14 per night. Tel: 0044 197 251 0766; ardnamur chanstudycentre.co.uk.
Wapsbourne Manor Farm, Sheffield Park, East Sussex
Wowo (as the regulars call it) is a child's paradise: there are rope swings on practically every tree with an obliging branch, and acres of open green to explore.
Small rivers criss-cross the site, some with little wooden bridges, some with bravery-requiring rope bridges and some with stepping stones. Campfires are encouraged on the 150-acre natural playground, and you even get firewood room-service every evening. Musicians stay for free if they play a set or two, and there's free soup for all on Saturdays.
Details: Open all year; Tipi trail and yurts November-February. Tent plus two adults, €23 per night. Yurts, €127-283 per two-night stay. Tel: 0044 182 572 3414; wowo.co.uk.
Secret Garden, Penzance, Cornwall
Sitting in the grounds of a rather grand mansion, this enchanting site is hidden from view and there are just 12 pitches. Facilities are colourful, spotlessly maintained and there are touches to provide a homely feel, with the lounge in the main house open for campers' use, alongside the library and bar. You'll discover many unbeaten tracks that will lead you coastward. Escape the crowds and take a dip at Cape Cornwall, before wandering back in the afternoon's glow for a cream tea in the garden.
Details: Open March 1-October 31. Tent plus two adults, €17 per night. Tel 0044 173 678 8301; secretbosavern.com.
Trellyn Woodland, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire
This lovely woodland camp is a calm, magical place. It's remote, and has the perfect ratio of space to trees across 16 acres of glorious Pembrokeshire forest.
Each 'pitch' is like a private clearing, a pocket of solitude carved out of the woodland for you. They are furnished with picnic table, campfire area and field kitchen, while a basket of pre-cut wood and kindling will create your perfect campfire-lit evening.
Details: Open end of May-early September (yurts until end September). Weekly bookings only. Details: Tent plus two adults, €225 per week. Tel: 0044 134 883 7762; trellyn.co.uk.
Sango Sands, Durness, Sutherland
Sutherland is one of the least-populated places in Britain, sitting as it does in the beautifully wild, north-western corner of Scotland. Sango Sands teeters on this northern fringe in glorious fashion, with views of mountains on two-and-a-half sides, and the endless ocean on the rest.
There are toilets and showers here -- but to be honest you won't even notice, let alone remember, once you've caught sight of the coastline.
The scenery here is quite simply without parallel, and coupled with that 'ends of the earth' feeling, you're bound to be under Sango's spell by sundown.
Details: Open Easter-mid October. Tent plus two adults, €13 per night. Tel: 0044 197 151 1262.
Thistledown, Nympsfield, Gloucestershire
Father and son team Richard and Ryan Kelly run Thistledown, a wildlife-laden campsite set on 70 acres of woodland and flowery meadows. There's a real feeling of space here with three pastures to pitch in, but only the top one allows cars, so children are free to roam without worries about getting mown down.
Thistledown is a wildlife receptor site for any species that are displaced by developments in the area, so venture to the woods for some serious nature watching.
At dusk, you can even wander down to a spot where badgers come out to feed.
Details: Open April-December. Tent plus two adults, €14 per night. Tel: 0044 145 386 0420; thistledown.org.uk.