While 2020 may be shaping up to be one of the strangest years of our lifetimes, one thing stays the same: Our love of camping. It’s all about the staycation this summer and, with more people looking to spend time outdoors, campsites are filling up fast.
Unsurprisingly, it’s the hot spots like Cornwall, Dorset and the Lake District that are seeing the most summer bookings, as people flock to some of the UK’s most spectacular locations. But, with more of a need than ever to find space and seclusion this summer, there are also plenty of camping options that are great for spreading out and peace of mind.
As ever, we defer to our friends, and experts in the field - Cool Camping - who have put together their choice selection of campsites for a variety of socially distanced staycations.
Great for families
An hour and a half north of Edinburgh, this enchanting wildflower meadow, bordered by trees, is ideal for young adventurers and bug hunters. There’s a wildlife pond and equipment you can borrow for pond-dipping, while den building and hide-and-seek in the long grass comes naturally to children. When it’s cloudless, the stars here are superb, and evening campfires are permitted. It’s a 15-minute drive to the beach at Carnoustie (of golf-course fame) or to 14th-century Glamis Castle.
A pitch and a family of four from £20.
Campers can’t help but find seclusion on this rural Somerset smallholding beside the East Mendip Way and a 20-minute walk from the town of Frome. There are just 15 pitches in total, most in a young woodland but a few in a raised position with excellent views, and all are well spread apart so that you have your own private space. Campfires are encouraged and there’s always a great range of seasonal produce available, from homegrown tomatoes in the polytunnel to root vegetables in the ground - great for chargrilling over the flames.
A pitch for a family of four from £18.
In the grounds of an 1,800-acre country estate, this hidden glampsite has just six fully-furnished bell tents each with its own private washroom. It is set within pine woodland and families have the run of the place, with trees to climb, swings to play on and a ‘nature discovery pack’ for children to help them spot woodland creatures. The bell tents themselves are in a grassy clearing (a real sun-trap in summer) and there’s good access back to the outer world – the Shropshire Hills are on your doorstep and it’s a 15-minute drive to Wyre Forest.
Bell tents sleep up to five people from £125 per night.
This established farm campsite has something for everyone, with tent pitches lining the driveway and an array of glamping options, from family-sized yurts to luxury wigwams with hot tubs. Children love meeting the farm animals - including the friendly site sheepdog - and there’s a well-equipped playground too. Set in the bottom of a valley, camping here feels wonderfully cut-off and you’re well away from any road noise, yet you’re still just a 20-minute drive from Scarborough.
A pitch for a family of four from £26 per night.
Great for couples
Devon may not seem like the place to go to escape the holiday crowds, but this hidden inland campsite, 20 miles from the coast, has an adult-only policy that keeps things quiet and calm. Its situation - tucked away inside a 23-acre native wood - makes it all the more enchanting, with pitches in small clearings. Each pitch has a firepit, a picnic bench and even a pre-erected kitchen shelter. Logs from the carefully managed surroundings are sold on site.
A pitch and two people from £30 per night.
For a little peace and quiet, this child-free tipi site in rural Norfolk is the perfect place to relax, with a scattering of canvas abodes set in a wildflower meadow abuzz with wildlife. The place has a rustic, bohemian feel – candle chandeliers mix with worn rugs and peacock feathers and there’s a banjo you can strum – while the farm itself is home to a quirky microbrewery and a vegetable box scheme. The market town of Reepham is within walking distance and a car-free trail leads cyclists into Norwich.
Tipis sleep two people from £147 per night.
On the edge of Delamere Forest, this collection of waterbodies was formerly best known as a fishing location before closing off a couple of the lakes to anglers and adding luxury glamping instead. Today you can choose from bell tents in a quiet glade or pay a little more for the exclusive option, with an entire lake to yourself. It’s a 20-minute drive into the historic cathedral city of Chester, or stay put and hire bikes for a ride around Delamere Forest and a wild swim in Hatchmere Lake.
Bell tents sleep two people from £70 per night.
Opened for the first time this year, this eco-friendly, off-grid campsite is more than half a mile from the nearest road, with private pitches mown into an old hay meadow and plans afoot for a couple more to be introduced in the ancient woodland alongside. There are two streams, a wildlife pond and good access to footpaths, with one offering a scenic route into the quaint town of Narberth. Drive 25 minutes to Tenby and the coast or enjoy quieter walks in the Preseli Hills, just north of the campsite.
A pitch and two people from £30 per night.
Great for mates
Brand new for 2020, this vast hay meadow in the grounds of a country estate offers back-to-basics camping and space to pitch where you please. Off grid and laid back, there are showers powered by gas and composting toilets but, otherwise, facilities are minimal and the great open space is the main appeal. On the northern edge of the New Forest, the national park is a little quieter here than by the coast (a 30-minute drive) but one of the best pubs in the area is still within walking distance.
A pitch and two people from £38.
Usually managing music festivals, Scott Doane has had to innovate this year, teaming up with a college in the South Downs National Park to run a pop-up campsite instead. Set in the grounds of Plumpton College, campers enjoy a sleepy village setting (with The Half Moon Pub within walking distance), but still within a half-hour drive of Brighton and the south coast. There’s good walking on your tentstep, including the scenic hike up to Ditchling Beacon.
A pitch and two people from £38 per night.
Fancy going glamping? This new site has just two yurts and, to maximise safety this year, they’re only available when booked together. The result is a site perfect for two-household parties and gatherings, with nights around the campfire and starry skies that only a place this rural can really offer. As the name suggests, it’s just under a mile to Hadrian’s Wall, and, while most folks holidaying in Cumbria are busy rushing to the Lake District, these yurts are still within striking distance of the North Pennines, with far fewer crowds.
The entire two-yurt site sleeps up to eight people from £200 per night.
This popular waterside campsite on the River Thames is well-known for its laid back ambience and, this year, they’ve reduced numbers to maximise space for campers. Set opposite a pub of the same name, you can pitch and enjoy a pint within minutes and also order fresh food or try a G&T from the mobile bar that occasionally rumbles across to the campsite. Unsurprisingly, it’s not a famously quiet campsite and has a real buzz on summer weekends and it's popular with cyclists and boaters, too, as well as walkers following the long-distance Thames Path.
A pitch and two people from £16 per night.
Now is the time to get your camping gear back in order, and our guide to tent maintenance will help. Plus, if you want to upgrade and enjoy a camping holiday to rival a foreign holiday, just hit the button below.