The clocks have changed, Easter is here and, despite the chilly weather of late, the greenery of the great British countryside is starting to show through. Buds adorn the trees and shoots are starting to grow. You might even have seen snowdrops and daffodils in full flower. When it comes to camping, there are few finer times to get back outdoors and appreciate the lengthening days, with woodland camping a particular joy. Trees haven’t greened over enough to block out the warm rays of the sun, while bluebells carpet the floor and squirrels hunt for spring food. So, to help you find the best woodland patches to pitch up at this year, we’ve asked James Warner Smith from coolcamping.com – and editor of the Cool Camping guidebooks – for his pick of the best-blooming bluebell breaks…
Eco Camp UK, East Sussex
A patchwork of hidden clearings pimple the woods of the 2000-acre Beech Estate in East Sussex, connected via a web of pathways that lead from pitch to pitch and also take in off-grid composting toilets and gas-powered showers.
In fact, the entire campsite is off-grid: There is no electricity, no mobile phone signal and certainly no WiFi, with wheelbarrows (for taking your tents to your clearing) the most high-tech thing you’ll find. 600 acres of woodland are for exclusive use of campers – ample space to walk, cycle and generally run wild – while it’s just three miles to the renowned attractions around Hastings and Battle.
Dreamy Hollow, Norfolk
Set back from the North Norfolk coast, Dreamy Hollow Campsite has just 15 individual camping pitches, each in a flat private pocket of a four-acre wood. A deep dell offers the ideal basin for rope-swinging, while log ‘seats’ are provided in each clearing and campfires are positively encouraged.
Once a training ground for World War I recruits, the protected area is home to a series of shallow trenches, dug by the Lovat Scouts back in 1915, with an iron statue in commemoration. Today, the ground is more readily used by the local wildlife – squirrels, rabbits, owls and, occasionally, foxes reign supreme – making the campsite popular with birdwatchers, as well as those who simply want to kick back among the trees.
Cyefin Eco Camping, Carmarthenshire
‘Wild place’. That’s what the Welsh word Cynefin means and, at this 10-acre smallholding, preserving a sense of wilderness is central. Half covered with hazel, rowan, willow and Welsh oak trees, the partially wooded space is designed for a multitude of species.
Bird boxes perch among the trees; dog-rose and bramble shelter dormouse boxes and, at dusk, barn owls soar above the wildflower meadow where campers pitch their tents.
A resource box filled with books and charts helps you identify the wildlife in question, including a bat detector for listening to the clicking of their echo-location at dusk. Though camping pitches are in the meadow, an area in the woods has been specifically laid aside for children to build dens and swings, while weaving pathways take in the best of the bluebells and wildflowers.
Kingsmead Centre, Devon
A campsite that caters for everyone, Kingsmead Centre somehow manages to offer the luxury of glamping, alongside off-grid camping and hard standing electric spaces for caravans. Divided into a top and bottom field, the seven sloping acres of heathy meadow boast excellently varied pitch types that include hidden clearings in the woods where you can light campfires and soak in the bluebell speckled surroundings.
On the edge of the Blackdown Hills AONB, the area is a top spot for walking, with footpaths leading directly from the campsite, while an informal fishing lake is the perfect place to introduce little ‘uns to angling.
Comrie Croft, Perthshire
This co-operatively run, environmentally aware campsite in Highland Perthshire is a real thing of beauty. Alongside the main camping meadow there are more secluded pitches hidden in the top, fern-and-bluebell-clad forest, along with a collection of katas (a sort of Swedish tipi complete with a wood-burner, sleeping area and animal-skin throws).
The on-site teahouse adjoins a superb bike shop, built to serve the network of trails that snake off up the Croft’s wooded hillside.
You can walk them, but biking provides a much better way of exploring the slope, though the tough red route is not for the fainthearted! You can brush up on your technique first at their miniature skills park.
Cool Camping: Woodland Guide
There's nothing better than camping in amongst the tress, discovering a hidden glade and the wildlife that lives there. This Easter get off-grid and back to nature with Cool Camping's guide to the best woodland campsites.
Find your woodland retreat here...