It may be raining now, but a few extraordinarily sunny days in February offered a tantalising taste of the spring and summer to come. Longer days ahead mean more time to enjoy the great outdoors and we’ve been thinking of ways to make the most of it. Camping is top of the list.
With that in mind we asked Cool Camping’s Amy Woodland to give us the lowdown on some of the newest sites springing to life in the UK camping scene this year…
There is no electricity at Pete’s Field campsite in Kent – but that’s part of its charm. It’s the kind of place you can switch off and watch the world go by. And by 'world', we mean the occasional camper on their way to the tree swing and; perhaps, a tractor in the distance. Although it’s within easy reach of London, it couldn’t feel more rural, surrounded by farmland and four miles from the south-coast beaches. It’s blissfully basic, campfire-friendly and opening for the summer holidays in 2019.
Countryside, campfires, pizza and ice cream are, surely, some of the best things in life. If you agree, head for Cowpots Camping, which manages to combine them all. Set on a farm, with views of the Preselli Hills, Cowpots has an 11-acre camping meadow with 10 super-spacious pitches. Each has a fire pit, picnic bench and covered area, which means a spot of rain shouldn’t put a dampener on your holiday. And if it really lashes it down, there’s a silver lining – it’s the perfect excuse to head to the farm’s pizzeria and ice cream parlour.
When April arrives, Cuckoo Farm’s flock of cute Valais blacknose sheep will be herded from their riverside grazing meadow to make way for a new breed. Campers are being welcomed to this organic farm in Rutland for the first full camping season this year. It’s family-run, dog-friendly and allows campfires. With a river to splash in, a farm shop for supplies and the chance to collect your own eggs, we predict campers will be flocking here in no time.
This new bell tent camping site in the Shropshire Hills has been set up in the safe hands of glamping expert Amber Wykes. She’s already responsible for several similar sites, which featured in the likes of The Telegraph, The Times and The Guardian. The six bell tents on offer are stylishly decked out with beds and bedding, vintage camping kit and a log burner. But what about the new location? You can rest easy there too: Tents are pitched among the trees of a six-acre wood on the 1,800-acre Hopton Court Estate, within walking distance of the Shropshire Hills.
A welcome addition to the camping scene in The Lake District, Kentmere Farm Pods offer year-round stays near the village of Staveley. Fully insulated, with underfloor heating and en-suites, these four shingle-roofed pods are cosy in winter and cool in the summer. When the sun is shining you can fling open the double doors, sit out on the veranda and enjoy views of the Kentmere Valley before braving a paddle in the River Kent itself. This brand-new site has just opened and is great for walkers and cyclists who want to explore the South Lakes.
Run by keen campers, this Teme Valley campsite, has opened to offer old-fashioned tent camping at its best. On arrival here, you leave cars behind to wheelbarrow your things to the ancient orchard where there’s ample space to make your own. Three bell tents and a handful of pitches share the campsite, which slopes down to a stream and wooded area. Facilities are basic and there’s a small honesty shop where you can buy logs for that all-important campfire.
A flat place to pitch your tent and the opportunity to moor up by the camping meadow? Ferrygate Lane Camping is as Norfolk as campsites come. Situated in The Broads National Park, it’s within pedalling distance of Martham village, paddling distance of Hickling Broad and four miles from Norfolk’s beautiful beaches. It’s a tents-only place with 40 pitches across an eight-acre site where dogs-on-leads and campfires are allowed.
The six brand new glamping pods at Rankins Farm have found a sweet spot in the Garden of England. Named after the plums that grow on this age-old fruit farm, the pods offer far-reaching views over the Kent countryside. Each is kitted out for up to four people with all mod cons and an en-suite. The pods are set in a row as neat as the fruit trees that grow around the glamping field and overlook individual fire pits and a play area that’ll make this site popular with families.
A taste of safari life in Scotland is on offer with stays at the three Dam View safari lodges. Sit on the veranda at sunset, looking out over Gartmorn Dam Nature Reserve and reservoir, and you might feel more like you’re in South Africa than Central Scotland. While sightings of herons are more likely than hippos, the level of luxury is alike. Lodges sleep six in three bedrooms which are fully furnished. There’s a wood-burning stove, en-suite toilet and even a roll-top bathtub.
The facilities at 68 Degrees West are as clean as the crisp mountain air. This idyllic rural camping and glamping site on the edge of the Brecon Beacons was opened under new ownership 2018. It now features two locally-made glamping pods which are spacious, insulated with sheep wool and tastefully decorated. The pods, 10 tent pitches and five caravan pitches all offer stunning views of the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons. Just two miles from the town of Brecon this is an ideal base for walkers and cyclists.
With all these riches to choose from, what's stopping you? Book it, pack it, pitch it.