Camping has come a long way since beige caravans and long-drop latrines. So whether you're looking for a retro trailer, an authentic tipi or a windswept wilderness, WTG's guide to the best UK camping spots will help you find your perfect pitch.
Blackberry Wood, Sussex
This much talked about campsite thoroughly deserves its good reputation. And at 25 minutes’ drive from Brighton at the foot of the South Downs, it’s very convenient if you happen to live in London. Pitches are set in private clearings with names like Minty, Fruity and Boho. The native deciduous woodland is magical and the fact that camp fires are positively encouraged is testament to the friendly owners’ love of proper camping and toasted marshmallows.
Price: £5 per tent, £7 per person per night (high season).
Facilities: Toilets, basic energy saving showers, logs for sale, bonfire pits.
Camping wild, Dartmoor and Scotland
Dartmoor National Park is the last place in England where you can legally camp wild. Spending one or two nights on the open land here is perfectly acceptable provided that you choose your spot sensibly. Don’t pitch your tent on farmland, on moorland enclosed by walls, within 100m (328ft) of a road, on flood plains or on archaeological sites. Camping beneath scarred tors as the wind rakes across the moors is great fun and you’ll share your campsite with wild ponies.
In the Scottish highlands and islands, there’s no greater pleasure than sharing the heather-sprayed hillsides and shimmering lochs with a loved one under canvas. Just don’t forget your torch, midge net and repellent – the small, biting insects can make spring and early summer miserable if you don’t have the right kit. Be sure to check you’re not camping on private land.
Great Langdale National Trust Campsite, Lake District
Sitting rather smugly a saunter from some of the most sublime scenery in the Lake District, Great Langdale’s a cracker. As you’d expect from the National Trust, the whole thing’s wonderfully efficient, well-appointed and rather tasteful. Find a woodland pitch in the lee of the postcard-friendly Langdale Pikes and then set off to explore some of the best walks in the Lakes.
Price: £10.50 per pitch (includes one vehicle, one person and a small tent) (high season).
Facilities: Toilets, showers, basins, laundry, drying room, washing-up facilities, disabled facilities, electric hook-ups, kids’ playground, shop.
Three Cliffs Bay, Gower, near Swansea
A room with a view – well, a tent with one, anyway. This campsite peers gingerly down over Three Cliffs Bay, an arc of sand embraced by green-topped cliffs. It truly has one of the best views of any campsite in the UK. It can get blustery on the exposed cliff-top so bang your pegs in deeply to avoid losing your tent and your dignity.
Prices: £15 per small two-man tent.
Facilities: Toilets, showers, laundry, washing-up facilities, disabled facilities, electric hook-ups, shop.
Glenbrittle, Isle of Skye, northwest Skye
Placed between the lapping waters of Loch Brittle and the Tolkien-esque rocks of the Black Cuillin mountain range, Glenbrittle campsite is pure magic. Scale the rocks, stalk red deer or swim in the fairy pools – vivid blue swimming holes at the foot of the Cuillins.
Price: £5 per adult per night.
Facilities: Toilets, showers, shop.
Vintage Vacations, Isle of Wight
Bequiffed 1950s enthusiasts take note. There’s no need to let the pompadour droop on a camping trip. Vintage Vacations offers American trailers and slick Airstream caravans for fun, surprisingly comfortable breaks. The Airstream is a cool classic – if James Dean were a caravan (sorry, Jimmy!), he’d be one of these. Silver, smooth and so shiny you can fix your ‘do in the reflection on their aluminium skins, the 10 caravans occupy a farmer’s field on the Isle of Wight.
Price: £495 per week (high season). Trailers sleep four.
Facilities: All mod cons, though toilets in the trailers are not in use.
Tamar Valley tipis, Deer Park Farm, Luckett, Callington, Cornwall
The Tamar Valley, dividing Devon and Cornwall, is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. And if this leafy setting isn’t authentic Wild West, then the traditional Sioux tipis certainly are. Beautifully simple, these white wizards’ hats emerge from the greenery to delight unwary cowboys. Decorated by Native American murals, the tipis were made by the same folks who supplied the set of Dances with Wolves. As well as a wood-burning stove, there are fire pits and camping stoves.
Price: Small tipi sleeping two/three, £400 per week; large tipi sleeping four, £450 per week (high season).
Facilities: Cooking utensils, wood-burning stove.
Lleithyr Farm, Whitesands Bay, St David’s, Pembrokeshire
Bang on Wales’s best Blue Flag surfing beach, this small campsite is popular with dedicated wave watchers. Pembrokeshire National Park is the only truly coastal national park in Britain and has some of the finest coastline in the UK. Inland, Britain’s smallest city, St David’s is an enchanting spot. Its lichen-speckled cathedral is worth a visit as are the remains of the atmospheric 14th-century Bishop’s Palace.
Price: From £7 per night.
Facilities: Shower hut, cafe in the car park.