Camping – A Very British Pastime!
Do you prefer your creature comforts or are you a back-country purist? Whether you’re a ‘glamper’ with full electrical hook-up or ‘wild camper’ without facilities – everyone seems to have got the camping bug!
Despite the unpredictable weather here in Britain, (or should I say ‘predictable’ as whenever we get the tent out, right on cue the rain comes down) camping is a recreational activity enjoyed by thousands throughout the British Isles every weekend, with people from all walks of life embracing sleeping bags, camp fires and tent pegs!
Looking Closer To Home
Looking across to Grasmere Lake, Lake District National Park.
Since returning from our first RTW trip, we have ignited our own relationship with the British countryside.We realised that we had seen far more of America’s National Parks than any of those on our own back doorstep. Embarrassingly. And how convenient in the UK that everywhere be so accessible. From wherever you are, most places can be reached in a few hours drive. I’m not talking Bank Holiday gridlock as everyone takes to the road to get away for a few days – but even then, it’s not like driving 5,000 miles across America from east to west! As a Brit, it really couldn’t be easier to head off into the countryside and get away from it all.
Taking The Plunge
Having dismissed camping previously as a cold, wet, muddy nightmare that should be avoided at all costs, our new-found love for the the great outdoors convinced us it was the way forward. We had to at least try it, give it a go with an open-mind. 6 million regular UK campers (as quoted in some Google stats) obviously find something to enjoy about it, and so our first tent was purchased – a Quecha 4 man pop-up that literally goes up in minutes. Then the next tent – a lightweight Berghaus 2 man, ideal for backpacking. And recently our third tent purchase – an ultra lightweight Rainbow tarp tent, weighing just over a kilogram for our impending 219 mile hike through California on the John Muir Trail – because every gram really does count over that distance!
One of our first camping trips & going all rustic staying at a farm campsite!
Camping is certainly big business these days. It seems like if you’re not wearing North Face or Berghaus then you’ve not yet made it into the ‘camping clique’! We try to buy British where we can, so our first choice for outdoor clothing would have to be Rab – it’s great quality gear and manufactured on home turf, so ticks all the boxes for us.
Needless to say – we are now part of those 6 million campers who avidly pack up the car and head off to the countryside every spare weekend we can. We have indeed embraced a sleeping bag, tent pegs, cool box, camping stove, solar power, head torches, and not forgetting wellies for those muddy fields! We have actually amassed quite a bit of kit to create a home from home.
And we have discovered that there is definitely something romantic, adventurous and exciting about sleeping under the stars… (Although I’m still a creature comforts girl at heart and do like our camping pitch to be close to the toilets!)
Getting ready for bed with lots of layers.
Camping is definitely a fun way to experience the great outdoors and allows you to appreciate the wonders of nature. But for us, hand in hand with camping is hiking. Now that is the main reason we choose to camp.
Some 35 million people now go hiking each year in our 14 National Parks. Of those, around 10 million go regularly – at least once a month. Country walks have been transformed from a small and often illegal pastime to the most popular recreational activity in the country. That’s why we love camping so much… Finding the next trail. Bagging the next Wainwright. Looking for that next picture perfect place to photograph.
It’s that simple. We love pulling on a pair of walking boots and heading off up a mountain somewhere… We’re also partial to the taste of Kendal mintcake, and having a cup of tea in the most spectacular of settings!
Walking along Stanage Edge, The Peak District. A popular spot for climbers too!
Still not convinced camping or hiking are for you? Then take a look at our photographs. We document every journey by photographing every footstep! We’ve never said hiking is easy, but the hard-work is worth it for the stunning views you find along the trail… And then you can reward yourself with a cider back at the tent!
What can be hard-work sometimes is choosing the right campsite. Comparing locations and facilities can be a stressful affair when you don’t have much time and just want to get away. So we’re here to help in this new post by sharing our favourite campsites from around the UK.
Our top picks have been chosen because of their locality to some amazing trails and views, and because they provide first-rate facilities. (I’m definitely not a wild camper – yet!) We have stayed in all of the campsites we recommend and all views/ opinions are our own.
TrekSnappy’s Top 10 UK Campsites
1. Baysbrown Farm Campsite – Chapel Stile, Great Langdale, Lake District National Park, England.
We came across this little gem during a summer holiday in the Lake District. The site is an actual working farm, which makes it a bit more rustic with a few hens roaming around the fields where you pitch. There are 4 large fields which means plenty of space, and a good, regularly cleaned shower/ toilet block. The campsite is surrounded by peaks and there are some great walks that head off from the campsite.
Walks from the campsite… Or use a map and devise your own route!
Just a 4 mile drive from Chapel Stile, you have easy access to Great Langdale for some great walking.
We hiked the Crinkle Crags, Bowfell and Esk Pike, a 9 mile circular route, returning along the Cumbrian Way and finishing at the Sticklebarn Pub back in Great Langdale! Parking was £5 all day at the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel.
This walk from Baysbrown Farm took us to Grasmere where we had a stroll around the village and lovely views of the lake from above as we hiked through Redbank Wood.
Heading up to Crinkle Crags and looking down onto the Great Langdale valley.
2. Bude Holiday Park – Bude, Cornwall, England.
Cornwall has always been one of our favourite British holiday destinations. Not only does it have fantastic beaches and ice-cream, but Tintagel Castle, the legendary home of King Arthur, is located in Cornwall. It is an impressive tourist attraction about halfway between Bude (North Cornwall) and Newquay (South Cornwall), and is definitely worth a visit.
Bude Holiday Park is a great place to stay, particularly if you are travelling with children. It boasts an outdoor swimming pool, adventure playground and clubhouse with nightly entertainment. If travelling as a couple, like us, and you prefer the quieter side, then the campsite has direct access to a cliff top walk and coastline views, as shown in the photo above. You can follow the trail and head right down onto the beach which was pretty much deserted the entire weekend of our stay.
As you reach the centre of Bude, the beach becomes a bit more lively with families and quaint little beach huts, but there isn’t a fairground or amusement arcade so it retains its charm as a traditional seaside town. What we were surprised to find was a giant outdoor pool that uses sea water and is one of only 30 tidal pools remaining in the UK. Cold, but great fun!
Colourful beach huts lining the promenade.
We also found a fantastic cafe-bar in the centre of Bude that did an awesome burger and chips!
3. Aberafon Holiday Park – Pwllheli, North Wales.
This was one of our best camping spots in terms of view! Our pitch looked straight out onto the beach…
It was fantastic being able to watch the sun go down from our camp chairs!
The only downside was that a pitch right next to the beach meant we were very open to the elements, and once the sun had set it was extremely windy! We were advised of this on booking however, so it was our own choice to opt for a beach view pitch – we just thought we would be adventurous!
About an hours drive from Aberafon is Snowdonia National Park – so of course we headed for the hills!
We took the Crib Goch route up to the summit of Mount Snowdon and were faced with spectacular views like this!…
You can enjoy more pictures in our post “A Hike to the Summit of Mount Snowdon“.Camping in Wales really was a treat and we are eager to visit again!
4. Dalegarth Guesthouse & Campsite – Buttermere, Lake District National Park, England.
Another awesome place to stay in the Lake District! But we did cheat a bit here as it rained that much that we ended up staying in the guesthouse for 2 nights out of the 4. The guesthouse does the tastiest and biggest English breakfast we’ve ever set our eyes on, and nothing is too much trouble for the staff. It really is a lovely, warm, welcoming place next to some great trails…
We hiked up Red Pike and got this stunning view overlooking Buttermere Lake. The purple heather was particularly striking against the pastel colour palette.
Stopping for a short break to enjoy the view from up there…
Enjoying a cup of tea at the top! We always pack our kettle and burner in the rucksack.
Buttermere also has a fantastic pub, The Fish Inn, perfect for mealtimes when it is too cold and wet to get out the camping stove!
5. Deepdale Farm, Backpackers Hostel & Campsite – Burnham Deepdale, Norfolk, England.
We had heard great reviews about this campsite and we weren’t disappointed! We stayed during the Easter weekend in April 2013 and were lucky enough to see a little sunshine. Night-time temperatures were below freezing however, but we managed with 7 layers at bed-time and a few trips to the toilet block as they were heated throughout the night and lovely and warm!
Our Quecha pop-up tent. So quick and easy to put up especially when it’s freezing and you want to get to the pub!
A beautiful sunset looking out across the marshland coastline from the back of The White Horse Pub.
During the Easter weekend we walked a large section of the Norfolk Coastal Path from Hunstanton to Wells -Next-the-Sea, a beautiful traditional fishing port and seaside town. The coastal footpath actually runs all the way from Hunstanton to Cromer, which is 45 miles in total.
Holkham Beach – a lovely section of beach along the North Norfolk Coast before you reach Wells.
6. Beech Croft Farm Caravan & Campsite – Blackwell in the Peak, Peak District National Park, England.
Another great campsite for families! Recently refurbished with superb facilities. We particularly loved the little family of goats in an enclosure near the camp kitchen. What drew us to this campsite was its proximity to both Buxton and Bakewell, two beautiful Peak District towns that sit either end of the Monsal Trail.
The Monsal Trail is a traffic free route for walkers, cyclists and horse riders through some of the Peak District’s most spectacular limestone dales. Opened fully in 2011, now allowing visitors access through the 4 largest tunnels that had previously remained closed due to safety reasons, the trail runs along the former Midland Railway line for 8 and a half miles between Blackwell Mill, in Chee Dale and Coombs Road, at Bakewell.
We caught the bus from outside the campsite and started the trail in Bakewell. It was a pleasant walk with a few scenic spots along the route, but not many places providing refreshments. As we did this activity on a Friday it was not overly busy, and we found the majority of people using the trail were cyclists. Not a problem if everyone keeps to the left! We would expect on a weekend the trail to be far busier.
Another lovely walk was a circular route around Chee Dale where we followed the river and found some great photographic spots. The campsite also offered their own ‘Treasure Hunt Walk’ which had us working out and following clues that led us through nearby villages such as Chelmorton and Taddington, with a few refreshment stops at pubs along the way. A fun activity!
Traditional pudding shop in Bakewell – famous for the Bakewell Tart.
7. Castlerigg Farm Camping & Caravan Site – Keswick, Lake District National Park, England.
You can’t go to the Lake District without visiting Keswick! It’s a lovely little market town close to popular attractions such as Derwent Water and the famous Catbells fell. We have stayed twice at the Castlerigg Farm Campsite, and although it is a little way out from the centre of town we have enjoyed our stay there and did not find walking into town a problem. Keswick has lots of outdoor gear shops and a great ‘Crazy Golf Course’! We also love the selection of local produce and fine foods on offer at the Booths Supermarket. Think Waitrose only better! We wish we had one in our hometown.
Looking out of our tent we spotted this rainbow! What a lovely morning wake up call…
Hiking up to Catbells (a modest height of 451 metres) but a popular hike with day walkers.
On the way back down…
A walk round Derwent Water as we head back to the campsite.
8. Fieldhead Campsite – Edale, Hope Valley, Peak District National Park, England.
A small, well-run campsite in the heart of Edale, that can be difficult to book as it is so popular. As space is limited it is better to book early if you can. We liked the proximity of this campsite to a good selection of trails and it is also close to the local pub. If you want an outside pitch you need to arrive early, or like us, you will find you have to pitch in the centre of the field! The only slight negative is you can’t park your car next to your pitch, so if you have a lot of equipment it is a lot of back and forth to the car park.
Jacob’s Ladder, Kinder Scout, Mam Tor and The Great Ridge are all highlights of some great walks from Edale Village.
Setting off for Mam Tor… Perfect weather for it!
Fabulous views over the Kinder Scout Plateau.
Reaching Lose Hill overlooking Hope Valley.
9. Great Langdale National Trust Campsite – Great Langdale, Lake District National Park, England.
Another great choice of campsite, especially as we got a discount for arriving on foot. We stayed here as part of a hiking trip to the Lake District where we left our car at home and hiked between campsites. That meant we literally had the rucksack on our backs and minimal equipment and was the reason for our Berghaus 2-man tent purchase.
Not as spacious as the Quecha, but comfortable and dry for short stays! Pitches are numbered and marked out here so you have a set area. Luckily ours was a flat spot. What we particularly loved about this campsite was the little camp shop that had freshly baked bread and pain au chocolats each morning, perfect fuel for an early morning hike.
View leaving the campsite as we head for Pike o’ Blisco.
There are lots of amazing walks that start from Great Langdale. One of the more challenging of these is heading for Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England at 978 metres. We haven’t attempted this – yet – but next time we visit Great Langdale, it’s sure to be at the top of the list!
The Sticklebarn Pub is another reason we love Great Langdale. It is the perfect place to wind down and relax after accomplishing one of the many trails to choose from. We really like their third of a pint taster selection of local ales! And why not!
And… Number 10 – well this choice is up to you!
We couldn’t decide on a final campsite, so we’d like your suggestions about where we should next camp in the UK.
We hope you like our choices. As you can see we like good facilities, close proximity to walking trails and above all, great photographic opportunities.
We are always on the look out for new places to visit – so where would you recommend we next set up camp?