The Scottish Mail on Sunday
No queues, no check-in and no delays – join the camping boom
Sick of airport chaos and long-haul misery? That’s why thousands of families are heading for the British countryside. The choices are amazing: tents or shepherd’s huts, open fires or full kitchens, river treats or hot tubs. Whatever you prefer, expert Jon
FROM airport chaos to the Brexit effect, the reasons for taking a staycation are multiplying – and campsites across the UK are bracing themselves for a boom.
And why not? Britain’s beautiful countryside is easy to get to and stays can be remarkably affordable.
Compare that to the chaos at Heathrow and Gatwick when British Airways’ computers crashed, or the dwindling value of the pound abroad after Brexit, and it’s hard not to be tempted.
That’s why domestic bookings on the website coolcamping.com have more than doubled compared with the same period last year.
And Halfords stores are also reporting huge leaps in sales of staycation staples such as airbeds (up 153 per cent), camping chairs (74 per cent), outdoor cooking equipment (58 per cent) and roof boxes (19 per cent).
Overall camping sales are up 45 per cent.
Lots of new campsites have opened in the past few years. Many offer just a handful of quiet, secluded pitches in acres of countryside.
Others are catering for the upper end of the market, providing furnished tents or cabins with comfortable beds, and individual touches such as his-and-hers outdoor bathtubs for romantic stargazing.
The choice of places to stay is more diverse than ever, but one common thread highlights the real draw of our campsites – they’re all immersed in the lush, sundappled British countryside.
All campsites on these pages cam be booked at coolcamping.com.
PAINSWICK CAMPING COTSWOLDS
NESTLED in this postcard-perfect pocket of the Cotswolds, Painswick Camping promises the kind of simple, pared-back camping experience of old.
Its spacious meadow offers a tranquil setting for just five tents, so there’s never any danger of overcrowding. And while the campsite itself is refreshingly understated, the nearby village’s quaint cobbled streets boast charming tearooms and places to eat.
Ramblers take note: Painswick lies directly on the Cotswolds Way, arguably the best way to enjoy this ancient countryside, and an opportunity to build up a thirst for a soothing ale in one of the many quintessentially Cotswoldian pubs.
£10 per person per night painswickcamping.co.uk
ONE CAT FARM CEREDIGION
THIS charming eco-retreat is the ideal destination for those who like their camping with comforts, but still seek a thoroughly outdoors experience in the West Wales countryside. One Cat Farm’s cannily crafted ‘tent-cabins’ blend effortlessly into the surroundings thanks to their timber-clad walls and turf roofs. Green credentials are complemented by luxury touches such as super-comfy beds and twin outdoor bathtubs – stargaze in style as you enjoy a soak.
The handsome harbour town of Aberaeron awaits just down the road, while Cardigan Bay is one of the best places in the UK to spot dolphins.
From £85 per night in high season onecatfarm.com
FOXLEASE NEW FOREST
PERHAPS the New Forest’s bestkept camping secret, Foxlease’s 65-acre estate has been owned by Girlguiding since 1922. But you don’t need to be a Guide to pitch your tent in Foxlease’s expansive meadow. And as befits the campsite’s intrepid custodians, the sheer range of activities for campers to enjoy – a zipwire course, archery, abseiling and kayaking – makes this place a sure-fire hit with families. The indoor swimming pool is perfect on rainy days, while casting off at the well-stocked fishing lake is an ideal way to spend a lazy summer afternoon.
£10 per person per night foxlease.org.uk
BON CAMPING PEMBROKESHIRE
A FIVE-MINUTE drive from the vast, surfer-friendly sands of Newgale Beach, this brand new campsite occupies almost 30 acres yet has fewer than ten pitches.
Most of the site is covered by forest, streams and gorse bushes, which ensure the on-site logbook is bursting with visitor boasts about wildlife sightings.
An old barn has been converted for communal use – it has fridges, freezers, soft furnishings and a dining area for rainy days. Elsewhere on the site, kayaks are available to borrow on a first-come, first-serve basis. Campfires are permitted.
From £35 per night for two adults bon-camping.cymru
HAPPY VALLEY NORFOLK
THE Japanese call it ‘Shinrin-yoku’ – forest therapy – and though there aren’t any cherry blossoms, there’s certainly something otherworldly about this enchanting woodland glampsite dominated by fir trees. Pine cones and needles carpet the floor around the shepherd’s huts. The accommodation features double beds, wood-burners and a fully equipped kitchen area, while a furnished bell tent is pitched in a more open, grassy space.
Rent bikes to explore the 250-acre Wildlife Trust site Congham Heath, which is right next door, then continue on to the Old Bell pub, one mile away, to refuel.
Shepherd huts from £99 per night for up to four people happyvalleynorfolk.co.uk
BENEATH THE OAKS WEST SUSSEX
EVER fancied having an entire campsite to yourself? On the edge of the South Downs, newly opened Beneath The Oaks has just one bell tent on offer, hidden among the trees of an ancient woodland.
Furnished for up to four people, it serves as both an exclusive couples-only retreat, or a play-base for families, with children playing Tarzan on the rope-swing, toasting marshmallows on the campfire or building dens in the surrounding trees. Ordnance Survey maps are provided in the tent – there’s a pub and deli within walking distance – and footpaths lead directly from the campsite.
From £80 per night for two people
RUBERSVIEW SHEPHERD’S HUT ROXBURGHSHIRE
LOOKING across the Teviot Valley to Ruberslaw – the distinctive, conical hill that gives the site its name – this single shepherd’s hut sleeps two in a cosy, wood-clad shell, warmed by a wood-burner and furnished with all the essentials you need. There is also a kitchen area and an adjacent bathroom cabin, while touches like local books and a wicker satchel for storing foraged berries lend a personal feel. Free logs are provided, but there’s electric heating too (one of a few modern additions that also include wi-fi) and tea, cereals and fresh croissants are all included.
From £50 per night for two people tinyurl.com/yawhrzk3
WILD CAMPING CORNWALL
THIS campsite has only two pitches – a bell tent and a gipsy caravan – so tranquillity reigns supreme. Snuggled up against a 12-acre woodland on West Cornwall’s Penwith Heritage Coast, owner Francesca provides a welcome pack of logs on arrival, before showing you to your accommodation.
Facilities are modest: there are composting toilets and gas-powered showers, but no electricity, although a covered dining area and simple cooking facilities are a welcome treat. Follow trails into the trees and explore protected wildlife habitats, or take a 20-minute stroll to some of Cornwall’s best beaches.
Tent pitches for up to four people from £260 a week – changeover day is Friday wildcampingcornwall.co.uk
IN THE STIX RUTLAND
JUST a ten-minute drive from the pretty market town of Oakham, In The Stix’s four geodesic domes are the closest things England has to igloos, making for some seriously cool accommodation. But there’s substance behind the style: each furnished dome – carefully positioned to achieve privacy – features its own separate field kitchen, extra space on the mezzanine level, plus a private bathroom with flushing toilet, and a shower. Prise yourself away for bike riding down to the banks of Rutland Water, or you can hire a boat and head out on to the water itself.
Domes for four people from £380 for a weekend, or £650 a week inthestix.co
MILBORNE WOOD DORSET
SURROUNDED by ancient trees sheltering orchids and butterflies from the outside world, the 180acre Milborne Wood is a campsite that keeps nature at the fore. Only ten pitches are available, and simple facilities include a hot shower and compost loos crafted from the wood’s own ash, oak and sweet chestnut trees.
Take a hop in the car and you will reach some of Dorset’s most famous sights, such as Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove and Old Harry Rocks.
£15 per night for adults, and £7.50 for children milbornewood.com