If you’re from the ‘Camping? You must be joking!’ school of accommodation, it’s time to put those old-fashioned ideas to bed – preferably in a duck down sleeping bag on a luxurious air mattress. Yes, camping is, in fact cool – and can be as comfortable as you want, with great equipment freely available. But the recent renaissance in camping in the UK is largely down to the campsites themselves, with an emphasis on smaller, laid-back places championing back-to-basics camping, allowing campfires and promoting peace and quiet. If that sounds idyllic, see our pick of places to pitch below.
Don’t be put off by the ‘holiday park’ name, or indeed by the static caravans near reception. The tent field of this coastal campsite has one of the best locations in Cornwall, overlooking Porthmeor Beach, a beautiful, family-friendly sandy bay in St Ives town. The town itself is just a few minutes walk away, with its beaches, restaurants, cafes and art galleries. And one final plus point worth mentioning – the lovely shower blocks have piped music and underfloor heating.
Dorset’s Jurassic Coast is spectacular. On one of it’s most spectacular stretches sits Eweleaze Farm campsite, a handful of green fields that not only have a wonderful, expansive sea view, but also a handy pizza van, organic farm shop, some cool eco-loos and, most importantly – campfires. There’s also a small private beach where the site meets the coast, perfect for those long summer days of sunshine.
Sleeping in an old pub garden may sound like something you might do unintentionally after a big night out, but the campers at Alde Garden are all here entirely deliberately. And who can blame them in such a charming place? A wild, green, confusion of shrubbery concealing a sweet little collection of glamping treasures, including a bell tent, a yurt, a tipi, a gypsy caravan, and something best described as a wooden tent on stilts. Wonderful.
Buried deep in the heart of the Lake District, Great Langdale campsite has everything walkers need. Firstly, the surroundings are stunning, with the peaks of Langdale Pikes towering invitingly above the site, tempting walkers and climbers to don boots and strike out. But it’s the après-walk that really excels here: perfectly flat pitches for a good night's sleep, a shoe-warming cupboard for wet boots, maps, guides and supplies at the campsite shop – and not one, but three great pubs within walking distance.
This is one for the purists. A tiny little wedge of grass with no showers, and no facilities, save for a drafty old loo block. Never mind that, though – hop over the drystone wall and you’re on Whitesands Beach, where, if you’re lucky, you’ll be riding the waves before breakfast. Non-surfers too will love the acres of sand, exploring the rockpools at low tide and the ice cream van that appears on sunny days.