COVID-19 has got many of us thinking about camping in the UK. Luckily, author James Warner Smith has picked out his favourite most remote UK camp sites from the new Cool Camping Britain guidebook...
Aside from some rather tired toilet and shower facilities housed inside a ramshackle boat yard, this self-proclaimed ‘wild camping’ site in North Wales is the real thing, with a rough 100m path along the banks of the Dovey Estuary leading to each pitch. There are just three gorse-hugged spaces available, with views of the RSPB Ynys-hir nature reserve opposite. Campfires are allowed (logs are available from the boat yard) and the tidal foreshore is a forager’s paradise. By day, you can walk the sands revealed at low tide or hike the Tarrerns – a pair of 2,000 ft peaks known as Snowdonia’s “forgotten mountains” – while, come nightfall, you can snuggle down and watch the sun set over the river.
This sloping field in Worcestershire’s Teme Valley would be a nightmare for campervans and caravans but for traditional tent camping it’s heaven. Natural terraces in the land, as it drops away towards a stream, offer aprons of grassy space perfect for pitching a tent and forming your own personal area, while the surrounding steepness is left for wildflowers, bushes and trees. The whole site has a maximum of 25 people at any one time, while composting toilets and gas-powered showers mean, though off grid, the basic facilities are all well covered. Campfires are allowed and there’s a stack of OS maps you can use – ideal for planning the mile-long walk to the pub.
Overlooking the eastern coast of South Ronaldsay Island, this tiny organic farm has space for around 20 tents in the gently sloping meadow beyond the farmhouse. Polytunnels, a substantial vegetable patch and a healthy brood of chickens provide unbeatably local goods to the campsite’s honesty shop and there’s a decent communal kitchen if it’s too windy to light a campfire. It’s a 10-minute walk down to the beach, which forms the start point of a scenic 16 km circular hike, or explore South Ronaldsay’s prehistoric sites, including the Neolithic tomb on the island’s southern cliffs entered via a sliding trolley.
500 meters from the River Findhorn, in North East Scotland, Ace Hideaways is an off-grid, woodland campsite with acres of space but only around six tents at any given time. Gas-powered showers, composting toilets and an excellent lean-to kitchen shelter have been crafted from the site’s own timber and there’s also a bell tent and shepherd’s hut available. A neighbouring activity centre runs kayaking, canyoning, cliff jumping and other activities on the river, while those looking for something more sedate can walk the Dava Way or sit tight and watch for wildlife – look out for red squirrels and pine martens in particular.
London isn’t exactly a paradise for campers, but less than five miles from the M25, this weekend-only site offers a bastion of wilderness on an island in the River Lee. It’s a 10-minute walk from the nearest train station but many arrive here by bike, cycling the Lee Valley towpath from Hackney. Facilities are basic – a couple of composting toilets and a cold water tap – but there are canoes available for hire at an old milling station nearby and firewood can be purchased from the campsite ranger every evening. The site is surprisingly quiet, given the otherwise urban surroundings, helped, perhaps, by the fact that children under 12 are not permitted.
Author and editor of the UK’s best selling camping guidebooks, the Cool Camping series, James Warner Smith is a travel and lifestyle writer with a focus on the great outdoors.
These five campsites come from the new 'Cool Camping Britain' guidebook.Learn more
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