Camping is more popular than it's ever been, but so many campsites can be bland, touristy and soulless. So we've uncovered the best back-to-basics, secret sites in Wales
At the foot of Gyrn Goch, Aberafon campsite hugs its own corner of the Llyn Peninsula, planted between mountains and sea. Complete with its own private beach so close that you may as well be on it, it's perfect for surfers or a peaceful dip in your own portion of sea. Fishing, mountain and coastal walks were served up in abundance to this section of North Wales.
Although it's a pebble, rather than sand, beach, it offers a wonderful sunset observation space. If the enthusiastic responses of anyone who's stayed there are anything to go by, the sunset views really are the highlight. Glasfryn Park is also very close by, offering a wide range of outdoor activities, and there are paragliding opportunities nearby for thrill-seekers.
Mountain or beach – wherever your preference falls – Aberafon is a paradise in its own secret valley crafted for the outdoor types. It's not an easy place to leave.
Open Easter-October www.aberafon.co.uk
The only back to basics farm site on the Gower: peace, quiet, and outstanding views are what you will find here. For those who want to get away from it all, this small, family-run, family-friendly farm overlooks Horton and Port Eynon Bays. Even when the campsite is full, it remains a haven of calm. There is no real path down to the beach below, which is probably why it's so consistently empty. It simply does not compute the word 'overcrowded'. The on-site facilities are sparse; this is no resort, but an intimate, yet private, campsite.
There are plenty of coastal walks in the area, and the tourist trap of Rhossili is easily avoided. There is also a multi-terrain route, and the Mumbles is nearby. Eastern Slade is really about getting as far away from civilisation as you possibly can. In fact, it's probably one of the only such places you'll ever find in a beautiful, but touristy, location like the Gower.
Open officially Easter-October, but sometimes out of season, too; www.easternsladecampsite.freeservers.com
Mountains, mountains, mountains. Nothing but mountains to see here. And that's just how we like it. Not for those after a relaxing retreat, Gwern Gôf Isaf farm stands proudly at the base of Tryfan in Snowdonia National Park. The farm itself reflects the rugged landscape that surrounds it; grey stone walls and fences just like the craggy mountains that rise up majestically behind it. The terrain is rough, but rewarding to those who are willing to tackle it. Great for base walkers, climbers and adventure-seekers looking for a quiet night with the mountains, rather than a crowded campsite.
For Snowdon, it's a more out-of-the-way location away from the tourist-accommodating sites. It's ideally situated around the other park peaks, or for some great hill-walking opportunities, if you're not up to climbing and clambering. This site is all about roughing it – tough mountains, tough ground, and the most basic of facilities. Midges are also a regular visitor to the site, and keep an eye on the weather. Cold weather means hard ground, while rain means soggy and muddy. But muddy legs and braving the elements is what camping really is all about.
Open all year gwerngofisaf.co.uk
Clinging to the hills at the foot of the Blorenge near the market town of Abergavenny, the focus here is on running an eco-friendly, sustainable site. Views over Usk Vale and the Skirrid mountain, Middle Ninfa is a remote, countryside retreat in the heart of the Brecon Beacons. Campervans, cars and trailers are also not accommodated on-site, ensuring an uninterrupted peace.
There's a wood-fired sauna available for post-trek relaxation, and a nature reserve nearby for quiet meditation. Even when the site is full, you can still feel hidden away. All sites are in field-lets and small dells. There are several day walks you can do right from the campsite, including to The Punchbowl lake. All this plus compost toilets and home-grown organic vegetables, you couldn't feel much closer to nature if you tried.
Open all year www.chapel-marketing.com/middleinfa
As its name suggests, Outer Bounds really is a campsite away from it all, nestled among the redcurrant bushes and hawthorn trees of the Ceredigion countryside. Pitches are well-spaced to ensure privacy, and with the amount of trees, shrubs, bushes and plants around it's fantastic for anyone seeking quiet without any interruption. Hiding away from the world has never been easier.
Small and secluded, Outer Bounds is aimed at experienced campers after the basics – and nothing more. An ideal spot for bird watchers, wildlife fanatics, walkers and cyclists. It's within easy reach of a surfing beach. Take your pick from secluded sites and open hilltop perches with views all the way to Cardigan Bay. Both provide a relaxing, countryside retreat. For those who want to hide away among the trees and fall asleep with no sounds but the birds and animals. For those who want to have absolutely no contact with the outside world, this is how camping should be.
Open March-October camping.artizen.me.uk
Trellyn campsite only has five pitches across its 16 acres of woodland, meaning you're guaranteed a peaceful, tranquil stay, blissfully unaware of anyone else around you. There are tree-hidden pitches, valley sun traps and meadow sites to choose from. Despite its small size, it's still possible to find a site here that suits your wants and needs.
The Milky Way can be clearly seen from Trellyn at night, it's that secluded. Star-gazing is in fact so popular here that they have star charts available to borrow. And wildlife is openly encouraged around the area, so don't be surprised to wake up and find a new visitor!
For more sociable times, there's also an outdoor pizza oven for communal use, as well as a field kitchen – meaning no cooking soggy spaghetti over a gas fire! Both a coastal retreat and a woodland hideaway, Trellyn ticks all the boxes for those after quiet time away from the daily grind and civilisation.
Open end of May – early September; weekly bookings only www.trellyn.co.uk
Sea views, an unpopulated, hidden beach below and a wide open field, Ty Gwyn really is one of Wales' hidden camping gems. Just over the headland from one of Wales' loveliest, most secluded beaches, it doesn't offer much by way of activities. Other than the usual beach-based pastimes, sea swims and hill wanders, it does have the Ceredigion Coastal Path. But Ty Gwyn isn't about back-to-back activities, and it's certainly not for thrill-seekers.
This campsite's secluded location forces even the most active resident to simply relax and enjoy the natural surroundings. It's in the middle of nowhere, and the site itself is still relatively unknown – which is what makes it so great and peaceful. What the campsite lacks in facilities, it makes up for in romantic seaside calm. All you will hear as you drift off to sleep is the sound of the waves on the beach below and the coastal winds. The owner is committed to not letting the site become too popular – so have no fear of finding a cramped, tourist-packed campsite here.
Open early April – late October campingatmwnt.co.uk
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