Escape the crowds and discover smaller quieter gems of the camping world with author of new book 'Tiny Campsites' Dixe Wills
Quay Road, Charlestown, St Austell, Cornwall PL25 3NX; www.broadmeadowhouse.com
Broad Meadow has two geese, one furnished and flashy Karsten tent and plenty of space for people bringing their own canvas. Since the owners limit the number of campers on site to a dozen, you get the distinct feeling of being one of an incredibly privileged few. This is especially true if you order a delicious breakfast basket (and fresh smoothie) to be brought to your tent.
Basking sharks and grey seals are sometimes spotted in the bay while peregrine falcons, sparrowhawks and buzzards contest the air space above. Swallows skim the surface of the field and are so used to company that they come quite close to feed.
In tiny Charlestown there’s some easy coasteering to be had; a gig club that allows beginners to have a go at rowing on novice nights; and, for those who want to go it alone, sea kayaks and other water vessels can be hired.
Kildale, Whitby, Yorkshire YO21 2RN; www.kildalebarn.co.uk
Park Farm in Kildale enjoys one of the most sublime views you’ll ever find on the UK's shores, and on a clear day you can look out across to Tan Hill and the Yorkshire Dales.
The campsite itself is a tiny triangle of sloping grassland bordered on two sides by a low drystone wall, with a hawthorn hedge on the third. A few cooking-apple trees give some additional shelter, particularly at the snug foot of the field.
Captain Cook was born and raised in these parts (scenes for a film about his life were shot on the farm) and a walk up to the Captain Cook monument on Easby Moor (1.75 miles) is highly recommended, if only for the astonishing photo opportunities.
Llanellen, nr Abergavenny, Monmouthshire NP7 9LE; www.middleninfa.co.uk
If ever a hill can be said to cascade down into a valley it’s the Blorenge, halfway up which perches the smallholding of Middle Ninfa. From its four tiny and secluded wild pitches on the edge of the Brecon Beacons you can look out across the Usk Valley. A little closer to hand, though still far below, is the owners’ cottage with its tennis-court-cum-croquet-lawn, next to which is a space for another tent or two.
In the morning, expect a visit from a playful cat and two exceedingly gentle horses. A short trek upwards leads to a wonderful nature reserve and pond, while vertigo sufferers can check themselves into a luxurious bunkhouse by the cottage. Just in case all this were not heaven enough, you can book yourself a session in Middle Ninfa’s very own wood-fired sauna…
Nethy Bridge, Inverness-shire PH25 3ED; www.lazyduck.co.uk
From its hammocks strung across trees to its butterfly-filled wild-flower garden, Lazy Duck could hardly be more relaxed or aesthetically pleasing if it tried. Just outside the village of Nethy Bridge, the campsite is in a small glade guarded by a brigade of red squirrels and equipped with a chimenea and log seats for communal evening gatherings.
The list of attractive features at the Lazy Duck is a long one and includes the bush shower; the open-ended campers’ shelter; and the walk out to the juniper moor to view CairnGorm mountain. Just to top it off, if you arrive by bicycle or on foot the owners guarantee to fit you in somewhere, and will greet you with a mixture of green and home-grown fresh mint tea from a Berber teapot.
Croft 9, Badrallach, Dundonnell, Ross-shire IV23 2QP; www.badrallach.com
In a satisfyingly remote spot on the Scoraig Peninsula, with a most spectacular view, Badrallach offers campers the choice of a pitch in a small open field sloping towards the loch or one of a handful hidden away in the gorse. Your neighbours may include pine martens, red deer, golden eagles, white-tailed sea eagles and red squirrels.
If you fancy an active stay, there’s a fantastic range of equipment for hire from the site at very reasonable rates, including mountain bikes, a blo-kart, a power kite, a tandem kayak, two single kayaks, an inflatable 6 h.p.-boat and even a Shetland whilly (a wooden clinker-built sail boat). Throw into the mix a wonderfully well-turnedout gaslit bothy to hide in should the weather turn, and you’ve got a truly exceptional campsite.
These five miniscule campsites have been taken from Tiny Campsites (2nd edition; Punk Publishing) by Dixe Wills, £10.95, available from www.tinycampsites.co.uk