★ Back to basics
★ ★ Simple style
★ ★ ★ Posher pitch
★ ★ ★ ★ Glamp rocks!
1 Bedruthan Steps, Cornwall ★
Perfectly situated between Padstow, to the north and Newquay, to the south, this is a huge clifftop field — open only in August — with sea and sunset views. The beach lies below, a mile-long stretch of low-tide sand with giant sea stacks and many rock pools and sea caves, reached via a precarious stone staircase. Take care in the sea: the currents are strong, so be aware of tide times and swim only if there is no swell. This is a basic campsite with quirky painted showers and loos. £7.50 per person per night (pppn); no bookings taken, cash only; off the B3276, 1 mile north of Trenance and ¼ mile north of the National Trust car park entrance; PL27 7UW; bedruthansteps.com
2 Jinka’s Wagon, Cornwall ★ ★ ★ ★
Once the horse-drawn home of a gypsy family, this Victorian caravan has come to rest in the corner of a Cornish meadow. Restored and made-over, Jinka’s Wagon is furnished with vintage treasures and a genuine “Queenie” cast-iron Victorian traveller’s stove. At night, simply pull out the double bed. Just steps away, there’s a sturdy cabin housing a kitchen/diner, a double shower and a loo. It’s an easy 10-minute drive to the River Fowey, to the west, or a 15-minute drive south to the sandy beaches of the Polperro Heritage Coast.
£603 a week; sleeps two, linen included; Meadow Road, Lanreath, near Looe, PL13 2NS; classic.co.uk
3 Stoke Barton Farm, Devon ★
Hartland is the wildest coastline in the southwest, and one of the best places to get away from the holiday crowds. This great site has braziers for campfires and lots of spacious, flat, grassy pitches with views of the sea. There’s a working farm next door and coastal paths lead down to a selection of fantastic beaches, though many have sand only at low tide. Nearby is Hartland Quay, where you can look out to Lundy Island or grab a drink at the Wreckers Retreat. Alternatively, head inland and walk up the valley to Hartland Abbey (entry £11). After wandering through the antique-packed 12th-century building and gardens, you can enjoy a cream tea.
£7.50pppn; Hartland, Bideford, EX39 6DU; westcountry-camping.co.uk
Wild swimming on the Frome4 Stowford Manor Farm, Wiltshire ★ ★
In a verdant valley on the River Frome, this is a place for laid-back family camping and river swimming. The 13th-century farm serves teas in the garden, using cream from the owner’s Jersey cows. There’s B&B accommodation in one of the buildings as well as camping in the field beside the river. A short walk downstream brings you to a beautiful stretch of water where you’ll find the only river swimming club in England. Continue a little further to explore the medieval ruins of Farleigh Hungerford Castle (£4.30).
£8pppn; Wingfield, BA14 9LH; stowfordmanorfarm.co.uk
5 Chine Farm, Isle of Wight ★
The wild southwest coast of the Isle of Wight has remote beaches that stretch for miles beneath high cliffs. Chine Farm offers clifftop camping with great sea views. A “chine” is a narrow stream gorge that cuts through the cliffs to the sea. It’s about a five-minute walk down this one to the shingle — a splendid spot to try sea-bass fishing. Aim for one of the large grassy pitches away from the road and enjoy the sunset.
£7 per pitch per night, plus £4pppn; Military Road, Atherfield Bay, Ventnor, PO38 2JH; chine-farm.co.uk
6 Barrow at Wriggly Tin, Hampshire ★ ★ ★ ★
A shepherd’s hut offers the best of both worlds: wood-stove cosiness and all the fun of being out in nature. This new hut, one of five on the Wriggly Tin site, is painted buttercup yellow and set in a meadow surrounded by woodland in the South Downs National Park. Indulge in campfire cooking over the fire pit, and some serious daydreaming, or go hiking on the South Downs Way, Wayfarer’s Walk or Monarch’s Way — they’re all right on the doorstep.
£723 a week; sleeps two, linen included; Brook Lane, Hambledon, PO7 4TF;canopyandstars.co.uk
7 West Hook Farm, Pembrokeshire ★
Less than a mile from Marloes Sands, this clifftop campsite has huge Atlantic views and a real edge-of-the-world feel. You can take the boat from Martin’s Haven, next door, to see the puffins on Skomer Island (£11pp). Reservations are only taken for those wishing to spend a week or more here — for shorter stays, you can simply turn up.
£7pppn; Marloes, Haverfordwest, SA62 3BJ; westhookfarm-camping.co.uk
Basic but beautiful at Stonethwaite8 Faerie Thyme, Carmarthenshire ★ ★ ★
This campsite in southwest Wales is reserved for over-25s, ensuring a quiet, secluded feel. Glampers can plump for one of the two quirkily converted vintage caravans, Katie and Rosie, which have double beds, fitted kitchens and inside loos; outside, the covered veranda area is encircled with twinkling fairy lights. Campfires are encouraged, providing that enchanted-evening feel, and there’s more magic to be found on a walk to the ancient standing stones on Mynydd Llangyndeyrn, a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
From £45 a night, minimum two nights; sleeps two, bring your own linen; Crwbin, Kidwelly, SA17 5DR; coolcamping.co.uk
9 Penhein Glamping, Monmouthshire ★ ★ ★ ★
The dome-shaped alachigh (pronounced “al-la-cheeg”) is a Persian design, traditionally used by tribes in northern Iran. Now six of them are at home at Penhein Farm, in the rolling Monmouthshire countryside, each adorned with a chandelier and a private flushing loo. The domes sit in a meadow backed by three acres of ancient woodland, and there are miles of nature trails to explore — be sure to climb Grey Hill for views of the Severn Valley. End your day with a soak in the rolltop bath in the shared shower hut.
From £136 a night; sleeps four, linen included; Llanvair Discoed, Chepstow, NP16 6RB; canopyandstars.co.uk
10 One Cat Farm, Ceredigion ★ ★ ★
In a quiet valley just 10 minutes’ drive from the pretty Georgian port town of Aberaeron, you’ll find these four grass-roofed “dens”. Simple and cosy, with Nordic styling, they have a flexible layout that can be adapted to suit families or couples. By night, you can sit around the campfire on log stools, enjoying the starry skies, or hang out in the Pig Shed, the farm’s communal barn, using the kitchen, woodburner, dining table and flushing loo. At nearby Llanerchaeron, a National Trust farm (admission £7.60), you can rent bicycles to explore the coastline; prices start at £22 a day.
£230 for two nights for four people; bring your own linen; One Cat Farm, Bronfre Fach, Ciliau Aeron, Lampeter, SA48 7PT; canopyandstars.co.uk
11 Racquety Farm, Powys ★
This organic farm is not far from Hay-on-Wye, so it’s a good base for exploring bookshops and cafes, as well as the river and hills. Choose a pitch in the orchard or in the “wild camping” site on the edge of the meadow. The facilities are simple, but there are composting toilets, hot showers and campfire braziers. The site is on the Wye: you can rent a canoe from Aubrey and Clare at Paddles and Pedals (£25 a day) and lose yourself paddling downstream. Geodesic domes and B&B are also available.
£12pppn camping or £90 a night, B&B, for a dome sleeping two, linen included; Wyecliff, Hay-on-Wye, HR3 5RS; 01497 821520
Bedruthan Steps at high tide (Daniel Start)12 Walcot Hall, Shropshire ★ ★ ★
You will fall in love with all the quirky corners on the Walcot Hall estate. The long drive takes you up to the grand house, where there are walled gardens and the arboretum. Among the trees, ponds and sculptures you’ll find a wondrous diversity of vintage accommodation. There are yurts with brass beds, showman’s caravans with woodburners, a gypsy caravan and a shepherd’s hut, and fabulous views of the Shropshire Hills.
Yurts sleeping two from £260 for two nights, linen included; Lydbury North, SY7 8AZ; walcothall.com
13 Glamping West Midlands, Staffordshire ★ ★ ★
It may not have the world’s most imaginative name, but there’s plenty to inspire visitors at this yurt site, lost in the meadows west of Birmingham. Two Mongolian yurts rest within the grounds of stately Mere Hall, each kitted out with proper beds and woodburning stoves. Outside, you’ll encounter a menagerie of animals, from ostriches to llamas; nearby are two Iron Age hillforts and the only surviving troglodyte dwellings in England.
Three nights from £290, sleeps four, linen included; Mere Lane, Enville, DY7 5JL;coolcamping.co.uk
14 Aberafon, Llyn Peninsula ★
Camping at Aberafon is a good low-key seaside option for August. The beaches of the Llyn Peninsula remain relatively tranquil even during the holiday peak, and it’s only a short drive to the Snowdonia National Park. From the campsite, you have direct access to a lovely pebble beach, and the sunset views demand a barbecue and sundowner. There’s even a little stream for making dams. Facilities are basic: hot showers, a pool table and a small shop.
£8pppn; Gyrn Goch, Caernarfon, LL54 5PN; aberafon.co.uk
15 The Old Vicarage, Norfolk ★ ★
Enjoy proper campfire cooking on this quiet Norfolk farm — the perfect base for exploring the Broads. This is camping as it used to be: no set pitches, no caravans, just several tree-lined fields dotted with tents. The loos are superclean and there are hot showers. Children run around playing while the lazy snooze under their hats. Cars are banished to the car park next door; if you want to arrive by train, Bernie will arrange a free pick-up from nearby Acle station. Acle also hosts a market on Thursdays, where you can buy local produce.
£8pppn, online booking only; Moulton St Mary, Norwich, NR13 3NH;oldvicaragecamping.co.uk
Persian exoticism at Penheim Farm (Rory Lindsay)16 Stonethwaite Farm, Cumbria ★
For riverside camping in the Lake District, we love Stonethwaite. It’s set in a valley on the banks of a clear mountain river, with adjoining ancient woodland that’s rich in birdlife; there’s great river swimming at Galleny Force, and further on you’ll find Black Moss Pot, which has a ledge that the brave can jump from. Warm up afterwards with a meal by the fire at the nearby Langstrath Country Inn. This is the perfect place if you enjoy simple camping, but be aware that there’s no hot water.
£5pppn, no bookings taken; Stonethwaite, Borrowdale, Keswick, CA12 5XG;stonethwaitefarm.co.uk
17 Rukin’s Park Lodge, Yorkshire Dales ★ ★
Park Lodge lies on the River Swale, with a choice of riverside pitches or sunnier spots higher in the fields. The on-site shop sells basic food, wine and beer, and rustles up excellent bacon sandwiches in the morning. The river is perfect for swimming and splashing — and if you explore upstream from the campsite, you’ll reach a huge waterfall. Downstream lie the ruins of Crackpot Hall and the dramatic canyon of Swinner Gill.
£6.50pppn, no bookings taken; Keld, Richmond, DL11 6LJ; rukins-keld.co.uk
18 Pot-a-Doodle Do, Northumberland ★ ★ ★
Pods — described as “wooden wigwams” here — are just the thing for hassle-free camping, and when the north wind picks up on the wild Northumbrian coast, they make a perfect shelter. There are miles of marvellous sandy beaches a short walk away and Holy Island is a 20-minute drive south, over the causeway. Back on the farm, you’ll find a fishing lake, a playground and pot painting. There’s even a bistro, which serves Sunday lunch, and a shop selling Lindisfarne mead, homemade soups and locally made ice cream.
£25pppn, sleeps five, linen included; Borewell Farm, Scremerston, Berwick- upon-Tweed, TD15 2RJ; northumbrianwigwams.com
19 Ardfern Tipis, Argyll & Bute ★ ★ ★
The traditional Sioux design of these tepees, hidden in woods on the Argyll coast, allows you to have a fire inside, adding to the atmosphere. For a different camping experience, try out the site’s Mongolian yurt, from Ulan Bator. The owners can arrange a host of adventures, from whale-spotting to whisky tastings, and there’s a pretty walk to Ardfern village, which has a store, a pub and views over Loch Craignish.
Tepee from £100 for two nights, then £45 for extra nights; yurt sleeping four from £150 for two nights, then £70 for extra nights; both sleep four; High Corranbeg, Ardfern, PA31 8QN; ardferntipis.co.uk
It’s great outdoors: an orchard pitch at the Pillars of Hercules site, in Fife20 Pillars of Hercules, Fife ★ ★
Pitch your tent in the orchard at the strangely named but delightful Pillars of Hercules organic farm. It’s known for its superb farm shop, and the wholesome cafe is a foodie destination in its own right. On Friday and Saturday evenings in summer, the cafe hosts bistro dinners (last orders 7.30pm). Lomond Hills regional park is nearby, offering great moor and lochside rambles.
£8pppn; Falkland, Cupar, KY15 7AD; pillars.co.uk
21 Applecross, Ross ★ ★
There are awesome sea views towards the islands of Rona and Raasay from this grassy site. The Flower Tunnel Cafe serves tasty breakfasts; for more good food, visit the charming Potting Shed Cafe at Applecross Walled Garden, where you can enjoy a fresh seafood lunch or an informal candlelit dinner. North of the village, steep dunes lead down to the wide beach of Applecross Bay, perfect for a fix of soft sand. Back at camp, hot showers, a washing machine and a freezer make the camping very civilised indeed.
£9pppn; Applecross, Strathcarron, IV54 8ND; applecross.uk.com