Stay in a smuggler’s boatyard, a sculpture garden or on a remote island with our guide to some of the UK’s quirkiest campsites.
Smuggler’s Cove Boatyard at Frongoch, Snowdonia
Gwynedd, Aberdyfi (Aberdovey) and Dyfi estuary ©Getty
Mere metres from the edge of the water and nestled amongst the trees of the surrounding forest in the Dyfi Estuary are the Smugglers Cove Boatyard’s camping pitches. As the tide goes out, a private, sandy beach is revealed directly before just three tent pitches – perfect if you want a site for a big family gang. This small working boatyard gives campers their own campfire spot, on a plateau just above the waters edge, so you can cook up a feast whilst the sun goes down over the water. urbanworker.wix.com/boatyard
WHAT’S SPECIAL: Stay in a boatyard on the Dyfri estuary in Snowdonia National Park.
Dreamy Hollow, King’s Lynn, Norfolk
7.5 acres of sprawling woodland, Dreamy Hollow is also home to original First World War training trenches dug by scouts in 1915. There are only seven pitches here, and are all unique and either sport magnificent views across the Norfolk countryside or are hidden away in the secluded woodland. Let the kids run free and then gather around the big firepit in the glade for evening marshmallow toasting. dreamyhollowcampsite.weebly.com
WHAT’S SPECIAL: Half of this wooded spot is home to original First World War training trenches.
Happy Days Retro Vacations, Saxmundham, Suffolk
The Suffolk countryside gets a hint of vintage Americana from Happy Day’s five Airstream caravans. All beautifully restored and updated with an original décor and modern amenities, the cararvan’s chrome add a dash of shining modernity to the rolling green farmland they now call home. Just a short journey away are nearby seaside towns and plenty of countryside to explore. happydayssrv.co.uk
WHAT’S SPECIAL: Vintage Airstream caravans set in the beautiful Suffolk countryside.
Woodland Camping, West Sussex
A working organic farm and school, free-range sheep, chicken and piglets roam this wonderful wooden grove. Hidden deep in a forest, just finding this site, armed with a wheelbarrow full of belongings, feels like an adventure. Pure escapism, the only background sound here. With days spent exploring and evenings whiled away cooking and singing around a campfire, this is old-fashioned camping at its best. woodlandcampingeco.wordpress.com
WHAT’S SPECIAL: The most southerly campsite in the UK, each pitch has its own unique artwork and plants.
Henry’s Campsite, The Lizard, Cornwall
Explore Kynance Cove on The Lizard. Cornwall ©Getty
A campsite that feels much more like staying in a kooky back garden, each pitch at Henry’s has its own unique character, decorated with an array of wild and cultivated plants. The site is dotted with sculptures and artwork including an entire flock of wooden seagulls. It’s also in a wonderful location, nestled on the rugged coastline of the Lizard, England’s most southerly point. Nip into Lizard Village for a pint or wander along by the sea to spot resident seals and choughs. henryscampsite.co.uk
WHAT’S SPECIAL: Camp out on a hundred year old rowing skiff on the Thames.
Skiff Camping, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey
Have a truly unique camping experience by renting out a 100-year-old rowing skiff and drift along a rural parts of the Thames River for a night. A skiff is a wooden rowing boat about 26 feet long which converts into a cozy tent at night with canvas cover and enough room underneath to sleep three. The perfect mashup of camping and staying in a canal boat, you can travel between 12 and 20 miles a day along the river, stopping to explore the banks or for a bite to eat in the quaint country pubs and villages along the way. skiffhire.com
WHAT’S SPECIAL: Camp on the edge of the coast on the traffic-free island of St Agnes.
Troytown Farm, St Agnes, Isles of Scilly
The Bar, St Agnes, Isles of Scilly ©Getty
Get away from modern life and escape to the remote Isles of Scilly. Step out of your tent and look out across the clear, blue waters of these peaceful place, where the silence is broken only by the waves and the birds. At low tide a sandbar appears from the waves – walk across it to explore the uninhabited island of Gugh and its hidden coves. Rent a pre-erected bell tent if you like a bit of creature comfort when sleeping under the stars. troytown.co.uk
WHAT’S SPECIAL:Stay in a beautifully restored, traditional gypsy bowtop wagon in an old cider apple orchard.
Gypsy Caravan Breaks, Pitney, Somerset
Deep in the depths of rural Somerset, in a old cider apple orchard with views across the Glastonbury tor, sits a collection of traditional gypsy caravans. A stay in these gorgeous painted mini homes is the best way to experience the mystical Somerset levels. Cook homemade sausages and bacon and eggs on a campfire in the morning and try the local ciders in the evening after a busy day exploring.gypsycaravanbreaks.co.uk
WHAT’S SPECIAL: The perfect location for wilderness and walking through Cumbria.
Turner Hall Farm, Broughton in Furness, Cumbria
Right in the heart of the Cumbrian wilderness and completely off the beaten track, Turner Hall Farm feels like another world. Leave the car by the tent and wander around exploring the rocky crags and famous fells a stone’s threow from this rugged site, which merges in with the rest of the wild landscape. This is the ideal location for walkers of all abilities, as it is close to many of the regions best-loved walks and sites, with the mountains of the Scafell range to the northwest and the Old Man of Coniston to the southeast. coolcamping.com/turner-hall-farm
This small campsite, situated on the edge of the Hayles Fruit Farm, is a rural heaven. Affiliated to the Camping and Caravan Club, the site boasts a peaceful and tranquil environment, where the only disturbance is from the resident roe and muntjac deer, and foxes. Its position on the Cotswold Way makes it great for backpackers, but if you prefer to live in comfort, caravan pitches are available with electric hook-ups. A toilet and shower block is available to use and a farm shop and tearoom restaurant make the campsite a comfortable space to stay while on your travels. www.haylesfruitfarm.co.uk
Kingsmead Centre, Cullompton, Devon
This family-run site sits on the banks of two scenic fishing lakes, exclusive to the campsite’s residents. The site covers 8 acres of mixed woodland and the lakes are home to many specimen size fish including bream, carp, tench, roach, chub and perch. A new toilet and shower block are to be installed this year and new stock has recently been added to the lake. When you are tired out from your day’s fishing, the Merry Harriers pub is just up the road. www.kingsmeadcentre.com
Tamar Valley Tipis, Callington, Cornwall
Located on the Devon-Cornwall border at Deer Park Farm, this secluded glade in the Tamar Valley is a quirky spot for those who enjoy camping with a difference. The tipis on site are of Sioux design and have been made by Nomadics Tipis Makers, who worked on the film Dances With Wolves
. Decorated with traditional Native American artwork, they create a striking setting in which to light a campfire, sing songs and enjoy the surrounding nature. Birds, deer, rabbits, butterflies, bats, badgers and otters surround the site and if you have a love for the countryside and conservation this site is ideal. www.cartwheelholidays.co.uk/property/tamar-valley-tipis