Camping is a popular holiday activity for people all over the UK, with more young families joining in every year as they realise what a great holiday this can be for the kids. If you’re a first time camper, then it’s probably best to book campsites that have great facilities, especially if you’re not used to roughing it a bit. If you’re camping with a baby or toddlers, modern facilities will probably make the experience a lot easier and more enjoyable. We take a look here at some of the best campsites in the UK that would be most appropriate for newbies.
Clippersby Hall – Norfolk Broads
Clippersby Hall is a great place for first time campers, with award winning facilities, including centrally heated toilet/shower blocks with unlimited free hot water and EHU. There’s a family bathroom for parents with young kids and a coffee shop serving a range of delicious fresh baked snacks and offering a pizza delivery service.
There are eight different camping areas, some secluded in woodland and some with wide open space so there’s something here to suit everyone.
Clippersby Hall offers a wide range of activities: archery, cycling, boating, fishing and bird watching. There is a swimming pool on site, mini golf course and tennis courts and, for the kids, some great adventure play areas with monkey bars, cargo nets and zip wires. The Muskett Arms Pub and Restaurant promises great food in a family friendly atmosphere.
If you’re trying out camping for the first time and really don’t fancy the idea of sleeping under canvas, Clippersby Hall boasts a variety of self-catering accommodation, including holiday chalets, cottages, apartments and woodland bungalows. All are equipped with a great range of appliances and flat screen TVs and DVD players.
If you’re not sure that camping is going to be for you, then this is a great place to suck it and see – with all the amenities of home, you’re sure to enjoy your holiday.
Fforestcamp – Cardigan, West Wales
Billed by The Times as the ‘coolest camping in Britain’, Fforestcamp is a luxury campsite where breakfast is provided as part of the deal! The actual camping is done in one of the space age domes which sport wooden floors, real beds, fully equipped camp kitchens, wood burning stoves, solar lights and bay windows. There are also four crog lofts (or crofter’s cottages) for hire – these are situated within their own small compound and are particularly appropriate for group hire. Each has its own fully equipped kitchen underneath the wide porch, proper beds (with duvets, no less) and stone and natural wood wet rooms.
There are also some fforest campshacks – two pods with custom built wooden beds which dock into a wooden kitchen/dining shack with a wood burning stove. If you need to extend this little compound, then extra tents and equipment can be supplied to dock on. If you really don’t mind roughing it, the entry level nomad, a traditional Dutch style tunnel tent with two internal sleeping pods might suit you.
Whichever option you decide on, most of the equipment you’ll need is provided – if you’re booking the pods or campshacks you’ll need to bring towels and sleeping bags. All kitchen equipment is provided, so no need to worry about getting stuck without a tin opener or forgetting the camping kettle.
There are plenty of activities on offer both on and off site, including half day and full day packages. The surrounding countryside is the beautiful Teifi Gorge and the Teifi Marshes Nature Reserve. This is a great location for visiting the nearby Cardigan coastline or perhaps you’d fancy trying your hand at woodland crafts such as coppicing and hedge laying. Bushcraft, tree climbing, abseiling and archery are just some of the adventurous activities you’ll be able to try your hand at. When you get to the end of a long day’s hard play, you can go back and relax in the cedar barrel sauna in the woods.
Highside Farm – Middleton in Teesdale, Northern Pennines
Highside Farm is a working smallholding with ‘quiet camping facilities’ for tents and caravans. Amenities include showers, toilets, washing up facilities and EHU. This is a small campsite which the owners don’t allow to become overcrowded, meaning that campers can enjoy the perfect peace of the fabulous surrounding countryside.
Glorious views across Teesdale and Lunedale in this area of outstanding beauty are complemented by fishing and canoeing on the River Tees. Just an hour’s drive from the Lake District, this little campsite is one of the UK’s best kept secrets.
The Farm sells eggs, lamb, pork, beef and mutton (all traditionally reared and locally butchered) exclusively to campers and produces a range of woollen yarns. If you book in advance, the Farm will also provide campers with a cooked breakfast. The friendly owners are happy to offer advice to newbie campers and it’s a great place to try out sleeping under canvas or in a caravan.
South Breazle Holidays – Okehampton, Devon
South Breazle is a well-appointed campsite with spacious pitches in a large field surrounded by trees. These super size pitches all have EHU, water and grey drainage and free WiFi. The pitches are circled around a large grass play area – this campsite certainly does believe in giving people enough space. Kids and adults alike will be entranced by the fun fountain, 25 water jets programmed to randomly squirt 6ft jets of water into the air while you scramble around avoiding the jets.
The toilet blocks are equipped with motion sensor lighting inside and out. There is a range of power shower rooms, all with non slip flooring, including a family room with baby changing facilities. One of the shower rooms has ramp access and is fitted with all the standard hand rails and a shower seat. All showers are fixed temperature and all the taps are push taps for ease of use. The toilets have electric hand dryers and hairdryer/shaver points.
There is a washing machine and a dryer available in the laundry block. Both machines are token operated. The washing up area has a small freezer and an internal phone to contact Reception if help is required with anything. All of the reviews of this campsite stress how clean and pleasant all the facilities are.
With plenty to do in the surrounding area, including walking (dogs are welcome at South Breazle) and archery, a visit to Okehampton Castle ruin is a must, especially when the bluebells are blooming. If you’re a wine connoisseur, then why not visit nearby Eastcott Vineyard to buy a few bottles of plonk?
Woodland Tipi and Yurts – Much Dewford, Hereford
This certainly is a campsite with a difference – a car free zone billed as a peaceful family and couples site. The glampsite boasts 4 traditional Sioux Native American tipis that will sleep up to four adults or a family of five in a selection king sized beds and rollup mattresses. Each is equipped with a small gas stove and kettle, with firewood, sheepskin rugs and tables provided for a cosy and comfortable stay. There are four traditional yurts which sleep up to six, depending on size. Each has a wood burning stove, super king size bed and roll up mattresses and outside you’ll have a fire pit, hammock and picnic table.
Woodland has two clay earth ovens in rustic huts and two fully equipped kitchens. Hot showers make for a comfortable stay and if you’re too tired to cook after a hard day’s camping, you can order in food from a local professional chef to be delivered at a reasonable cost. Wheelbarrows are provided to transport your gear to the tipis and yurts and there are washing machine and drying facilities for those with small children. Travel cots and high chairs are also available on request.
The surrounding woodland is safe for kids, with woodland tracks to explore, swings, trees to climb, squirrels, foxes, rabbits and birds. If you can keep the kids up late, they’ll hear the owls hooting nearby and, you never know, they may even be lucky enough to see badgers in the wild.
Written by Dave Johnson, the co-founder of Family Camping Reviews, the independent online guide to holiday parks in Europe. The site is run by Dave and his wife Catherine, avid campers with a passion for the countryside.
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