We completely fell head over heels in love with the UK after buying our first VW Transporter 7 years ago. Admittedly and a little shamefully, before we found #vanlife I thought I needed to be abroad with my life in a back pack for it to be a real adventure, how WRONG was I! I’m so grateful our little Vdub allowed us to start exploring our very own country that holds so many hidden gems.
Our preferred type of camping is mostly getting lost, driving down an unknown dirt track and ending up next to some wonderful lake or coastline.
That said, it can be a bit trickier in the UK so we’re always on the look out for secret little campsites that allow you to feel off grid. Since starting up our Instagram account it’s crazy and wonderful how many like minded souls we have found and, for that reason, we thought we would share with you a few real treasures we’ve found on our road trips in the UK. I’m sorry for it is a bit south-west heavy, that’s not because we don’t love other areas, it’s simply been the fact that living in this region has meant a lot of “jump in the van and go” trips have been within it, and of course, its got the best surfing anyone could want!
SOUTH PENQUITE FARM (Bodmin Moor)
High up on the moor one of the reviews refer to this place as “a little slice of life” and I couldn’t put it better myself – what a wonderful place to get back to nature. It’s a fully organic farm with lots of animals including geese, ponies and sheep. There are no pitch allocations so you are free to space out as you like, a wonderfully clean toilet block with fantastic showers all heated by solar and best of all campfires are allowed! You can find out more here
CERENETY ECO CAMPSITE (Bude)
Located close to Bude beach down a beautiful country lane, you will find Cerenaty, with the quaintest little entrance and set in several acres of fields there’s plenty of room to set up a camp, campfire and all. This place really does have the friendliest owners, you can even pick your own salad from their veg patch! It’s extremely eco friendly with solar powered showers and compost toilets and there’s a even a cute little caravan serving coffee and breakfast. You can find out more here
GWITHIAN FARM (Hayle)
Located right by my most favourite beach in the entire world this lovely little family campsite is set on the edge of the dunes with large pitches. Although this is more of a “campsite” there’s nothing not to love about the friendly vibe here. The luxury shower blocks are clean and warm and there’s a shower room for families too. There’s a pub right across the road called the Red River Inn and one further along too called the Rock Pool which we can definitely recommend. The area is outstandingly beautiful, it’s a 10 minute walk through the stunning dunes to a 3 mile stretch of beach with waves, rock pools and caves galore. A perfect place to watch the sun setting over Godrevy Lighthouse and St Ives Bay. This is my happy happy place and you can find out more here
HOLLANDS WOOD (New Forest)
You want wild camping in the forest then this is it! When you arrive at the park they will give you a map and tell you to park up where you like! We chose to go in between the trees close to a big opening in the forest where ponies roam freely. It was magical waking up in the morning and opening our doors to pure nature… (a little pony even came up to say hello). As with most places in the forest there are plenty of walks and bike routes near by and there’s also a river next to the camp where you can sun bathe on the banks after a river dip. The showers blocks are fantastic and there’s even a huge purpose built sink for bathing babies. You can find out more about it here
ESKDALE CAMPSITE (Lake District)
We pulled up at this campsite in the pouring rain; we were starving and it was pitch black. We grabbed a torch, a brolly and headed to a nearby pub called the Boot Inn, oh my word there was an open fire, the best pub food ever and delicious wine! We didn’t want to leave, but eventually we headed back to our little van and woke the next morning to glorious sunshine. Now we could really appreciate just how isolated and picturesque this place really was. After coffee we were ready to explore what was essentially on our doorstop… rivers, waterfalls, woods and crags there’s a reason this is part of the National Trust. You can find out more here
LLYN GWYNANT CAMPSITE (Snowden)
Rocking up at this campsite after dark was our first experience of North Wales and boy what a treat! Waking up in the morning was like Christmas, arriving as we did in the dark, we didn’t have a clue that we were surrounded by mountains. This place is a no frills campsite, perfectly located to explore Snowdonia and climb Snowden. It’s next to a huge lake, perfect for swimming and kayaking too. There are hot showers and you are also allowed to have campfires here which is always a winner for me. We went in October and pretty much had the place to ourselves. You can find out more here
TOLLGATE FARM (Perranporth)
This was another little place we found by accident after spending the whole day on Perranporth beach and falling in love with it. We found this little family run site on the edge of the dunes with the most amazing views of the sand dunes and coast. After pulling up and having a BBQ, all accompanied by herbs picked from their herb garden for guests. We walked through the dunes to watch the sunset and then down to the beach for a few drinks at the infamous thewateringhole.co.uk Ive never seen a bar actually right on the beach in the UK, its definitely one to check out! You can find out more here
TRILL FARM (Axminster)
A real GEM hidden down the most gorgeous (but very tiny) country lanes in Axminster. This ones for tent lovers only but don’t let that put you off as this is truly Devon’s best kept secret, I almost didn’t want to share!
Upon arrival you park your van/car in the allocated area and a tractor will arrive to take all your luggage up to the camp which is a short walk away, hidden from view. From the minute we arrived it just kept getting better and better. There is an outdoor building with a kitchen area and separate seating area where fairy lights hug the beams. In the middle there is a huge canopy with a fire pit and logs to sit on. The fire shed next to it is fully stoked so no need to bring your own wood either. Then you get to this tiny little opening that leads you onto a huge field with stunning views of the countryside which is where we set up camp. There are outdoor solar showers with a sink, all stocked with the farm’s homemade hand soap and shower gel; the toilets are separate and fully compostable. From the campground you can walk for miles through country and woodland and also wander on down to the farm which holds an array of food courses and farm lunches, you can book to make sure you get a place. Oh, I almost forgot to mention the sourdough bread! (you can pre order and they will have it delivered fresh on arrival for you). In fact you can pre-order just about anything made on the farm, bread, salad and or vegetable boxes as well as meats. We hired the camp between 15 of us for the weekend but you only need a minimum of 10 to hire it out. We didn’t leave the farm at all, just spent the whole weekend wandering the countryside, watching the kids run free, telling stories round the fire pit and enjoying clear starry night skies. You can find out more here
EWLEAZE FARM (Osmington, Dorset)
Only open for 4 weeks of the year during Summer, this is one not to miss out on. With outrageous views over Weymouth Bay this place is a real sanctuary for all tents and vans but also hires out bell tents too.
The site is huge, covering several large fields so plenty of room for kids to roam free, and you won’t need to leave with so much to do on site. There’s a gorgeous private beach, fossil hunting, Turkish Bath House, Shepherds hut, Sauna, hay bale play areas, farm animals (children are even allowed to pet them), kids crafts and dog walks with the farm collies to name but a few.
There is also a central area with lots of mini catering including a bakery, farm shop, pizza van, ice cream and coffee shop, a juice and crepe bar and there’s also a candlelit barn where you can dine too.
Theres so much I could say about this place but you can find out more here oh and you guessed it… campfires are allowed too!
I hope this helps with a little inspiration. Have you been to any of these sites? Do you have any gems you have found in the UK? We would love to find some more, so please do get in touch with your camping site favourites.
Here’s to hoping we will all be back on the road soon.