Looking for a campsite to take the family but don’t want to end up at another tarmaced field alongside an A-road? We’ve asked Andrew Day, co-author of brand new Cool Camping Kids guidebook, to choose some memorable places to pitch that offer something different
For Stargazing… Go to Ling’s Meadow
“Sleeping beneath a star-studded sky is perhaps the most memorable part of the camping experience. Located on an 80-acre wheat and barley farm – close to the Norfolk Suffolk border – Ling’s Meadow offers low levels of light pollution, allowing for near-perfect stargazing conditions. The focus here is on back-to-basics camping, with just six pitches (large enough to accommodate a family-sized tent) hidden amongst a verdant meadow of tall grass – perfect for little ‘uns to explore. Days are spent roaming Thetford Forest’s traffic-free cycle trails, and come evening, families gather around a crackling campfire, waiting for the stars to appear in Norfolk’s ink black sky.”
May-September; adults £10 per night, children (3–15) £5, under-3s free.
For Beaches… Go to Shortlands Farm
“The Pembrokeshire coast is studded with beautiful beaches. Thankfully, Shortlands Farm – a charmingly basic campsite set on a 29-acre dairy farm – is only a 10-minute stroll from one of the region’s finest: Druidston. This vast stretch of sand enclosed by steep cliffs has endless room for games, caves to explore, a waterfall (an ideal natural shower for washing the sand off) and, at low tide, rock pools reveal themselves for crabbing. Bring a picnic or head to the restaurant of the laid-back Druidstone Hotel- perched on the cliff top above- and watch the sun descend over the Irish Sea.”
April-September; £7.50 per person per night, under-3s free.
For Peak Bagging… Go to Kestrel Lodge
“Set in the shadow of mighty Skiddaw and a stone’s throw from the shores of Bassenthwaite Lake, Kestrel Lodge occupies one of the Lake District’s most enviable locations. The main camping meadow – with only 30 pitches – boasts spectacular views across the adjacent fields to where the Cumbrian fells rise and fall. As you would expect, the walking is first-class. Many families choose to tackle some of the nine Wainwright peaks that are within easy range of the campsite but Kestrel Lodge is equally well placed for more idle strolls, including a short jaunt to a family-friendly pub – the charming 16th century Sun Inn – 20 minute’s down the lane.”
March-October; adults £7–9 per night, children (3–16) £3.50–£4.50.
For Action and Adventure… Go to Ace Hideaways
“Adventurous teens will love this Ace Hideaways site, surrounded by woodland in far-flung Moray. The adventure centre next door offers plenty of adrenaline-pumping activities on the Findhorn river, including: canyoning, cliff jumping, gorge walking, kayaking, canoeing and tubing. If you can drag them away from the water, peaceful ‘wild camping’ pitches – accommodating one tent and up to five people – share the silence with birds, deer and even red squirrels. No tent? No problem. Three bell tents and a shepherd’s hut are available, each in their own private clearing, plus there’s an outdoor camp kitchen and gas-heated showers.”
April-October; tents £8 per night, adults £6–£8, children (2–17) £3.50–£4; glamping from £11.25 per adult per night, £7.50 per child.
For Woodland Wandering… Go to Blackberry Wood
“If you’re looking for ‘proper’ camping, you won’t beat Blackberry Wood at the foot of the South Downs. Unload the car into a rickety wheelbarrow provided and weave yourself along the site’s sylvan footpath to find twenty private pitches, each set in a clearing with a fire pit and enough space for a medium-sized tent. The site itself is a kids’ natural playground, with dens to build, trees to climb and creepy-crawlies to discover. If you decide to venture out, a walk to the top of Ditchling Beacon – once an Iron Age hillfort – rewards with panoramic views across the Sussex countryside.”
Open all year; tents £10–£17 per night, adults £10, children (3–15) £5, under-3s free.
By Andrew Day of coolcamping.com