I’ve come to camping late in life, never setting foot in a tent before I was 50.

It’s fair to say I’m a convert though and I hope to book for Cornwall later this year. I can now see the simplicity of pitching a tent and sleeping under the stars has an undeniable appeal.

So, for a newbie like me, where else are the recommended spots to visit?

A recent study, commissioned by the Expert Camper has identified the most popular British camping destinations.

Andy Halliday, owner of the site gives an insight into some of these destinations, highlighting what makes each spot unique and what activities await eager campers:

The New Forest: A timeless wonderland

Topping the list is the New Forest National Park, a vast expanse of ancient woodlands, heathlands, and picturesque villages.

This ancient woodland, established as a royal hunting ground by William the Conqueror, is a haven for wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts.

“The New Forest is a true gem,” says Andy. “Its meandering streams, tranquil glades, and amazing wildlife create a serene setting that invites you to immediately disconnect from the digital world and embrace nature’s beauty.”

Campers can explore numerous walking and cycling trails that weave through ancient woodlands and open heathlands. The forest is dotted with charming villages such as Lyndhurst and Brockenhurst, where one can enjoy traditional cream teas or hearty pub meals.

Activities like horse riding and wildlife spotting are popular, and the serene environment is perfect for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

The Lake District: A hiker’s paradise

Coming in a close second is the Lake District, a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its stunning lakes, towering peaks, and charming villages.

It’s no surprise that this region is a favourite among hikers and nature lovers alike.

The area offers a plethora of activities, from hiking up England’s highest peak, Scafell Pike, to leisurely boat trips on Lake Windermere.

For those keen on adventure, the Lake District provides opportunities for rock climbing, kayaking, and wild swimming. The local cuisine, featuring Cumbrian specialities like Cumberland sausage and sticky toffee pudding, adds to the experience. Campers often find the tranquil, star-studded nights particularly magical.

“The Lake District offers a wealth of outdoor adventures,” says Andy. “From challenging hikes to serene lakeside strolls, there’s something for everyone. And what better way to end a day of exploration than by pitching your tent and falling asleep to the soothing sounds of nature?”

The Peak District: Rugged beauty and culinary delights

The Peak District, with its rugged landscapes and quaint villages, has captured the hearts of campers searching for the perfect outdoor escape.

Highlights include the famous Pennine Way and the scenic Dovedale valley.

The area is rich in history, with stately homes like Chatsworth House and the spa town of Buxton nearby. Outdoor activities such as caving, climbing, and cycling, are popular. The local market towns offer delicious regional foods, including the renowned Bakewell pudding.

“The Peak District is a true gem for those seeking a blend of natural beauty and culinary delights,” notes Andy. “After a day of hiking through the rolling hills and exploring the limestone dales, you can indulge in the region’s renowned Bakewell tarts and locally brewed ales, creating a truly memorable camping experience.”

Other top spots

Beyond the top three, other notable camping destinations include Cornwall, celebrated for its stunning coastal campsites and surfing spots, and the Isle of Wight, which offers beautiful beaches and family-friendly attractions.

Eryri, Snowdonia National Park, in Wales, attracts adventurers with its rugged mountain landscapes and opportunities for climbing and hiking, while Loch Lomond is ideal for water sports and exploring the Scottish Highlands.

Bannau Brycheiniog, the Brecon Beacons provide a serene escape with their rolling hills and dark sky reserve status, perfect for stargazing. Norfolk is famous for its expansive beaches and the Norfolk Broads, a network of rivers and lakes ideal for boating.

Dorset offers picturesque Jurassic Coast cliffs and fossil hunting opportunities.

Some favourite recommendations from more campers:

Claire Gwynne, Cheshire:

Best campsite with facilities: Hayfield Camping & Caravan site in the Peak District which I’ve stayed at as a child and then with my own family and more recently with friends. I also stayed there on my own when I did a practice bike-packing trip.
Basic campsite: Wasdale Head in Cumbria – the inn has a small field for camping and it’s a glorious spot, surrounded by mountains.
Wild camping location: Fabulous wild camp spot on the slopes of Skiddaw in Cumbria but I wouldn’t want crowds to turn up! Views over to the sunset in the Solway and across Bassenthwaite Lake.

Simon Owen, Wolverhampton:

For me, Devon and its beautiful towns and beaches bring many happy camping memories. It’s a great place to see on foot or by bike and there are loads of campsites to choose from — hard to believe they start from about a tenner a night! You can research the best sites through various online resources, including VisitDevon and TripAdvisor.

More great camping in Scotland

Stunning Scotland with its lochs, lush rolling countryside and rugged coastline, is a dream destination for campers from around the world.

There is a wealth of well-established sites, as well as picture-perfect spots where wild camping is allowed. And have you heard of a bothie? If you are up for a unique experience — you can opt to spend time in those scattered around the Highlands.

With so many fanastic places to choose from. the experts at Visit Scotland have provided an excellent guide that tells you all you need to know:

See all camping, caravan and holiday parks in Scotland.

These include:

Isle of Skye

Tiree

Cairngorms National Park

…And Wales
As well as Eryri and Bannau Brycheiniog, more fabulous sites can be found at:
Mwnt and throughout Ceredigion
Ynys Môn (Anglesey)
Beautiful Pembrokeshire
Plus many, many more. See Discover Cymru for details.

Family camping: In researching this article I have gained lots of lovely recommendations for both locations to visit and specific campsites to stay in. Watch this space for a feature on camping with children.

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