Berries on the bushes and cosy campfire cooking, the experts at coolcamping.com pick out their favourite campsites for autumn foraging
When the air is cooler, the nights are darker and the colours of the leaves begin to change, there’s something wonderfully wholesome and intrepid about getting outdoors and making the most of autumn. Now is that time that the flora and fauna of the countryside is at its most varied. Chestnut trees are dropping chunky conkers, bushes are burdened with bulging blackberries and critters and birds are making the most of the autumnal goodies before winter comes. Camping, too, is still very much on the agenda, with a few more weeks for cosying around the campfire and cooking up something special before the season comes to an end. So, to help you find the perfect autumn locations, we’ve asked the experts at coolcamping.com for their pick of the nation’s greatest campsites for wild foragers…
Peace and quiet is guaranteed at adult-only Gwalia Farm on the southern edge of Snowdonia National Park, a wild place where foraging and simple living are all part of life. The only water here is untreated spring water, which the owners must label as ‘not drinking water’ (although the family does drink it!) and wild swimming is permitted in the top lake for those who can handle the cold. There are just five camping pitches, each well separated by long wild grass, trees or the stream that snakes through the site and campfires are very much permitted. Head into the surrounding woods for the best of the autumn booty.
Open for just a few more weeks this season, misleading named Greenhillock Glamping offers ample tent camping pitches as well as their collection of pre-pitched and furnished bell tents. The five-acre patch is a haven for wildlife, bugs and berries, and includes woodland to explore (this time of year the colours are tremendous), plus a small pond with nets for dipping. Campfires are permitted and there’s a rustic field kitchen area where you can turn blackberry-filled Tupperware into tasty family treats. The Cairngorms and the coast are also both within easy driving distance.
No electricity, no mobile phone signal and a wheelbarrow for weaving your gear through the trees to your tent; camping at Eco Camp UK is a real off-grid experience. Thankfully, that’s precisely why people love it – particularly busy Londoners who can get her quickly by train. Well over a quarter of the vast 2000-acre Beech Estate, has been set aside for guests to walk, mountain bike and generally run wild, with camping pitches (and pre-pitched bell tents) set in informal clearings among the woods. Roast chestnuts over the open campfire, try your hand identifying giant puffballs and fungi or stick to the fistfuls of blackberries that grow in the forest’s more open areas.
Coming to a close for the 2017 season, this self-proclaimed “nearly wild camping experience” offers a genuinely hidden nook near the Pembrokeshire coast with large, family-sized pitches, makeshift log benches and campfires permitted. Facilities are basic but adequate – including a hot shower, composting toilet and a play barn for wet weather days – while impromptu treasure hunts run for kids, along with rainy day activities such as bird box making and wood whittling. Hidden among the thicket and fauna at the end of a secluded lane, berries grow in abundance here, particularly sloes and rosehips, and ample fungi can be found too.
The cockerel may crow or the goats may mutter as you enter Palace Farm, but that’s as noisy as it gets. It’s a quiet old place, off the beaten track but with space for around 25 tents along its hedged edges, with an adjoining field left free for games. Campers can help themselves to plums from the orchard or blackberries from the old hedgerows around the farm, and edible mushrooms are permitted to grow prolifically across the site in the autumn. While you’re hunting and gathering, have a forage at the honesty shop, where zero-food-mile courgettes, pumpkins, and other seasonal veg are available fresh from the farm.
Based on their leading guidebooks, the Cool Camping website now offers an online collection of the very best camping and glamping sites in the UK and Europe. Discover their full collection of campsites open all-year-round here.