It’s time to wave goodbye to the changeable summer weather and seek out shelter in the trees. James Warner Smith from coolcamping.com chooses his top five woodland campsites for getting back to nature.
Sun, rain, cloud, thunder-storms… so far this summer we’ve had it all and, when it comes to going camping, it’s always wise to read the weather forecast to make sure you’re prepared for what’s in store. As well as gathering all the right camping equipment from your local Go Outdoors retailer, one guaranteed way to make the most of changeable weather is to find a sheltered campsite among the trees. Whether it’s the sound of the dawn chorus, the smell of campfire smoke or the sight of dappled sunlight as it dances through the leaves, it’s tough to beat sheltering away at a forest site. To help you find the best woodland spots, we’ve asked the experts from coolcamping.com to pick five incredible UK campsites where you can pitch your tent in the trees…
Tucked inland, six miles from the North Norfolk coast, Dreamy Hollow Campsite is set in the three-and-a-half-acre woods of a former First World War training area. Lost amid the weaving pathways and delightful dells of the woodland, a series of old trenches can still be seen, now worn away and much reclaimed by nature, while rope swings occupy children and campfires keep evenings warm. Camping pitches are comprised of clearings within the trees, some large, some small and one accessible to campervans, while facilities – ‘jungle showers’ and toilets – are a back-to-basics affair.
Follow steep Forestry Commission tracks up to this hidden campsite and you’ll discover a seemingly lost little campsite at the very end. Within Mabie Forest and directly beside some of the most renowned mountain biking trails in Scotland, the pine-clad camping space feels utterly remote, despite being easily accessible from Dumfries, five miles away. There’s ample space for tents beneath the ginormous trees, while hiring a tipi, yurt or an Iron-Age-style roundhouse are also options. Campfires are permitted and there’s a wood-fired, Finnish hot tub for your post-cycle warm down.
Not quite camping, yet not quite glamping, this wild orchard in rural Devon is a back-to-basics site, with off-grid, pre-pitched tents and simple, no-fuss facilities. There are two composting toilets and a pair of quirky pump-your-own showers for use, while campfires, pond dipping and hanging out in hammocks are all part of the daily drill. Best of all, this woodland wonder accommodates a maximum of just eight people, with only one group able to book at a time. The result is a ready-made hideaway in Devon all to yourself and endless space to climb trees, build dens and go explore.
If you want space, pick Pembrokeshire. Not only is this campsite spread across some 27 acres, it also adjoins Ffynone Wood, a gargantuan 325-acre forest, much of which is now a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest. Camping pitches occupy and open, grassy meadow, with glamping options also available, though, for the most wooded feel, you can pitch along the edge beside a flank of mature oak trees. Wildlife is plentiful – the forest has the largest badger population in West Wales – while the farm also has pigs, chickens and pets. Facilities are excellent and converted farm barns make for wonderful communal spaces.
Open during August only, Milborne Wood Campsite has just 10 tent pitches despite the vast size of the ancient wood in which it is set. The trees, a mixture of oak, ash and chestnut, back on to a neighbouring vineyard – a popular visitor attraction with tours of the winery and family activities during school holidays – while the site itself occupies your time with rope swings and lumberjack-style firewood chopping. Washing facilities in wooden cabins are basic but functional and include a handy kitchen shelter, while water has to be heated over the campfire.
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 woodland campsites here.