With the right gear, you can camp throughout the year
Camping holidays are a part of British culture. With so much amazing countryside within a couple of hours of our homes – and in many cases less than an hour – it has become an immensely popular activity, especially for families looking to get away on a short holiday.
The rolling countryside, beautiful rivers and lakes, imposing mountains and local wildlife all add to the experience of camping in the UK. So much so, in fact, that people are looking to go all year round and winter camping in the UK is thriving.
Instead of putting the tents and sleeping bags away as soon as summer ends, families and couples are seeing winter camping as an exciting proposition enabling them to see the best of the British countryside all year round. Yes, believe it or not, people are ditching the central heating and warm, comfortable beds in favour of frosty mornings waking up in a tent – and we applaud these hardy folk!
Camping in the cold might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the growing popularity of the activity implies that it’s not just a one-off. Over the last five years, more and more people have been searching for winter camping equipment, sites and information; and site owners have been the bold decision to open all year round rather than closing for the winter.
Winter days can transform the look and feel of the countryside making them look vastly different to the landscapes we see in the summer months. The crisp, cold ground transforms the countryside into a winter wonderland just waiting to be explored – and in popular tourist areas, you can experience them all without the peak summer crowds.
So, if the idea of winter camping in the UK appeals to you, take a look through our top ten locations:
Ecocamp Glenshee, the Cairngorms
The Cairngorms is one of the most popular National Parks in the UK and it’s easy to see why – especially when you go winter camping there. Ecocamp Glenshee, right on the southern edge of the Park, is a site open the year round offering 360-degree views of the open sky and, if you’re very lucky on clear nights, a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis.
It’s a site popular among adrenaline-loving campers with plenty of mountain biking trails in the vicinity and during really snowy winters there is the chance to go skiing too. The site has a number of tent pitches and huts available giving you the option to glamp or camp.
Amber’s Bell Tent Camping, Wiveton Hall, Norfolk
Hidden away in the grounds of Wiveton Hall close to the Norfolk coast is Amber’s Bell campsite. Despite the name many of the tents are put away for winter but the site remains open throughout and the manor makes for a fantastic backdrop.
There is a wood burner and cooking facilities, along with a double bed in the remaining Shepherd’s hut; and there’s a high possibility that you’ll be the only ones on the site which is great if you like the peace and seclusion.
North Lees Campsite, Peak District
Sheltered within the woodland of the Peak District is the wonderful North Lees Campsite. There is an abundance of space for small tents and a number of great wooden camping pods which may appeal to some winter campers! One of these pods is accessible for those in wheelchairs which is a particular plus point.
If you’re into winter walking then this part of the Peaks is perfect for you, and if you’re a little more adventurous then there is ‘the Edge’ which is just 20 minutes from the site and an area that attracts climbers from all over the UK.
Irongorge Camping, Shropshire
Situated close to the banks of the River Severn in Coalbrookdale is Irongorge Camping. It is a large site but only allocates 12 pitches for tents making it something of an exclusive site even though you’ll be able to get to know your neighbours if you wish.
Winter campers are welcome to pitch a tent and use the facilities including a firepit for warmth (a must!) or you have the option to stay in one of the timber glamping pods if you’d prefer. The site offers fantastic views over the Wrekin Hill and is ideal if you enjoy fishing, walking or cycling.
Cotswolds Camping, Holycombe, Warwickshire
Cotswolds Camping in the heart of the English countryside is viewed by many as one of the best-kept secrets in the camping world. With a mixture of everything from rolling countryside and streams to the site of a Norman castle and a moat that is still in existence, Cotswolds Camping is a site that keeps on giving all year round.
Winter campers can stay anywhere on the site in your own tent or you have the option to stay in a yurt draped in all kinds of furnishings, a treehouse and a number of bell tents. A wood is just a short walk up the lane (as is a classic and award-winning pub), and it really is a wonderful area for winter walks.
The Lake, Cornwall
This one is more of a glamping option, but The Lake in Bodmin in Cornwall offers some of the best outdoor living for miles. A converted shipping container comes complete with wood burner, fully-equipped kitchen, LED lighting, French windows and a comfortable double-bed – but don’t worry, outside you still have plenty of beautiful countryside to give you the winter camping experience.
Walkers will enjoy the 17,000-acres of Bodmin Moor and lovers of historic sites and buildings will definitely want to visit Restormel Castle and its views over the River Fowey.
Run Cottage, Suffolk
For a campsite in the east of England, close to the sea and offering camping, caravanning and glamping opportunities it just has to be Run Cottage near the market town of Woodbridge in Suffolk. Made up of two meadows bordered by beautiful tall trees and accompanied by the passing River Run – hence the name – Run Cottage is a family and pet-friendly campsite open all year round.
If you fancy a trip to the beach then it’s only a short drive, and there are a number of fantastic National Trust locations nearby including an Anglo Saxon burial site. A local pub is around ten minutes away if you fancy a walk for some home-cooked food, and there is a village shop too offering all of the essentials you’ll need to get you through your stay.
Glenmore Campsite, the Cairngorms
The snow-covered mountains of the Cairngorms are a sight to behold and a must-visit for any keen camper the year round. For those thinking of going winter camping in the Cairngorms we highly recommend the Glenmore Campsite which offers excellent on-site facilities as well as easy access to Loch Morlich with cover from the trees when the weather does turn and rolling countryside waiting to be explored.
Being a National Park there are plenty of things to see and do, and plenty of people on-hand to advise you, or you could read our GO Guide to the Cairngorms for a few ideas before you go.
Bracelands, Forest of Dean
We couldn’t talk about cold weather camping without including a site with the name ‘Brace’ in it now could we? Bracelands in the Forest of Dean is surrounded by stunning oak trees giving you a wonderful backdrop especially on frosty or even snowy mornings; while there are plenty of brilliant places to grab a warm meal or hot drink nearby.
Setthorns, New Forest
The New Forest is famous for its beautiful scenery, postcard-worthy landscapes and of course the free-roaming ponies; but it is also gaining a reputation for being a fantastic place to go camping in the winter.
Setthorns Campsite is one of the best and most widely available campsites in the New Forest and offers a genuine ‘wild’ experience with no toilet or shower facilities leaving you to your own devices. With 237 pitches starting at around £12 for two adults per night, an abundance of wildlife and woodland all around you’ll feel a million miles away from the towns and cities. There are plenty of things to see and do in the local area with villages and pubs a short walk away, and the New Forest really is beautiful on frosty mornings so get the kettle on and see it for yourself!
When you think about clothing in relation to winter camping there’s one word that immediately springs to mind – layers! For many people the cold weather is enough to put them off camping, even in the summer, but keeping warm camping is easier than you might think provided that you’ve got the right clothing with you.
You can find everything you need to go winter camping in your local branch of GO Outdoors or on our website, but we’ve compiled a mini checklist to ensure that you’ve got all you need before you go:
Obviously, this is just a guide and there will be a few pieces that you automatically take with you such as t-shirts, jumpers and underwear; but our staff are here to provide further advice should you need it – or you can contact the campsite to see what they advise regarding what to wear winter camping and how to keep warm.
All of this winter camping equipment can be bought online at GO Outdoors or in your local store.