Britain's best-value campsites

Pitch up at wild woods, fabulous farms and dramatic dales

Britain's best-value campsites
By Victoria Yates

Boutique camping? Nope. Glamping? Get over it. We want budget camping. Victoria Yates selects 20 pocket-friendly pitches

England

Britchcombe

Located a mile’s walk from the 3,000-year-old White Horse, Britchcombe offers stunning views of Oxfordshire countryside dotted with remains from the prehistoric and Iron Ages.

Site The facilities are basic but well kept and include toilets, showers, a washing-up block and a fridge. The site is sloping, so it’s best to pitch in the higher areas when the weather turns wet. Electric hook-ups are also available.
Pitches 80.
Price £6 adult, £3 five-14s.
Getting there Train to Swindon. Buses are infrequent, so it’s best to get a taxi (Connect Cabs, 01793 238444, about £25).

Britchcombe Countryside Holidays, Britchcombe Farm, Uffington, Faringdon, Oxfordshire, SN7 7QJ (01367 820667).

Blackberry Wood

At the foot of the South Downs this site comprises a series of secluded glades and is surrounded by trails; the coast and Brighton are a short drive away.

Site Pitch size varies, with each in its own woodland clearing. Basic amenities are provided, such as toilets, showers (open to the sky), a washing-up block and a small shop. The site tends to get muddy after the rain so wellies are advisable.
Pitches 20.
Price £5.
Getting there Train to Plumpton, then a 25-min walk. Alternatively, a taxi from Hassocks train station is about £12 (Five Star Taxis, 01273 846666).

Blackberry Wood, Streat Lane, near Ditchling, East Sussex, BN6 8RS (01273 890035/www.blackberrywood.com)

Debden House

An eclectic crowd makes Debden’s vibe more akin to a festival than a holiday in Essex. Its expansive 50 acres (including several playgrounds) are walking distance from the tube.

Site Generous pitches are all well marked, and there are adequate facilities including a small shop. Electric hook-ups are also available.
Pitches 350.
Price £7 adult, £3.50 child.
Getting there Debden, the nearest tube station, is around one-and-a-half miles away; Loughton is two miles. Both stations are on the Central Line.

Debden House, Debden Green, Loughton, Essex, IG10 2NZ (8508 3008/6770/www.debdenhouse.com).

Woodside Farm

Set among the Norfolk Broads, this is a spacious, peaceful site popular with those who want to combine camping and boating.

Site The area could accommodate at least twice as many pitches, so space is plentiful, and the fields are well drained and almost flat. There is only one male and one female shower but facilities are well kept.
Pitches 10.
Price £17 for four people, £3 extra adult.
Getting there The nearest train station is at Acle. From there, take a taxi (Acle Taxi Service, 01493 752223, about £8).

Woodside Farm, Common Lane, Thurne, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk NR29 3BX (01692 670367/www.woodside-farm.co.uk).

Treen Farm

Perched on a cliff a few miles from Land’s End, and a steep downward walk to the sand and sea of Pednvounder Beach, this farm affords its campers an ocean view.

Site In bad weather the wind can be battering in the treeless fields, nevertheless there are adequate facilities including token-run showers, and the pitches are flat and well drained. No electric hook-up but you are welcome briefly to charge something in the store.
Pitches 100.
Price Tent £2.50-£4, car £1, adult £4, child £1.50-£2.
Getting there Train to Penzance. Bus 1A (0871 200 2233, www.firstgroup.com) runs regularly, taking 35 mins to the bottom of Treen Hill, from where it’s a short walk uphill to the campsite.

Treen Farm Campsite, Treen Farm, St Levan, Penzance, Cornwall, TR19 6LF (01736 810273/www.treenfarmcampsite.co.uk).

Highertown Farm

A working farm with an environmental awareness, Highertown seeks to be as green as possible. It offers patrons a peaceful, simple stay within quintessential English countryside.

Site Solar-heated water is used in the showers and washing-up block (bring change: the tap costs 20p and the shower 40p), and toilets of both the normal and compost variety are available. All pitches are located in one large field.
Pitches 16.
Price Tent £4-£5 adult, £2-£2.50 two-12s.
Getting there Train to Looe, then Polruan 281 bus to Lansallos church (Mon-Fri, journey 30 mins, 08712 002233).

Highertown Farm Campsite, Lansallos, Looe, Cornwall, PL13 2PX (01208 265211/www.nationaltrust.org.uk).

Westermill Farm

Within Exmoor National Park and on the bank of the Exe, Westermill offers all the benefits of real countryside, including walks, pubs, fishing and steam trains.

Site The site is set across four fields (the first being the only one fenced off from the water, so best for children), with hedges and trees giving a sense of privacy. Solar- and gas-powered showers, toilets and washing-up facilities are also available.
Pitches 60.
Price Tent £5 adult, £3 child, car £2.50.
Getting there Tricky. Buses do run from Minehead and Tiverton to Exford (0871 200 2233, www.firstgroup.com), but it’s still a two-and-a-half-mile walk to the site. From Easter-September, the Moor Rover bus (01643 709701, www.atwest.org.uk) can pick up and drop off anywhere within Exmoor National Park, but you’ll need to book well ahead.

Westermill Farm, Exford, Exmoor, near Minehead, Somerset, TA24 7NJ (01643 831238/07970 594808).

Abbey Home Farm

Located on an organic farm in the Cotswolds, Abbey Home pushes a ‘back-to-nature’ feel. The communal fire is used for marshmallow toasting.

Site No designated pitches in the large field, a Dutch barn houses toilets, a washing-up tap, and solar-powered showers (compost toilets also available). There is a more ‘private’ area a mile from the main field with room for four tents and its own compost toilet.
Pitches 50.
Price £5 adult, £1 child.
Getting there The nearest train station is Kemble, on the other side of Cirencester. Buses are infrequent, so it’s best to get a taxi, about £15, to the farm. Cirencester Taxis (01285 642767) operate from the rail station.

Abbey Home Farm, Burford Rd, Cirencester,Gloucestershire, GL7 5HF (01285 640441/www.theorganicfarmshop.co.uk).

North Lees

A haven for outdoor enthusiasts – climbing and walking are just two of the pursuits available here. Nearby Hathersage affords visitors an array of literary and historical highlights.

Site You can pitch where you like among the tall trees. A stone building houses the showers (one male, one female) and the toilets, all of which are well-maintained, as well as a covered washing-up area.
Pitches 60.
Price £5 adult, £3-£4 child, £1-£2 car.
Getting there It’s a long walk uphill from the nearest station at Hathersage, where the 272 bus (0871 200 2233, www.firstgroup.com) from Sheffield also stops. So get a taxi instead (Grindleford Private Hire, 01433 630360, about £6).

North Lees Campsite, Birley Lane, Hathersage, Derbyshire, S32 1BR (01433 650838).

Upper Booth Farm

A conservation-conscious National Trust farm on the Pennine Way, and connected to numerous other paths, Upper Booth is ideal for walkers.

Site Two fields and no designated spots mean you can choose your view, and numbers are kept low so it never feels too busy. Minimal facilities include toilets and one small shower. In summer the farm kitchen doubles as a makeshift café.
Pitches 30.
Price £4-£5 adult, £3-£5 under-12s, £2 car.
Getting there Train to Edale and then 200 bus (01298 812204, www.bowersbuses.com, journey 15mins), which takes you to the door of the farm. It’s a school bus, so there are three buses a day in the afternoon, and no service at weekends or in the holidays.

Upper Booth Farm & Campsite, Edale, Hope Valley, Derbyshire, S33 7ZJ (01433 670250/www.upperboothcamping.co.uk).

Gordale Scar

For walkers and gawpers: set in a gorge in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, Gordale Scar is a 300-foot high limestone ravine.

Site Such facilities as there are, toilets, showers (10p/2 mins) and a washing-up area, are incredibly basic and not necessarily as well kept as some. However, you can pitch wherever you like and electric hook-ups are possible. Pitches 40.
Price £3 adult, £1.50 child, £3 tent, £3 vehicle.
Getting there The nearest train station is Skipton. Various local buses, including Little Red Bus (01756 795666, www.littleredbus.co.uk) and DalesBus (www.dalesbus.org), run from Skipton to Malham. The journey takes 45-60mins, then it’s a 20-min walk to Gordale Scar. Transport details (and numbers of local taxi firms) are available on the Malhamdale website.

Gordale Scar Campsite, Gordale Farm, Malham, North Yorkshire, BD23 4DL
(01729 830333/www.malhamdale.com).

Jerusalem Farm

A secluded spot in a local nature reserve, this site is far from traffic and a good base for exploring Yorkshire’s literary history and natural beauty.

Site You can pitch anywhere on the long strip of grass and there are picnic tables and stone slabs for barbeques scattered around. No vehicle access means a steep walk down to the site. Well-tended men’s and women’s toilets are provided, along with one shower, drinking taps and washing-up points.
Pitches 30.
Price £5 adult, £3 five-15s.
Getting there Train to Halifax. Buses 573, 574 and 575 (08450 260099, www.firstgroup.com) stop at Booth, half a mile from the campsite (Mon-Sat, 35mins).

Jerusalem Farm, Jerusalem Lane, Booth, Halifax, West Yorkshire, HX2 6XB (01422 883246).

Wales

Trefalen Farm

With access to local beaches good for swimming, surfing and cliff walks, Trefalen is ideal for outdoorsy types.

Site A basic site with one, clean toilet block, as well as washing-up sinks and drinking taps, but no hot water or showers.
Pitches 40.
Price £4 adult, £2 child.
Getting there Train to Pembroke, from where the Coastal Cruiser 387 bus runs three times a day. It takes about an hour to Broad Haven beach car park, next to the campsite. Information at www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk.

Trefalen Farm, Bosherston near Pembroke, Pembrokeshire, SA71 5DR
(01646 661643).

Llanthony Priory

Located next to the ruins of a twelfth-century priory (whose cellar has been converted into a pub), this site is in the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Site There are no showers and two toilet options: the pub (preferable but bound by opening hours) or the car park (always open but not particularly pleasant). No set pitches but in wet weather it’s advisable to aim for the top of the slope.
Pitches 100.
Price £3 adult, £1.50 child.
Getting there There is no public transport to the priory. The nearest train station is Abergavenny, from where it’s a 13-mile/£22  taxi ride (Brian’s Taxis, 01873 858597).

Llanthony Priory, Court Farm, Llanthony, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, NP7 7NN (01873 890359/www.llanthony.co.uk).

Gwern Gof Uchaf

Dramatic scenery offers challenging climbing for adventurous campers and gentle walks, picnics and angling for those seeking relaxation, all at the foot of Tryfan, a 3,000-foot mountain.

Site You can pitch in front of the farmhouse or on a little mezzanine field slightly higher up. A shower block offers unisex facilities and a washing-up area, kept in good order (and where a weather report is pinned up). Two toilets for men and for women are available.
Pitches 50.
Price £4 adult, £3 child.
Getting there Train to Bangor, from where the Snowdon Sherpa S6 bus (www.gwynedd.gov.uk) runs daily along the A5 to Betws-y-Coed, though there are more buses starting from Bethesda. It takes 25 mins and stops by the lake, within walking distance of the campsite.

Gwern Gof Uchaf, Capel Curig, Betws-y-Coed, Conwy, LL24 OEU (01690 720294/www.tryfanwales.co.uk).

Tan-y-Bryn Farm

A small, friendly site at the top of Wales on the Creuddyn peninsula, Tan-y-Bryn affords stunning views of the shoreline. 

Site There are three gently sloping fields in which to pitch your tent and basic facilities such as toilets, showers and washing-up facilities are provided, as well as an information room with notices about local businesses and a fridge-freezer. Electric hook-ups are available.
Pitches 10.
Price £6 for two people, £12 for six people.
Getting there Llandudno Junction is the nearest train station, but no buses go nearby. A taxi costs about £5.50 (Roger’s Taxis, 01492 572224).

Bryn Pydew, Llandudno Junction,Conwy, Gwynedd, LL31 9JZ (01492 549296).

Scotland

Machrihanish

At the tip of the Kintyre peninsula this site allows access to a three-mile sandy beach and long walks along Kintyre Way.

Site Pitching here is done in a ‘like-for-like’ fashion, with families, couples and singles grouped together. Comprehensive disabled and parent-and-child facilities are available, with good showers and toilets for all. Mod cons like hairdryers, straighteners and styling irons can be hired, and a ‘camper’s caravan’ features a microwave, sink, crockery, TV and music player.
Pitches 90.
Price £5.50 adult, £2.50 child.
Getting there There are two flights a day Mon-Fri from Glasgow International to Campbeltown (www.flybe.com, journey 40mins). From there, local buses to Machrihanish stop just outside the campsite, or you can get a taxi (01586 551122). Buses run from Glasgow to Campbeltown (www.citylink.co.uk) but, at about four and a half hours, it’s a very long journey).

Machrihanish Camping & Caravan Park, East Trodigal, Campbeltown, Argyll, PA28 6PT (01586 810366/07999 806959/www.campkintyre.co.uk).

Mains Farm

Thornhill’s history-steeped neighbour Stirling and the mountainous, loch-filled Trossachs are both easily accessible, while the village itself boasts a unique landscape including the floodplain of the River Forth.

Site The pitches are a bit of a walk from the basic shower and toilet facilities. There is also a washing-up area and a washing machine/dryer. Electric hook-ups are available but should be reserved in advance.
Pitches 60.
Price £5 tent, £2 extra adult, £1.50 extra child.
Getting there Train to Stirling, then 11 bus (www.firstgroup.com, 0871 200 2233, four times a day, no service Sun) to Thornhill; journey takes 30 mins. On Sun, there’s a Harlequin Coach service from Stirling bus station to Thornhill at 9am. Mains Farm is a short walk from the village.

Mains Farm Wigwams, Thornhill, Stirlingshire, FK8 3QR (01786 850735/www.mainsfarmwigwams.com).

Applecross

Very remote, this site has views across the bay and is a good base for scenic walks along a stunning coast of inlets and dunes. The village eatery, the Applecross Inn, is legendary.

Site All basic necessities are provided for and in good condition, with a licensed café/restaurant on site. Within the six acres there is no restriction on where you pitch, and the reception has a payphone (there is no mobile phone reception) and a cash machine. A coin-operated washing machine and tumble dryer are also available.
Pitches 55.
Price £6.50 adult, £3 12-16s, free under-12s.
Getting there Train to Strathcarron or Achnasheen, then the dial-a-bus service to Applecross (book ahead on 01520 722205, no  service Sun).

Applecross Campsite, Applecross, Strathcarron, Ross-shire, IV54 8ND (01520 744268, www.applecross.uk.com/campsite)

Badrallach

This isolated spot on the Scoraig peninsula presents numerous walking and climbing opportunities; the owners hire out boats allowing you to make use of the nearby loch.

Site There are marked pitches in the camping area, with toilets, showers and washing-up area all provided. The bothy forms the social hub and contains a fridge and sink but no cooking facilities.
Pitches 12.
Price Pitch £2.50, plus £4 adult, £2 child.
Getting there A couple of options. Train to Inverness, then the Westerbus (0871 2002233, one a day on Mon, Wed, Sat) to end of Badrallach Road; or City Link bus Ullapool service (08705 505050, www.citylink.co.uk, twice daily) from Inverness to Braemore Junction. Collection can be arranged from both drop-off points with the campsite owners.

Badrallach, Dundonnell, Ross-shire IV23 2QP (001854 633281/www.badrallach.com).

Time Out guidebooks

This selection of campsites is taken from ‘Time Out Camping’, available from www.timeout.com/shop at £9 (RRP £12.99).

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