From rolling green landscapes to breathtaking vistas, the United Kingdom has no shortage of postcard-perfect scenery. It’s no wonder then that outdoor camping continues to be a favourite activity for locals and visitors to England alike.
According to outdoor accommodation booking platform Pitchup.com, the number of campers has shot up compared to the same time last year. Arrivals for September are now 197% up on last year, with 155,436 holidaymakers arriving that month, compared to 52,332 campers who pitched up in September 2019.
Dan Yates, founder of Pitchup.com, says, “Camping holidays are probably your safest bet for holidays right now – primarily as the virus is less likely to be passed on in the great outdoors. In addition, as many campsites have now been open since early July, campsite owners have had plenty of time to put additional measures in place and refine them so that they work as well as possible.”
Yates’ tips to SilverKris for a safe camping trip include keeping an eye out for campsites with larger pitches to make social distancing easier, as well as selecting options with outdoor washing-up areas to reduce time spent indoors. He adds, “Each Pitchup listing clearly shows specific Covid-protection measures in place on site, so you can browse the filters that matter most to you while deciding if a campsite is safe enough – from contactless check-in to availability of shared spaces such as toilet blocks and their cleaning regimes.”
Other health and safety tips include packing a good supply of hand sanitiser to supplement on-site provisions, as well as wet wipes to clean surfaces as you go. “While masks aren’t necessary outdoors according to UK government guidelines, they are being mandated in many indoor spaces where social distancing is trickier so do check for the rules in the region you’re visiting and go prepared with your own supply,” Yates advises.
Finally, you may want to consider travelling to lesser-known destinations across the UK too. Yates suggests looking at lesser-known counties – such as Norfolk, Suffolk, Kent, East Sussex and Leicestershire – all located within a few hours’ drive of London.
Here’s our pick of five campsites for five different types of campers.
If you’ve been feeling the stress of pandemic fatigue and are looking for a clean break, you’ll enjoy this almost-wild camp located on a farm site overlooking the Thames Estuary that’s nestled on the picturesque Isle of Sheppey (just off the northern coast of Kent). Here, guests are free to choose their own spot amongst the meadow and woodland. Facilities are limited, with one compost toilet and one tented chemical toilet but water is accessible in the farmyard. Supplies are also readily available in the village of Eastchurch a mile away. Campers are also welcome to make the most of fresh eggs in abundance laid by the free-roaming chickens on site.
Best for… campers who want to go off the grid
Located an hour from central London, this scenic campsite is a great option for those looking for a quick weekend getaway. Surrey Hills is surrounded by a network of footpaths and bridleways, making it the perfect base for trekkers and cyclists to explore the area. Some key attractions to visit include Leith Hill, the highest point in southeast England, as well as Wanborough Great Barn, built more than 600 years ago and is the oldest and most important wooden building in Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire. Back at the camp, choose from roomy bell tents that accommodates four or the fully furnished yurts that sleep up to six people.
Best for… campers looking to work out during their stay
Situated in the heart of rural Suffolk, these new wooden camping pods sleep up to four and have their own shower and toilet as well as a kitchen corner with a microwave, kettle, toaster and a variety of cooking equipment as well as a barbecue and seating area in the patio. Parents with young children will appreciate the spacious on-site playground and games room with table tennis. The campsite is also within easy reach of the Suffolk Coast and the Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a lightly populated landscape that offers plenty of space for young ones to let off some rambunctious energy.
Best for… campers travelling with young kids in tow
If you’re looking for a glamping experience, this is most decidedly not for you. But if you like to experience a more rustic way of living, you’ll love this campsite located on top of the Kent North Downs in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. As a designated local wildlife site, they don’t just preach about environmentalism, they walk the talk too. Here, you’ll get full recycling facilities, composting loos and even biodegradable shower gel on sale to ensure every aspect of your stay is eco-friendly. If you’ll like to channel Henry David Thoreau and go full Walden, opt for the more secluded Bluebell Camping area, which is hidden deep in the woods for uninterrupted peace and quiet.
Best for… environmentally conscious campers
For a romantic glamping experience, hotfoot to this luxurious treehouse tucked away in the woodlands of Dorset. Collaboratively designed by Guy Mallinson and Keith Brownlie of Brownlie Ernst and Marks, this enchanting treehouse is part of Crafty Camping, an adults-only campsite located close to the Unesco World Heritage-listed Jurassic Coast. Facilities at the two-storey treehouse include a fully equipped kitchen, plush leather armchairs, a central wood burner, open-air showers and proper flushing toilets. There is also a giant copper tub for that starry-eyed bubble bath before you retire to your massive bed that looks up to the oak canopy overhead.
Best for… campers who can’t live without their creature comforts
Please check the establishments’ respective websites for guidelines before visiting, and remember to adhere to safe-distancing measures while out and about.