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If, like Moley, Ratty and Badger you love nothing more than gadding about in and around the river, then read on. With tranquil waters lapping the banks, weeping willows trailing their branches into the water, dragonflies swooping over the waterlilies, and miles and miles of meandering gentle pathways, pottering along a river can be one of the most beautiful, peaceful and low impact ways of exploring the countryside. Through farmland, woodland, dense forests and coastal routes leading to the sea, British rivers provide a wonderfully inspirational journey across some of the most beautiful landscapes....and canoeing these rivers is one of the best ways to explore them. Pack a picnic, grab an oar and push-off downstream. Here are some wonderful campsites where you can stay for a few days, hire a canoe (or bring your own) and set off right from your tent. Some even pack you off with a river map and top tips for the best riverside pub on route too. So what are you waiting for? Relax, unwind and potter off downriver for a camping trip with a bit of extra adventure....
Just an hour south of London but with the bucolic setting of a place a million miles from anywhere, is New Wharf Campsite; a family run farm and camping site in the beautiful countryside of West Sussex, surrounded by acres of fields, wildflower meadows, ponds and the River Adur. Campers staying here have private access to the river, which is only a short walk from the campsite and access is very straightforward thanks to the steps they have built into the water. Canoes, kayaks and SUPs are available to hire from local canoe experts The Kayak Coach who handle all canoe rentals, as well as running excellent courses for all age groups. Back at the campsite, you can pitch your tents either riverside (this is exclusive hire only so go in a big gang) or around the edge of their main camping field, which has bags of space for everyone and lots of room for kids to run around. The site also offer pre-pitched bell tents and rather lovely boutique shepherds huts, so there is accommodation for everyone. With the south downs just a few minutes way and surrounded by a stunning array of wildlife, this is a lovely campsite with lots to see and do.
Making the most of the mighty River Nene which flows through the county, Four Winds Leisure provide camping, canoeing and a whole host of other fun stuff to do on the river. Their motto here is fun and great accommodation for all, which means there is a wide choice of places to stay, from a lovely touring campsite in the fenland countryside, to boutique shepherds huts, log cabins and cosy B&B rooms. There is something for everyone. So while the accommodation is sorted, what to do while you're there? Well canoe obviously, and here at Four Winds they have sturdy Mackinaw Canadian style canoes - easy to steer and holding 2 or 3 people - so you can paddle the miles of gentle waters on the River Nene in comfort and ease. There are also solo kayaks if your prefer. It is a great way to experience the waterways of the Cambridgeshires fens, and along the way you can take a picnic or paddle to one of the towns and stop off for a pub lunch. It is a really wonderful way of exploring this part of the country and the campsite is a real find.
On the banks of the River Wye, between Hereford and Hay-on-Wye you will find Byecross Farm campsite, a gorgeous spot surrounded by breathtaking countryside and offering camping pitches in the old apple Orchard or the nearby camping field. There are toilets and showers and a good onsite shop, plus, if you order in advance you can purchase home cooked hot food - burgers, pizzas, sandwiches and all sorts - perfect to stoke up before heading off down river. And what a river is it. The River Wye - the fourth longest river in the UK - meanders through the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is full of twists, turns, fast water and wonderful wildlife. And, to help you with everything that you could possibly need is the onsite canoe gang - Hereford Kayak and Canoe Hire - who know the amazing River Wye like the back of their hand and offer all sorts of professional help with navigating if you don't want to go it alone. You can hire the kit and paddle off on one of their guided trips - to places such as Glasbury, Whitney and Hereford - which are of varying length and difficulty and can include a delicious pub lunch, a stop off at a historic site or a trip into one of the nearby towns such as Hay on Wye. This is a beautiful and well run campsite with awesome canoeing onsite.
An extraordinary campsite this one, offering the type of holiday some of us dream of. In the heart of "Constable Country" in Dedham Vale in Suffolk - an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - Rushbanks Farm has been family run for three generations and is a friendly, tranquil and pretty spot right on the banks of the River Stour. It offers campers the chance to explore the great outdoors, nature watch, relax and totally switch off from the stresses of every day life. It is an old fashioned, off grid oasis, with all the luxuries you need - toilets, showers, fresh water etc - without anything spoiling the natural beauty of the place. You can pitch where you like, or book one of their pre-erected bell tents if it makes life easier. Hire a canoe and head out at sunset or sunrise to capture the true beauty of this place, alive with flora and fauna.....or take a more relaxed view of things and just paddle down to the local pub for lunch. Canoes can be hired on site for those staying at the campsite and come with basic training, river maps and a poncho in case the weather turns. After a day of paddling and exploring, return to the campsite and relax under a starry sky listening to the wildlife around you.
Literally on the waters edge of Ullswater in the Lake District is the perfectly positioned Waterside House campsite, offering camping and good value glamping in the most dramatic and peaceful of locations. Run by the same family for five generations, this campsite is part of a working farm situated at the foot of Barton Fell, making it a brilliant base for mountain biking and hiking. The joy here however is the proximity to the waters edge, making it a rather lovely spot for watching the sun go down over the water, either on a canoe or SUP. You can hire kayaks, SUPS, rowing boats and Canadian Canoes onsite, launch your vessel from your pitch and paddle out into the stunning waters of Ullswater. There's an excellent pop-up cafe too - The Gathering - so you can refuel here with one of their delicious breakfasts. It's a quiet and relaxing spot, so if you're looking for a loud party maybe head elsewhere; here you will find an area steeped in natural beauty and farmland. If you don't have your own camping gear then the Teepees, Bell Tents and pods are an excellent choice.
picture credit: waterside house campsite
With beautifully tranquil waterside pitches for tents, campers and motorhomes, plus a very well organised onsite canoe hire set-up, this gorgeous campsite by the River Waveney on the Norfolk Broads is a stunning wildlife haven just waiting to be explored. You can hire large Canadian canoes for 4, kayaks or SUPS and they'll even do you a posh picnic lunch in a hamper, crammed with delicious local produce such as juices, fresh bread, cheeses and all sorts of other luxurious goodies. If you have your own vessel you can launch from the campsite at no extra cost, and the riverside pitches (if you are lucky enough to bag one) mean that is only a few feet away from the river bank to push off.
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