When most people arrive at a campsite, get set up, bung on the kettle and sit back and relax, nothing - other than a DEFCON 1 emergency - can move them from their foldaway camp chair with seat recline and/or built-in beer holder. I am one of those people. However, if you go camping with a hyperactive partner, enthusiastic friends or kids that need entertaining, a handful of really brilliant and forward thinking campsite owners have come up with an extra large "things to do" section. This in no way means someone directing you to the nearest field for a good, long look at a cow. These are unique, fun activities that will enhance your holiday and might just bring out your creative side, your wild side, or give you a chance to have a go something you never thought of doing. So if you fancy a foodie trip, camping by a fishing lake, horse riding or heading back to your tent after a day white water rafting, why don't you give some of these campsites a go.....
Bwlchgwyn Farm campsite is a beautifully situated and unique campsite offering campers a chance to explore the breathtaking Welsh scenery on horseback. There are touring pitches available for tents and caravans, or Glamping pods which sleep up to 5 people. All camping pitches have sea views across the Llyn Peninsula and Mawddach Estuary with the backdrop of the Snowdonia mountain range. The main event here is the horse riding and it is for everyone; suitable for experienced riders or beginners/novice families with young children from aged 4. You can join a Pony Trek to the beach (more experienced riders will be able to have a good canter along the sand), or have a horse riding lesson, learn about the care of horses or even bring your own horse on holiday and give him a change of scene too. A magical place for a camping holiday with a bit of a difference.
Nestled into the Cornish woodland is a "wild camping" experience like no other. At Cornish Wave, Bells tents are your home for the night, with airbeds, pillows (and breakfast) included and all tents are connected by festive banners and twinkling lights; so it is adventure with a touch of luxury. Which you'll be delighted about after completing all the things these chaps have planned for you. Adventure weekends are on offer here, involving coasteering (exploring the coastline at sea level, i.e. scrambling, swimming and death defying jumps off rocks), surfing and axe throwing. All that you need to do back at camp is relax in the back to nature, off grid, handcrafted campsite, light the BBQ and chill....
First off, Port Lympne Safari Park, under the wing of the Aspinall Foundation, are ardent conservationists, renowned for high standards of animal welfare and captive breeding for endangered species. They aim, wherever possible to return animals to the wild in order to protect various species from extinction. It is a very special place. There are over 900 rare and endangered species here, including big cats, western lowland gorillas, black rhino, and Rothschild giraffes. Take a real safari truck around the Park and learn all about the animals in their own habitats, watch them feed and interact with each other as they would in the wild. Port Lympne offer accommodation of all sorts, but we stayed in the superb Bear Lodge safari tents with double bed, bunks, a cabin bed, woodburner and all the glamping trimmings you need for an incredible stay. Perched over the Spectacled Bear habitat you can watch what these chaps get up to night and day. Lots of added extras are on offer including taking an evening safari (when the doors are shut to day visitors) to watch a tiger feeding. It might be Kent rather than Kenya, but there is no doubt this is an extraordinary glamping experience and by staying here, you are directly helping their work, with all profits from the park and accommodation going back into their conservation charity.
How Stean Gorge Camping Park in the Yorkshire Dales is located in one of Englands Areas of Outstanding National Beauty, and the rugged landscape provides an incredible array of activities and experiences that will turn your holiday into a real adventure. So, whats on offer here? Well, an easier task might be listing what's not, but I'll give it a whirl: abseiling, gorge walking, canoeing, Via Ferrata (a climbing route that involves cables and ladders, eek), the Via Ferrata high wires, canyoning, mountain biking...the list is long and distinguished. However, I said camping and caving and I'm gonna give you camping and caving. The crown jewel in this adventurers playground is the nearby Stump Cross Caverns, and How Stean George campsite has joined forces with the guides here to offer Adventure Caving. You can explore the many miles of extensive and beautiful caves led by British Caving Association qualified leaders and if you want to go the whole caving hog, then you can even camp the night in the caves too. Golly. Don't forget the head torch.
A relatively new campsite here, situated in the beautiful surroundings of the Whitlingham Broad Country Park in the Norfolk Broads, with the choice to either pitch your own tent or go glamping in a boutique Shepherds Hut, Bell tent or Mongolian Yurt. But the genius lies with what else is available here; the Park is home to a fantastic watersports facility - the award-winning Whitlingham Adventure - which offers activities galore including canoeing, windsurfung and paddleboarding; you can either rent your own and head off, map in hand, or book onto a lesson or course. They also have loads of stuff on dry land too; archery, rock climbing, mountain biking and bushcraft. You will not be short of things to do. And if you want to just sit back relax and watch the world go by, you can do that too.....
The location for this campsite sounds a bit like something out of a Lord of the Rings novel; four miles from Bala, on the banks of the River Tryweryn, in the foothills of the Arenig Mountains. Wow. This beautiful place is in the Snowdonia National Park and it honestly does have a touch of the old Middle Earth about it. Tyn Cornel camping caters brilliantly for everyone in the Fellowship and beyond - whether you bring your own tent, camper, motorhome or if you have none of those and fancy a few nights in one of their luxurious glamping options. Don't get too comfy at the campsite though, the action here is all down at the river lying a few steps from your pitch. Five minutes walk along the picturesque banks and you are at the National White Water Centre where you can spend the day on the river and test your nerve rafting down the swirling Grade 2-4 rapids. After navigating yourself down the rushing river and finishing at the campsite, warm up with a hot shower and a roaring campfire. Lush.
The days of merrily cracking open a can of baked beans for a campsite dinner are well and truly over, unless you are camping with a band of scouts or my grandfather. With barbecues and fire pits on-site and nifty camp kitchens, why on earth wouldn't you want to cook your family a hearty meal on your camping holiday? Well, I'll tell you. It's a complete faff. I once tried to cook a chilli from scratch on a campfire and we ending up eating nothing but a squashed avocado and half lime each to take the edge off. Some people adore campsite cooking, but personally, I love the idea of gourmet catering on my camping holiday. And does it exist? Yes it does. With bells on. Woodfire Camping in the glorious South Downs National Park offer campers home-cooked delicious breakfasts and dinner from Thursday-Sunday. You can either join the communal feast or head back to your pitch with your food; whatever you do, you are in for a treat. All the food is freshly cooked outdoors by the owners on woodfire or charcoal; they only use high quality free-range local meat and fish, and the salad and vegetables are from their own kitchen garden. Plans for summer 2021 include guest chefs cooking mid-week and courses in open fire cooking, foraging and butchery. It just does not get any better.
Brook Meadow, set on a working farm and surrounded by 400 acres of Northamptonshire countryside, offers holidaymakers a range of award wining camping and glamping accommodation over 20 acres. In the centre is a stunning five acre lake, well stocked with carp, tench and perch, which means you get a chance to camp...and fish for your supper. If you are an experienced angler or just fancy giving it a try, it is a beautiful spot for fishing. The touring campsite has an abundance of space with a large grassy area, lakeside and hard standing pitches, all bordered by woodland, meadows and arable farming fields. For glampers, there are beautiful, botanically-themed lakeside lodges, cabins, safari tents and a large Bell Tent. Fishing is included in the price if you go down the glamping option, so you've got no excuse not to display your hunter-gatherer skills and catch some fish to roast over the campfire for dinner. It is a truly lovely campsite with the fishing lake at its heart and a glorious place to watch the sun go down.
As you can imagine being based in Scotland, these activities are plus-sized versions of what they would be anywhere else in the UK. The mountains are bigger, the rivers are wilder, the snow is extreme and the coastline is craggier. Ace Activities in Moray have taken full advantage of all their surroundings and run amok with it, and a trip to see them in the Scottish Highlands is not for the fainthearted. You can choose from a whole host of different stomach lurching options; white water rafting grade 5 rapids, Cliff Jumping, Abseiling, river tubing, Kayaking, Bungee jumping and slightly more pedestrian activities like bushcraft and yoga. If you ever do manage to sleep, then you have a choice of camping: a tent pitch in wild woodlands, Bell tents or Shepherds Huts. What outdoor pursuits you do when you get there and where you camp is completely up to you, so you can tailor make an activity holiday just right for your group.
The vibe here is all about connecting with nature and leaving your stresses (and car) at the door. Top of the Woods is a genuine, one-off camping adventure and an absolute treat, whether you are holidaying with family, friends or on your own. Located by Cardigan Bay on the Pembrokeshire coast, Top of the Woods has beaches, castles, woodland and wildlife right on the doorstep. But it's unlikely you'll want to leave, because what's on offer at this campsite goes far and away above what regular campsites offer (i.e. a warm welcome and a free range egg if you're lucky). There are all sorts of bookable activities here and others you can join on the day. Yoga, canoeing, SUP, campfire story telling, Dark sky safari (led by a scientist who will teach you how to recognise constellations), a woodland walk to a "secret" waterfall, bushcraft skills, group dog walking and pig feeding to name a few. It even has an outdoor cinema. You can choose to pitch your tent in the gorgeous wildflower meadow, or treat yourself and stay in one of their eco chic glamping options. Wherever you camp, the views and space at Top of the Woods are unrivalled, and the traditional, rustic charm of this place will make you sad to leave, but excited to book your return.
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