10 of the best UK campsites for families including Cornwall, Devon and Dorset
We've found the 10 best UK campsites for family camping trips this summer, from back-to-nature glamping sites to activity-packed holiday parks.
If you're planning a holiday with young children and are in search of a break that will be equal parts fun and laid-back, consider camping in the UK. More relaxed and less expensive than staying in a hotel, sleeping under canvas is both accessible and adventurous, and a brilliant way to spend time with your children in nature.
"Younger children in particular love simple outdoor adventures and you don't have to go far to find some fun they'll remember, making the UK an excellent camping destination," says Martin Smith, founder of Campsites.co.uk. With well over 7,000 camping, glamping and touring sites across the UK, spread from the Scottish Highlands to the South Coast of England, you're bound to find one in a location that suits you.
For first-time campers, Smith suggests a short break close to home - "perhaps with some borrowed gear or some friends to show you the ropes" - while more experienced campers can take advantage of the different types of terrain you'll find in different parts of the UK, "whether beaches, hills, lakes, mountains or fields."
Camping in the UK has become increasingly popular over the last few years as more people choose to holiday closer to home and discover the joys of bedding down under the stars, including a unique sense of freedom and adventure that children relish. In one recent survey, 29% of adults agreed they'd be more likely to consider taking a camping/caravanning holiday than they were before the Covid-19 Pandemic. "The trend for more adventurous and outdoorsy holidays is here to stay and there's a growing awareness that time and experiences together as a family are more important than things," Smith continues.
If you're looking for more UK family-friendly holiday inspiration, check out our guides to the best family-friendly accommodation in Cornwall and the best Devon family hotels with swimming pools. We've also selected the best family-friendly hotels in Wales, London, the Lake District and Edinburgh.
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10 of the best campsites in the UK — at a glance
- Best campsite for babies and toddlers: Norden Farm Campsite, Corfe Caste, Dorset Norden Farm Campsite
- Best campsite for beach access: Pentewan Sands Holiday Park, St Austell, Cornwall Pentewan Sands Holiday Park
- Best campsite for off-grid camping and glamping: Beech Estate Campsite (Pegs & Pitches Camping), Battle, East Sussex Beech Estate Campsite
- Best campsite for first-time campers: Pitch Perfect Camping, Frome, Somerset Pitch Perfect Camping
- Best lakeside family campsite: Park Foot Ullswater Camping and Touring Park, Pooley Bridge, Lake District Parkfoot Ullswater
- Best budget campsite: Top End Farm Campsite, Little Staughton, Bedfordshire Top End Farm Campsite
- Best family campsite with playground: Barn Farm Camping, Matlock, Derbyshire Barn Farm Camping
- Best family campsite in the New Forest: Ashurst Campsite, New Forest, Hampshire, Ashurst Campsite
- Best family campsite for teenagers: Monkey Tree Holiday Park, Newquay, Cornwall Monkey Tree Holiday Park
- Best luxury campsite: Cofton Holidays, Dawlish, Devon Cofton Holidays
If you've not been camping before – or haven't been for a while – you'll be pleased to know UK campsites have evolved to meet campers' demands and offer a range of facilities to please even the most discerning campers, with everything from shower blocks with underfloor heating and heated pools, visiting food vans serving restaurant-quality meals and onsite kids' clubs. So we've included campsites with plenty of amenities in our list of the best family campsites in the UK, including some of the best UK campsites for families with a pool.
When is the best time of year to go camping in the UK?
Summer is undoubtedly the best time to go camping in the UK as the weather is often (though not always) at its best, with long, sunny days and shorter, warmer nights, which means less chance of spending time sheltering from the rain and shivering in your sleeping bag. "Around a third of campsites are open year-round but nights are cool outside the summer season so make sure you have the right gear," warns Smith. "Camping isn't fun when kids get cold!"
Do we need our own tent to go camping in the UK?
No, you don't. Apart from borrowing camping gear from a friend or family member (you'd be amazed how many people have underused tents lurking in their lofts and garages), many campsites around the UK offer would-be campers the chance to stay in a pre-erected tent. Usually, these are teepee-style tents that qualify as glamping rather than camping, but some campsites also offer Safari tents (thick canvas structures that are sub-divided into rooms) or conventional pitched-roof tents. And for those that prefer to stay under something more robust than fabric, there are plenty of places that offer alternative accommodation, including shepherd's huts, treehouses and caravans. We've included some of these sites in our line-up of the best campsites for families in the UK.
If you're looking to buy your own tent, check out our MadeForMums 10 of the best family tents for camping.
About our picks
With over 7,200 campsites in the UK offering anything from 5 to 500 pitches, there really is something to suit every family. Here, we've selected campsites in a variety of different locations that offer pitches with plenty of space so parents and children can experience nights under canvas and days playing and exploring. We've chosen the 10 best family-friendly campsites in the UK to help families with young children get the very best out of their camping holiday in the UK.
Here's our pick of the best UK campsites for your family
1. Norden Farm Campsite, Corfe Castle, Dorset
— Best for babies and toddlers
Tents, pre-pitched bell tents, caravans, campervans and motorhomes | Pitches 210 | Electric hookups Yes |Pets allowed Yes | Laundry Yes | Shop Yes| Showers Yes | Price from £33 per night per pitch in August
Facilities on site: Farm shop; dairy vending machine; children's playground; fishing lake; dish washing areas; dog washing cubicles; fridges and freezers; device chargers; firepits to hire
Open: 1st April to 31st October (weather permitting)
This family-run touring caravan and camping site is set on a working farm a short stroll from Corfe Castle on Dorset's spellbinding Jurassic Coast. With 4 grass fields with views over the surrounding countryside (3 with electric hook up and an additional six-acre free pitching field for tents and small camper vans in peak season), this campsite is a 20-minute drive from the beach at Kimmeridge Bay. There's a lot here to make camping more comfortable, including a well-stocked farm shop onsite, a machine vending dairy products and a food van serving breakfast, dinners and hot drinks. It's particularly brilliant for families with babies and toddlers thanks to a family room with a bath in the main facilities block, fridges and freezers to use even if you're camping without electricity, friendly staff, cute farm animals and an enclosed playground.
Parent tester Kate has visited Norden Farm Campsite twice with her children, now 6 months and 2 and a half, and thinks it's perfect for children. "It's got animals, a little lake and, in the summer, they have weekly live music which is like a mini-festival, with hay bales to sit on – or you can get up and have a boogie! There are a couple of play areas, a great onsite shop plus a milk vending machine and a food van available every night. The toilet and shower facilities are super clean and the family washroom has a bath to make it easier for bathing little ones."
Pros: Fires allowed, internet access, bath available
Cons: No hardstanding pitches, 2 facilities blocks
2. Pentewan Sands Holiday Park, St Austell, Cornwall
— Best for beach access
Tents, caravans, campervans and motorhomes, holiday homes | Pitches 415 | Electric hookups Yes |Pets allowed No | Laundry Yes | Shop Yes | Showers Yes | Price from £31.40 per night per pitch in August
Facilities on site: Restaurant; coffee shop; 2 x 18-meter indoor swimming pools; children's entertainment; amusement arcade; tennis court; water sports centre; playground
Open: 25 March to 29 October
Situated on a private half-mile stretch of one of Cornwall's most picturesque beaches, this park has 50 pitches available from May to September for tents, campervans, caravans and motorhomes just a few feet from the sea so you can fall asleep and wake up to the waves breaking onto the shore. As a five-star holiday park, Pentewan Sands has impressive facilities that are sure to thrill children of all ages – and please their parents. We're talking 2 indoor swimming pools, including 1 with a water slide, a children's entertainment yurt, a bar and restaurant serving home-cooked meals all day and 4 amenity blocks with unlimited hot water and baby changing facilities.
Parent tester and mum-of-three Sarah has been camping on the sands here for the past 3 years and thinks it's the ideal place to stay by the sea with children. "Pentewan is the type of campsite that families return to year after year – and even enter an annual ballot to get the pitch they want. You could spend a week here and not really need to leave the site because it has everything, including fresh croissants baked at the shop every morning.
"The sandy beach is perfect for small kids, with gentle waves and rock pools to explore, while older kids and teens will love messing about on the paddle boards and kayaks for hire. Or you can even bring your own boat. Plus the indoor swimming pool and soft play means there is something to do whatever the weather."
Pros: Direct access to a private beach, 2 indoor pools, extensive amenities
Cons: Ballot entry to get your preferred pitch, use of the pools is extra
3. Beech Estate Campsite (Pegs & Pitches Camping), Battle, East Sussex
— Best for off-grid camping and glamping
Tents, hammocks and pre-erected bell tents | Pitches 30 | Electric hookups No | Pets allowed No | Laundry No| Shop No | Showers Yes (bucket) | Price from £60 per night per pitch in August
Facilities on site: Firepits; bucket showers; compost loos; dish washing sinks; wheelbarrows
Open: 1 April to 31 October
Set within a 600-acre private estate with spectacular woodland and meadows, this off-grid, car-free campsite offers wild glamping in bell tents and back-to-basics camping in East Sussex. Staying here is all about immersing yourself and your family in nature, with private pitches in natural clearings among the trees for campers with their own tents and private glades for pre-erected bell tents.
These come furnished with firewood, a firepit and cooking utensils, so you can cook meals and toast mashmallows over a campfire. Facilities are basic but include 3 flushing toilets, 6 compost loos and 2 outdoor hot-water bucket showers, which involve getting clean under the trees. There are wildlife-spotting opportunities galore around the campsite so exploring the woods is highly recommended.
"You really have the opportunity to go wild, with acres of forest and secluded pitches," enthuses parent tester Jane, who stayed here recently with her family. "Having to use a wheelbarrow to transport your tent and belongings from your car to your pitch can be hard work but it's a small price to pay for this magical setting."
Pros: Peaceful, car-free, forest camping
Cons: Basic facilities, wheelbarrow only to pitch, no caravans, motorhomes or camper vans
4. Pitch Perfect Camping, Frome, Somerset
— Best for first-time campers
Tents and small campervans, safari tent lodges and cabins | Pitches 50 | Electric hookups Yes |Pets allowed Yes | Laundry Yes | Shop Yes | Showers Yes | Price from £33 per pitch per night in August
Facilities on site: Dish washing area; fridges and freezer; communal kitchen; playground with sandpit and trampoline; petanque pitch; ping pong table; fire pits; catering for breakfast and dinner
Open: 1 April to 31 October
This family-friendly and family-run campsite in the heart of Somerset is the ideal place to come if you're new to camping as alongside spotless facilities it offers a warm welcome, a well-equipped communal kitchen and, if you don't feel like cooking every day, onsite catering, including daily breakfasts during peak season and hearty evening meals.
And if you've forgotten anything, the onsite shop is open in the morning and afternoon and local supermarkets will deliver shopping to your tent. If you don't yet have a tent, there's the option to stay in a pre-erected, fully furnished Safari tent.
The layout of the site is excellent, with a children's area in the centre of the field that includes swings, a trampoline, a sandpit and a playframe so they can roam free but stay within sight of most tents. This was something parent tester and father-of-three Naci discovered when he camped at Pitch Perfect.
"The enormous trampoline in the middle of the field was a magnet for all the kids and the huge open space surrounding the trampoline was perfect for children to run around in. The owners go out of their way to make you feel at home and the communal kitchens are great if you don't have much equipment of your own."
Pros: Children's play area in the centre of the campsite, well-equipped communal kitchen, onsite catering
Cons: No caravans, motorhomes or large campervans
Book at: Pitch Perfect Camping
5. Park Foot Ullswater Camping and Touring Park, Pooley Bridge, Lake District
— Best lakeside family campsite
Tents, caravans, campervans and motorhomes, self-catering holiday homes and lodges | Pitches 245 | Electric hookups Yes |Pets allowed Yes | Laundry Yes | Shop Yes | Showers Yes | Price from £40.50 per pitch per night in August
Facilities on site: Bar and restaurant; pony trekking; food van; table tennis; pool tables; video games room; outdoor activity centre during school holidays
Open: February to January
The views from this campsite are simply staggering: choose to pitch on Lakeside Field then unzip your tent and take in the breathtaking scenery of the Lake District National Park.
The campsite has direct access to Lake Ullswater and boasts a private beach. There are plenty of activities on and off the water to keep the most active families entertained, from kayaking to pony trekking and stand up paddle boarding to archery. Onsite there are two playgrounds, tennis courts and – in the school holidays – an outdoor activity centre.
Parent tester Anna, who camped her with her 4-year-old and 6-year-old, thought Park Foot was fantastic. "The facilities here are great and there are several fields to camp in, each with different benefits. We opted for one nearest the play area. On site, there are lots of amenities, including a shop, a chippy and a cafe selling fresh coffee. The views are spectacular too. The best part is the staff really welcomes families."
Pros: Incredible views, lakeside location, good choice of activities
Cons: a huge site which can get very busy
6. Top End Farm, Little Staughton, Bedfordshire
— Best budget campsite
Tents, caravans, campervans and motorhomes, glamping pods| Pitches 164 | Electric hookups Yes |Pets allowed Yes | Laundry Yes | Shop Yes | Showers Yes| Price from £25 per pitch per night in August
Facilities on site: Dish washing area; freezer; communal kitchen; play area
Set on an 11-acre site in the beautiful Bedfordshire countryside, this no-frills campsite offers a range of camping options to suit all budgets and preferences. Two adults and up to 2 children under the age of 16 can stay in a tent without electric hookup for a very reasonable £25 – it's only a fiver more with electric hookup, and £15 more per night to stay in a wooden glamping pod, which has a sofa bed, heating and a TV.
Grass pitches are spread over a large field so it never feels overcrowded. There's one heated shower block with 2 spacious shower cubicles and 2 family showers. There's also a shared kitchen area where you can prepare meals and use the freezer.
Children on the campsite tend to congregate in the large play area, which has play equipment, including a skate ramp and a large climbing frame.
Our parent tester Neal, who stayed there last year, described it as good although a little dated. "Top End Farm is a great place to go camping with a group of families for a long weekend as it's a large site with plenty of space to pitch a tent and for kids to play."
Pros: Good value, spacious site, communal kitchen
Cons: Limited toilet facilities, grass pitches not available all year round
Book at: Top End Farm
7. Barn Farm Campsite, Matlock, Derbyshire
— Best family campsite with a playground
Tents, caravans, campervans and motorhomes, camping barns | Pitches 66 | Electric hookups Yes, but not for tents |Pets allowed Yes | Laundry Yes | Shop Yes | Showers Yes | Price from £25 per pitch per night in August
Facilities on site: Food vans during the summer; games room with TV and pool table;
Open: 1 April to 31 October
Voted one of the top 5 British family campsites by the Telegraph, this gem of a campsite overlooks the Derwent Valley and it enjoys an idyllic setting in the heart of the Peak District, close to the pretty towns of Bakewell and Matlock. The farm is a haven for wildlife, including badgers and rare black fallow deer, and spotting animals adds an extra thrill to a stay. There's also fun to be had on Bank Holidays and some weekends, with family-friendly activities and entertainment, including bouncy castles, pony rides and live music.
Tents are pitched away from caravans, campervans and motorhomes, which are on hardstanding pitches. And groups of up to 15 can stay in one of 5 furnished camping barns.
Families camping in tents have exclusive use of the the family field, which is open from May until the end of September, and is close to the adventure playground, which is the perfect place for young children to have fun while parents put up tents and make dinner.
This set-up worked well for parent tester Joanna when she camped here with her children, aged 5 and 3. "We loved Barn Farm Campsite as it has a lovely playground and we stayed in the small field nearby which felt really safe for the kids to run around in."
Pros: Family-only field near playground, great wildlife-spotting opportunities
Cons: No electric hookup for tents, minimum of 2-night stay
Book at: Campsites.co.uk
8. Ashurst Campsite, New Forest, Hampshire
— Best family campsite in the New Forest
Tents, caravans, campervans and motorhomes | Pitches 300 | Electric hookups No |Pets allowed No | Laundry Yes | Shop No | Showers Yes| Price from £33.00 per pitch per night in August
Facilities on site: washbasins; dish washing area
Open: 1 April to 30 September
For a camping trip filled with 'pinch-me-I'm-dreaming' moments, head to this leafy campsite on the eastern edge of the New Forest, where wild ponies, donkeys and deer roam freely, nibbling grass and sniffing out treats (be sure to keep food inside your zipped-up tent as they can be inquisitive).
With a mixture of grass and hardstanding pitches, the site accommodates tents, caravans and motorhomes and you can choose to stay in the open or delve deeper into the woods to camp under the shade of ancient oak trees. It's also the perfect destination for family adventures – enjoy wandering through the surrounding woods, exploring and building dens in the trees, while pretending the ponies are unicorns.
This campsite is ideal for car-free families as it's a 5-minute walk from Ashurst New Forest station and walking distance from pubs, cafes and shops, so you can come with just the essentials. Although, as the site offers no cabins or pre-pitched canvas, you'll have to be confident you can carry your tent. If you do drive, be sure to check out the deer-viewing platform at Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary nearby to see these native animals at feeding time.
Pros: Home to wild ponies, close to train station, shops and pubs
Cons: No electric hookup, no battery charging
Book at: campinginthenewforest.com
For more suggestions of family days out in the New Forest, read our 10 of the best
9. Monkey Tree Holiday Park, Newquay, Cornwall
— Best family campsite for teenagers
Tents, caravans, campervans and motorhomes | Pitches 295 | Electric hookups Yes |Pets allowed Yes | Laundry Yes | Shop Yes | Showers Yes | Price from £93 per pitch per night in August
Facilities on site: Bar and restaurant; takeaway; outdoor pool; kids' club; soft play; outdoor play park; arcade
Open: 1 March to 30 October
Families camping with older children will be pleased to know that this holiday park ticks all the boxes for a successful family camping trip with teens, including private pitches, awesome entertainment and plenty of places to hang out and make new friends. It's also in a great location – set in 56 acres of delightful Cornish countryside and right between popular surfing destinations Newquay and Perranporth.
There's an impressive variety of pitch types, from standard with electric supply to ultra-deluxe, which includes a private ensuire shower room with loo and sink, plus an undercover alfresco dining area with BBQ and washing-up area that is sure to please even the grumpiest teenager.
By day, there are great activities for children of all ages, including a pool complex, outdoor play park and adventure golf. At night, there is the choice of two entertainment venues, including a bar and a clubhouse. If your teens are old enough to venture out alone, the attractions of Newquay are just a few miles away.
Pros: Use of all on-site facilities included in booking, great range of entertainment for children of all ages
Cons: 3-night minimum booking, site busy and noisy during peak times
10. Cofton Holidays, Dawlish, Devon
— Best luxury campsite
Tents, caravans, campervans and motorhomes | Pitches 402 | Electric hookups Yes |Pets allowed Yes | Laundry Yes | Shop yes | Showers Yes | Price from £47 per night per pitch in August
Facilities on site: Heated indoor pool; outdoor pool; gym; spa; restaurants and cafe; pub; high ropes course; entertainment; fishing lake; cafe; soft play; amusement arcade; playgrounds; electric car charging points
For camping with a hefty dose of luxury, pick a pitch at this five-star holiday park situated in a particularly pretty part of South Devon. The sprawling 80-acre site caters brilliantly for campers of all ages, with several lovely restaurants, indoor and outdoor pools and an impressive entertainment line-up, including magic shows, music sessions and cabaret shows.
When you're bedding down in a tent, the most important consideration – after a comfy and warm sleeping bag – is the bathroom and these don't disappoint: they are modern, clean and have heated floors.
The facilities really impressed parent tester and mum-of-one Alison, who stayed here with her 21-month-old son in their campervan earlier this year. "It's quite a commercial, built-up holiday park but the toilets were very good, the indoor swimming pool, with an area for young children, was great and there was a soft play area, special entertainment for children and a couple of outdoor play areas."
Pros: Outdoor pool free to use, great range of facilities, varied entertainment
Cons: Outdoor pool only open in summer, charge to use indoor pool
Book at: Cofton Holidays
Don't miss our guide for more inspiration for family days out in Devon.
For more holiday inspiration, take a look at our round-up of the best Devon family hotels and our pick of 14 of the best family hotels and holidays properties in Wales.
How we tested
When evaluating our list of campsites in the UK, we considered facilities, amenities, kids' activities, location, ambience, friendliness and cost.
Our 10 of the Best lists are compiled by qualified and experienced parenting journalists. They rely on a number of sources, including our independent reviews and feedback from our Top Testers Club, to ensure we’re bringing you honest and true reviews and recommendations.
Our list is not an ordered ranking from 1-10; instead it is a carefully selected group of tried-and-tested places, each of which we believe is best for a different situation or requirement. We don’t just tell you what is best, we help you discover what is best for your family.
About the author
Gabrielle Nathan has been working as a journalist for nearly 20 years, on publications including GQ, Red, Women's Health and Tatler. She began writing about parenting and family travel while pregnant with her first child in 2012 and joined the MFM ranks in 2014.
She lives in in a semi-rural village with her husband and three children and can often be found camping in even greener and quieter parts of the UK. After a few mishaps (think leaky tent and punctured air mattress), she's becoming an expert on all the essentials you need for a successful family camping trip.
Gabrielle Nathan has been a journalist for 20 years, writing lifestyle features for publications including Red, Women’s Health, Wildflower and Condé Nast Traveller. She has been writing about parenting since 2012, the year she became a mum.
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