The mornings are darker, foggy and frosty. You’re thinking about snuggling on the sofa, not shivering outside a tent… BUT don’t discount winter camping as the perfect antidote to the pre-Christmas craziness. Sites are quiet (and often cheaper), there’s far fewer biting bugs to irritate you, and it can be absolutely stunning.
We’ve teamed up with the fabulous team at Cool Camping to give you our top five UK sites offering the best of winter camping – or glamping, if a tent is just a step too far!
Ecocamp Glenshee, Cairngorms
Camping and glamping on the southern edge of the Cairngorms National Park, with breathtaking mountain views.
A gargantuan grassy space surrounded by mountains and rivers that, at night, is bathed beneath a sea of twinkling stars. Choose to camp or make use of the eclectic range of glamping accommodation: a pair of shepherd’s huts nestled at the bottom of the glen; a collection of wooden pods; a hilltop family tent with smoke wafting from its chimney; or colourful blue and purple bell tents.
The site is popular with mountain bikers, and cross-country skiing is possible, but a tour round the nearest gin distillery also comes highly recommended!
With dark skies, a northern latitude, and 360 degree views of the open sky, Ecocamp is the perfect location to experience the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, expected to be in full light this winter and new year.
Cotswolds Camping, Holycombe, Warwickshire
Think Countryfile meets Time Team. Camping in six-acres of unspoiled Cotswold countryside, built in the grounds of a Norman castle.
Located in the Heart of England, in the middle of everywhere, is one of the best-kept camping secrets: a mash-up of the medieval, the middle-eastern and the mystical. Adopting a wild-camping policy you choose exactly where you want to pitch, either by the moat (the legacy of the Norman castle which once stood on the site) or up by the orchard and closer to the facilities. There’s also a yurt draped in Morroccon rugs and embroidered wall-hangings, a fabulous treehouse, and a pair of furnished bell tents.
This is a place dedicated to peace and quiet, with only kids over 12 years old allowed (although you might need ear plugs if you’d prefer to snooze past the peal of the morning church bells!).
Whichford Wood (a wildlife-filled designated Site of Special Interest) lies up the lane and is perfect for wintery walks – just remember your wellies and be sure to reward yourself in the Norman Knight, a classic award-winning Cotswold pub.
North Lees Campsite, Peak District
A truly romantic woodland setting, straight out of a Jane Austen novel. For those who are less romantically inclined, how about climbing a nearby 25-metre high gritstone cliff?
A no frills site, sheltered in a valley of oak and beech-lined woodland, deep in the heart of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ country. There’s plenty of space for small tents, but in winter you might appreciate the extra protection of the seven wooden camping pods, one of which is wheelchair accessible.
Walking routes are in abundance and Stanage Edge, a climbing mecca, is a 20 minute stroll away for those with the experience. Why not stand atop ‘The Edge’, drinking in the swathes of Derbyshire, in re-creation of an iconic shot from the 2005 film version of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice?
Stackpole Under the Stars, Pembrokeshire
Camping and glamping on the Pembrokeshire coast, with the enchanting grounds of a country estate to explore next door.
A hidden idyll in a National Park just outside Pembroke, campers and glampers have an unspoiled setting to relax, rejuvenate and reconnect with nature.
Within the tranquil setting there is space for five tent pitches alongside the hand-crafted yurts, bell tents, and a luxury glamping pod (with en-suite!).
A stone’s throw from a nature reserve and the Bosherton Lily Ponds, with their resident otters, this is also a prime spot to access some of the region’s finest beaches like Broadhaven South and the sand dunes of Barafundle Bay.
After a bracing walk, admiring the dramatic nature of the West Wales coastline, be sure to enjoy a fire and marshmallows on your return!
Blackberry Wood Campsite, East Sussex
Magical, pagan woodland camping in the South Downs with campfires encouraged, excellent East Sussex pubs on the doorstep and heaps of quirky glamping options thrown in too.
Nestled on the South Downs, this site is almost lost among the native woodland. Pitches are limited to 20, each located within an individual glade with firepit, rudimentary seating and enough space for a medium-sized tent.
The woodland camping is magical, but the glamping options extraordinary! At the latest count, there’s a red Routemaster bus (equipped with a kitchen/diner downstairs and a kids’ soft play upstairs), a romantic gypsy caravan, an ex-RAF helicopter with rotor blades still attached, and a self-contained eco-cabin. However, it’s the two fairytale treehouses, complete with turrets and wood-burning stove, that’ll have you all living out your princess dreams. Don’t forget your Bundle Beds though as most of the glamping options don’t include bedding.
This is the South Downs so there is plenty of walking to be done or pubs to visit if the weather is not looking kind – but we’re not sure you’ll be wanting to leave your storybook castle!
Happy Winter Bundling!
Now you’ve decided where you’d like to go, make sure you are a prepared with a few winter camping tips, and remember that the 15-tog built-in duvet on your Bundle Bed will help keep you cosy and warm at night.
Based on their leading guidebooks, the Cool Camping website now offers an online collection of the very best camping and glamping sites in the UK and Europe. Discover their full collection of campsites open all-year-round here.