8 Great Northern Campsites

I know we’re a teeny bit biased but camping is, quite frankly, one of the best ways to spend your time! We are spoilt for choice in this beautiful country that we live in – a fact that perhaps many are waking up to this year. From our stunning beaches and coves, the rugged landscape of the fells to the lush, green countryside. Exploring these wonderful places is one of the joys of camping. But with all this choice, it can be quite tricky to find the campsite that suits you. So, we have searched around the north of England and Scotland to find our pick of 8 great northern campsites. Here, you will find something to suit everyone – whether you are looking for the quietest corner to squirrel away in or a large campsite to bring the whole family with all their varying needs. Which one is your favourite?

1. Baystone Bank Farm

Northern campsites - Baystone Bank Farm
Cooling off in the stream at Baystone Bank Farm

At Baystone Bank Farm, you will be treated to the simply beautiful landscape of the southwestern Lake District National Park in Cumbria. The site comprises grassland, woodland and a stream to camp besides – perfect for paddling on those hot, summer days. Your neighbours will be cows, sheep and horses on this working farm as well as a wealth of wildlife. You can choose from wild camping through to electric hook ups, caravans or perhaps a spot of glamping in a luxuriously furnished bell tent or roundhouse. There is an option to suit everyone!

You might struggle to tear yourself away from this stunning site but when you do, there are plenty of footpaths to explore as well as the lakes and tarns nearby. Across the meadow is Baystone Bank Farm’s very own horse-riding centre, Cumbrian Heavy Horses. This is the world’s only BHS-approved Heavy Horse-Riding Centre with magnificent gentle giants such as Shire horses, Clydesdales, the rare Suffolk Punch and Ardennes. With horses to suit all levels of experience, this is a rare treat!

2. The Paddock

The Paddock Campsite
The site and views at The Paddock

The Paddock in Lancashire is rather special! The views are to die for and it truly is a place to relax and watch the world go by. This is a small but extremely friendly site with options to suit everyone. You can pitch up in a super flat field (possibly the only flat field in the whole area!), use the communal fire pit or hire your own. Charges are per person, but children under 12 are free – a fantastically family-orientated site.

If you wanted something a little different, there are a number of glamping options to try. Taking the whole family isn’t a problem with the awesome Safari tent that can sleep up to 8 people. Likewise, you could hire the fun and quirky land pods and enjoy a unique holiday experience. Or perhaps you might prefer the luxury of a fully furnished yurt, or brand new geodome? In all these options, your beds will be ready, and you can expect some little extras to make you smile and feel at home.

3. Rue de Chateau Camping

Northern campsites - Rue du Chateau
Wild camping by the river at Rue Du Chateau

Rue du Chateau, in the Scottish Borders, is a rare gem of a place for those that want to enjoy truly authentic, rural, wild camping. Here, you are free to choose your own perfect pitch alongside the mown riverbank among the wild primroses. You are welcome to indulge in a spot of wild swimming in the river and then warm up around your own upcycled fire pit. You will experience true peace and tranquility here, away from bright lights and noisy roads – the dark night skies and countless stars will take your breath away!

Trailer tents and campervans are also welcome, alongside tents. All pitches are a short walk away from the farm, where you will find fresh water, electric charging points, toilets and you can request a kettle for hot water and towels from your lovely hosts, Gemma and James. This is perfect for those that want to immerse themselves in a “wilder” experience and truly wind down amongst the stunning scenery and river song.

4. Park Cliffe

Northern campsites - Park Cliffe
Stunning landscape around Park Cliffe

If it is views you seek, then Park Cliffe could be the perfect place for you! Set in the stunning Lake District, you are treated to magnificent views down Lake Windermere towards the Langdale Pikes and across to Coniston Old Man. The campsite itself is also delightful because of the environmental commitment of the owners. An abundance of wildlife including squirrels, roe and red deer, foxes and birds might be glimpsed at this David Bellamy Gold Conservation Award winning site.

The owners pride themselves on being a wonderfully family-friendly site and provide facilities for all including heated showers, children’s adventure playground, shop, games room as well as a bar and restaurant. You can choose from a variety of accommodation from “wild” camping pitches to electric hook up, touring caravans, a luxurious shepherd’s hut, various levels of pod from cosy to deluxe all the way through to a self-catering cottage. This means that all the family could meet up and experience a holiday to remember in the beautiful surroundings of the Lake District.

5. Bankybarn

Northern Campsites - Banky Barn
Sunset and views at Banky Barn

Bankybarn Caravan and Camping is located in the stunning landscape of the Peak District National Park. This is a family-run campsite with a warm welcome for all guests. There is plenty of space for the children to run around and you can choose your own pitch in the spacious, level field looking out over the beautiful, rolling, Derbyshire hills. Also, there are separate caravan pitches with electric hook-up, again with that picturesque outlook.

Your hosts, Jules and Dek, pride themselves on providing a fantastic holiday destination for their guests. Their excellent amenities block houses warm, scrupulously clean toilet and shower facilities. You can also visit the onsite “Oggy’s” bar with plenty of outdoor seating or if you would rather stay with your tent, hire a firepit to keep cosy and toast marshmallows. This is a place to make fantastic memories and have a holiday to remember.

6. Hazelmount Fellside

Northern Campsites - Hazel Mount Fellside
Picturesque views at Hazel Mount Fellside

Hazel Mount Fellside Camping is the perfect getaway for families wanting to escape from the usual hustle and bustle. This is a beautifully quiet, private site with glorious views of the stunning Lake District National Park. You can choose from different areas of the site from a traditionally mown hay meadow, pitches dotted around a conservation area through to a camping area that you can book exclusively for a larger group.

As you would expect in this area, there are plenty of lakes and footpaths to explore including one route directly from the campsite past the Swinside Stone Circle. There are also gorgeous sandy beaches close by such as those at Haverigg and Silecroft, just a 10-minute drive away. This site is ideal for those wanting to sit back, soak in the abundance of wildflowers and wildlife and reconnect with your loved ones.

7. Wild Oak Woods

Wild Oak Woods
Orchids in the nature reserve at Wild Oak Woods

Wild Oak Woods is an authentic Eco-Site, situated in an area of Dumfries and Galloway renowned for its breath-taking views, unspoiled wildlife habitats and fabulous local produce. This is one for the nature-lovers as this stunningly beautiful site is set within a 54-acre nature reserve. It is perfect for those hoping for a glimpse of red squirrels, deer, badgers or a whole multitude of trees, flowers and animals. With reduced capacity for 2021, you are guaranteed peace and privacy. Bring your own tent or choose a cosy, furnished camping cabin with your own wood burner and soak up the serenity.

Families are well catered for with onsite “Families in the Woods” activities such as den building. Nearby, there are walks and cycling trails galore as well as Sandyhills Bay beach just half a mile away. Not to forget the excellent local pubs, restaurants as well as a castle and biosphere close by. This is the perfect place to wind down and reconnect with loved ones and nature.

8. Camping at Cardewlees

Views at Cardewlees
Taking in the views at Camping at Cardewlees

Camping at Cardewlees is a small, friendly family run campsite on a working farm. Located near Carlisle, you are treated to stunning views over rolling farmland and fells. There is a variety of accommodation available to suit all the family. From the camping pitches on a level field, each with electric hook-up if required, fully serviced hard-standing caravan pitches, cosy camping pods each with their own private decking area or the new fabulous bell tents complete with beds and decorated with bunting and fairy lights.

If you are looking for room to breathe, a taste of rural life on a family farm with simply gorgeous landscapes, then Camping at Cardewlees could be just what you need. But the highlight of this stay has to be your hosts! The friendly Glaister family guarantee a warm welcome and no doubt some entertainment along the way. From Billy giving you his life story to random animals having a nosey at the camping field, you will spend your time with a permanent grin on your face! Do check out their Facebook page – they are hilarious!

Getting Prepared for COVID-19 Secure Camping

Beech Croft Farm

We now know that camping officially starts in England from 4th July – woo hoo! As we went to press, sites in Scotland can open to those with their own self-contained accommodation (i.e. own shower/toilet) from 3rd July and shared facilities from 15th July. Sites in Wales may open on 11th July for those with self-contained accommodation only and are awaiting further guidance about those with shared facilities. Sites in Northern Ireland are already open.

Visit Britain Good to go logo
Visit Britain – Covid-19 Secure Camping

You might have seen this badge (“We’re Good To Go”) popping up on various websites, Facebook Pages, etc. This means that according to Visit Britain, the campsite has successfully shown that they have met Government and industry guidelines, are thus Covid-19 secure for camping and can safely accommodate their guests. You can be sure that this means a lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to update sanitation facilities, mark out pitches, train staff, set out new signs and notices, draw up new rules, etc. So we say congratulations to the many sites on Gone Camping Co that have achieved this.

Covid-19 secure camping at Red Shoot Camping Park
Covid-19 secure camping at Red Shoot Camping Park

So, what will Covid-19 secure camping look like?

1. Booking

All bookings will need to be made in advance this year – there will not be the opportunity of “Oo, this looks nice, let’s try here!” as you drive by, so be organised and book in advance. This is for several reasons: to minimise contact, to allow for electronic payments, to ensure guests are fully aware of rules and conditions before arriving and most importantly for campsites to ensure the number of people on site are limited accordingly. This is actually a good thing as it will mean larger pitches and more space this season. As you might expect, prices may have to increase as sites will have less guests and a shorter season.

Covid-19 Secure camping at Beech Croft Farm
Socially distanced pitches at Beech Croft Farm in the Derbyshire Dales

Now, we are great advocates for camping with other family groups as it really can be great fun. However, this year, campsites will not be able to accept such bookings. Beech Croft Farm in Derbyshire has reiterated the government guidelines in their Covid-19 update in that they “cannot accept bookings for more than 2 units together if you are from different households.” This will be standard across the industry for the time being, so it is a case of more time with your family I’m afraid!

2. Checking in and out

All guests have a responsibility to stay away and isolate as per the government regulations if they develop symptoms of Covid-19 in the run up to their holiday. Disappointing though this would be, we all have a collective responsibility to guard against the spread of the disease as of course, the quicker it can be controlled, the quicker life can return to some sort of normality.

A warm welcome and safe conditions at Cotswolds Camping

Cotswold Camping, Oxfordshire are also keen to make sure everyone is safe and have installed a fever detection system to check temperatures thus ensuring all guests are protected from Covid-19.

Checking in and out will also be contactless and outdoors. Alex advises that at Stanley Villa Farm in Lancashire, whilst guests will be greeted on arrival, social distancing will be maintained, and the keys would be left in the door of the camping pod. Similarly, check out would be contactless and guests would be asked to simply leave their pod key in the door.

Covid-19 secure camping at Stanley Villa Farm
Camping Pods at Stanley Villa Farm

3. Distancing

Most campsites have limited pitches available to ensure they can maintain social distancing and rotate facilities as appropriate. Holden Farm in Hampshire, will ensure that only 10 families/households will be onsite at any one time in their wonderfully spacious camping field. This has the benefit of plenty of space to fly a kite, play a game of cricket or just enjoy the fresh air. They will also provide each pitch with a complimentary firepit – perfect for lazy summer evenings.

For Covid-19 secure camping, expect to see more signs than usual, indicating spaces for possible queues or a one-way system where there is likely to be a bottleneck. Signs will also provide reminders for hand washing, use of hand sanitisers and maintaining distances – you may well feel you’ve seen it all before, but as we all know, we have to continue to “stay alert.”

4. Sanitisation

You can expect cleaning of facilities to be more frequent and thorough this year. You may well be greeted by someone in full PPE as you approach the facilities and you may also need to be patient to allow them to complete the thorough deep cleans required.

Holden Farm have the excellent modern camping facilities on-site that you would expect: clean flushing loos, hot showers and good washing up facilities. The small numbers onsite will work to your advantage, thus avoiding the need for queues. Cleaning and maintenance have been increased further to the Covid-19 secure standard. They have also installed perspex dividers between wash basins so you feel safe when brushing your teeth. You will need to bring all of your own toiletries and expect to be given loo roll on arrival as it won’t be kept in cubicles. Furthermore, there are hand sanitisers dotted around the site so everyone can keep germ-free and safe.

Holden Farm
Plenty of space at Holden Farm!

Fallow Fields Camping, Kent are enforcing a 24 hour period between bookings of furnished bell tents, as scientific evidence suggests the virus does not remain on surfaces after 24 hours. They will carry out their customary deep clean between bookings as normal, and use disinfectant on all hard surfaces. Additionally, all furnished bell tents will have an anti-bacterial fogger used – this kills 99.99% of germs and stays active on surfaces for up to 30 days.

5. Sharing Facilities

There are some sites that have invested heavily into their showers and toilets to ensure minimal sharing. For example, Fallow Fields Camping have added additional mobile showers and toilets to the campsite to help with social distancing. They have also employed a local, professional cleaning company to carry out 2 deep cleans per day alongside regular wipe downs of touch-points throughout the day.

Stanley Villa Farm in Lancashire have also added more shower units but will work these on a time slot basis, with cleans between each use.

Some have even gone so far as to allocated specific areas for guests so there would be no sharing. At Longberry Farm in Kent, the reduced capacity on site this season means that guests will have their own allocated kitchen/dining area and washing facilities that will not be shared with other guests. The hot tub option will also be private – how very lovely!

Longberry Farm
Pristinely clean bell tents at Longberry Farm

You may well need to pack more items than you normally do. If the site you go to usually has tea towels, crockery, washing up brushes, etc. it is highly likely that they won’t be able to do so this year, so check with them beforehand and as Mr Grylls would say “be prepared!”

6. Activities on site

Some playparks might be open but you will need to supervise children more closely this year rather than let them go “feral” and insist they use the abundant hand sanitisers before and after use.

But generally, you may well have to become more self-sufficient in terms of entertainment this year. Wonderful additions to your stay such as the “Kids’ Retreat Tent” or “Kids’ Cinema” at Fallow Fields Camping,  simply cannot be available at this time. So pack the bikes, tennis set, kite, football, hula hoop, Connect 4, Uno, etc and prepare to use your imagination to keep all entertained…sort of like you have done for the whole of lockdown really (sorry!)

A beautiful evening at Fallow Fields Camping

At the risk of sounding like a killjoy, it is extremely important that we adhere to the campsites’ rules and accept the changes to our “normal” holiday. These really are “unprecedented times” (had to say it) and the whole situation does not just affect us personally, but everyone around the country. If we want camping to return to normal, then it is vitally important to support the industry this year so that there are still campsites in business next year.

The alternative does not bear thinking about!