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Top spots in the UK for family holiday parks

Priory Bay

Have you started planning your summer getaway yet? Are you a fan of holiday parks, or do you prefer to go down the luxury travel route? The differences between the two are dwindling. Nowadays, campsites and holiday parks are often stocked with cosy cabins, comfortable beds, top-notch places to eat and drink, and tons of family entertainment. And, staying on a campsite or holiday park can make it easier to get closer to nature, especially if you want a seaside break.

Here are some of our top places for family camping, from our own experiences and through talking to friends.

Woolacombe

Woolacombe Bay

Woolacombe Bay

Woolacombe is a north Devon seaside resort, with a beach that has been voted no. 1 in the UK by Tripadvisor for the second year in a row. It was also listed as one of the top five beaches in Europe,  alongside Greece, Italy, the Balearics and Turkey. Woolacombe’s a great place for getting hold of some traditional seaside grub, like lobster, cockles and clams. If you’re not a shellfish fan, there’s always the traditional Devon cream tea, which you can burn off by taking a ramble across the cliffs (and ending up in one of the area’s many fine pubs….)

If the UK weather’s not kind during your stay, there’s plenty of indoor entertainment around the Woolacombe area, like the National Trust’s Arlington Court. And if you stay in a holiday park that’s well-equipped with indoor as well as outdoor facilities, like Woolacombe Bay Holiday Parks, you might be so busy scaling the climbing walls, or splashing in the pool, that you don’t even notice the drizzle.

Essex

Essex saltmarsh

The Essex saltmarshes are a beautiful attraction worth seeing.

Essex has the longest shoreline of any county in England. With holiday parks dotted all along its 350 miles, the diverse east Anglian coastline has saltmarshes, estuaries and sandy beaches for the family to explore.

As well as its magnificent coastline, Essex has a surprising number of funs days out for families. Omar Homes have produced a handy guide on Stately Homes and gardens to visit that will appeal to the whole family.

Isle of Wight

Priory Bay

Priory Bay on the Isle of Wight

We stayed on the Isle of Wight last Summer and it was scorchio. The island is an accessible 45 minute ferry ride from the south coast, less than two hours from London. Its 57 miles of coastline have been awarded 17 Blue Flag and Seaside Awards, and the place has a traditional British charm, with deckchairs and Punch and Judy shows remaining popular in the Summer months.

Over half of the Isle of Wight is a designated Area of Outstanding Beauty. It’s also the dinosaur hotspot of the UK, with Compton Bay and Yaverland being particularly good for fossil hunting. As well as hotels, self-catering cottages and bed & breakfasts, there are several holiday parks and campsites with direct access to the beaches (like Nodes Point, where we stayed).

The Gower Peninsula, Wales

Llangennith Beach

Llangennith Beach, Gower

The Gower was the first place in the UK to be designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, back in 1956. Just a hop and a skip from the urban bustle of Swansea, it’s a haven for history lovers: there are 1200 archaeological sites in the area, including caves, Iron Age forts, medieval castles, churches, a lighthouse and 19th Century parks.

The coastline is rugged, and a little wild in places. Fans of ‘coasteering’ – climbing up cliffs, and jumping into the waves below from dizzying heights – flock to these parts. For surfers and dog-owners, Llangennith beach is a haven, while the slightly calmer waters of Rhossili and Pwll Du attract families and walkers. There’s a holiday park directly on Llangennith Beach; and there are many other places to camp and stay in the area, including Kennexstone, where we recently glamped in a shepherd’s hut.

Northumberland

If you want to really get out into the wilds, Northumberland is a good option. A train to Newcastle only takes three hours or so from London, but head just a little way north, to Kielder Water and Forest Park, and there’s so little light pollution that you’ll find the darkest skies in England. The star-spotting opportunities aren’t too shabby on the Northumberland coastline, either. It’s an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with several nature reserves. Bird-lovers can go puffin-spotting by taking a boat to Farne Island, but you don’t have to make a special trip to see all the waders, ducks and geese that live on the coast.

Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle, Northumberland

If you’re interested in history, Northumberland is the place to be: it has more castles than any other county in England, including Bamburgh, Alnwick, and Chillingham, reputedly one of the most haunted castles in England.

Although it’s a little colder than more southern parts of the UK, there are still plenty of opportunities to sit under the stars in one of the area’s holiday parks. If you’re not gutsy enough to brave the Northumberland weather in a tent, there are heated chalets, and indoor swimming pools to keep the kids happy if a trip to the beach is rained off.

Have you stayed in a holiday park? Did you enjoy it?

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30 Comments

  • susanna
    May 3, 2016 at 6:30 am

    I’ve always wanted to stay at Woolacombe Bay! Sounds fab x

    Reply
    • Nell
      May 3, 2016 at 10:34 am

      It looks glorious, doesn’t it?

      Reply
  • Steph Curtis
    May 3, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    Love Wales, we often head over there but there’s so many more places to explore – desperately want to get to the Isle of Wight soon!

    Reply
    • Nell
      May 9, 2016 at 12:34 pm

      The UK’s a real treasure trove, isn’t it? Especially when the weather’s nice.

      Reply
  • Sara-Jayne
    May 3, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    I’ve never been to the Gower – but I do have some very cold memories of playing rugby in Northumberland! I think Woolacombe on your list is my favourite – I have such fond memories of there as a child!

    Reply
    • Nell
      May 9, 2016 at 12:35 pm

      Oooh yes, chilly legs in those shorts! 🙂

      Reply
  • Mums do travel
    May 3, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    I’d love to go to Northumberland, it looks amazing! I’ve been to the other places which you highlight and they’re all beautiful – great choices!

    Reply
    • Nell
      May 9, 2016 at 12:36 pm

      Northumberland’s definitely worth a trip. It’s surprisingly wild for somewhere close to civilisation.

      Reply
  • Liz Burton
    May 3, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    What a great round-up. I really fancy Kielder Water Park, it looks amazing.

    Reply
    • Nell
      May 9, 2016 at 12:36 pm

      Thank you! I bet your gorgeous dog would love Kielder 🙂

      Reply
  • Michelle
    May 3, 2016 at 5:54 pm

    We would like to go camping again, having done our first festival last year. Thanks for the great location ideas!

    Reply
    • Nell
      May 9, 2016 at 12:37 pm

      It’s a pleasure!

      Reply
  • Jen
    May 3, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    I remember staying at Woolacombe when we were kids. I think that the UK has so many fab places for people to stay

    Reply
    • Nell
      May 9, 2016 at 12:38 pm

      I know – I don’t think I’d ever exhaust the possibilities for good places to stay in the UK.

      Reply
  • Fiona Cambouropoulos
    May 3, 2016 at 11:34 pm

    I love the way you have covered so many different areas of the country in your round up. there is something for everyone here.

    Reply
  • Cass@frugalfamily
    May 4, 2016 at 9:03 am

    I love that there are so many great sites around he UK – who needs to go abroad x

    Reply
    • Nell
      May 9, 2016 at 12:39 pm

      Absolutely! Although I do like to go abroad too – best of both worlds! 🙂

      Reply
  • Shell Louise
    May 4, 2016 at 9:21 am

    I like the sound of the Gower Peninsula, we’ve been considering Wales for our holiday this year 🙂

    Reply
    • Nell
      May 9, 2016 at 12:39 pm

      Ah, you should go there. The Gower’s easy to get to, but feels very calm and quiet.

      Reply
  • Nichola - Globalmouse
    May 4, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    Great round up, I really like the sound of Woolacombe and the Gower peninsula!

    Reply
    • Nell
      May 9, 2016 at 12:40 pm

      Thank you!

      Reply
  • Kara
    May 4, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    I’ve not got to woolacombe but it’s on my to do list. I love the Isle of Wight!

    Reply
    • Nell
      May 9, 2016 at 12:40 pm

      Me too! I want to go back there soon 🙂

      Reply
  • Otilia
    May 6, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    Looks so beautiful I would love to visit with my family!

    Reply
    • Nell
      May 9, 2016 at 12:40 pm

      You should! So many choices.

      Reply
  • Charly Dove
    May 9, 2016 at 7:40 pm

    Ahh what lovely choices! We love the Isle of Wight too, went there last year for the first time. Amazing considering how easy we found it to get to! We must go back at some point, it was fab x

    Reply
  • Jennifer Howze
    May 10, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    Great list. I love Isle of Wight and Wales but I’d love to see Northumberland. x

    Reply
    • Nell
      May 12, 2016 at 8:44 pm

      Northumberland’s a hidden gem!

      Reply
  • The Reading Residence
    May 11, 2016 at 10:20 am

    Gorgeous recommendations. We’ve not visited Northumberland, but I’d like to get there one day, largely because of the history there. It’s just a long drive from us, but one day!

    Reply

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