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 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 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
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
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.
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.
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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