The top 10 UK family campsites for 2021

The top 10 family campsites

Plenty of fresh air, zero screen time, and affordable too – camping is the perfect option for holidaying with kids young and old. Unsure where to pitch your tent this year? Here are the family-friendly campsites Mumsnetters love.

Camping is a great way to explore the UK countryside and create memories with the family. UK camping scene offers plenty of choice for families, ranging from luxury resorts with swimming pools and play areas to wild camping experiences with bushcraft classes, rugged seashores and open fires.

We've consulted the Mumsnet forums and read hundreds of reviews to bring you the top ten UK family campsites, according to Mumsnet users:

1. Thistledown Farm, Gloucestershire

1. Thistledown Farm, Gloucestershire

Thistledown Farm, located near Stroud in Gloucestershire, offers a cure for the stresses and strains of family life: space, tranquillity and freshly baked pizzas. Located in the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Thistledown Farm is family-run and organically-managed. The camping fields are car-free (there are wheelbarrows for carting your stuff from the nearby parking area) and there are no allotted pitches, but the pastures are large and numbers are restricted so you'll definitely have plenty of space. Kids will love roaming through the surrounding woodland and helping to feed the pigs, sheep and pygmy goats (yes, they're as cute as they sound).

If you don't fancy eating burnt lightly-charred sausages every night, make sure you book a table at the Thistledown Café. It's open every day throughout the summer, serving coffee, local booze, homemade cakes and Mediterranean and Middle Eastern-inspired food. Best of all, on Fridays and Saturdays it stays open late for wood-fired sourdough pizza nights.

The campsite has ample space to allow for suitable distances between pitches and has ensured appropriate systems are in place to meet the coronavirus requirements for shared facilities.

  • Prices: £10 per tent, £8 per adult, £4 per child and £2 per dog (per night)
  • Toilets: yes – they're compostable, obvs
  • Showers: yes
  • Drinking water: yes
  • Electric hook-up: no
  • Dogs welcome: yes

What Mumsnet users say:

“Woodland aplenty, streams, rope swings, campfires, a shop selling local produce – even a hide for badger-watching. It all backs onto National Trust woodland, with lakes and a cool house (Woodchester Park).”

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2. Trevornick, Cornwall

2. Trevornick, Cornwall

Trevornick campsite offers lots of different ways to camp: from traditional non-serviced pitches, to lodges and cottages. Plus, if you're new to this camping lark, you can stay in one of their pre-pitched Eurotents before splashing out on a tent of your own.

There's so much going on on this campsite that you never need to leave. For little ones there are kids' live shows, arts and crafts, sports and family games, outdoor adventure playground and a heated outdoor swimming pool – as well as indoor soft play if the weather isn't favourable – all included in the cost of your stay. During the school holidays the campsite also runs a kids' club, meaning you can have a bit of time off to enjoy surfing, golf, fishing or the on-site spa. Bliss.

If you venture beyond the campsite you'll find plenty of sandy beaches, miles and miles of glorious coastal paths, and lots of Cornish seaside towns to explore. There are more local restaurants than you can shake a stick at, but, if fresh seafood is wasted on your kids, there's a bar and restaurant back at the campsite which serves family favourites. Check the website for the latest coronavirus updates.

  • Prices: from £7.40 per adult, £2.20 per child and £5.20 per dog (per night)
  • Toilets: yes
  • Showers: yes
  • Drinking water: yes
  • Electric hook-up: yes
  • Dogs welcome: yes

What Mumsnet users say:

“We stayed here last summer and will definitely be returning again this year. The whole campsite was really well-kept and there is lots for the children to do. It's a short walk to the beach, and everyone is really friendly – all in all, a wonderful place.”

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3. Cloud Farm, Devon

3. Cloud Farm, Devon

Perfect for nature lovers, a shallow river runs through this campsite nestled in the picturesque Doone Valley and you may well spot a pony or deer when emerging from your tent of a morning. However, this doesn't mean you're deprived of creature comforts, there's a quaint tearoom, with a beautiful walled garden, which serves full English breakfasts in the morning and traditional cream teas in the afternoon (as well as boring sensible meals like lunch and dinner). The shop stocks everyday camping essentials and is open daily.

The ideal base for days spent rambling on Exmoor and nights sitting around a campfire, Cloud Farm certainly provides an authentic family camping experience. The toilets and showers are clean and well-presented, but it's worth noting that electrical hook-ups are limited.

  • Prices: from £8 per adult, £3 per child and £2 per dog (per night)
  • Toilets: yes
  • Showers: yes
  • Drinking water: yes
  • Electric hook-up: yes, but limited
  • Dogs welcome: yes

What Mumsnet users say:

“Great facilities, a stream running through the site, great walks without needing the car and a fab shop with yummy homemade cakes on site.”

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Read next: Camping not your thing? Save 5% on Hoseasons Park, Lodge and Boating holidays

4. Heathland Beach, Suffolk

4. Heathland Beach, Suffolk

Only a short drive from the picturesque seaside towns of Lowestoft and Southwold, with Kessingland and Pakefield beaches within walking distance, Heathland Beach is ideally located for exploring Suffolk as a family. The camping pitches are all equipped with electric hook-ups, with shared water taps and TV outlets. If you're thinking of visiting during the cooler months, there is also the option of staying in one of the park's holiday homes instead of under canvas.

The three heated swimmings are currently closed due to covid-19, but if you're brave, you could try swimming in the North Sea (though we'd recommend bringing wetsuits if you're seriously considering it). If you prefer to stay dry, there are also play areas dotted throughout the site and an all-weather tennis court with rackets available to hire in case the weather is less than perfect.

  • Prices: from £22 per tent, £2 per person and £3 per dog (per night)
  • Toilets: yes
  • Showers: yes
  • Drinking water: yes
  • Electric hook-up: yes
  • Dogs welcome: yes, but only one per pitch at peak times

What Mumsnet users say:

“Lovely place, very clean. Really good facilities and right by a fantastic, empty beach.”

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5. Glenmore Camping, Aviemore

5. Glenmore Camping, Aviemore

Nestled between the mountains of the Scottish Highlands, on the shores of Loch Morlich, you'll find the Mumsnetter-favourite Glenmore campsite. Situated in the middle of the Cairngorms National Park, but close to the town of Aviemore, so outdoorsy types can hike, swim, kayak and canoe to their heart's content – without being stranded in the middle of nowhere with little kids. The site is well-equipped with showers, toilets, laundry and dish-washing facilities but, unlike others mentioned above, it doesn't have a shop so make sure you stock up before you arrive.

Little nature-lovers will be able to spot deer, otters, ospreys and, sometimes, even golden eagles as you roam around the park and older kids can try their hand at windsurfing or paddleboarding at the watersports centre. Slightly further afield, there's lots to do on Cairngorm Mountain and a Highland Wildlife Park near Kincraig which is well worth a visit.

  • Prices: from £17 (per night)
  • Toilets: yes
  • Showers: yes
  • Drinking water: yes
  • Electric hook-up: yes
  • Dogs welcome: yes

What Mumsnet users say

“Great access to the mountains: take the funicular up Cairngorm with the little ones or set off on a great trek for bigger adventurers. There is also plenty of forest to wander around, a beach on the loch and a play area tucked away in the woodland.”

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Read next: the family-friendly tents Mumsnetters recommend

6. Henry's Campsite, Cornwall

6. Henry's Campsite, Cornwall

For sea views and amazing sunsets, head to Henry's Campsite in Cornwall. The campsite is a bohemian retreat – and haven for rescue animals – set among exotic plants and dotted with local art, only a few minutes walk away from the village of Helston on The Lizard Peninsula – the most southerly point of the UK. There's lots to do and you'll have some of the best beaches in Cornwall within easy reach.

The campsite is small, it only has four showers and seven unisex toilets, but it does have hot water for washing up, a washing machine and tumble dryer, hair dryers, and a shop which sells everything you need – from calor gas to ice creams and Old Rosie cider.
  • Prices: on application
  • Toilets: yes
  • Showers: yes
  • Drinking water: yes
  • Electric hook-up: yes
  • Dogs welcome: not during school holidays

What Mumsnet users say

“Last time we were there we saw bats flying above our heads on the first night. Second night there was an epic thunderstorm; we watched it over the sea for two hours – amazing. You are within walking distance of Lizard Point, Kynance Cove, and loads of other beautiful places.”

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7. Brockwell Woods, Tyne and Wear

7. Brockwell Woods, Tyne and Wear

For serious nature lovers, only wild camping will do. Only seven miles from Newcastle, the owners of Blaydon Burn Farm allow camping in their 26 acres of woodland – as long as campers remember the bushcraft code: “Take nothing, leave nothing, leave no trace”.

The owners will provide you with a map to find your way and a spade to bury human waste – and that's it. You can fill up your water bottles and buy extra logs for your campfire at the farmhouse, but otherwise you're on your own. Though there are pubs and shops a few miles away if you get desperate. Mumsnetters recommend you embrace the lack of creature comforts and throw yourselves into the adventure – the kids will love it.

  • Prices: £8 per adult, £4 per child, dogs and under-fives free (per night)
  • Toilets: no
  • Showers: no
  • Drinking water: yes
  • Electric hook-up: no
  • Dogs welcome: yes

What Mumsnet users say:

“Back to basics; the only facilities are a tap for water and lots of wood for fires. But it's camping as it (in my humble opinion) should be – and the kids love it.”

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8. Fforest Fields, Wales

8. Fforest Fields, Wales

Fforest Fields is set in the middle of a 500-acre family-run farm, surrounded by green hills, woodland trails, and two lakes – complete with free kayaks – which campers are welcome to explore during their stay.

Although you'll feel pleasingly off-grid, this small site has plenty of facilities that make camping with little ones easier. Mumsnetters recommend Fforest Fields for its spotless shower block, including a family washroom, and there's also a launderette, washing-up room, fridges and a drying room on-site – there's even free site-wide WiFi (just don't tell the kids). The licenced cafe is well-stocked with local ales and ciders, as well as proper coffee for your morning caffeine fix, and there's a little shop where you can pick up any forgotten essentials.

Reluctant campers will be pleased to discover there are glamping yurts available for a more luxurious visit. Each yurt sleeps four and is equipped with a wood-burning stove, floor cushions and solar lights – you'll also have a dedicated kitchen hut, complete with gas cooker, cool box and eating utensils.

  • Prices: £12-14 per pitch, £3 per person, £4 electric hook up (per night)
  • Toilets: yes
  • Showers: yes
  • Drinking water: yes
  • Electric hook-up: yes
  • Dogs welcome: yes

What Mumsnet users say:

“There is something for everyone here; little stream-side pitches or more open spaces, a gorgeous lake for swimming, the loveliest of owners and (shudders with joy) bathroom blocks that are marvellous beyond words. Logs, phone charging, all that important stuff – as well as the feel of a small site.”

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9. Kelling Heath, North Norfolk

9. Kelling Heath, North Norfolk

If you’re new to camping, or not keen on going too off-grid, Kelling Heath offers a great opportunity to test the waters without compromising on too many mod cons. Some describe Kelling Heath as Centre Parks with tents, the amenities are plenty and top notch.

Offering electric hook ups for pitches, you can also pre-book an awning or gazebo if you’d like a bit of extra shelter.

There’s so much to do at Kelling Heath, there’s really no need to drive anywhere once you’ve arrived, cycle routes to explore, a leisure centre with an indoor pool and regular children’s entertainment if you need a break from the kids. And if you don’t fancy cooking there are a selection of restaurants to try onsite too.

If you’re looking for a wild back-to-nature type camping experience, this probably isn’t the one for you. But if you like your camping with a touch of luxury, then Kelling Heath is the perfect match.

The campsite and lodges have reopened, but some facilities will have restricted access due to covid-19 safeguarding measures.

  • Prices: £18-34 per night
  • Toilets: yes
  • Showers: yes
  • Drinking water: yes
  • Electric hook-up: yes
  • Dogs welcome: yes
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10. Red Shoot camping park, New Forest

10. Red Shoot camping park, New Forest

If you’re keen on exploring the New Forest on your camping trip, then Red Shoot camping park is an ideal base. You’re never more than a ten minute walk from a secluded beauty spot.

It’s a family run camping park and you can really tell, facilities include an on-site shop and bakery, children’s play area, laundry room, underfloor heated showers and toilets and family and disabled bathrooms.

It’s a dog friendly campsite with electric and non-electric pitches for camping, there’s also spaces for caravans and campervans. There’s plenty of things to do and see in the surrounding areas so even on rainy days you'll be bound to find something that everyone enjoys.

Red Shoot has reopened for the summer season but is opening at reduced capacity to comply with covid-19 safety guidelines

  • Prices: £18 per tent, £8 per adult, £4.50 per child (under two's go free) and £1.50 per dog (per night)
  • Toilets: yes
  • Showers: yes
  • Drinking water: yes
  • Electric hook-up: yes
  • Dogs welcome: yes
Book now

How to choose the right campsite for your family

When you first consider going camping, there's lots to bear in mind – do you have the right tent for the job, or do you fancy finding somewhere with pre-pitched tents so you can just rock up and get settled in? With kids in tow, camping isn't the easiest of holidays to plan, but once you've decided a few key things, it promises to be a fun and (fairly) cheap family adventure.

How close are the nearest shops, restaurants and other amenities?

If there isn't a shop on the campsite itself, have a think about where the nearest amenities are and how you will get there if you don't have a car.

Things to do near the campsite

While we know quality time with the family is in short supply, we also know being cooped up in a tent together (potentially in bad weather) is not the most fun. What is there to do nearby, either on the site itself or local? Are there any good days out?

What services are available at the pitches?

Campsites are all different, so check whether there is a gas or water supply to the tent, or whether you would need to plan around making trips to collect water from one shared tap.

What facilities are on offer?

If a private shower/washroom is important to you, or you want a toilet block that isn't a million miles away from your pitch, make sure to explore your options before booking anywhere, as this can vary greatly between campsites. Some sites offer free wifi and laundry rooms, too, so keep your eyes peeled for these helpful extras, and also enquire whether there are picnic benches available or whether you'd need to pack a camping table and chairs.

Look out for potential safety hazards

Although a stream running through the site may look the part, make sure it's far enough away and has the necessary safety measures for children

Plan ahead

Is your child currently potty training? Do they get scared of the dark? As with all aspects of parenting, have a think about the challenges you face at home, and have an action plan in place for when things inevitably go south while you're away.

Camping essentials

So, you've chosen your campsite. Here are the top Mumsnetter-recommended products to take with you.

1. Outwell Montana tent

With two bedrooms (somewhat grandiosely named “Ambassador master bedrooms”) and one big living area, this tent can sleep up to six people. There's also a side porch area with detachable bathtub groundsheet – perfect for keeping muddy shoes outside. Colour-coded pegs make pitching it straightforward and a thermo-reflective coating prevents this tent from becoming too oven-like in the heat of the day.

“Our first camping trip took place in very unseasonal rain, gales and hailstones – July in France, too! This tent saw us through the awful weather. The porch made it possible to come in and out without soaking the whole place, and the huge living area meant we could entertain two active children indoors.”

Buy now from Amazon

2. Ikea Frakta Large Blue Bags

They have many uses in our homes, so it makes sense that they'd be really useful for camping, too. Stock up on a few and slot them into your packing – they don't take much use but will be invaluable while you're away.

“Take some large shopping bags, we use the Ikea ones but any will do. They have many uses, including holding dry clothes and your towel while you shower, carrying beach stuff, carrying washing up or laundry, and for dirty/damp clothes and towels on the journey home.”

Buy now from Amazon

3. JVL Comfort Coir Rubber Scraper Door Mat

Mud and camping (unfortunately) tend to go hand in hand – particularly in the UK. There's nothing worse than the inside of your tent getting wet and mucky on day one, and then having to carry live with it for another fortnight. A doormat is the perfect remedy, stopping the spread of any mud into the rest of the tent, and is really small and easy to pack in with your other kit, too.

“One thing I read on Mumsnet has really helped us: buy a cheapie doormat and put it just inside tent door. It stops muddy feet spreading muck in tent, and also caught drips of rain before they rolled in.”

Buy now from Amazon

4. Amazon basics coat hangers

Mumsnetters are great for thinking outside the box, and nothing is better than advice from someone who has been there and worked out the very best things to take first-hand. Although it sounds a bit odd, this Mumsnet user swears by taking coat hangers along on your trip for hanging wet jackets out the way, meaning they'll dry much quicker ready for another soaking the next day.

“If rain is forecast, a couple of coat hangers are helpful as you can hand wet coats from these in the tent/car rather than have them on the back of chairs.”

Buy now from Amazon

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