5 of the Best – Campsites by Lochs, Rivers and Lakes

20 Feb 2012

Caolasnacon Caravan and Camping Park

Linlochleven, Argyllshire, Scotland, PH50 4RJ


Right on the shores of Loch Leven and surrounded by all the majesty and splendour of the Scottish Highlands – what more could you want from a camp-site? But that’s just the point, there is so much more if beauty and majestic mountains alone aren’t enough.

You can hire canoes, dinghies and rowing boats directly from the loch’s shore or you can hire fishing rods and tackle from the camp-site and fish permit free. Who knows – you might even catch your own tea which you can then cook over your camp-fire (which is very much allowed here).

For the more actively inclined there is climbing, hill walking, white water rafting, sea kayaking and mountain biking. Or, if you’d like to get out on the water but don’t want to expend quite so much energy then sit back while a skilled skipper takes you dolphin, porpoise and seal spotting.

Anyone familiar with the Scottish Highlands may take one look at the picture and instantly think ‘midge!’ Ah, but you see, here they have midge magnet machines to keep the scourge of Scottish camping well and truly at bay giving you midge free perfection.

Just as a final touch (and if you need one after all that then you are a very picky customer) the camp-site has its own resident Golden eagles.

Facilities: electric hook-up, showers, toilets, laundry, dish-washing, camp-fires allowed, fishing rods and tackle for hire.

Open: April to October.

Tariff: From £14 per pitch per night, awnings £5 per night.

Nantcol Waterfalls Camp Site

Cefn Uchaf, Llanbedr, Gwynedd, Wales, LL45 2PL


(NOTE: Families and couples only, no bookings accepted for young groups)

We have a theory regarding this magical place – when you leave here you will never be able to tell people where you have been because you won’t be able to pronounce it. This ensures its secret for the lucky few only which is just as well because Nantcol Waterfalls is not your run of the mill camp-site.

Tucked into a tranquil valley with the Rhinog mountains as its backdrop, wherever you pitch on this site you can be assured that the tinkling of tiny waterfalls or the further off rushing of something bigger will be the sounds which accompany your dreams. You get to choose from 3 separate areas, two of which put you right beside the river and wherever you go camp-fires are allowed. Only 2 miles away is the beautiful sandy expanse of Shell Island which means river, mountains and seaside are all possible in one day.

The 7 acre camp-site has scooped a host of awards including places within the Sunday Telegraph’s ‘Top 10′ lists and featuring in Cotswolds Outdoor Ltd’s ‘Top 5 Best Campsites in Britain 2010′. It is part of an organic sheep and beef farm which itself has a full trophy cabinet, crammed with awards recognising the owners’ commitment to environmental and conservation issues.

Enjoying the great outdoors and immersing yourself in nature is what this site is all about. There are several walks suited to different abilities and family groups which take you past waterfalls, through woodland and along the river, with interpretation boards along the way to tell you all about the nature and geology of this bewitching place.

Facilities: Electric hook-up, toilets and showers, dish-washing, chemical disposal, dogs allowed, camp-fires allowed.

Open: March to September.

Tariff - £8 per adult per night, children (age 4-16) £3 per night, dogs £1 per night, electric £4 per night.

Waterside House Campsite

Howtown, Penrith, Ullswater, Cumbria, CA10 2NA


(NOTE: This camp site accepts motor-homes but NOT caravans)

Out flat energetic or flat on your back and relaxed? You get to choose and should you wish to mix and match you can do that too. Waterside House camp-site, situated in the popular and incomparably picturesque Lake District, sits right on the northern shores of Ullswater. Directly from the camp-site you can hire rowing boats, Canadian canoes and mountain bikes and close by are any number of walks and hikes suitable for the casual stroller to the intrepidly inclined.

Just 1 mile away is Pooley Bridge, the type of Lake District village which features on postcards, and where you can grab supplies, afternoon tea at one of the cafes or a pint of traditional ale at an inn.

Watch the sun turn Ullswater golden as it sinks and fall asleep to the sound of gently lapping water and very little else to break the hush. Ready for another day tomorrow of as much or as little activity as you want, depending on how the mood takes you.

Facilities: Electric hook-up, toilets and showers, chemical disposal point, laundry, children’s adventure area, boat launch, boat hire, on-site shop

Open: March to October.

Tariff: From £14 per pitch per night for 2 adults, £1.50 children (age 4-14), £4 electric, £3.50 awning, £1 dogs

Bwch-yn-Uchaf Camp site

Llanuwchllyn, Nr Bala, Gwynedd, Wales, LL23 7DD


If camp-site 2 on this list seemed unpronounceable, then you may be risking serious vocal apparatus injury attempting this one! Don’t let that stop you though because then you may just be missing one of the most idyllic camp sites you are ever likely to encounter. Set right in the heart of Snowdonia National Park, an area hardly short of any adjective you want to throw at it – dramatic, majestic, beautiful, awe-inspiring and so forth – gives it a major head start.

The entire length of Bwch-yn-Uchaf camp site runs along the crystal clear Twrch (picture it, don’t say it!) where guests can fish for free and children can spend idyllic days, paddling, catching tiddlers, building dams and playing Pooh sticks in the shallow, sparkling waters.

As if that wasn’t enough the camp site is right next door to a station for the Llanuwchllyn Narrow Gauge Railway where passengers can board for a scenic, open carriage ride along the shores of Bala Lake. Ten minutes walk away is a pub which serves food and Bala Lake, only 1 mile away, has sailing, windsurfing or dinghy, canoe and kayak hire.

There are separate distinct areas for camping, each offering something a little different but all allowing lots of space and panoramic views and you get to pick which one you want. Camp fires are allowed away from the electric hook-up areas and you can buy kindling and logs at the camp site.

Facilities: Electric hook-up, toilets, showers, laundry, dish-washing, steam railway station, dogs allowed, camp fires allowed.

Open: All year.

Tariff: £12 for caravan/motorhome/large tent and 2 adults per night, £3 child (age 3-16), dogs £1, £2.50 electric, £2 awning/gazebo.

Cloud Farm

Oare, Lynton, Devon, EX35 6NU


Anyone familiar with this part of the world will tell you that you can have a slice of whatever you want, all within easy reach. Beaches, countryside, moor, wildlife, history, family friendly attractions and probably anything else which appeals. As a result there are camp sites at almost every bend of the road but the Cloud Farms of this world are far rarer jewels.

Located right at the heart of the Devonshire Doone Valley on the Somerset border, you are surrounded by scenery both dramatically wild and rugged and also the lush and lovely. Exmoor ponies, Red deer and a host of bird life including herons and buzzards call this area home. This is all tempting enough but the camp site is also set beside a babbling brook of the type so typical in these parts where both adults and children can wile away hours or quite possibly days or even weeks.

Serenity and peace reign here and the camp site is refreshingly free of rules or restrictions giving it a markedly laid back air– dogs allowed, camp fires allowed, camp where you like and so on.

There is a little tea-room on site which, should you want it, caters for your stomach’s needs throughout the day – a full English breakfast in the morning, cream teas during the day and a take-away range well into the evening.

Facilities: electric hook-up, toilets, showers, camp shop, tea-room, camp-fires allowed, dogs allowed, wood bundles for sale

Open: All year.

Tariff: £8 per person per night, £3 children (age 3-5), £4 (age 6-12) and £5 (age 13-15), dogs £2.

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