Ten Acres Vineyard, Winkleigh, Devon
Neat rows of vines sliding gracefully down the gentle slopes of a farmstead make an unusual adjunct to this rural campsite. Peace and quiet is assured by a half-mile track from the nearest road, while the absence of large settlements in this corner of Devon means that there is some excellent star-gazing to be had.
The vineyard is more than 500 feet above sea level, and from the top of the camping field there’s a cracking view over the vines to Dartmoor. Closer at hand, rotund and furry kunekune pigs graze the grass in between the vines (work that literally saves their bacon, which is rather heart-warming).
Should you wish to leave this idyll, a pleasant wander will bring you to Winkleigh, an attractive little village that looks to have been plucked straight from a novel by Thomas Hardy.
Contact: 01837 83892
Cookham Lock, Cookham, Berkshire
Three cheers for whoever it was at the Environment Agency who thought that it would be a good idea to use land at certain Thames locks for camping. This site is typical of those “lock campsites” in its unfussy appearance and pleasingly rustic facilities.
Dixe Wills Cookham Lock, Cookham, Berkshire
Here, you can pitch up on Sashes Island — wedged between the Thames and Hedsor Water — and watch boat-life and bird-life: avian visitors include kingfishers, red kites, parakeets, geese of all kinds, and even the occasional hobby falcon.
The site is so peaceful that it’s difficult to believe that it was once a place of importance for both Romans and Saxons, and a bustling trading post from medieval times right up to the 1830s. At Cookham village near by, don’t miss the bijou Stanley Spencer Gallery, filled with glorious paintings by the late local artist.
Contact: 01628 520752
Walkers Cottage Camping, Clifford, Herefordshire
From anywhere on this little sloping patch of loveliness near Hay-on-Wye you can take in a 180-degree panorama of the Wye Valley, with its green fields, compact woods, and attractive cottages dotted about in ones and twos. The organic farmstead that hosts the campsite includes a little field of sheep, an orchard, and bee hives hidden in a jungle of wild flowers. And, should you fancy a cup of tea and a slice of home-made cake, there’s even a little café surrounded by flowerbeds brimming with colour.
Dixe Wills Walkers Cottage Camping, Clifford, Herefordshire
A co-owner, Véronique, is a gifted artist (you can see her work in the onsite gallery); so, should all this comeliness inspire you to take brush or pencil in hand, you can join her Wednesday art group (Covid restrictions permitting) and give free rein to your creative talents.
Contact: 01497 831684.
Park Farm, Kildale, Yorkshire
Location, location, location? So very yesterday. Here, it’s all about view, view, view. And Park Farm enjoys one of the sublimest you’ll find in England. It is roughly 50 miles west to Tan Hill and the Yorkshire Dales, and, on a clear day, you can see absolutely everything in between: a joyous sweep of fields, trees, and yet more hills.
The campsite itself is a tiny soft-cheese triangle of sloping grassland, planted with a scattering of apple trees. It is part of a 700-acre farm populated by sheep and rare breeds of cattle (fans of Limousin, Shorthorn, Charolais, and Belgian Blue should bring their spotter books), with a fine-looking listed building that acts as a camping barn. Captain Cook was born in these parts, and a walk up to his monument on Easby Moor near by is highly recommended.
Contact: 01642 722847.
Platt’s Farm Campsite, Llanfairfechan, Conwy
Set within the high walls of the farmyard of a Grade II listed Victorian model farm, created to service a mansion, this is a campsite like no other. Platt was a fabulously wealthy Victorian businessman. His grand house has long since been demolished, but his legacy lives on in an imposing black-stone farmhouse, part of which now serves as a first-rate bunkhouse. In the extensive farmyard behind it lie two very small and wonderfully secluded fields for campers.
Park Farm, KildalePark Farm, Kildale, Yorkshire
The crowning glory of this site, however, is its vast former kitchen garden. The space is divided into large lawns — one of which is perfect for ball games or Frisbee-flinging — and wild impenetrable areas left to nature (butterflies and rabbits abound). And, should you decide to take your pleasures elsewhere, you can head under the railway line and A55 to reach the beach.
Contact: 01248 680105.
North Rhinns Camping, Leswalt, Dumfries & Galloway
Owners Kath and Rob bought Glengyre Cottage, with its overgrown and largely impenetrable three-acre grove, a few years back, driven by a desire to create the sort of campsite they themselves would like to visit. So began the Herculean task of opening up the wood, planting new trees, and fashioning the little coves and glades that serve as pitches here.
They have also carved pathways around and through the woodland to enable campers to go on their own mini nature-trail. Look up into the trees to spot Britain’s tiniest bird, the goldcrest, and out into the fields for hares. At the top of the site you will even be able to see the hills of Northern Ireland, less than 25 miles away. Peer out at night, and you may even spot the lighthouse at distant Belfast.
Contact: 01776 853630.
Dixe Wills is the author of Tiny Campsites: 80 perfect little places to pitch, published by AA Publishing at £11.99 (Church Times Bookshop £10.79); 978-0-74957-848-0.