Beach getaways, UNESCO-listed landmarks, and wild moorlands draw explorers to the UK’s southern peninsula.
South West England packs a punch when it comes to natural attractions—two national parks, four UNESCO sites, and more Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty than any other region. The idyllic coast and countryside of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, and Somerset offer plenty of perfect places to pitch a tent whether you fancy a site near the sea or a rural retreat. Seaside resorts and surf breaks await along the rocky shores of Cornwall and Devon, while inland is prime for hiking, biking, and horse riding across the moorlands of Exmoor and Dartmoor. Add in the usually warmer weather of the south and it’s no wonder that so many campers holiday in South West England. Summer is peak season for coastal campers, but many choose to return to admire the fall foliage or spring wildflowers. Winters are wet and windy but milder than elsewhere in the UK, making it a safe bet for campervan and caravan trips. South West England is a region well worth exploring—and a camping holiday is the perfect way to do it.
The enigmatic ruins of Stonehenge draw crowds to Wiltshire, and attending the Summer Solstice celebrations is a bucket-list must for adventurous campers. If glamping and gastro-pubs is more your style, nowhere does idyllic countryside quite like the Cotswolds, with its rolling green hills, honey-coloured stone cottages, and numerous celebrity residents. To the south, hikers can also set out along the legendary Offa's Dyke Path, a National Trail that runs between England and Wales.
The cities of Bristol and Bath are the gateway to the rural regions of Somerset and Dorset, where the beach is never more than a few hours’ drive away. Some of the best hiking and camping is found in the Exmoor National Park, but equally rewarding is a hike through the Cheddar Gorge. More than 40% of Dorset is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, so it’s not hard to find a pretty pitch. Set up camp near the beach (sandy favourites include Weymouth and Bournemouth) or in the wide-open Dorset countryside. In Somerset, great campsites sit on its 40-mile stretch of coast (try Minehead, Weston-super-Mare, or the start of the South West Coastal Path), but even more lie inland. The Somerset Levels and Moors make up a flat landscape of fertile low-lying land perfect for farm and meadow campsites, while the Mendips, Blackdown Hills, and Quantocks are all Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
With a north and south coast, plus a whole lot of countryside sandwiched in between, Devon’s sea views and hillside hikes make prime terrain for outdoor enthusiasts on camping holidays. Explore the wild landscapes of the Exmoor and Dartmoor national parks, where native ponies roam freely across the moors. Continue to the south coast to discover the Jurassic Coast, stopping at the port towns of Torquay and Brixham or surfer-friendly beaches like Croyde and Woolacombe, and don’t forget to try some traditional English scones, served with jam and Devonshire clotted cream. Like neighbouring Cornwall, Devon has plenty of campsites for experiencing the charms of both coast and country.
Soaring sea cliffs, tranquil fishing villages, and blue flag beaches provide the backdrop for hiking, camping, and exploring in Cornwall. Check into a beachfront campsite along the Cornish Riviera, try a countryside farm campsite instead, head to the surf mecca of Newquay on the north coast, or escape the crowds on the Isles of Scilly. Other must-dos include a visit to Land’s End, the westernmost point of mainland Britain, and a hike along the South West Coast Path. During a Cornwall camping holiday, you can get a taste for this fiercely independent county with Cornish pasties, cream teas, and ice creams. On days out from your campsite, visit the most westerly point of the British mainland at Land’s End or the most southerly point on the Lizard peninsula.