There's no need to rough it in Devon—the region offers some of the best glamping in the country.
Need that extra bit of luxury? Don’t own a tent, or simply don’t want the faff of pitching it? As well as tracking down the very best campsites in Devon, we’ve been out on the road discovering Devon’s glamping gems too, including bell tents by the beach, shepherd’s huts in the hills, and family-sized safari tents for big get-togethers with all your favourite folks. When it comes to luxury living, Devon doesn’t fall short. There are loads of fantastic glamping options in the South West, from glamping pods to cosy yurts.
Devon glamping can mean a bell tent by a beach with some of the best surf in the UK, a yurt on an eco-friendly small holding or an elegant shepherd’s hut near the English Riviera. The county lays claim to a North Coast that includes sandy beaches and craggy headlands washed by Atlantic surf and a South Coast of seaside resorts, sunshine and a stretch of Jurassic Coast. And while most English counties are lucky to have any part of a national park within their boundaries, Devon has two – in addition to five designated areas of outstanding natural beauty.
Whether it’s North Coast surf at Croyde, the South Coast elegance of Torquay, the rolling hills of Devon’s countryside or the thought of hiking through the vast expanses of Dartmoor and Exmoor that appeals, there’s no denying that Devon has plenty to offer to visitors. If you love the great outdoors then you can’t go far wrong in choosing glamping here for your next holiday.
Yurts, bell tents, pods and tipis, Devon has them all. This area of South West England is a bit of a camping and glamping hub and there’s great variety in the type of accommodation on offer. Choosing the style of accommodation that suits you best is all part of the fun. We’ve found shepherd’s huts and gypsy caravans, even treehouses and modern geo-domes. And while size, shape and price all vary, the one thing you can be sure of is every glamping recommendation on the Hipcamp website is a real winner. An innumerable number of factors goes into choosing our favourite glamping sites, from the fluffiness of the pillows to the friendliness of the owners. That’s not to say every glamping site in Devon offers a five-star luxury lodging – far from it. There’s a truly eclectic mix of places to stay, some rustic, others complete with hot-tubs, bath robes and a full English breakfast included in the price. We’re confident, however, that you’ll love every single one. So whether you fancy a winter glamping getaway where you can snuggle away in an insulated pod or a summer glamping holiday where you'll be lounging about in a bell tent, you’ve come to the right place.
Glamping may just be the ultimate family holiday. If you love camping and your partner doesn’t or if the kids are keen to camp but you’re not so sure, glamping might just be the compromise you’re looking for. Glamping offers all the benefits of camping with none of the faff of pitching a tent. And, as discussed above, you can choose a level of luxury to suit you. Opt for a pre-erected canvas tent for an experience that’s closer to camping or for the sturdier walls of a shepherd’s hut with all mod cons if you can’t live without the hairdryer or a place to charge your mobile phone. Glamping is a great way to take a first step in to family camping holidays and one thing is almost guaranteed; your kids are bound to love it. From fairytale treehouses to bunting-clad bell tents, many glamping sites have been built with family appeal. The pint-sized proportions of shepherds’ hut and gypsy caravans are just right for kids who will enjoy exploring their nooks and crannies. Add to this, the freedom of glamping site life: of spending all day outdoors, making new friends and toasting marshmallows on campfires and, if our experience is anything to go by, your main problem is likely to be trying to persuade the family to return home at the end of the holiday! It’s not all about the kids either. A glamping holiday takes the pressure off parents as you won’t have to get tangled in guy ropes at the beginning and end of a holiday and, you can enjoy relaxing by the campfire once the kids have gone to bed.
Devon has been a family favourite for years so days out during a family glamping holiday in Devon are not hard to find. The county is full of attractions that have been built with families in mind from theme parks to wild animal parks – and that’s not to mention the timeless appeal of the seaside. With two coasts and countless seaside resorts, you need little more than a bucket and spade and a crab-fishing line to keep kids occupied for hours.
Devon’s North Coast is a mixture of dramatic craggy headlands, wide sandy beaches and harbour towns. It’s usually this coast that people head for to surf in Devon, with some of the best waves found at Croyde and Woolacombe. Both are also popular with families thanks to their sandy shallows and summer lifeguard services. Aside from the bucket-and-spade fun of the seaside there are plenty of family-friendly attractions designed to keep kids entertained during holidays from the Big Sheep Farm Park to Watermouth Castle, making North Devon a fantastic place for a family holiday. Older children, teenagers and adults will all be spoiled for choice when it comes to adventurous activity. If you’re not already a surfer, the abundance of surf schools and watersports centres give you the perfect chance to learn and coasteering is a great way to combine swimming and climbing – usually for anyone over the age of eight. But it’s not just people with kids who’ll appreciate this magnificent stretch of coast. Almost all of this coastline, from the edge of Exmoor National Park in the north east, to the border with Cornwall in the west, is designated as the North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and one of the best way to see its highlights is to hike along part of the South West Coast Path. Other popular destinations on the North Coast include the pretty harbour town of Ilfracombe and the historic port town of Bideford and nearby Westward Ho! The fishing heritage of the port towns and the fresh produce from the countryside also mean it’s a fantastic place for foodies.
While Croyde may take the crown as Devon’s most popular surf spot, the South Coast of Devon also offers its own wave-catching opportunities. Bantham, in particular, is known for the quality of its surf – but it’s kayaking, paddleboarding, kitesurfing and sailing that Devon’s South Coast is famous for. The estuary at Exmouth is particularly well-known for watersports. It’s also said to be the county's and, according to some, the country’s first ever seaside holiday resort with Regency and Victorian architecture very much in evidence. The South Coast is dotted with similar resort towns including the ever-popular Torquay, Paignton and Brixham on the so-called English Riviera. On the edge of sheltered Tor Bay, the area claims its own microclimate and celebrates its relationship with the crime writer Agatha Christie almost as much as its fishing heritage and fantastic seafood. Between Tor Bay and Devon’s thriving waterside city, Plymouth, is the South Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Covering 60 miles of coastline, including Devon’s most southerly point, much of this is the popular South Hams region of Devon with destinations including the fishing town of Salcombe all backed by glorious countryside and never too far from Devon’s largest national park, Dartmoor.
Heather moorland, granite tors, wooded valleys and free-roaming ponies… there’s nowhere quite like Dartmoor. The largest of the two national parks in Devon, Dartmoor’s landscapes are not only beautiful but also full of history. Explore the national park’s 368 square miles and you can see ancient stone circles and burial mounds and visit medieval villages with traditional country inns. It’s a great place to explore on foot or by bike with opportunities for horseriding and wild swimming too. There’s a long history of Dartmoor being used for military training, Duke of Edinburgh expeditions and other outdoor pursuits and, as a result, it is one of the only places in the country where you can go wild camping. The appeal is obvious: you can stay immersed in the natural world for longer and enjoy stargazing under the rural and unpolluted skies above Dartmoor. But for those of us who like our camping with a little more comfort, there’s plenty of glamping in and around Dartmoor too. After days of activity out on the moors, you can return to your glamping pad for a cosy and comfortable night. The weather around Dartmoor is famously changeable, so the comfort and convenience of a ready-made shelter sounds like a great idea to us.
Exmoor National Park stretches across the county border in to Somerset and meets the sea on the counties’ shared northern coastline. As a result, although it features wooded river valleys and open heather moorland like Dartmoor, it also has dramatic cliffs overlooking the Bristol Channel and one of the best stretches of the 630-mile South West Coast path. Its wildlife includes Exmoor ponies, red deer and moorland birds. Standing stones and burial mounds are testament to the fact that humans have lived here for millenia and there’s more recent history too with Roman forts and farmhouses that have been around for hundreds of years. Exmoor is named after the River Exe and you are never far from water on the moors with countless streams, rivers and waterfalls. Glamping in or near Exmoor gives you the chance to explore all this and whether you’re visiting for the wildlife, the water or the walking: shepherd’s huts, safari tents and cosy cabins are great ways to stay. You’ll have shelter from those Atlantic winds but are just steps away from the great outdoors – perfect for stargazing in what was Europe’s first designated Dark Sky Reserve.