e’re looking at a summer of staycations – and what better way to escape from your own four walls than a spot of coastal camping?
But after the year we’ve had, rough and ready just won’t cut it – only luxury will do.
Cotna Eco Retreat, Cornwall
Streams running through this 10-acre smallholding – home to hens, horses and vegetable-filled poly-tunnels – trickle towards the quaint harbour village of Mevagissey, two miles away. The beaches of Gorran Haven, Hemmick and Vault are closer still and an easy half hour walk from your yurt. Furnished with a double bed, wood-burner and cooking facilities, the two Mongolian-style structures are also joined by a cosy shepherd’s hut and an atmospheric straw bale studio, with rough, honey-coloured interior walls housing a kitchen, brass-bedded bedroom and an en-suite bathroom. The local pub, meanwhile, built in 1837 and run by the original proprietor’s great-great-grandson is a five-minute stroll up the track.
Ferns, daffodils and yellow flag irises hem the pond at this two-acre glamping site on Devon’s Hartland Peninsula and the place feels simultaneously manicured yet wild. It’s home to 10 octagonal wooden cabins – a chic new take on the traditional beach hut – with interiors divided into three areas: a sleeping and living space, an en-suite shower room and a sleek modern kitchen. It’s just over a mile to the cliff-top trails that earn the site its moniker, with the nearest accessible beach a touch further. The inland village of Hartland, meanwhile, boasts several independent potteries and galleries – the beach scenes in the White Hare Gallery are a particular highlight.
Free Range Escapes, Cornwall
Bulging blackberry bushes, ivy-clad oaks and an emerald, spring-fed lagoon have returned this former quarry to a natural wonderland. Set in a flat clearing – once part of the quarry’s old railway line – a single, classically designed shepherd’s hut features an in-built double bed, exposed ash beams and a Windy Smith wood burner, while tiny details – from old-style brass light fittings to binoculars and bird books – add a thoroughly homely feel. Some of the vast 20-acre space is shared with guests of an adjoining campsite but the feeling is one of wild seclusion. It’s a half hour walk to the South West Coast Path, then the same again to picturesque Port Isaac harbour.
In the bottom of a North Devon valley, this off-grid wooded hideaway offers ‘wild camping in style’, with three bell tents and an enchanting log cabin, each set in a quiet clearing. While all have double beds, wooden cabinets, cooking wares, barbecues and their own private shower rooms, they’re also delightfully free of mod-cons. Internet evenings are traded in for nights around the campfire and den building beside the steam, while a stove-warmed recreation room has books, board games and a dart board for rainy days. It’s a mile to busy Bideford, though the famous surf beaches of Westward Ho!, Braunton Burrows, Croyde, Woolacombe and Bude are the main waterside attractions.
Accommodation from £77 per night for 2 adults and 2 children.coolcamping.com
Set in the landscape that once inspired Enid Blyton and within walking distance of the beaches at Studland, Swanage and Durlston Bay, this 156- acre dairy farm is one of the south-west’s most popular family glampsites. Four luxurious safari tents are scattered across the car-free field, each with a kitchen, two bedrooms and a living space, plus a plush private shower room on the back porch. Little ones can follow owners Jo and Paul to meet the animals – yes, you can bottle-feed lambs in spring – and there’s a pair of Shetland ponies to pet. Head to hilltop Corfe Castle for a Famous Five-style picnic, then ride the local steam train to Swanage Bay.
Safari tents from £349 for a 4-night break for 2 adults and 2 children coolcamping.com
Elmley Nature Reserve, Kent
The Thames, the Medway, the English Channel and the North Sea all converge around the 10-mile-long Isle of Sheppy, separated from Kent by a tidal channel and vast expanses of marshland. Despite being an SSSI and a Ramsar site (wetlands of world importance), Elmley National Nature Reserve is still privately run by the central family farm. Loosely located around its buildings, including a Victorian pitch-pine barn that’s now a cooking and social space, three, handcrafted shepherds’ huts are available for stays, along with a trio of compact wooden cabins. The latter have full-length glass walls at one end for gazing out at wading birds and morning mists, while all have private bathrooms and the option of additional massage treatments.
Vintage Vacations, The Isle of Wight
Brainchild of photographer Frazer Cunningham and stylist Helen Carey, this supremely retro Isle of Wight glampsite has been around for more than a decade. That’s relatively young, however, compared to the accommodation – authentic American Airstream trailers and classic caravans dating back to 1946. Outside, the indelible shine of the Airstreams reflects the lush grass of the meadow setting, while, within, not only have interiors been impeccably restored but there are also tiny period details – cassette players, an old whistling kettle and retro games like Tiddlywinks and Fuzzy Felt. Ryde and Fishbourne (both linking to Portsmouth) are less than two miles away, while Nettlestone (three miles), St Helens (four) and Bembridge (five) all have good beaches.
The Shepherd’s Hide, Essex
Part shepherd’s hut, part bird-hide and part luxury cottage, this couples’ retreat isn’t exactly perched beside the beach – the nearest is some three miles away – yet at peak times tidal waters stretch their fingers right into the neighbouring marshland. Overlooking a reed-fringed channel, the hut is furnished to impeccable detail – think biodegradable British-made toiletries, foodie welcome hampers, binoculars and wildlife books – with a king-sized bed, wood-burner and plush en-suite bathroom. Farm footpaths weave guests past a historic tidal mill that was built in 1831 (and occasionally open to the public on summer weekends), while, just beyond, Arlesford Creek offers excellent bird watching. It takes around 10 minutes to drive to the beaches at Clacton on Sea and Walton on the Naze
Shepherd’s hut from £240 for a weekend break for 2 people coolcamping.com
Set on the carefully hewn lawns of The Grove, an 18th century country house hotel, five furnished yurts offer the utmost luxury, including the likes of private, adjoining kitchens (with pizza ovens), king-sized beds, plus access to the hotel swimming pool. The Grove’s own polytunnels and fruit trees help supply the inimitable restaurant – the original Georgian dining room makes for atmospheric mealtimes – and picnic hampers can be provided for days spent on the beach. Follow a private pathway at the end of the garden, through the trees and down to Cromer’s Blue Flag sands, with lifeguards from May until September. It’s a few hundred metres further to the famous pier.
Little Otchan Shepherd’s Hut, East Riding of Yorkshire
Family run Hall Farm branched out into beer brewing a decade ago and have now diversified into the world of glamping too. Named after the farm’s most popular pint, the single, fully en-suite shepherd’s hut is half a mile from the brewery itself, tucked against a flank of trees and overlooking a lily-speckled pond. Sleeping three in a double bed with a top bunk, small interior touches include a vintage-style radio, a retro microwave and a woodburning stove. To the east is one of the longest and straightest beaches in the UK, reaching all the way north to Bridlington and curling around the Humber to form famous Spurn Point (home to a popular nature reserve) in the south. 15 miles west, meanwhile, Hull provides more urban attractions.
Amber’s Bell Tents, Norfolk
Amber Wykes first began her glamping enterprise – bunting-clad bell tents with double beds, wood-burners, cool-boxes and cooking equipment – in the moated garden of Norfolk’s medieval Mannington Hall. Sticking to the theme of great stately homes, guests can now also stay in the grounds of 17th-century Wiveton Hall, located 12 miles further north and slap bang on the North Norfolk Coast. There’s a pick-your-own fruit farm there, too, with a great little café, and it’s just 200 yards to the Norfolk Coast Path, which leads to Blakeney National Nature Reserve. Continue on to Morston Quay to catch a seal watching tour around Blakeney Point.
Woodman’s Huts, Cumbria
It’s a bit of a stretch to call Woodman’s Huts ‘coastal’, especially since the great in-land attractions of the South Lakes – Windermere, Coniston Water, Grizedale Forest – are often the main appeal of the location. Yet just over a mile south the River Leven begins to widen its estuaried mouth into famous Morecambe Bay, bridged by the seaside railway line that takes passengers to Ullverston. Tucked in a small garden on the edge of the national park, the site’s two over-sized shepherd’s huts offer year-round glamping accommodation, while a Scandi-style octagonal cabin allows guests to congregate around an open fire, complete with sheep’s wool throws and hand-carved hot-chocolate mugs.
Atop the wooded hill behind unassuming Abergele market town and just above pleasingly plant-covered Gwrych Castle, this North Wales retreat is worthy of its name: As well as the 19th century Gothic folly, the site boasts panoramic views of Snowdonia’s Carneddau mountain range. In one location, a pair of shepherd’s huts is twinned together to sleep up to five people, positioned next to a converted stable and barn space with a kitchen, shower room and social space. In another spot, a newly renovated stone cabin offers further Snowdonian solitude. If you’re not hiking in the hills, bring bikes to tour the coastal cycle path, taking in nearby Llandudno and the cliffs of the Great Orme.
Two miles from the seaside resort of Barmouth, Llwyndu Farm’s traditionally shaped shepherd’s hut was handcrafted by owner Stephen and features en-suite facilities, a fitted bed and a fully equipped kitchen. On the final slope of Snowdonia’s Rhinog mountain range before it submerges into the Irish Sea, the hut offers breathtaking views, albeit slightly blighted by a static caravan park in the foreground. It’s just a few hundred metres down to five-milelong Morfa Dyffryn Beach, well known as Wales’ official naturist beach. If you’re keen to strip off, then turn right when you hit sand and walk the 30- odd minutes to the signed area. If not, keep to the beach’s southern end to avoid any surprises.
Sitting atop the low clay cliffs that back rocky Clynogg Beach, this simple glamping set up comprises two wooden pods bookending a hidden glade. Inside, each feature a double bed, a mini fridge, a two-ring stove and a toasty wood-burner, but you need to bring your own bedding and cooking utensils. Campfires are permitted in the clearing beyond your pod, where you can enjoy the exceptionally starry skies that this stretch of North Wales affords. By day, meanwhile, take in the panoramic views round to the Llyn Peninsula’s distant fishing villages in the south-west and Angelsey to the north. Dogs are permitted and the beach is almost always quiet enough for them, and you, to run free.
Stackpole Under the Stars, Pembrokeshire
Within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, but set back from the seaside proper, this inland collection of yurts, bell tents and a pod occupy the grounds of a former country manor, now reclaimed by nature and managed by the National Trust. The pod is the most luxurious option – bright, modern, fully en-suite, with mod cons like underfloor heating and a digital television – while the wood-burner-warmed yurts have a more country home feel. There are five camping pitches too. Award-winning Barafundle Bay is around a 45-minute walk away.
Frankshore Cabins, Pembrokeshire
Beside the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, with Lydstep Beach a 15-minute walk west and Penally 20 minutes east, Bubbleton Farm began welcoming shepherd’s hut guests in 2017. Such was the popularity that by 2018 an old hop picker’s shack was also tastefully converted, with two separate bedrooms, en-suite facilities and a spacious, open plan living area with lounge, dining and kitchen spaces. The nearby farm shop is an ideal pantry for barbecue meat – campfire cooking is very much allowed – while the harbour town of Tenby (two miles away) offers the freshest fish and chips, ice cream and everything else you could need.
Harvest Moon, East Lothian
Less than an hour from Edinburgh, Harvest Moon Holidays has a surprisingly remote feel, accentuated by the final bumpy drive through the fields. Beyond rows of towering pines, in the dunes of Tyninghame Beach, this long-established glampsite boasts 14 different encampments – half tree houses and half safari tents. Each structure has at least two double beds, bunk beds and a double sofa bed, plus en-suite facilities and that essential wood-burning stove. Behind, the dunes, there’s a good farm shop and a ‘Kids Corner’ with ponies, sheep, ducks and chickens, while, in front unfolds the endless bluegrey of the North Sea.
Accommodation from £590 for a 4-night break for up to 6 people coolcamping.com
Runach Arrain, The Isle of Arran
On the southern tip of 19-mile-long Arran, the island’s very first glampsite boasts three larch-framed yurts, featuring double beds and futon-style singles, plus wood-burning stoves, cooking and dining utensils and a bounty of extra blankets in case the weather gets wild. Opposite Kilmory Parish Church and within the grounds of its 17th-century former rectory, the yurts feel private but are still within walking distance of the essentials – the pub and the beach. It’s a 15-minute stroll to sandy Torrylinn Beach, looking out at distinctively conical Ailsa Craig island in the distance. Bring or rent bikes to make the most of Runach Arainn’s location on the island’s circular trail.
Sheiling Holidays, The Isle of Mull
Long before the word ‘glamping’ entered our lexicon, Isle of Mull-based Shieling Holidays was offering nights under canvas for those not keen on pitching their own tents. Their 16 starched white shielings – like army shelters without the camouflage – may not be quite as glamorous as some places these days, but they’re supremely spacious and most are en-suite. Sleeping six, they boast cookers, wood-burners, worktops, electric lighting and gas heaters, plus a breath-taking waterfront setting overlooking the Sound of Mull. You can launch your own boats and canoes, hire bikes, or simply sit and watch for wildlife – otters are resident on the rocky foreshore and porpoises regularly make an appearance.