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What is a pop-up campsite? 

The clue’s in the name with this one – pop-up campsites open for a month or so, everywhere from farmers’ fields to countryside pubs. Because they launch for a limited number of days, they give you a chance to pitch up somewhere new and exclusive. Some pop-up campsites appear for a single summer, while others return year after year. 

Camping is incredibly popular in the UK – ​​in 2019, 13.1m domestic camping and caravan trips were taken. Temporary campsites boost the number of pitches available across the nation in the peak summer months, giving us all enough space to set off on a staycation in the great outdoors. 

Which are the best pop-up campsites? 

At pop-up campsites, you can stay everywhere from wildflower meadows with ocean views to the manicured grounds of stately homes. There are pitches at country parks, rugby clubs, vineyards, showgrounds… the list goes on. Some of the most unique pop-campsites are on sandy beaches, at golf courses and in the grounds of gin distilleries. 

These short-term options tend to be right in the thick of nature, sometimes in national parks or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, so they’re top-notch for wildlife watching and walking trips. Spectacular scenery tends to be all around – you can stay at pop-up campsites by rivers, on clifftops overlooking the sea or with mountain views. 

Some of our most popular options are in these areas: 

Pop-up campsites in Dorset 

Pop-up campsites in the Lake District 

Pop-up campsites in Cornwall  

Pop-up campsites in Devon

Pop-up campsites in the Peak District 

Pop-up campsites in Pembrokeshire

Pop-up campsites in Powys

Pop-up campsites in Lancashire

Pop-up campsites in Hampshire

What can you expect at a pop-up campsite? 

Pop-up sites are, more often than not, on the simpler side of the camping spectrum. Some include basic facilities – like toilets and showers – while others offer a wild camping experience. As these campsites tend to have limited access to electricity, they’re excellent for embracing an off-grid holiday where you ditch the devices.

That being said, you can have a luxury experience at pop-up glamping sites with accommodation set up ahead of your arrival, like bell tents or yurts with proper beds. Check the details on each listing before you book so you know exactly what to expect. 

Your essential pop-up camping checklist

Of course, you’ll need all the usual bits and bobs you take camping – a tent, motorhome, campervan or caravan, as well as bedding, toiletries and cooking equipment. But it’s worth making sure you pack these essentials for pop-up camping holidays at low-key sites: 

- A torch 

- Wellies 

- Lighter and matches 

- Toilet roll

Here’s our full camping checklist to help you get ready for your next adventure.

Why don’t pop-up campsites stay open permanently?

As these campsites are more casual than established campsites, they’re usually run as a side by project by businesses like farms, pubs or even county councils. There are laws that allow pop-up campsites to launch for up to 28 days – extended to 56 days during the pandemic – without planning permission.

Campsites sometimes open in wilder areas where it would damage the delicate surroundings if people pitched up all year around, so it’s more sustainable to keep them temporary. We send a downloadable version of the Countryside Code with each booking so that everyone knows how to care for nature and leave no trace.

The benefits of pop-up campsites 

Pitchup guests love a pop-up – these campsites tend to get slightly better reviews than more established options because of their friendly, exclusive and back-to-basics feel.

They also:

- Let you camp in areas of the UK where you might not normally be able to stay overnight, often far from busy resorts and residential areas

- Offer a trip with a twist – many pop-ups are on working farms where guests can meet the animals

- Increase capacity in busier destinations during the summer months, like the sought-after South West of England 

- Help reduce the temptation to go wild camping, which is illegal in England and Wales (except for in Dartmoor National Park)

- Benefit rural areas – from the local shop to the village pub – as visitors spend an average of £46 off-site per night per booking

- Help boost mental health by getting more people out into nature

How to start a pop-up campsite

Got spare land? You might be able to launch a temporary site with limited set-up costs and no extra marketing spend. The law allows campsites to pop up for 56 days or more in some parts of the UK in 2021 (usually it’s 28 days). Launching a temporary campsite during the pandemic has been a lifeline for many businesses, from pubs to farms, helping to supplement lost income.

Find out more about how to start a pop-up campsite or sign up to join Pitchup