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Leave the car at home - no-car camping and caravanning

Two wheels good


'I like driving in my car…’

If this is not you, most certainly not, never in a million years etc etc, we bring you the delightful news that we have campsites and caravan parks listed as ‘leave the car at home’. Whether you’re wild camping with a sleeping bag stuffed into a plastic carrier, walking the length and breadth of the country like those brave souls we saw limping around a few years back, have a fear and loathing of cars, or own one and cry copious tears at the price of petrol, these are the sites for you.

First up, a few of our top no-car campsites to try, then some tips for your next happy and driving-free hol:

Isle of Iona Campsite, Argyll: No excuses for leaving the car behind on this trip, as non-resident vehicles aren’t allowed anywhere on the island. (It’s only three and a half miles long, so this shouldn’t be too much of a hardship.) The campsite is a scenic twenty-minute stroll from the ferry terminal and has large non-electric tent pitches from £13.

Wight Bells, Isle of Wight: The Isle of Wight is a tad bigger than the Isle of Iona (23 miles long rather than three), but we say leave the car at home anyway and make it an ambition to walk the length of the island. Wight Bells is less than two miles from Shanklin and Sandown beaches, a mile from Shanklin Rail Station and the Lake Rail Station, and has regular buses from outside the campsite entrance. Pitch up in style in a fully-furnished bell tent from £150 for four nights, sleeping up to four.

Alpine Grove Touring Park, Somerset: Jump off at Ilminster coach station or Axminster Rail Station five and six miles from this wooded Somerset park, where the owners can pick guests up from public transport. Pick from a secluded spot among the rhododendrons or an open grassy area for your tent pitch from £13.50, or loll in the Alpine Grove Deer Lodge, a log cabin with heating, linen, hot water and free access to the park’s heated outdoor pool all included in the price. The lodge starts from £256 for three nights, sleeping up to five.

Sychpwll Centre, Powys: Welshpool Rail Station, Gobowen and Shrewsbury Rail Station are all less than twelve miles from this eco-friendly Welsh site, with two coach stations within five miles. A bus from Shrewsbury runs to Llandrinio a mile from the site, or the local taxi firm can pick you up at the train station: see ‘Directions’ under the Location tab on the Sychpwll Centre listing for the phone number. Once you’re there, you’ve a good pick of accommodation options at Sychpwll: ready-pitched bell tents, wildflower meadow pitches for your own tent, the Crow’s Nest self-catering flat, the cabin and the straw bale barn sleeping up to ten. Prices start from £16-100.

Not quite what we meant...Next up, our no-drive directions for getting the most out of camping without the car:

If you’re going no-car camping because you want to get off the beaten track and pretend no-one knows where you are, you can also look for campsites in a remote location, listed as peaceful or in a wildlife haven.

Travelling light? We recommend it if you’re squishing a large rucksack into the luggage rack of most buses or trains, unless you’re motorbike camping and have your evening dress, heels and wine goblets stuffed into your spacious side pannier (cough). Have a look for campsites according to on-site utilities, amenities and leisure: for example, sites with gas cylinders for sale, ice pack freezing or a launderette, or with a bar/clubhouse, café/restaurant or takeaway on site (or all three – go nuts).

Don’t even want to pack a tent and sleeping bag? Look for sites with caravans, lodges or tents for hire.

If the campsite or holiday park you like the look of isn’t listed under ‘leave the car at home’, click the Location tab and scroll under the map for details of all public transport nearby and its distance from the campsite, including coach and bus stations, train stations, ferry terminals and airports. Many listings will include details of how to get to the campsite using the nearby public transport links, or you can add a postcode to bring up a Bing map for directions including by public transport and your own two feet.

If your legs are feeling tired, look for a site where the owners offer pick-up from public transport – and combine it with the ‘leave the car at home’ filter for true no-car camping.

If you indeed have a car but just aren’t on great terms with it, our blog on quick-drive trips near a city lists campsites within an hour’s drive of major cities. And London folk without cars can find details of five quick trips from the city for a camping break in our 2012 blog for Olympic visitors. Happy non-driving, all!

More handy links for no-car camping:

Cycling and camping

Sites with cycle hire

Sites with cycle hire nearby

Motorbike camping – guide plus best motorbike routes

Budget/backpacker campsites

A guide to wild camping

Dog-friendly camping (walkies)