The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Camping in South West England
Whether you’re pitching up in Devon, Cornwall, Wiltshire, Somerset or Dorset, there are a few things you’ll need to know beforehand – especially if you’re a beginner at camping.
First of all, do you want to bring your own tent? Buying a tent can be something of an art, so if you haven’t got one already you might want to check out our guide on how to buy the right tent for you.
Don’t fancy fiddling with poles, fly sheets and guy ropes? You might be better off looking at a South West England glamping break where all (or most) of the hard work has already been done for you.
Once you’ve settled in and enjoyed some quality time outdoors, you might like to turn your attention to practicalities like how to build a campfire or how to make everything run smoothly when camping with kids. And, once you’ve really caught the camping bug, you’ll be ready to explore niche options like dark sky camping or wild camping in Dartmoor National Park.
Want to break it down to the bare necessities? The four most important things to bring when you go camping are:
A trusty tent
A good sleeping bag
Warm clothes and/or lots of layers
An adventurous spirit.
If you’re heading to the South West’s coastal counties like Devon, Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset, you’ll also want to pack spare towels, your swimming gear and plenty of sunscreen.
Leaving nothing to chance? You’ll find a detailed camping checklist here, plus a special run-down on what to pack when camping with dogs. Now you’re packed, let’s take a look at the top spots to stay and explore in the South West.
Happy to head all the way west? With a spectacular coastline, gorgeous countryside and charming towns and villages, Cornwall makes an excellent choice for camping breaks. If you’re travelling in search of culinary treats, Cornwall also excels: English wine, the humble Cornish pasty, the finest fresh seafood…– you name it, they’ve got it.
Buzzing to get to the beach? With coastal scenes like these, who wouldn’t be? We’ve scoured the shores of Cornwall to bring you the county’s very beaches (a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it).
There’s little wonder Dorset is so popular with campers and glampers – it’s home to most of the Jurassic Coast, top seaside resorts like Weymouth and Bournemouth and gorgeous green countryside that just rolls on and on…
Dive straight into our list of Dorsets’ top 10 campsites near the beach.
Check out our list of the 8 best shepherd’s hut stays in Dorset and pick your pastoral pad
After something a little bit different? Our guide to Dorset’s best unusual places to stay should sort you with some inspiration.
Rather play it by ear? Have a look at our full selection of Dorset campsites and see what takes your fancy.
Packed your walking boots? Find out how to walk the South West Coast Path on a budget.
Planning a trip to one of our Devon campsites? These are some of the best parks and areas to book:
Devon is the only county in England to have two separate coastlines, so if you’re itching for days on the sand, here’s where to head:
Up next, we’re off to Somerset, the home of cider, cheddar cheese and the cracking Quantock Hills. Exploring places to stay here really is a doddle – if you like lots of choice, you can check out our full range of Somerset campsites, glampsites and holiday parks here.
Last, but by no means least, we’re taking you to the ancient hills and Stone Age settlements of Wiltshire, a county with more than its fair share of history and heritage. Plus, with almost half of Wiltshire designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty, this place is great for scenic outdoor pursuits, from cycling along the Kennet and Avon Canal to horseback riding over Cranborne Chase.