As close to wild camping as you can get on a rewilded 200-acre farm in Cornwall
Most kids have some pretty wild ideas about what they want to do when they grow up – and some of them just can’t wait. Take 12-year-old Sophie and her 13-year-old sister, Rosy, who wanted to start a campsite on the family farm. Instead of fobbing these two entrepreneurial kids off with the standard: “That’s nice dear”, their parents embraced the idea and very soon their wild idea became a sold-out-for-summer wild campsite in Cornwall.
Opened for the first time in August 2020, Bush Farm Wild Camping’s 20 pitches pretty much sold out on their first day of advertising. So high was the demand that they have decided to add more facilities and more pitches for 2021 (watch this space). But don’t worry, whether there are 20 or 40 pitches, this place will never be crowded. Campers are essentially let loose on the 200-acre farm with a map and the sensible advice to leave at least 50 yards between you and the next tent. It’s a far cry from the neat rows of pitches on some of Cornwall’s more traditional campsites and, in fact, the words “campsite” and “pitches” don’t sum up exactly what’s going on here.
So what is going on at this most unusual of farms? Formerly a cattle farm, the Renfree family decided to rewild their land at the beginning of 2020. They have planted 100 acres of wildflower meadows and 20 acres of crops which will be harvested only by the birds they attract. It’s a conservation and biodiversity project that sits well with the low key, off grid camping that’s now on offer. Facilities are simple: a couple of toilets and a couple of showers with a sink for washing up in the less-than-pretty yard area at the entrance of the campsite (don’t let that fool you on arrival). Campfires are allowed in off-ground fire pits and Sophie and Rosy will sell you some recycled wood for your fire – as long as it’s not a school day.
But the facilities are not what wows campers here; it’s perhaps more the lack of them. You can pitch up on the hill, down by the river or in amongst the trees. You could spend your whole holiday here but that would be to ignore the other thing that drove the camping bonanza of 2020; the location. Situated just over the Devon-Cornwall border, Bush Farm is about as easily reachable as Cornish campsites get. It’s less than 15 miles from Plymouth and the same distance from the lovely beach at Whitsand Bay and the harbour town of Looe. For families with kids, the Amazing Cornish Maize Maze pops up just down the road in summer season. If your kids have an ounce of the can-do attitude of the Renfree kids they’ll make short work of the maze but don’t forget there’s a wilder chance to get lost back on Bush Farm.
Two toilets, two hot-water showers and a sink for washing up plus 200 acres to explore. There are wildflower meadows, a lake and a river to explore (with a Canadian canoe to help you do it). Campfires are allowed and fire pits are provided free of charge. Recycled wood is available for firewood at £5 per bag.
Everyone: campers, caravans, motorhomes, caravans, families, couples, solo campers, groups, dogs...
You are free to explore the 200-acre family farm which includes woodland, river and lakes. Off site, the nearest attraction is the Amazing Cornish Maize Maze (01579 351833) just a mile away. For more adventurous activities, try Adrenaline Quarry (01579 308204), 20 miles from site, where there’s a water park, bungee jumping, go karting and even axe throwing. It’s about the same distance (a drive of 20 minutes) to the nearest beach, Whitsand Bay, where there are three miles of golden sands and a little further to Looe where there’s a beach and a harbour with cafes, shops and facilities. Grown ups might like the golf and spa facilities at St Mellion Estate (01579 351351), 15 miles from site, and if you haven’t been before it’s not too far (30 miles) to the inspiring Eden Project (01726 811911). Plymouth is about 12 miles from site.
Food & Drink
The Weary Friar (01579 350238) is the closest pub - just a five minute drive or a one-and-a-half-mile walk along country lanes. There’s a dog-friendly pub, The Crooked Inn (01752 848177), a ten-minute drive away. For a Cornish Cream Tea or a proper English fry-up with a view head for the hills and the spectacularly located Louis Tea Rooms (01579 389223), in the Kit Hill Country Park which is eight miles away and nice for a walk. It also has a farm shop with Cornish produce for sale. The ironically-named Foreign Muck (01752 841133) is recommended and serves burgers, burritos and craft beers in Saltash High Street, five miles from site. The Route 38 American Diner (01752 851038) is about the same distance and a good place to stop en route to Whitsand Bay.
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Rated ★★★★★ over 21 reviews
200 acres of lovely meadows to choose from. A river borders the southern edge of the site and can be accessed for swimming. If you have a camping loo it would be useful as the (excellent) shower/loo cabins are a long way from some of the camping fields. We chose a spot by the river in our camper van but could have accessed any of the other fields on the tracks that criss-cross the site. Pick up a free firepit when you check in and the owner will pop by each day with logs if you would like them. Apart from that we didn't see any staff but had mobile numbers which we could call if we needed anything. We liked that you are trusted to behave responsibly and left to your own devices. The site is close to Plymouth and there are several beaches and pretty coastal towns within reach. We particularly liked Seaton Beach (about 25 mins away) as it was dog friendly. But honestly, I would have been happy to hang out at the farm and swim in the river! Check out the garden next to the house Nearest, utterly charming! Nearest supermarket is Waitrose in Saltash (10min drive). Definitely on our list to return. Loved everything about it.
Great place. Very relaxed and we had a whole field to ourselves. Really friendly too! Amazing loos and showers. Lovely spot. Couldn't have asked for better. A great adventure!
Superbly spent time, excellent conditions of the campsite, wonderful owners.We will definitely come back, I recommend it to everyone.
Great place just the roads are scary
Absolutely loved it. The area is amazing, Stu and family so nice. Just the roads are more suited for a 4x4 than your average car. Lots of scrapping under the car even in first gear and without any acceleration. The roads need TLC so that campers don't have that experience. Otherwise amazing no mosquitos, picturesque, tranquil and lovely pizza van on Saturday.
We will definitely come back
We've just returned from a week camping here. It's a beautiful site with loads of space and plenty of character with lovely owners. We were 1 of 3 families meeting up; we easily found ourselves a corner we could spread out in. The site is massive - part is on a steep hillside which affords great views IF your car can make it to the top (!) and if you can work out how to sleep on that angle! (Some did - we were very impressed!!) The kids all had a great time swimming in the river on site and playing games out in the middle of the field; there were lots of families and dogs and it was generally a lovely atmosphere - family friendly and suitable for groups. There were 3 x shower blocks and a few portaloos around the place. The nearest portaloo to us served 2 large fields. On day 2 the portaloo needed emptying and the water in the nearest shower block went off, but the owners responded really fast to resolve things (only a matter of hours for the loo, and an understandable 24 hrs to fix the showers). My only reason for not giving a full 5 stars is, if you are in the furthest field, then you are really quite far from all facilities (2 fields over to nearest running water...). As we discovered, when there's an issue with those facilities, it's another field over again to the next block... We noticed people tended to drive from our field rather than walk -to facilities, which is not ideal for mud etc and also isn't great when you've any sort of urgent needs to address! Plus it's a bit of a hazard for pedestrians (especially kids and dogs). Anyway, overall they are very clear about the 'wild-camping feel' so with that in mind we would thoroughly recommend this site to others who want a less formal set up, and would certainly love to come back ourselves one day. It's fantastic value for money and we very much enjoyed our stay.
Absolute gem of a camp site
We’ve just returned from a week at Bush Farm and feel properly refreshed. It was a mammoth drive from London but worth every minute. Really feels like we’ve been away. The camp site is huge so there was plenty of space to spread out, and lots of different options depending on whether you want to be near to the river, amenities, or prefer to be off on your own. If you camp on some of the higher fields you will be treated to some stunning views from your tent too. The kids loved the river most - rope swings and floating down stream on rubber tubes. The toilets, showers and washing up facilities were well good spec and well maintained. Can’t recommend highly enough. Thanks again Suzy.
Fantastic first family camping holiday
We had a lovely warm welcome when we arrived and immediately set off to explore the site. We couldn’t get over how massive the site is! We choose to set up in End marsh which was easily the busiest part. Even though there were probably another ten-twelve pitches, it still felt empty! The space is so huge and everyone was so respectful of where they pitched it honestly felt as though we could have been the only ones there. The facilities were great, always clean and well stocked. They’d even got some extra portaloos in for the half term week. We borrowed a fire pit and bought some wood from the owners for a fiver, which made the evenings comfy and hassle free. The site itself is in an awesome location it’s pretty much 30-40 minutes to all attractions, there’s a little American diner 10 minutes up the road (which is a life saver if you are terrible at BBQing!), the beach was maybe 15-20 minutes away and it was amazing! We had an awesome time and the kids loved being able to run free and play on the tyre swing. This was our first family camping trip and we will definitely be doing it again as soon and as often as we can!
Jut the WILD break we really needed!
We absolutely loved our stay at Bush Farm....it was just the freedom we needed! Kids loved the long grass to play and hide in and we couldn't get them out of the river - helped that we had the 2 hottest days of the year so far. Love the freedom to choose wherever we wanted to camp and we were with friends so had a great spot that we didn't have to worry about disturbing others when the kids where running around and loving the space. The pony trotting round the meadow was a bonus for our horse-loving daughter. We are already planning out next trip here - thank you so much for making camping exactly what it should be - stress-free and peaceful.
Peaceful scenic site
Huge beautiful site to explore with great facilities and a friendly host. We camped in the wild meadow, was very peaceful with no one else around. Close to towns, beaches and pubs. Would definitely recommend :)
Beautiful, welcoming and private
Fantastic facilities for a wild site, beautiful and vast property to roam around in, plenty of space to maintain privacy and distance from other campers.
Unique friendly peaceful
You can easily spread out to get your own space and the owners were brilliant at telling us where big groups were incase we wanted to avoid them. If you're expecting play parks, arcades and swimming pools, this isn't for you. If you want unrestricted camping where you can spread out and set up your own camp, this is perfect.
Lovely site, plenty of pitches to choose from, each charming in its own way, lovely owners, always offering a helpful hand, very friendly and approachable, good facilities. Camped twice in Bush Farm and will definitely be returning.
Wonderful wild camping experience
The location is lovely, with a huge variety of pitching locations from Rocky Wood (we camped here), the Orchard by the river is also stunning. You can truly feel like you are on your own given the space. The bird song every morning was absolutely gorgeous with very little ambient noise. We stayed for 3 nights in our wood fired Tentipi, so the torrential rain didn't put us off at all. Bush Farm also provides easy access to the most stunning coves, particularly Portreath beach and Lantic Bay (National Trust owned) - both gorgeous for their wildness! The owners at Bush Farm cannot do enough for you, your experience is really important to them. Loved our stay! thank you.
As close to wild camping as you're going to get on a site!
A great site with incredibly helpful and friendly owners. There was such a variety of fields with complete freedom of where you want to set up. We actually had a field to ourselves right next to the river where we could have a fire. This is a no frills sight but if it's the wild camping experience you're after this sight has it! Will definitely be returning.
Fantastic campsite - very peaceful
We had a great time staying here. Loads of space to camp, we were the only ones in the field, they came round to check every night and offered us logs to buy and a firepit to borrow. Freedom to come and go as we pleased and we walked around the site enjoying seeing the horses and lambs playing. Definitely recommend to anyone.
My only complaint was the wind - they couldn’t do anything about that haha
This is an unexpected gem with lots of options on whether you want riverside, camp views or very rural in ‘No man’s land’ then this is the site for you. If you want a shop, an amusement area for the children, luxury toilets and showers and a bar/nightclub then this isn’t for you. We had a great one night stay, took our portable wood burner, but the farm can provide fire pits and wood for a small charge. The owners come to check on you early evening to make sure everything ok, and are very friendly too. The site was not busy when we were there, but there is so much space you are lost for choice, and when busier I can’t imagine it would feel cramped. There was a mixture of camper vans, tents and Teepee’s, there is a field closer to the farm which may be better for caravans, although some of the roads would be hard if pulling the caravan on or up some tracks. Check with the owners first. There are bins for recycling and those wanting to take their own chemical toilet there is a disposal area for this too. Upon arrival you are given a map of the farm highlighting the places you can and can’t go. From what we could see there are only two set of toilets, one at the entrance, and the other close to the marsh fields. Each block has one toilet for each sex and one shower. However, there was another block that appeared to be in the process of being built. There are fresh water taps at each toilet block too. I have only given my rating of 4 stars purely because I couldn’t judge the toilets and shower as they are closed in line with government guidelines. The price is good too, but you get what you pay for. If you want a fair price campsite and don’t want all the bells and whistles, the. this is the site for you. We would not hesitate to go back, and on the plus side dogs are allowed and there are some beautiful walks in the area.
Lovely true wild camping. Lots of choice to camp where you wish. And fire pits.
True wild camping with choice of woods and river spots. Friendly owners.
Great place. Laid back camping with oodles of space.
Great place. Plenty of space with a real mix of terrain. All accessible by vehicle. Lots of river frontage too.
A very nice experience .
Plenty of open space , river frontage and free fire pits, and a lot of good flat areas.
Super friendly hosts and great place for camping with lots of space to feel like you have a whole place to yourself. Good location too for access to the coast and Dartmoor. Loved it and thinking about when I can be back. Would definitely recommend for anyone. Thank you so much!
Proper wild camping experience
We loved our stay at Bush Farm. The owners were very welcoming and helpful. Recommended a good spot for us to put up our bell tent and we were the only ones there! Definitely felt like proper wild camping. Facilities are basic but clean and provide everything you need. It ended up raining a lot and the field got a little but muddy, so our van got stuck. The owner was kind enough to give us a lift to a local shop and at the end of our stay, tow us out of the field. You can't ask for much more than that! Beautiful space to explore and for our dog to run around off lead. The closest beach was very beautiful and not at all busy. We will definitely be back again.