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Ythan Valley Campsite

UK Scotland East Scotland Aberdeenshire

  • Beaches nearby
  • Good walks nearby
The welcome, the bread, the herbal bush showers, the roaming ducks and the beautiful rambling surroundings

Is there any part of Britain still unknown and undiscovered? Anywhere still anxiously awaiting (or dreading) a visit from its first tourist? Alas, probably not. But there are still a precious few hidden corners and secluded valleys in Scotland, free from any accommodation for the curious traveller. Ythan Valley was one such place, until David, Libby and daughter Iona decided to open a campsite in their meadow.

Despite it’s rather Welsh-sounding name, Ythan Valley campsite really is Scottish, and can be found tucked away in a north-eastern corner of Aberdeenshire. This undisturbed part of Scotland can’t compete with the Highlands for dramatic scenery, and thus there are fewer tourists. Those who do venture here tend to hug the coastal margins rather than stray inland where, in places such as Ythan Valley, visitors are usually limited to day-trippers.

But things have started to change since these five pitches at Smithfield Croft appeared, along with four beds in the onsite lodge. The campsite is tucked behind the croft on the edge of the small hamlet of Ythanbank, and from here the lucky and exclusively small number of campers can wander as lonely as clouds in the empty – but not bleak – surroundings.

Camping here is a comfortable experience indeed, and the welcome extraordinarily warm and friendly. You get the impression that the campsite staff (the family) are really, at heart, doing this for the fun of it and to share their rural backwater with new folk. This ethos extends to the slightly theatrical, converted coal shed, now a quirky campers' Wash House.

But that isn’t all they do here to make you feel at home, for Libby does B&B, but not in the traditional sense; here it’s ‘bread and breakfast’. The early morning sustenance they rustle up is varied and delicious and can even be delivered to your tent if you so wish: full Scottish or veggie breakfasts, bacon butties, eggs-however and the speciality of the house – toast – or, more accurately, Libby’s toasted freshly baked bread. It's little wonder then that the eminent folk at Aberdeen City & Shire awarded Ythan Valley the prestigious Best Holiday Accommodation in their annual tourism awards in 2015.

Campers can order a fresh loaf every day in a bewildering variety of seed mixtures and flavours including granary; pumpkin & sunflower seeds; chickpea, coriander & cumin; cinnamon & raisin; onion & rosemary or just a plain white or brown loaf. You can even invent your own recipe. So be sure to ditch the diet before you come here.

All this talk of being in the back of beyond, while it feels true enough on the spot, may not be wholly accurate. For instance, if ‘one’ has a weakness for stately homes, Haddo House and Fyvie Castle are an easy drive or cycle away. Both boast landscaped gardens and rambling country parks with woodland and lakeside walks, ideal for working off all that baked breakfast goodness.

The nearest settlement, Ellon, is four miles away and if campers still feel the need for the big city, the local urban madhouse that is Aberdeen lies just over 20 miles away. This may seem like a long way in England, but up here, in the wider world, it’s positively local.

But with the welcome, space, tranquillity and completely unspoilt nature of the countryside on hand at Ythan Valley, it’s tempting to just stay put and maybe tuck into a little more of that bread.



Good facilities in the new quirky wash house with toilets, shower and washing up sink.

Suitable For


Food & Drink

The Tolbooth (01358 721308) in Ellon is a traditional pub with a big selection of malt whiskies and no food to distract from the fine Scotch flavours. The Redgarth (01651 872353) at Oldmeldrum has been CAMRA’s Regional Pub of the Year numerous times, and serves good food; it’s very popular with locals and campers alike.


Easter (April) to September.

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Contact Ythan Valley Campsite, Smithfield, Ythanbank, Nr Ellon, Aberdeenshire AB41 7TH

Show Map

Getting There

Follow the A90 north from Aberdeen for 15 miles, then left on to the B9005 through Ellon. Continue along the road (including a right turn) to Ythanbank, go straight on into the village (ignoring where the main road turns left), then right into the first narrow lane sign-posted to Schivas, and then immediatley right into Smithfield's long drive. There’s a regular and frequent bus service from Aberdeen to Ellon, from where there’s an infrequent bus service to Ythanbank. Check times with Traveline (08712 002233). (Ythanbank is approx. 4 miles from Ellon)


Add Your Review

Rated ★★★★★ over 10 reviews


Fantastic experience for our first family camping trip

The campsite is stunning. It's small, quiet and immaculate. The 'extras' just made this so special - the baked oats, fresh bread, the foraging and campfire lessons. The owner goes out of her way to make this a unique experience. It was great for our kids as there were 2 other families with kids to play with.
May 3, 2021 by Lynn

Nice family hide away campground

We stayed for four nights and were lucky enough to have the campground to ourselves for two days. We realy appreciate that the owners are very eco-friendly and ask the same of the campers. The facilities were super tidey and comfy, too. We vallue that this place is runne with a lot of care and love. Thanks a lot for this great experience!
Aug 5, 2019 by toke

What a wonderful campsite in a glorious part of Scotland

This was our first visit to this campsite and it was a great experience. Libby was very helpful and a breath of fresh air with her great humour and enthusiasm to help in any way she could. The facilities were very clean and tidy. It was a very relaxing place to be and would highly recommend it. The Aberdeenshire coast was wonderful, with fantastic beaches and a great place for bird and wildlife watching. I can't wait to return.
Jun 7, 2018 by Debbie

One of our favourite places to hide from the rat race

This is our second time at this wonderfully secluded meadow of beauty. Not only are the surroundings gorgeous and the toilets sparkly but the personality and friendliness of the wonderful family who run it make this place a very special secret escape. We were happy to see mellow fellow ( the old duck) had some lady friends to wander around the meadow with ( Polly and molly). The kids were also excited to meet the new additions in the chicken coop with Libby the owner. Will be back again next Easter.
Apr 12, 2018 by Cassie amos

The model campsite

My son and I were lucky enough to be the first campers of the season and even luckier to have the site to ourselves!! Ythan Valley is the model of how a camp site should be. The toilets and showers were second to none, the floor was a little cold on bare feet in the morning, so bring some flip flops. The walls of the toilets tell of various local activities and encourage you to donate to various charities supported by the camp site, like spend and penny and pop a penny in ‘Henny penny’ to support toilet twinning in Ethiopia. There is a covered outdoor sink, perfect for washing up, but you will need to heat some water. We weren’t brave enough to try the Bush shower but it was April. There are no camp fires, but there is a chiminea ‘lum’ with log stools round it to relax in the evening. It would be nice to perhaps upgrade the lum to a wood burning stove you could cook on. We cooked on our own gas in the evenings and used a trangia for breakfast in the morning. For breakfast don’t forget to order fresh bread the night before and get it delivered to your tent in the morning - never had that level of hospitality at a campsite before. There are some short local walks available on printed cards, we followed a walk up to the wind turbines above the campsite. All in all an amazing site, especially with the ducks having free range of the site, perfect if your son is feeling a bit lazy and needs some encougement to get quacked out of bed. And the mystery of the idea that the campsite isn’t widely advertised locally and that you just get directions when you pay a deposit adds to the mystery and excitement.
Apr 8, 2018 by sanders

Friendly, cosy and idyllic

We had such a lovely time during our two night stay. Libby was friendly and helpful. The breakfast she cooked for us was delightful and beautifully served outside. She would have brought it to our tent, except there was way too much to carry! The loos were clean with lots of personalised details to make you feel comfortable and at home. The site is peaceful and very tranquil. We heard the resident badger snuffling at our tent on the first night which was cute. We would definitely return to this quiet part of Scotland, there's loads to do & well away from the obvious tourist routes.
Aug 14, 2017 by ScarlettFrank

Gets better and better!

We have just had what must be the forth or fifth holiday at Ythan Valley and it just gets better each time. It was good to meet new people and to renew the friendship with the owners Libby, David and Iona and to make friends with Quentin the cat.

We spent a lovely two weeks there with some cycling and walking revisiting old favourites and finding new ones.
If you want to really get away from it all this is perfect, there are enough conveniences to make it comfortable yet not OTT. Libby is very thoughtful and makes wonderful bread and great breakfast.
 Looking forward to returning in 2016 :-)

Sep 4, 2015 by Annie & John

Ythan Valley bliss

Had a wonderful four nights at Ythan Valley campsite in July 2013. Libby, David and Iona were charming and welcoming and went out of their way to ensure we had a lovely stay, they even organised a heat wave for us! The site never had more than four tents and so remained peaceful and restful. Lots of really lovely touches, from the bush shower, the chimeria, freshly baked bread and fresh eggs, some absolutely adorable ducks and a new warm and welcoming toilet and shower block. We even had a field of bright red poppies to look out on, which was quite stunning. Only problem was that this was our first camping trip for some time and I expect we are now a bit spoiled! Keep up the excellent work and thank you.

Jul 12, 2013 by Rona Fraser

Ythan Valley

What a charming little campsite! This was my very first camping adventure and the welcome couldn’t have been warmer. The site is limited to 5 pitches, which gives it a really chilled feel. The facilities are 1st class with two toilets, a great electric shower, a sink for drinking water and dish washing, and recycling facilities. Lovely touches include toilet roll, soap, hand towels, and a floor mat in the shower. There’s a campers ’lounge’ in the form of a Bedouin tent complete with hammock. And the ducks provide wonderful entertainment. These guys put in a huge amount of effort to make sure your stay is perfect.
Jun 6, 2012 by Cupcake Clare

Ythan Valley

we stayed for 3 nights and had a lovely peaceful time. this is a real home from home with friendly, helpful owners. the home made bread and fresh eggs are delicious. would go back any time.
Aug 20, 2010 by clarkbrown

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