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Ythan Valley Campsite
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.
FacilitiesGood facilities in the new quirky wash house with toilets, shower and washing up sink.
Food & DrinkThe 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.
ReviewsAdd Your Review
Rated ★★★★★ over 9 reviews
Nice family hide away campground
What a wonderful campsite in a glorious part of Scotland
One of our favourite places to hide from the rat race
The model campsite
Friendly, cosy and idyllic
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.
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.
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.