The Revival of Woodland Camping...

Set within Forestry Commission Estate, Camping in the Forest returns us to the most ancient of British landscapes.

by James Warner Smith

Waking to the sound of a running river, the twittering of birds, or a horse chomping his way through wind-fallen apples, you come to realise why you fell in love with camping. With a focus on simple living, the serene sites operated by Camping in the Forest (16 leafy campsites on Forestry Commission land, run by the Camping & Caravanning Club) have a simple goal: to re-engage campers with Mother Nature whilst embracing some of the UK's most prized woodlands.

But don’t be fooled into thinking campers are abandoned into eerie darkness. All sites are well-maintained, with many boasting immaculate facilities and the luxury of a hot shower. For those with a real sense of adventure, wilderness camping is available, offering a unique, back-to-basics experience. In the summer months, friendly staff are accompanied by Forestry Rangers, who run various family activities, including orienteering, forestry survival courses and after-hours exploring using night-vision equipment!

This is camping for those who need reminding what camping is all about; nature right on your doorstep and total disengagement from the hum and buzz of everyday life. When the sun rises and light breaks through the trees you’ll know you’re onto a winner – a campsite in one of the UK’s most stunning, untouched landscapes.


New Forest, Hampshire

Situated on the eastern side of the New Forest, this friendly site is the perfect base for exploring the countless walks and traffic-free cycling on offer. Set in an enchanting woodland glade peppered with oak trees, Ashurst is a wonderfully picturesque place to spend a night or three. There’s a clutch of good pubs and restaurants within reach, so when you’re not exploring the depths of the forest you can take a break off-site, or simply retreat to your peaceful pitch.


Aviemore, Inverness-shire

The Cairngorms National Park is a beautiful, majestic landscape that teems with wildlife. This enchanting site is located close to an ancient Caledonian Pinewood forest, one of the last remaining in the UK. For active campers, Glenmore is in a prime position with nearby skiing in the winter, a vast network of bike and walking trails in the summer, and a wide range of watersports on the loch for those who don’t mind getting wet. Campers will also find a fine selection of pubs, restaurants, shops and a supermarket in charming Aviemore, just a 15 minute drive away.


Snowdonia National Park, Gwynedd

Nestled against the weaving River Glaslyn, this campsite in north-west Wales takes some beating when it comes to scenery. Isolated in Snowdonia National Park, this unadorned grassland site has a few basic, but perfectly adequate facilities. It’s ideally positioned for those wanting to hop onto the hundreds of walking and cycling trails that criss-cross the landscape, while a short car journey also leads you to the inspiring coastline, defined by its rocky cliffs and sheltered bays.


Coleford, Gloucestershire

On the edge of the Forest of Dean, this is Camping in the Forest’s largest site. A grassy open space, dotted with copper beech trees, the camping meadow is surrounded by forest on all sides. When you eventually decide to venture away, a vast network of footpaths and cycle routes awaits. The delightful River Wye is a short walk away, while the Forest Of Dean Sculpture Trail winds through the trees passing specially created works of art that reflect the history of this unique landscape.

Aldridge hill

New Forest, Hampshire

For a genuine back-to-nature experience, Aldridge Hill is the real deal. With no toilets, showers or electricity (only drinking water taps and rubbish bins are provided), this is camping, pure and simple. The wide heathland clearing has 170 undefined pitches, so you can choose between shady trees or grassy hollows. Surrounded by the New Forest, you can explore the flora and fauna on offer, with birdlife, roaming horses and well-hidden deer all to be spotted.


Loch Lomond, Rowardennan

Loch Lomond has long been one of the most famous retreats in Scotland; its sparkly depths bordered by dramatic hills, enlivened by the sound of running water. Cashel is a harmonious place, with stunning views across the loch. Being the focal point of the Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park, activities here are bountiful, with top walking routes as well as countless water sports. It's outdoors prowess is matched by great eateries, serving the best of traditional Scottish food and drink.


New Forest, Hampshire

In the heart of the New Forest, this is a spectacular site where wild Shetland ponies hold right of way. Once a World War Two airfield, today it's an open heathland ideal for camping, and since there are no designated pitches, your biggest decision will be picking the perfect spot. Midway between Brockenhurst and Beaulieu, you can pop into the town attractions or simply enjoy exploring the depths of the New Forest. An authentic woodland campsite, you won’t find any electricity here, but there are toilet and shower blocks as well as washing-up facilities.