How to find and book budget-friendly campsites in the UK?

In the busy rat-race that life often seems to be, camping provides a much-needed escape. Being out in the nature, under the stars, around a campfire with loved ones, is an experience that's tough to beat. The UK, with its diverse landscapes and multitude of national parks, offers an array of camping opportunities. However, camping can often seem like an expensive undertaking. This guide aims to show you that it doesn't have to be. We'll provide you with insider tips and advice on how to find and book the best budget-friendly campsites in the UK.

Finding Budget-Friendly Campsites

Selecting the right campsite is integral to your camping experience. While there are plenty of campsites across the UK, finding ones that won’t burn a hole in your pocket can be a challenge.

Start with the national parks. These are usually good options for camping as they offer budget-friendly tariffs and ample facilities. The UK has 15 national parks, each with its own unique charm. From the rugged beauty of the Scottish Highlands, to the serene lakes of the Lake District, and the quaint charm of the New Forest, each park offers a myriad of cost-effective camping options.

For instance, the Great Langdale campsite in the Lake District offers pitches at a reasonable price, and even provides free showers. Similarly, Hollands Wood campsite in the New Forest is another budget-friendly option with free showers and a good-sized site for families.

Another approach to find budget campsites is to tap into the network of farms that offer camping options. Farm camping can be an exciting experience, especially for kids. Farms in the UK often allow camping at a much lower cost than conventional campsites. Plus, they offer a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with farm animals, and learn about farm life.

Booking Your Campsite

Once you've shortlisted potential campsites, the next step is to book your spot. While walk-ins are often accepted, it's always best to book in advance, especially during peak holiday season.

Most campsites have websites where you can check availability and book directly. However, you can also use online platforms like Pitchup, Cool Camping, and UK Campsite to find and book campsites. These sites provide detailed information about the campsites, including facilities, prices, and reviews from other campers.

Families should especially check for family-friendly features like playgrounds, family washrooms, and the distance from the site to the nearest village or town. Some campsites may also offer organized activities for kids, which can be a bonus.

Remember to also check the campsite's cancellation policy before booking. Given the unpredictable British weather, it's always good to have the option to reschedule or cancel if need be.

Free Camping in the UK

For the adventurous souls who are looking for a truly budget-friendly camping experience, wild camping could be an option. While wild camping is largely prohibited in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, it is legal in most of Scotland, subject to the Outdoor Access Code.

Wild camping, or free camping, involves setting up your tent away from organized campsites, usually in more remote, rural areas. It’s important to note that this requires a higher level of camping expertise as there are no facilities like toilets or showers.

You are expected to leave no trace, which means carrying out all your trash, and being respectful to the environment. If wild camping is your choice, it's essential to do thorough research about the do's and don'ts, as well as the legal implications.

Camping Must-Haves

Regardless of where you're camping, there are certain must-haves that you should bring along. A good tent that can withstand the often unpredictable UK weather is fundamental. A sleeping bag and mat, a torch, cooking equipment, and a first-aid kit are also essential.

For families with kids, bring along some board games or card games to keep them entertained. A pack of marshmallows for a campfire night is also a great idea.

Remember, camping is all about enjoying the great outdoors. So, avoid overpacking and instead, focus on soaking in the fresh air, the beautiful views, and the experience of being one with nature.

Choosing the Right Time

The final but crucial aspect of budget camping is choosing the right time to go. Peak season, which usually includes school holidays and bank holiday weekends, is when campsites tend to be most expensive and crowded.

If you have the flexibility, consider camping during the shoulder season, which is usually in late spring (April-May) or early autumn (September-October). The weather during these times is still pleasant for camping, and you're more likely to find campsites that are quieter and cheaper.

Camping provides a break from the monotony of everyday life and allows you to connect with nature. With these tips and advice, we hope you can plan your next camping trip in the UK without breaking the bank. Remember, the best camping experience doesn't have to be the most expensive one. It’s about making lasting memories with your loved ones, under the open sky, surrounded by nature.

Dog-Friendly and Family-Friendly Campsites

If you're planning a camping trip with your family or your four-legged friends, finding a family-friendly or dog-friendly campsite is essential. Fortunately, the UK has numerous campsites that cater to families and allow dogs.

One such example is the Deepdale Backpackers and Camping site at Burnham Deepdale, on the beautiful North Norfolk Coast. This campsite is family-friendly and has provisions for dogs too. It offers a range of camping options including tent pitches, camping pods, and even a backpackers hostel for those seeking a more budget-friendly camping trip.

For those who value a bit more comfort and amenities, electric hook-ups are available at many campsites. Electric hook-ups allow you to connect your camping equipment to the campsite's power supply, meaning you can use electric cooking appliances and charge your devices.

Holiday parks can also be a good option for families. These parks often come with a range of facilities like swimming pools, games rooms, and on-site restaurants. For example, the Parkdean Resorts in various locations across the UK, offer budget-friendly camping and caravan options, along with a host of family-friendly amenities.

Remember though, best campsites for families and dog-friendly ones might book up fast, especially during school holidays and long weekends. So, it's advisable to plan and book in advance to avoid disappointment.

Camping in the Peak District National Park

One of the best places for budget-friendly camping in the UK is the Peak District National Park. The first national park in the United Kingdom, the Peak District offers beautiful landscapes, a variety of outdoor activities, and several budget-friendly camping options.

Farm campsites, such as Upper Booth Camping in Edale or Birchill’s Farm in Leek, provide cost-effective camping options. With scenic views and the opportunity to experience farm life, they are perfect for a budget-friendly family camping trip.

The Peak District also offers a number of holiday parks and camping pods for those seeking a more luxurious camping experience. For instance, the Rivendale Caravan and Leisure Park offers camping pods that come equipped with beds, electricity, and heating, while still being relatively affordable.

Wild camping is another option in the Peak District. While it isn't officially permitted, it is often tolerated as long as campers follow the 'leave no trace' principle and avoid popular areas or private lands.

The Peak District National Park offers something for every type of camper, making it a great destination for a budget-friendly camping holiday in the UK.


Camping in the wilderness of the United Kingdom doesn't need to be an expensive affair. With numerous national parks, farm campsites, holiday parks, and even options for wild camping, there are plenty of ways to have a budget-friendly camping trip.

Whether you're looking for family campsites, dog-friendly spots, or camping pods with electric hook-ups, there's something to suit every camper's needs. Remember to book in advance, especially during peak season, to secure the best campsites at the best prices.

Camping offers a unique opportunity to reconnect with nature and family. It’s all about creating lasting memories, whether it's under the magnificent skies of the Peak District National Park, on a serene farm campsite, or by the lakeside in a holiday park.

With our tips and advice, we hope to make your next camping trip in the UK not only budget-friendly but also a memorable experience. So go ahead, start planning, and get ready to pitch your tent under the starlit British sky. Happy camping!

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