Camping Inspiration: 14 Great Campsites For Family Attractions
M & D's SCOTLAND'S THEME PARK, Near Glasgow
RED DEER VILLAGE HOLIDAY PARK
Stepps, Glasgow G33 6AF
0141 779 4159
M&D’s calls itself Scotland’s Theme Park and is set among acres of countryside and woodland at Strathclyde Country Park in Motherwell – itself a centre for outdoor recreation including watersports, cycling, fishing and walking. The theme park is more suitable to younger children, with 20 family-friendly rides, although there also five of the white-knuckle type. It’s not all rides here though: Devil’s Island Adventure Golf will see you putting over water, into caves and through the pirates’ galleon. For rainy days there’s an indoor complex which houses a large soft play area and glow in the dark ten pin bowling. The park is also home to Amazonia – Scotland’s only indoor tropical rainforest – with exotic animals. Red Deer Village Holiday Park, is on the doorstep of Glasgow and a 20-minute drive from M&D’s. The campsite’s facilities include toilets, showers, a family room and laundry. Glasgow is easily accessible by bus or car, with Edinburgh, Stirling and Loch Lomond all within an hour’s drive.
LIGHTWATER VALLEY, Yorkshire
WOODHOUSE FARM HOLIDAY PARK
Winksley, Ripon, North Yorkshire HG4 3PG
Lightwater Valley provides a great range of rides, snacks and shopping, along with a falconry centre and petting zoo. It is perhaps best known for the Ultimate Rollercoaster, which is reckoned to be the second-longest in the world and takes about seven minutes to spit its riders out from their 1½ mile, two-lift ride. Younger ones may be happier on the Angry Birds Activity Park, with characters from the popular phone/tablet game, tractor rides, or swan pedalos. The theme park is open seven days a week at Easter and in the summer, closed from early November to March, and otherwise open at weekends only. Woodhouse Farm Country Park is a family-friendly campsite next door to a working farm, with separate play areas for older and younger children and fishing on site. Tent pitches are available on grass with optional electric hook-up. There’s also a shop and restaurant on site.
WESTPORT HOUSE, Ireland
WESTPORT HOUSE CARAVAN & CAMPING PARK
Co Mayo, Ireland
Westport, Co Mayo, Ireland
00353 98 27780
Make sure you have Westport House on your itinerary if you ever tour the stunning Mayo coastline. Voted Ireland’s best family visitor attraction, the 480-acre Westport House estate has it all from the privately-owned historic house to the pirate adventure park and activity centre. Within the park and lakeland setting the more adventurous can have swash-buckling fun on the Cannonball Run slide, get wet on the log flume, go zorbing, or enjoy the swinging ship, while those after something more sedate have a miniature train ride, bouncy castle, go karts, laser clay pigeon shooting, and archery to enjoy. Smaller children have soft play dens and the farmyard. Westport is suitable for children up to 12 years.The campsite here has grass pitches with hook-up for tents with facilities including toilets and showers, picnic and washing up areas, WiFi and a recreation room in high season.
BLACKPOOL PLEASURE BEACH, Lancashire
Hardhorn, Poulton le Fylde, Lancashire FY6 8DN
The Pleasure Beach at Blackpool offers something different to most theme parks – its nostalgic seaside funfair atmosphere. The historic amusement park has five wooden rollercoasters, including the UK’s tallest ride at 213 feet. Other activities include ice skating, adventure golf and bowling. There are also relaxing garden spaces and plenty of indoor and outdoor cafes and restaurants. Another thing that makes this place great is the Pleasure Beach Pass ticket which, at £6, gives access to the Pleasure Beach but includes no rides. It’s ideal for those who simply want to accompany others on a day out, and they can still buy individual ride tickets. The campsite at Highbank Farm is situated within a fenced grassed field with a range of electric points, WiFi and toilet and shower facilities. The farmhouse offers fresh eggs, home-made jam and milk for sale. Blackpool and the Pleasure Beach are 15 minutes’ drive away, or there’s a bus stop within a third of a mile.
NORTH NORFOLK RAILWAY, Norfolk
Holt, Norfolk NR25 7HW
The North Norfolk Railway (nnrailway.co.uk), also known as the Poppy Line, operates steam and diesel services between Sheringham and Holt and gives brilliant views over the beautiful north Norfolk countryside on the way. Among the many special events held each year are a beer festival, vintage transport rallies, a homage to Dad’s Army (which was filmed locally) and, inevitably, days dedicated to a certain well-known Tank Engine. Kelling Heath campsite is the perfect base for this family-friendly attraction, having its own railway station on the line. A leading ‘green’ campsite, it offers lots of other family activities including cycle routes, adventure playgrounds, indoor and outdoor pools, a restaurant and takeaway. Pitches on grass with electric are available, set among the trees and heathland.
DRAYTON MANOR THEME PARK, Staffordshire
DRAYTON MANOR CAMPING & CARAVANNING CLUB SITE
Near Tamworth, Staffordshire B78 3TW
White knuckle rides at Drayton Manor include Stormforce, Apocalypse, Pandemonium, Maelstrom, Shockwave, G-Force and Splash Canyon to entertain the teenage and older children of your camping party. For little ones there’s Thomas Land where Sodor comes to life, the Fat Controller entertains and poses for photographs while Thomas and his friends take it in turns to offer the waiting crowds a train ride from Knapford Station to the zoo area. Cranky’s Drop Tower and Troublesome Trucks will satisfy the older ones or those with parent supervision along, with Emily’s Adventure indoor playground. Of course there’s the shop for all Thomas goodies and lots of food areas should you not bring a picnic. Both the hotel complex restaurant and the grill are open to families and stay open long after the rides have gone to bed. The campsite is well positioned within the park with grass pitches for tents. Reception and toilet/shower facilities are situated at site entrance within wooden building, with adventure playground adjacent.
GULLIVER'S LAND, Milton Keynes
GULLIVER’S MEADOW CAMPSITE
Frobisher Gate, Milton Keynes MK15 0DT
Gulliver’s Land theme park in Milton Keynes is intended for children aged between two and 13 years. Subdivided into areas, starting with the Main Street theatre and Horses Carousel immediately from the entrance, followed by Lilliput Land with veteran cars, giant teacups, a Balloon Ferris wheel and galleons. Toy Land comes next, with indoor adventures, which is great if it’s raining. If you’re staying for the weekend for a reasonable extra charge (all-inclusive tickets available) you can visit the Dinosaur and Farm Park or book a session in the Splash Zone, but you’ll need your swimming gear. The 90-pitch campsite is on the theme park’s doorstep, which is a bonus after a long day on the rides. It has a large modern facilities block including toilets/showers, washing up, laundry and parent and child room. Children have an additional play area. Nearby cycle paths lead to Milton Keynes’s shopping centre, canal or nearby Willen Lakeside Park.
COTSWOLD WILDLIFE PARK AND GARDENS, Oxfordshire
Lincoln Farm Park
Standlake, Witney, Oxfordshire OX29 7RH
Just off the A361, the Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens are set around a listed Victorian manor house. Set in 160 acres, there are woodlands, a wildlife park and stunning gardens for children to enjoy walking around. There is always something close by to see, including lions, zebras and giant tortoises – or you could just board the miniature railway. There are undercover tropical, bat and reptile houses are on site, as is a children’s farmyard and adventure playground. Within the walled garden you’ll find meerkats, monkeys and penguins. The high-rise walk over the giraffe house and enclosure is a unique feature of the park. Lincoln Farm Park campsite is a pleasant 20-minute drive away from the wildlife park, through beautiful Cotswold countryside. This top-rated campsite offers facilities comparable to a 5-star hotel, including two heated indoor swimming pools plus a children’s pool, two spas, adult fitness suite, and games room. There’s a well-stocked shop and adventure play area as well.
COTSWOLD FARM PARK, Gloucestershire
COTSWOLD FARM PARK
Near Guiting Power, Cheltenham GL54 5UG
Adam Henson’s farm is well known through BBC TV’s Countryfile programme, and is a magnet for younger children. Depending on the season, they can see and bottlefeed new-born lambs, inquisitive goats, piglets, chicks and ducks in the touch barn or go wild in the adventure playground. Those energetic enough can take the two-mile wildlife walk and glimpse the working farm, which specialises in rare breeds such as Gloucestershire Old Spot pigs and White Park cattle, or you can take the tractor safari if you’re feeling less energetic. To finish off, there’s a country kitchen to tempt you before returning to your tent in the adjacent field. The farm is open to day visitors too, and is close to Bourton on the Water. The flat open campsite is part of the farm and is served by a small modern amenity block. It has predominantly grass pitches, set high on the glorious Cotswold countryside with animals close by. Camping visitors can visit the farm as often as they like with a wristband.
THORPE PARK, Surrey
CHERTSEY CAMPING & CARAVANNING CLUB SITE
Chertsey, Surrey KT16 8JX
Thorpe Park is south-east England’s answer to Alton Towers. Aimed at adults and older children, it has several top-notch thrill rides including Swarm, the UK’s first winged roller coaster, Saw, with a rather terrifying vertical drop, Stealth, which does 0-80mph in less than two seconds, and Colossus – the world’s first ten-loop coaster. This impressive line-up is complemented by several other extreme rides as well as more sedate ones such as teacups, river rapids and log flume. The park hosts special ‘fright nights’, late evening riding in the summer and rides sometimes open in the dark, there’s lots going on here. Chertsey C&CC is a sheltered campsite on the banks of the Thames, a 30-minute train ride from London and a 10-minute drive from Thorpe Park. There are some riverside pitches and canoes can be launched from here, with fishing also available.
THE NEEDLES, Isle Of Wight
WHITEFIELD FOREST TOURING PARK
Isle of Wight
Ryde, Isle of Wight PO33 1QL
The Needles Park at Alum Bay on the Isle of Wight has extraordinary naturally-coloured sand cliffs and has spectacular chairlift to takes visitors from clifftop to beach and back again, with unrivalled views of the Needles Rocks on the way. There’s plenty for all ages here, including the sand filling shop where you can take a piece of the cliffs home with you. Filling a glass shape with layers of different coloured Alum Bay sand is a long held tradition which began in early Victorian times. Less than a mile from Alum Bay lies the Needles Old Battery. This National Trust site is an old Victorian fort from 1862 and can only be reached on foot. Things to see here include two original guns, an exhibition, and of course, stunning views from the headland. Whitefield Forest Touring Park is set in ancient woodland close to the sandy beaches of Ryde and Sandown, with many excellent forest trails to explore directly from the campsite. Facilities include a stunning central facilities block and woodland play area.
FLAMINGO LAND RESORT, Yorkshire
FLAMINGO LAND RESORT
Malton, North Yorkshire YO17 6UX
0800 40 888 40
Flamingo Land was the first park in Europe to combine funfair rides and a zoological garden, and more than 50 years later it still has much to attract the visitor. With a slogan of ‘wild animals, wilder rides’ it has seven themed zones including Children’s Planet for younger guests and thrill rides such as a looping suspended coaster and the UK’s only motorbike launch coaster. The zoo has a host of animals including red pandas, tigers, white rhinos, lions, camels, kangaroos and giraffes plus a lot, lot more. Where Flamingo Land excels is in its events programme. Daily animal shows and animal handling sessions include encounters with the likes of meerkats and sea lions (must be pre-booked) and there’s even a behind the scenes zoo safari exclusively for resort guests after the gates close to day visitors. The campsite is set with easy access to the rides and attractions but also benefits from a host of facilities itself. These include an outdoor pool, a gym, spa pool and sauna. There’s evening entertainment and even a 9-hole golf course.
PAULTONS FAMILY THEME PARK, Hampshire
GREEN PASTURES FARM
Romsey, Hampshire SO51 6AJ
023 8081 4444
What could be better than taking the little ones to a theme park dedicated to one of their favourite TV characters? You can do exactly that at Paultons Family Theme Park , home to Peppa Pig World. This unique attraction has rides, play areas, buildings and even a restaurant themed to the character. Paultons Park itself is aimed at younger children with fairly tame rides and a play village, plus a few more exciting thrills. There are other things on offer as well, including adventure golf, a splash park and ornamental gardens. Paultons also has a small collection of exotic animals and birds. Green Pastures is a family run farm and campsite one mile from Paultons. On the outskirts of the New Forest, there is a lot of open space for children to play and plenty of walking and cycle routes nearby. A local pub serving food is 20 minutes’ walk away, with the cathedral cities of Salisbury and Winchester half an hour’s drive.
LEGOLAND WINDSOR, Berkshire
HURLEY RIVERSIDE PARK
Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 5NN
Legoland Windsor Resort is a unique UK theme park, dedicated to all things Lego, for children aged three to 12 years. There are over 55 interactive rides and attractions which include Miniland, a Lego model village of buildings from the USA and Europe using nearly 40 million pieces, a play village, a water play area, log flume and tons of fun rides for the younger age group. There is also the Pirate Shores attraction, a sea-faring themed area with a pirate playground of high-rope walks, nets and slides, along with a pirate ship and log flume. As with most theme parks there are a selection of places to eat and drink with children’s meals being paid special attention here. Hurley Riverside Park is a 20-minute drive from Legoland Resort and sits on the south bank of the Thames with a riverside picnic area where barbecues are allowed. The site is split into five different fields with the camping areas having grass pitches with 10 amp electric.