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Caravan touring: 15 great British lakes to visit


  Touring Caravans Ultimate Guide

Discover 15 great British lake locations to visit and where to stay on your caravan tours.

All site prices are for a night's stay for a couple with electric hook-up in high season

1 Rutland Water

Don't forget to pack your binoculars and long lenses when you go caravanning in Britain's smallest county. With dozens of bird hides and miles of paths to explore, you can while away a whole day at Rutland Water, the biggest human-made expanse of water in the UK.

Normanton Church, pictured, is a stunning wedding venue on the bank of Rutland Water, and there are many watersports activities on the lake too.

Large parts of Rutland Water are designated nature reserves. Walk through Lyndon Nature Reserve, surrounded by wildflowers and long grasses, and there's a viewing point for ospreys.

Rutland water - Normanton church

You'll also see dragonflies, damselflies, butterflies and shrews! In the water are small duck species, cormorants, grebes, and waders, including lapwings and egrets.

W rutlandwater.org.uk

Where to stay

Louisa Alice Campsite
Ranksborough Drive, Langham, Oakham
LE15 7JR
T 07817 554443
W louisaalicecampsite.co.uk
OPEN All year

This caravan park in the grounds of Ranksborough Hall is ten minutes from Rutland Water. It has a luxury shower and toilet block. Well-behaved dogs are welcome, too.

2 Bassenthwaite, Cumbria

Bassenthwaite, Cumbria

Bassenthwaite Lake, in the north of the Lake District, is one of the quieter lakes, and one of the largest, at four miles long and three-quarters of a mile wide.

It's home to a rare fish species, vendace, only found in Bassenthwaite and Derwentwater. Ospreys nest nearby, and you might spot kingfishers.

Bassenthwaite Sailing Club makes use of the lake, and you can watch the boats as you walk along the west shore.

With aquatic caravans now available (sealandercanada.com/en), it's not inconceivable that you could join them!

Access to the east side is limited to Mirehouse, a historic house with lakeside gardens, open to the public from March to October. Bassenthwaite village, nearby, sits under the Skiddaw group of mountains and has a pub.

W visitcumbria.com/kes/bassenthwaite-lake

Where to stay

Herdwick Croft Caravan Park
Bassenthwaite Lake, Near Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 4RD
T 017687 76241
W herdwickcroft.co.uk/caravan-touring
OPEN 1 March to 31 October

Herdwick Croft Caravan Park in a beautiful location on the north bank of Bassenthwaite Lake, has toilets, showers, a launderette, and waste disposal.

3 Goyt Valley, Derbyshire

Goyt Valley, Derbyshire

There are some lovely places to camp in the Goyt Valley — a stunning location in Derbyshire with scenic walks around two reservoirs.

You can follow a steep trail to Errwood Hall, a ruin on a hill overlooking Errwood Reservoir. The Hall was once a magnificent country house, built in around 1840 and demolished in 1934. In its heyday, it was home to Lords and Ladies, served by about 20 servants and estate staff, and had horses and livestock outside.

Before it was demolished, Errwood Hall served as a youth hostel, but today little more than the foundations and a few arches exist. You can walk alongside Errwood Reservoir, and follow a circular route around Fernilee Reservoir, admiring fantastic reflections in the water.

W goyt-valley.org.uk

Where to stay

Combs Valley Campsite
Owlgreave Farm, Combs Road,
Combs, High Peak, Derbyshire, SK23 9UW
T 07539 934246
W combsvalleycampsite.co.uk/campsite
OPEN All year

This campsite is in a pretty valley overlooking Combs reservoir, surrounded by the Goyt Valley and the Peak District National Park. Facilities include washrooms and a dog walking area.

4 Sheffield Park, Sussex

Sheffield Park, Sussex

Four huge lakes dominate this glorious water garden, separated by meandering paths. Summer flowers and autumn leaves explode with colour, creating dramatic reflections and stunning vistas on bright days.

A castellated mansion towers over the landscape alongside picturesque views of the water, bridges, and colourful foliage. Palm trees stand on tiny islands, with swans nestled nearby.

Sheffield Park was originally designed by Capability Brown in the 18th century, with enhancements added in the 20th century, by its owner at the time, Arthur G Soames.

The planting scheme, including some rare plants, was designed for vibrant colour and visual appeal. The Bluebell Railway is on the doorstep, so why not travel on a Victorian steam train while you're caravanning nearby?

W nationaltrust.org.uk/sheffield-park-and-garden

Where to stay
Normans Bay Camping & Caravanning Club Site
Normans Bay, Pevensey, East Sussex, BN24 6PR
T 01825 790226
W campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk
OPEN 1 April to 4 November
PRICE £15.70

This campsite occupies a coastal location next to a sand and shingle beach and is excellent for those with children and dogs.

5 Lake Views From Tryfan

Lake Views From Tryfan

Stay at the Gwern Gof Isaf Campsite at the foot of Mount Tryfan, because it's in a perfect location for a trek up the mountain.

However, don't be deceived — climbing Mount Tryfan is a real challenge, with much scrambling needed to reach the top! If you make it, or even if you go part way, there are stunning panoramic views of beautiful lakes and mountains.

At the pinnacle, some people jump from Adam to Eve, the two tallest rocks on the summit, but it's precarious. We wouldn't recommend it!

If that sounds too much like hard work on your relaxing caravan holiday, you could sit beside Llyn Ogwen, a lake at the foot of Tryfan, accessible, with a car park, cafe and WC!

Where to stay

Gwern Gof Isaf Camping
Gwern Gof Isaf, Capel Curig,
Betws y Coed, Conwy, LL24 0EU
W gwerngofisaf.co.uk
T 01690 720276
OPEN All year
PRICE £19.50

This campsite, at the foot of Mount Tryfan, is a perfect spot for climbing in Snowdonia. Facilities are basic and include washrooms with hot showers (50p) and indoor dish-washing.

6 Llydaw Lake, Wales

Llydaw Lake, Wales

Let's hope your caravan's mattresses are comfortable because you'll need a good night's sleep before embarking on an energetic trek to find this remote lake, located about a third of the way up Mount Snowdon.

It's the largest lake on the east of the Snowdon mountain, and you pass it on the Miners' Track. According to Arthurian legend, Sir Bedivere threw Excalibur into Llyn Llydaw.

The lake appeared on television in Robson Green's Wild Swimming Adventure in 2009, because it's one of the coldest lakes in Britain.

We'd suggest taking their word for it though as wild swimming is precarious! Climb as far as you're comfortable, and take in the stunning views from this remote location!

W walkupsnowdon.co.uk/places/the-miners-track

Where to stay

Llyn Gwynant Campsite
Nant Gwynant, Caernarfon,
Gwynedd LL55 4NW
W gwynant.com
OPEN All year
PRICE £24 + £5 booking fee

This campsite is in a beautiful location at the foot of Mount Snowdon. Facilities include a shop, reception, laundry room, dish-washing areas, toilets and shower blocks.

7 Ullswater, Cumbria

Ullswater, Cumbria

Ullswater is the second largest lake in the Lake District, approximately 7.5 miles long and half a mile wide. It offers a serene environment, with abundant wildlife and scenic walks.

Passenger steamers, once reserved for miners and those working across the lake, are now used by visitors. In early spring you can see the native daffodils that inspired Wordsworth's poem 'Daffodils'.

Catch the steamer, walk or drive, to Howtown, a tiny village on the bank of Ullswater. From here, if you have the energy, a walk to the summit of Hallin Fell is recommended — it's a steep climb, but the view from the top is breathtaking!

There are scenic walks along the shore too. Keep an eye out for red deer, red squirrels and unusual birds.

W ullswater.co.uk

Where to stay

Keswick Camping & Caravanning Club
Crow Park Road, Keswick, Cumbria CA12 5EP
T 017687 72392
W campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk
OPEN All year
PRICE £15.70

This site is so popular it operates a five-night minimum stay during peak season. On arrival, you'll see exactly why people love it so much!

8 Longleat Lake, Wiltshire

Longleat Lake, Wiltshire

Longleat is perhaps best known for its eccentric owner, the 7th Marquess of Bath, who painted murals of scenes from the Karma Sutra around Longleat House, and who during his marriage to Anna Gael, allegedly had over 70 open relationships with other women. He called them his 'wifelets'.

The best thing about visiting Longleat today is the diversity of attractions on site, from Longleat House to the dinosaur exhibits, and the wildlife boat trips on this great lake.

There's a drive-through safari, where you might see giraffes doing the splits or have close-up encounters with the antelopes. Zebras, wild cattle and buffalo are all roaming the plains. Visitors can feed enthusiastic deer from their open car windows.

W longleat.co.uk

Where to stay

Longleat Caravan Club Site
Warminster, Wiltshire BA12 7NL
T 01985 844663
W caravanclub.co.uk
OPEN 16 March to 3 January
PRICE £30.20 — Members get a discount.

This site is within the grounds of Longleat Estate. You can hear the lions roaring from your caravan. That must add an exciting dimension to your night-time trip to the loo!

9 Spelga Dam and The Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland

Spelga Dam and The Mourne Mountains

Fancy going on a puzzling journey?

Spelga Dam is well known for its magic hill, where balls (or free-wheeling cars) appear to roll uphill. Freewheeling a caravan 'up' the hill might seem like a fun idea, but we'd suggest leaving the caravan at the campsite and just taking the car.

Northern Ireland Water once had to remind visitors that "Spelga Dam is Not a Playground", although technically they were talking about ice skating, not freewheeling.

Spelga Reservoir is in the Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland. It's 1200 ft above sea level and is home to wild trout.

The Spelga Dam was built in the 1950s, and the reservoir supplies water to the citizens of Portadown and Banbridge.

W mourne-mountains.com/mournes/water/spelga-dam-reservoir

Where to stay

The Rock Caravan & Camping Site
Slievenaman Road, Northern Ireland BT33 0Q
T 028 437 24329
W therockcaravansite.com
OPEN March to October

This campsite offers stunning views of the Mourne Mountains. There are 12 pitches, all with electric hook-up, a toilet block and shower facilities.

10 Ennerdale Water, Cumbria

Ennerdale Water, Cumbria

Want to go caravanning in a quieter part of the Lake District? We have just the thing.

Ennerdale is off the beaten track and quieter than Windermere or Ullswater, with fewer visitors. It's no less beautiful. Its natural setting is arguably more attractive, so if you're after the peace and tranquillity of the Lakes without the crowds, it's a great place to explore.

The lakeside path on one side is accessible for people with mobility problems or pushchairs. You can walk right around the lake, but it's difficult to pass in some places.

The lake is 2.5 miles long and three-quarters of a mile wide, with no roads disrupting the peace. Check out the Whitehaven to Ennerdale cycle path if you've brought bikes.

W visitcumbria.com/wc/whitehaven-to-ennerdale-cycle-path

Where to stay

Ravenglass Camping & Caravanning Club Site
Ravenglass, Cumbria
CA18 1SR
T 01229 717250
W campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk
OPEN February 2019 to 2 January 2020
PRICE £29.10

Ravenglass Camping and Caravanning Club Site has a small shop, washrooms with two showers, and it's a short walk to Ravenglass village.

11 Stowe Gardens, Buckinghamshire

Stowe Gardens, Buckinghamshire

These beautiful water gardens were designed in the 18th century by Capability Brown, who created formal gardens alongside wildflower meadows.

The new entrance and visitor centre, past the restored New Inn, takes you to the Octagon Lake, with fantastic views of the mansion across the water — today it's a public school.

The gardens, adorned with statues, follies, temples, bridges, caves and waterfalls, command your interest at every turn, with elements of Greek mythology and buildings inspired by ancient Rome.

A walk through the Stowe estate is an uplifting experience. Don't miss the Chinese garden with oriental trees and a highly decorative Chinese hut at its centre. On special days, visitors are allowed inside the magnificent school building.

W nationaltrust.org.uk/stowe

Where to stay

Cosgrove park
Main Street, Cosgrove, Milton Keynes MK19 7JP
T 01908 563360
W cosgrovepark.co.uk
OPEN All year

This beautifully landscaped site is popular with those who love fishing and families who like to be by the water. With plenty of facilities including a laundry room, bistro, tennis court and pool, you won't need to go far to have a top quality break.

Touring pitches are limited so book ahead!

12 Bude Sea Pool

 Bude Sea Pool

Fire up your caravan heating to get your towels dry after taking the plunge into the chilly salt water at Bude Sea Pool this summer. This tidal pool on the beach is perfect for family outings and gentle exercise.

Built in the 1930s for the people of the town, Bude Sea Pool is a super swimming people who want to take a dip in a safe pool environment, without experiencing the full ferocity of the sea. It's a semi-natural pool located in a conservation area beside the cliffs. Thirty thousand people visit Bude Sea Pool yearly.

It's filled with seawater when the tide comes in and retains that water when the tide recedes, providing the perfect natural swimming environment.

W budeseapool.org

Where to stay

Budemeadows Touring Park
Widemouth Bay, Bude, Cornwall EX23 0NA
T 01288 361646
W budemeadows.co.uk
OPEN All year

This campsite, a mile from Widemouth Bay and 3.5 miles from Bude, has a heated outdoor pool, free WI-fi, a large playground, bar, takeaway, games room, and shop. The pool, bar and shop open late from May to 31 August.

13 Pensthorpe Nature Reserve, Norfolk

Pensthorpe Nature Reserve, Norfolk

At Pensthorpe Nature Reserve in Norfolk, there's more to see and enjoy than you might expect: cranes, flamingos, red squirrels, and many rare species of wildfowl.

The reserve is bustling with life from the moment you step out of the visitor centre onto the lakeside path. Hungry ducks surround you instantly surrounded and feeding them will keep the kids amused for hours!

This reserve is one of the best places in the UK to immerse yourself in the natural world, abundant with nature trails, bird hides and opportunities to see all manner of wild creatures.

The reserve is involved in conservation programmes for various rare and endangered species including red squirrels and Eurasian cranes.

W pensthorpe.com

Where to stay

Kelling Heath Holiday Park
Weybourne Road, Bodham, Holt NR25 7HW
T 01263 588181
W kellingheath.co.uk
OPEN until 10 December 2019
PRICE £37.60

Kelling Heath is a well-equipped family park, with a games room, bar and restaurant, gym, swimming pool, and a steam railway which stops at the campsite. Good facilities for tourers.

14 College Lake, Buckinghamshire

College Lake, Buckinghamshire

Have you packed your bird books?

Don't forget your binoculars! College Lake, just outside Tring on the Buckinghamshire/Hertfordshire border, boasts over 1000 species of wildlife, with a visitor centre, cafe, and a gentle two-mile walk.

The circular route feels long enough to be healthy, without leaving you feeling achy or exhausted. College Lake has a second-hand book shop, a display of vintage farm machinery, an old warden's hut and a shop, so there's plenty to break up the walk and keep the kids interested.

College Lake was once a chalk quarry, which was converted into a nature reserve and opened to the public in 2010. A mix of habitats can be seen at this peaceful location, with reeds and marshes, bogs and chalk grassland.

W bbowt.org.uk/college-lake/about-college-lake

Where to stay

Town Farm
Icknield Way, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire LU7 9EL
W townfarmcamping.co.uk
OPEN March to October
PRICE £22.50

The owners run this lovely, rural campsite in the Chilterns in a relaxed fashion, with facilities including toilets, wash basins, hand dryers, hot showers, dish-washing and waste disposal.

15 Stourhead, Wiltshire

Stourhead, Wiltshire

The breathtaking views across the lake at Stourhead set the scene for an exhilarating day in one of Britain's most magical water gardens. The vast shimmering lake is a haven for wildlife, surrounded by temples, follies and picturesque bridges.

The winding path around the lake brings you to a cave beneath a glittering waterfall, with Italian statues. The landscaped gardens are among the best in Britain, described as 'paradise' by some visitors.

The Hoare family owned the 18th-century Palladian mansion and gardens for 700 years. They made their money in banking and the estate passed from generation to generation until the property was handed to the National Trust in 1946 by Sir Henry Hugh Arthur Hoare.

W nationaltrust.org.uk/stourhead

Where to stay

Stourhead Estate CL
Stourton, Mere, Warminster, Wiltshire BA12 6QD
T 01747 841143
W caravanclub.co.uk
OPEN All year
PRICE £20 Discounts for National Trust members

Caravan & Motorhome Club members can stay on Stourhead Estate and walk around the gardens after the public has gone home. This site has washrooms, hard standing pitches, and with a fixed price all year.

Find thousands of more fab sites at Campsite Finder

Words by Susie Kearley

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