The idea of travelling around the UK as a family with children in a campervan is appealing at the outset, but the reality can be very different if you don’t hunt out the best campsites.
When you stop for a bit of respite, you want a campsite that is going to cater to your needs as a family – we’re talking a few mod cons and, ideally, a play area for the kids to let off a bit of steam and enjoy themselves.
If you end up at the wrong campsite, that’s when things can get a little trying.
It really does pay to do your research beforehand, identifying the family-friendly campsites along your route and booking your stay in advance.
Before we launch into listing some of the best family-friendly campsites around, it’s important to remember how you can protect your family while you’re out on the road.
Driving an older campervan can be tricky at the best of times, not least if it’s in the autumn or winter.
That’s why it’s essential that you have adequate campervan insurance in place.
Getting the right kind of coverage means you can get on with all your travel adventures knowing you're protected in case of the unexpected.
Let’s take a look at the best campsites for families in campervans.
Red Shoot Camping Park
New Forest, Hampshire
There are few better places to take the family than the New Forest.
There are a myriad of walking and cycle paths to be explored, weaving in and out of the trees and over the heathland.
The children will marvel at the New Forest ponies and donkeys grazing among the heather – the large animal presence really does make this a magical part of the world.
If you visit in the autumn you will even see pigs roaming the forest.
To make your visit even sweeter, book a pitch at Red Shoot Camping Park, which is just about as family friendly as you can get.
Family run for three generations, park owner Jaqui Oldfield understands the needs of families and has created a campsite that will have your little ones shrieking with delight.
There's a great play area complete with fireman's pole and rope and swing bridge.
Once the play area has been exhausted, there’s no shortage of wonderful places to visit in the local area including Marwell Zoo, Monkey World, Liberty's Raptor and Reptile Centre and the New Forest Water Park.
When tiredness and hunger start to set in, head back to Red Shoot where you can plug yourself into a 10amp electrical hook-up and cook up something delicious for the family – a well-stocked shop will provide you will all the supplies you need.
If you don’t fancy cooking, you can head next door to the Red Shoot Inn, which specialises in serving hungry families.
Staying down south, but a little further west this time in Cheddar; yes, the home of the famous cheese.
But it’s so much more than just the place that created the UK’s most popular fromage, with lots of things to do in the area.
The Cheddar Gorge & Caves are designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation.
That’s because it boasts an incredible array of flora and wildlife, with something for every age group to appreciate.
For the history heads among you, learn all about the findings from prehistoric past made by archaeologists in the caves in the Museum of Prehistory.
This includes the discovery of the oldest complete skeleton in 1903, known as ‘Cheddar Man’, dating back to the Mesolithic Age over 9,000 years ago.
A trip to Wookey Hole is also essential, where you will be able to visit the “most spectacular show-caves in England”.
Not only that, there’s a live circus show, animatronic dinosaurs, a 4D cinema and much more to feast your eyes on.
And if you time your visit right, you can experience the Winter Wonderland where Santa is waiting to greet your family over breakfast.
Nearby Wells and Glastonbury are also well worth a visit.
With Petruth Paddocks acting as the perfect base for your trip, don’t be surprised if you stay longer than you anticipated.
The campsite prides itself on being open “to anyone and everyone” and somewhere that “kids can be kids” as the website explains: “They can run and shout, climb trees and hide in the hedges, fish for tadpoles in the rhynes (what we call ditches in Somerset), kick a football about, clamber over the old Land Rover in the chill out field, take a ride on the back of the quad bike with Jules, get covered in dirt, make some new mates, and even scrape their knees.”
How does that sound? One thing’s for sure – the kids will certainly sleep well with that much free rein!
If you do like to be beside the seaside, Cornwall is the place to be with an amazing selection of sandy beaches to choose from including Porthcurnick, Towan (winter home to seals), Pendower, Carne, Porthbean and Porthbeor.
Depending on the time of the year, the children will love building sand castles, dipping a toe in the sea and climbing (carefully) on the rocks.
When hunger strikes, make sure you lunch on some local fish and chips – they always taste that bit nicer when you’re down by the sea.
In terms of a place to stay, you’d do well to find a better campsite than Arthur's Field.
Named after the farmer who originally owned the land – also called Treloan Coastal Holidays – families make visits to the site, perched on the Roseland peninsula, all year round.
Don’t expect huge, designated play areas for kids. But you can expect more than that.
Every morning, the campsite owner rings a bell signalling the children to flock to her to collect eggs and feed the animals with her; they keep pigs, guinea pigs, chickens and rabbits.
Arts workshops are also on offer here, in everything from willow work to charcoal cooking.
On Wednesday evenings, everyone gathers around the campfire for storytelling, songs, poetry and a communal barbecue.
Treloan also runs foraged feasts, where campers go on expeditions with a wild food expert and collect food for a banquet that evening.
It really is a unique offering that will appeal to many families but might not be everyone's idea of fun.
Bolton Abbey, North Yorkshire
We think it’s time we headed north now – and so should you, too.
Catgill Campsite is nestled within the Yorkshire Dales National Park, a mile from Bolton Abbey and the River Wharfe.
The area is a walker’s paradise and there’s no better place to start than the 30,000-acre Bolton Abbey estate itself.
Here you will find some 80 miles of footpaths that weave their way around the ruins of an ancient Augustinian priory, better known as Bolton Priory.
Just outside the estate, on the banks of the Wharfe, you’ll come across a somewhat unexpected beach area, which stretches for a quarter of a mile.
The water is shallow enough for toddlers to paddle safely, while older children can swim or tackle the 60 stepping stones that cross the water – once the route of lay workers making their way over to the priory.
Once you’re done with beach life, a trip to Skipton, just five miles down the road, is never a bad idea.
This charming market town has lots going for it, including Craven Museum and Gallery, which encourages visitors to discover more about the area's past by exploring the small but varied collections on display.
The museum is free and there are lots of activities to keep little ones amused, such as dressing up as cave people and Victorian servants, digging in the archaeology pit, grinding corn into flour and quizzes, puzzles and colouring galore.
Head back to Catgill Campsite once you’ve exhausted the local area, where you will be greeted by a relaxed atmosphere.
After a good night’s sleep, head to the new on-site coffee shop for fresh barista-made morning coffee and croissants.
If you want a bit of peace and quiet, send the kids in the direction of the natural playground, which will keep them occupied for hours.
The North Norfolk coastal village of Weybourne, near to Kelling Heath and set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is a great holiday destination with its beach, heritage railway station and wonderful walks.
In the nearby area, there’s a whole host of family-friendly attractions to choose from including Amazona Zoo, Pensthorpe Natural Park, Sealife Hunstanton and Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure.
But you could quite easily stay within the confines of Kelling Heath campsite for a week and not get bored.
The Guardian calls it: “Center Parcs at a fraction of the price”, with a whole host of activities to get through before evening entertainment kicks in.
The rich programme of kids' events includes den-making workshops, junk modelling and storytelling walks.
You can hire bikes, play tennis, go fishing and try your hand at archery. You can certainly see where the Centre Parcs comparisons come in.
As you might expect, the campsite is not short of amenities either. You’ll find hot showers, washing facilities, individual cubicles, toilets and razor points.
Disabled and baby changing facilities and dishwashing and laundry sinks are at your disposal, too.
South Lytchett Manor Caravanning and Camping Park
We’ll end our round-up of the best family-friendly campsites not too far from where we started it in Dorset.
South Lytchett Manor Caravanning and Camping Park, located three miles from Poole, nine miles from Bournemouth and 13 miles from the beautiful Jurassic Coastline, is in a prime position to see the very best the county has to offer.
Right in the middle of it all, in Wareham, is Monkey World.
This stunning park covers 65 acres and is home to the primate stars of TV’s ‘Monkey Life’ and ‘Monkey Business’! Keepers’ talks run daily and provide insight into life at the park and its inhabitants – the kids will be captivated.
Any stay in Dorset necessitates a trip to Bournemouth beach, which was crowned the best beach in the UK at this year’s TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Award.
Boasting a magnificent cliff line its own micro-climate, some of the warmest sea temperatures in the UK and stunning views of the Isle of Wight and the Purbecks, it’s not hard to see why.
Once the day is done, it’s back to South Lytchett Manor Caravanning and Camping Park, where your family will not want for anything.
There’s a family bathroom, fully compliant disabled bathroom, two family shower rooms, professional standard hairdryers and full-length mirrors so you can freshen up in style.
There’s also a fully-stocked shop on site, free Wi-Fi access across the park, a game and TV room, and a new children’s adventure playground.
The campsite has won numerous awards over the years with visitors returning time after time.
Protect yourself with campervan insurance
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Once you’ve decided on which campsites you’re going to visit, don’t forget to arrange that all-important piece of the puzzle: campervan insurance.
Getting the right kind of coverage means you can get on with all your travel adventures knowing you're protected in the case of the unexpected.
We can provide a range of quotes on specialist campervan insurance that could provide the following possible benefits:
- Cover for up to 365 days a year which can include foreign use
- Cover for your Campervan whilst you are converting it
- Enhanced cover for personal effects
- Discounts if you’re a member of a club
- Panel of leading Campervan insurers
- Unlimited EU cover
- Up to £3,500 of cover for your camping personal effects
- Up to six months cover to complete a self-build conversion
- Value up to £150,000
Get a quote from Motorhome Protect today so you can hit the road with the ones you love.