The UK’s Best ‘Almost Wild Camping’ Spots For 2023

Back-to-basics camping and wild vibes… but with a few added comforts

Feature type Story

Read time 10 mins

Published Jun 27, 2023

Hannah Mitchell BASE Digital Writer Hannah is a Lake District-based journalist and all-round outdoor lass with a particular fondness for rock faces.

You can’t beat a night under the stars. Getting back to basics, escaping the crowds and switching off for some well-earned R&R in a beautiful location has powerful effects on our physical and mental health, and a night or two of wild camping can be a brilliant way to bring the family together too. However, a hectic schedule or busy working week can see you screeching into Friday feeling less than fresh, and certainly not on form for packing and organising an entirely off-grid weekend.

With the recent controversy surrounding wild camping in England, and many ethical and logistical factors to considerWhere is acceptable to pitch my tent? How do I cook responsibly in the wild? What do I do with my ‘number twos’? – what started out as an idyllic vision of minimalist serenity might be starting to better resemble an episode of Lost, or the Blair Witch Project, or, well, you get the idea.

For the newbie adventurer looking to dip their toes in the waters of wild camping, frazzled parents with semi-feral kids and very little time, folk who can’t walk far or for those who simply fancy a quiet campout without the hassle of a heavy pack, almost wild camping offers the perfect solution. Staying at an almost wild camping site means you don’t have to follow the wild camping rules of pitch at dusk, pack up before dawn, leaving you free to have a leisurely lie-in or late night, and many sites provide safe ways to enjoy a campfire or barbecue when conditions allow.

Weekend warriors assemble! We’ve compiled a list of six of the best, back-to-basics-but-with-a-bit-more almost wild camping sites in the UK that you must visit this summer. From North to south, you don’t have to go too far from home to have an adventure.

© Mike Erskine/Unsplash

© Will Truettner/Unsplash


Fire and Stars Woodland Camping, Leicestershire

Secluded woodland with pitches big enough to fit a family tent. Set within 47 acres of the National Forest, the woodland is managed in partnership with National Forest and Forestry Commission, and income generated from the site supports the ongoing protection of the woodland and its habitats from the increased threats of pests and disease.

This beautiful, back-to-basics spot is perfect for wildlife watching or forest bathing, and each pitch has a designated fire pit area so you can safely enjoy the glow of a real campfire. There are caravan spots too, and a cute bothy option if you prefer a solid roof over your head!

Know before you go:

  • Toilets on site, showers available locally for a small fee
  • Dogs welcome
  • Firewood available to buy
  • No electrical hook-up, so pack your headtorches
  • No mains water, BYO

Higher Pendeen Camping, Cornwall

An off-grid eco site just ten minutes stroll to the secluded sun trap of Mawgan Porth Beach; the focus here is on sun, surf and sustainability.

There are just five pitches and five bell tents onsite here, keeping footfall and disturbance of the local wildlife to a minimum. Guests share a composting toilet (with recycled toilet paper) and outdoor gas shower, they are requested to use only eco products when washing up or showering. Barbecues and camp stoves are permitted, though they must be raised off the ground, and fire pits and locally sourced logs are available onsite.

The site doesn’t accommodate vans or motorhomes owing to the delicate ecology of the area, and cars are left a short walk from the tent pitches, so you get a lovely feeling of isolation and ‘getting away from it all’! There is not electrical supply onsite, so be sure to charge up your torches and devices before you pitch up. Aside from the endless options for coastal wandering, wild swimming and surfing nearby, there is yoga, beach fitness, foraging and other adventure activities available either onsite or nearby. Dogs may be allowed to stay, but it is subject to pre-agreement with the site owners.

© Higher Pendeen Camping

Know before you go:

  • Composting toilet and open air shower onsite
  • No electricity – embrace the basics!
  • Drinking water available
  • Fresh local produce available at certain times of year


Gill Head Farm, Cumbria

A popular, pet-friendly spot located in the stunning Lake District National Park, in close proximity to Ullswater and Derwentwater, the town of Keswick and famous northern fells for hiking, such as Blencathra and Catbells. While at first glance it might resemble more a ‘standard’ campsite, rumour has it that if you ask to pitch in the secret meadow, you’ll be directed on a short walk to a quieter spot with exceptional views all around. The torchlight trek to the toilet block in the night will almost certainly have you feeling intrepid, and you can hire a fire pit for a cosy evening under the stars.

This is a very well-equipped site that caters to motorhomes as well as the no-frills campers, so the facilities are quite extensive. However, the location adds a wild vibe to your stay with the added reassurance that if the weather proves ‘typically Cumbrian’ there’s always the communal cabin area for an obligatory rainy day card game.


Know before you go:

  • Electrical hook-up available and pitches for vans. caravans and motorhomes
  • Toilets and hot showers onsite
  • Undercover seating
  • WiFi hotspots
  • Small shop
  • Families welcome

The torchlight trek to the toilet block in the night will almost certainly have you feeling intrepid


Cefn Coed, Gwynedd

A perfect base for exploring Eryri (Snowdonia) in North Wales, this historical farm property dates back to the 17th Century. Woodland or field pitches for tents and campervans are available in an idyllic, sheltered valley surrounded by 75 acres of farmland and forests – so escaping the crowds shouldn’t be a problem.

With wild swimming, cycling trails and hiking to suit all abilities just a stone’s throw away, as well as the site’s close proximity to the mighty Cadair Idris and the Mawddach Estuary, there’s plenty to explore… oh, and the local pub is just a thirty minute stroll away! There’s a small shop onsite stocking a few fresh and basic essentials including firewood (gathering wood is NOT permitted), fire pits and barbecues to hire, and if you’re feeling super boujis, you can have a home cooked meal delivered straight to your pitch! The site prides itself on its immersive back-to-nature atmosphere, and as such, speakers are not permitted and campers are asked to be quiet after 11pm. Blissful sleep guaranteed.

Know before you go:

  • Dogs welcome, but on leads at all times
  • Guests must take their rubbish away with them
  • Toilets and showers at main farmhouse
  • Filtered mountain spring water taps


© Cefn Coed

YHA Brecon Beacons Danywenallt, Powys

Now, don’t knock it. Hostelling has been a popular and affordable means of seeing some of the UK’s most remote locations for many, many years, and now a great number of YHA sites offer tent camping as well. Perhaps not quite as wild as some sites on offer, YHA Danywenalt’s camp site is however located in a peaceful apple orchard, some 50 yards from the main hostel building. You are welcome to use your own camping stove here, and there is a designated fire circle where barbecues are permitted. Campers also have access to all the communal facilities including toilets, showers and a self-catering kitchen – perfect if you’re testing the wild camping waters or if the weather is looking a bit iffy!

YHA’s are notoriously sociable places, so if you’re a first-time solo camper, YHA Danywenalt is an excellent spot to meet other outdoor folk.  Water sports, walking and cycling are all on offer within Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park, so there’s plenty to keep you busy. Oh, and if you’re not feeling the ‘wild vibes’, there’s an all you can eat breakfast buffet inside the hostel too.

Know before you go:

  • Water, wash-up, toilets and showers in hostel building
  • Tents only – no cars in camping area
  • Pets allowed in tents but not inside hostel
  • Licensed bar onsite
  • WiFi in social spaces (not that you’ll need it!)

if you’re a first-time solo camper, YHA Danywenalt is an excellent spot to meet other outdoor folk

© Youth Hostels Association

Bôn Camping, Pembrokeshire

Pick a spot in the sunny cwtch of the woods or the long grass of the meadow on this family-run eco campsite certified by the Greener Camping Club. Both types of pitch are equipped with a private eco loo, hot shower and undercover washing up sink, a picnic table and fire pit. But don’t let that fool you into thinking this isn’t wild, Bôn Camping boasts 29 acres of woodland and wildflower meadow, with just a handful of each kind of spot on offer which are generously spread out because, as they say, there’s no sense of being on top of each other.

There is a strong emphasis on rewilding, nature and ecology here, so no vehicles are permitted in the camping areas and pets are not allowed. Upon arrival, you’ll be equipped with a wheelbarrow to push your kit a short way to your pitch (worth bearing in mind if you have any mobility issues), and there are freezers, fridges and charging points in the main ‘shed’. Eco shampoo, conditioner, soaps, and washing up liquid are provided and there’s even a couple of kayaks you can borrow free of charge!

Walking, surfing and wild swimming are the order of the day here on Pembrokeshire National Park’s unspoilt coastline, with stunning sandy beaches for treasure hunting, paddling and soaking up the sun. The campsite has a pretty comprehensive list of seaside hikes for you to check out too…

© Bôn Camping

Know before you go:

  • No cars in camping areas
  • No pets
  • Private toilet, shower and wash-up facilities for each pitch
  • Campers can contribute to the rewilding project by reporting wildlife sightings
  • Excellent stargazing opportunities
  • Only eco bath and wash-up products to be used

© Bôn Camping


Cleadale Camping at Eigg Organics, Inner Hebrides

Want to get REALLY remote? Perhaps not a quick camping fix, but a ferry from Mallaig on the mainland will take you to four of the smallest Hebridean islands, including Eigg. You can’t bring your own car, which is arguably part of the charm, and Eigg has the first completely wind, water and sun-powered renewable electricity grid in the world. South of the perhaps better-known Isle of Skye, this three by five mile island is home to a population of around 100. Cleadale Camping offers grassy pitches on a real, working organic croft, with views out over the Atlantic Ocean towards Rum and the Outer Hebrides.

There is a composting toilet onsite, as well as flushing toilets and a shower close by, with drinking water taps supplied by a well that is reputedly blessed by St Columba (so you’re guaranteed to leave feeling refreshed). You’ll likely come face-to-face with the croft’s flock of rare Soay sheep during your stay, and if you’re keen to learn more about crofting, you can even book a tour! Beyond the croft, you can kayak, beach comb, hike or bike to explore the intriguing geology of this genuinely wild and unspoilt wee island.

Know before you go:

  • No dogs allowed owing to the croft’s free-roaming livestock
  • Children stay for free
  • Toilets and showers onsite
  • Small shops and amenities (including a brewery!) located nearby on the island

grassy pitches on a real, working organic croft

Red Squirrel Campsite, Glen Coe

Just 14 miles from the UK’s outdoor capital, Fort William, lies the Red Squirrel Campsite. The grounds have been used for camping for well over a century, but these days the site has a few luxuries in addition to its picturesque pitches for tents and vans in the heart of the Scottish Highlands.

Sprawling across 22 acres of woodland and surrounded by the mountains of Argyll, the terrain is rugged and typically wild, with stunning scenery and an abundance of wildlife to keep an eye out for. With over 100 non-designated spots to pitch on, you can choose to lay your head in sheltered woodland, grassy comfort or even a riverside pitch on the banks of the Coe.

By day, there is mountain biking, climbing, hiking and scrambling, with a short drive taking you to the base of Ben Nevis for those with even bigger ambitions! With all that on offer, you definitely wont be needing the free WiFi…

Know before you go:

  • Hot showers, wash-up, drinking water and toilets onsite
  • Camper vans welcome, but no electric hookups or grey water/chemical toilet disposal
  • Well-behaved pets permitted on leads
  • Fires allowed strictly in designated areas or raised pits
  • Families welcome

© Dall Cottage Camping

Dall Cottage Camping, Pitlochry

About as close to wild camping as it gets – just getting to your tent pitch is an adventure! A crossing of the River Garry either by foot or 4X4 is the only way to access the site, and with only four spots to choose from, you can be certain of some peace and quiet. Situated 8 miles north of Blair Atholl in the Cairngorms National Park, Dall Cottage Camping is close to the Route 7 cycle route and the Cairngorm Loop, so makes an ideal base for bike packing. Easy access to the Cairngorms and all the national park has to offer make this a perfect option for low-maintenance campers with mountain objectives, as well as those seeking a bit of solace in true, rugged Scottish wilderness.

There are designated fire pits for which you can buy logs onsite, composting toilets and showers, and whilst dogs are allowed, they must be kept on a lead. Likewise, families are welcome but visitors are advised that loud music and rowdy kids are not!

a perfect option for low-maintenance campers with mountain objectives

Know before you go:

  • Dogs on leads at all times
  • Composting toilets and hot showers onsite
  • A back-to-basics, quiet site – prepare accordingly!
  • Inform owners in advance if you require assistance crossing the river

Camp spot? Check. 

Now, check out this list of the UK’s best long-distance hiking trails and our ultimate guide to UK Via Ferrata for more inspiring ideas to get YOU out there and adventuring better.

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