In Cornwall, if you can sleep in it, some plucky entrepreneur has built a camping business around it. From showman’s touring cabins to geodomes, pods and treehouses, there’s a budget – or luxury – camping option for just about every taste. Even the classic canvas option has had a revival, with safari tents and pre-set up camps adding a glamping touch to the no-frills end of the Cornish camping spectrum. Add in the choice of moorland views, coastal cliff tops and secluded woodland into the mix and you’ve got yourself a dizzying dilemma. We’ve handpicked some crackers to get you started…
But before we launch into the accommodation side of things, you might wonder, why Cornwall? Well, aside from the best pasties in the country, the county has a lot to offer families and couples looking to get away from it all. Seal, dolphin and whale watching along Cornwall’s coastline are great ways to make the most of the miles of sandy beaches. Cycling in Cornwall can take you coast to coast, through rolling farmland, mountain biking through forest glades or casually pedalling through quiet lanes or country estates.
Birdwatching might sound a tad sedate – but spot your first puffin or kestrel and you’ll change your mind. Then there’s the food. Yes, there’s fish and chips on (almost) every corner. But, there are foodie delights to be had too. Rick Stein’s empire in Padstow is the obvious choice, but he’s not the only chef in the county. Local, independent bakers, delis and butchers are the places to shop. Bring back some Cornish produce to your fire pit and cook up a feast. Concerned about calories? Sea kayaking your way along the Lizard peninsular should see you right.
Let’s look at the classic canvas options first. Sleeping (almost) under the stars is as back to basics as it gets. Though, if you’re camping in Penzance, the views of the stars from Treen Farm Campsite come in second place to the sea views. £6 a night buys you a pitch for large tent a few fields back from the cliff edge. From there, it’s a £8/£9 per night for adults. With two sandy beaches just a ten minute walk away, only a handful of hedges to interrupt your sea views and onsite meditation and yoga options, this is one of Cornwall’s best budget campsites.
Though we can heartily recommend the nearby camping in Fowey, Cornwall has another outdoor living trick up its sleeve. Treehouses. More specifically, the treehouse at the Green Cart Farm Gin & Rum Distillery. Which is just as delightfully booze-riddled as it sounds. Book yourself a night in the cozy treehouse for £250, and you’ll be treated to a gin and rum masterclass for two. They even add in a tapas meal for good measure. You’ll be sleeping in the midst of 7 acres – complete with a lake. In summer, you’re free to boat upon it. Or you could spend time gazing at the resident ducks, horses, geese, sheep and cows that live on site. Idyllic, but rustic enough to deliver the much sought after country retreat relaxation you’re looking for.
Thinking about camping in Padstow? Cornwall’s foodie haven hotspot has plenty of camp – or glamp options. For a quirky halfway house, take a look at the pods at Padstow Creek. Set in a wildflower-strewn valley, their cheeky wooden little numbers sleep 2 adults and 2 children. Wildlife comes as standard, with bats, owls and roe deer among the local residents. You’re within walking distance of Padstow – for very swish food options. Though, can Padstow’s restaurants rival what you’ll be rustling up over your private fire pit? Frankly, nothing can top anything you bring to the boil over an open flame. Prices start at £95 per night, leaving you a little in the budget for more than a few packs of marshmallows to toast.
If you’ve visited the Eden Project and thought the only thing missing was a double bed, you’ll love the Ekopod campsite in Launceston. The domes or pods come with all the joy of a swish hotel room – but you’re perched right on the edge of Bodmin moor. Swap urban streets for wildflowers and woodland, without having to sacrifice on plump pillows and a flushing loo. Though, not all pods have an ensuite – so do check when booking. Wildlife is welcomed with open arms here, so expect dormice, swallows, hedgehogs and deer to be your neighbours. Just when you think you couldn’t ask for more, your heart will soar just that little bit higher with just five simple words. Tea and coffee making facilities. Domes start from £120 per night in summer.
If the pod living in Padstow is just a smidge too rustic and rural for you, there’s a compromise to camping on offer in Bude. Atlantic Surf Pods deliver all the outsdoorsy action camping brings, with just enough home comforts to ensure you never feel like you’re roughing it. Underfloor heating sets the tone nicely, as does the design of the charming ecopods. Memory foam beds ensure a grand night’s sleep is had by all. Flump on a giant bean bag to take in the beautifully manicured gardens or make the most of the beaches just minutes drive away from your door. The best way to keep on brand with the site’s ‘off grid’ living? Pack your walking boots and explore the Coastal Path on foot. Prices start at a very reasonable £70 – £99 per night.
Who among us hasn’t contemplated a shepherd’s hut stay in our time? If you’ve pondered it and thought them a smidge petite for you – and your compulsory 3 piece luggage set – we point you towards Hercules. A lovingly restored showman’s trailer set amidst the tranquil acres of Spring Park in Launceston. Set in a treelined plot – that’s just for you – this wood panelled beauty comes with a wood-fired hot tub to bask in as you listen to the surrounding bird song. Expect to pay £101 per night, though there’s an extra fee for the hot tub. Don’t be too surprised if a hedgehog snuffles past, if you’re outdoors after dark. Nearby? You could explore Bodmin or the wonders of the Tamar Valley. In reality? Curling up in one of the reclaimed 1940s cinema seats with a good book might be just as lovely.
Something a little different…
If you thought huts, pods and geodomes were pushing the camping boundaries, take a peek at the gravity defying Kudhva’s in Tintagel. On paper, they are stilted cabins. Architecturally? Well, add a couple of Rebel Alliance pilots and they wouldn’t look out of place in a Star Wars movie. These decidedly futuristic dwellings sit in a reclaimed quarry. But it’s definitely been a case of out with the bulldozers and in with the wildlife, rewilding and rugged, back-to-nature vibes. Conceptual, calming and close enough to the coast to grab an, admittedly far-away, view of the Cornish coast. Expect to pay around £120 per night (depending on the season).