Updated 16 September 2016
One of the great things about the British Isles is that they are about a whole lot more than historic monuments, castles, ruins and the tranquillity of some rural idyll – there is also a mountain of adventures and activities throughout the country.
Some of the best spots for activities – whether extreme or otherwise – might be almost on your own doorstep, whilst others might be in new and untravelled corners of these islands.
When visiting the latter in particular and with tired and aching bones, one of the last things you are likely to want is the long slog home or the prospect of roughing it on some windswept mountainside.
If you take your caravan with you, of course, you are always assured of a warm and comfy home from home, where you can rest a while, get a good night’s sleep – and launch off into your next round of wild activities in the morning.
What is more, and however remote a corner your thirst for adventure might take you, you are likely to be surprised by just how many well-organised and well-appointed caravan sites are right next door or a short drive away at most.
Combining some of the best adventure activities and sports which the British Isles have to offer with the freedom and ever-present comfort of a touring caravan to return to at nights might be all that you need for a well-earned weekend break or the holiday you have been promising yourself for some time.
In this brief guide, the aim is to introduce you to some of the locations where you can indulge a hankering for more adventurous activities – and where you will find a handily placed site for your caravan at the end of the day.
Even if you have never been there, Scotland conjures up pictures of breath-taking mountain scenery, rugged and windswept moorland, and fast-flowing white water – all the ingredients for some adrenaline-pumped action set amongst spectacular scenery. Here are just a few examples.
Just the term “canyoning” might give you some idea of the thrills and spills this activity might bring. Imagine doing it down the sides of Britain’s highest mountain and the excitement is bound to rise still further – wild swimming, cliff jumping, abseiling, sliding down natural water flumes, and scrambling beneath waterfalls are all activities you are likely to find memorable to say the least.
Where to stay
- Glen Nevis Caravan & Camping Park, a 30-acre site, with fantastic views of majestic Ben Nevis right from the door of your caravan. It is in Fort William, one of the principal access points for Ben Nevis itself and its four fields offer 40 fully serviced (electricity, water and drainage) pitches for caravans and a further 150 pitches which are partially serviced (electricity only);
- Glencoe Mountain since there are only 10 pitches for caravans (all with unlimited water and electric hookup supplies) so you might want to book early;
Not only is the scenery stunning but the resort also offers its own organised adventure activities – from hill walking and mountain biking in the summer and, for the hardier types, snowboarding, skiing and sledging in the depths of winter;
- Red Squirrel Campsite is set in the heart of Glencoe, with its 22 acres stretch along the banks of the River Coe. Records suggest that the area was popular with campers as long ago as 1914, and the present site was opened in 1984, when there were still many red squirrels to be seen there – unfortunately less common now. The site offers 22 acres of space and the owners therefore feel no need for online or emailed bookings or reservations.
Gartmore (near Loch Lomond)
No fewer than 26 activities – from the more adrenaline-filled abseiling, kayaking and off-road driving to relatively more sedate archery or pistol and rifle shooting – are listed by Action Adventure Activities at its centre just to the east of Loch Lomond, 23 miles from the centre of Glasgow and roughly an hour’s drive away from Edinburgh.
New activities are being added all the time, with some of the more recent including stand-up paddle boarding, a junior sphere and mountain board experience, and junior 4 x 4 driving.
Where to stay
- Cashel Campsite situated on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond, the campsite offers a peaceful and tranquil setting that is only a few miles from all the activity at Gartmore. The site offers 168 pitches for tents, motorhomes and caravans with some also offering fully serviced hard standings;
- Keltie Bridge Caravan Park is within the beautiful Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, near the town of Callander and, so, a short drive from the activity centre at Gartmore. The site offers a total of 75 pitches for caravans, all of which are on level ground and some of which are fully serviced;
- Lomond Woods Holiday Park, as the name suggests, caters for those looking to rent a more permanent holiday home, but there are also pitches for a number of touring caravans. The latter are all on hard standing, with some offering electricity hookup, water, drainage and digital TV connection, whilst others offer electricity hookup only.
The name says it all really – no limits to the thrills and spills on offer from this activity centre, located near the southern boundary of the Cairngorms National Park, just three miles south of Pitlochry and about an hour’s drive away, therefore, from either Glasgow or Edinburgh.
On offer is a whole raft of white water based activities to get the adrenaline pumping. There is even a section for younger adventurists – appropriately called Wee Limits.
Where to stay
- In Pitlochry itself you will find the Milton of Fonab Caravan Park, a peaceful family-run site with both static holiday homes for rent and pitches for touring caravans. It is the holder of an AA Campsite of the Year award. This large park has pitches for up to 170 caravans and tents, all with electric hookup;
- Faskally Caravan Park is similarly close to all the activities based at Nae Limits, since it is also in Pitlochry, on the banks of the River Garry. The site advertises “plenty” of pitches for both tents and caravans, all of which have electricity hookup;
- Aberfeldy Caravan Park is less than 10 miles away, situated on the banks of the famous River Tay. As a retreat from the day’s exertions at Nae Limits, you are likely to find the park both restful and quiet, with stunning views over the river. 133 pitches for touring caravans and motorhomes are available, all with electric hookup.
Norther Ireland is no stranger to adventure activities, many of which are headlined in one helpful guide, Outdoor Activities in Northern Ireland.
Todds Leap, Ballygawley
The Ultimate Todds Leap Experience blind Land Rover driving, JCB driving, other off-road driving experiences, zip wires, the dreaded “Drop Zone”, even a rodeo bull to ride – for heaven’s sake, all is there at this activity centre near Ballygawley in County Tyrone.
Although overnight stays can be arranged at the activity centre itself, why not take your caravan to one of the nearby sites to take a proper holiday of it all.
Where to stay
- Clogher Valley Country Caravan Park offers peace and tranquillity in the heart of the Clogher Valley – an ideal spot to recuperate after your exertions at Todds Leap. It holds a 12-month licence, so remains open the whole year round and offers 33 pitches for tents, motorhomes and touring caravans on both hard standing and on grass and each with water and electricity points nearby;
- Just a few miles to the west of Todds Leap at Ballygawley you will find Drumhoney Holiday Park, just outside Enniskillen. The park has space for up to 40 touring caravans – all on hard standing pitches;
- Teepee Valley Campsite is a few miles southeast of Ballygawley, across the county boundary in Armagh, in the Cusher Valley. The site is a “certified location” by the Caravan Club and, so, is small, quiet and peaceful – offering a total of just 5 pitches for touring caravans and each one on hardstanding, with electricity, water, waste water outlet for each pitch.
“Open” canoeing, kayaking and mountain biking are some of the activities you might want to try out in the stunning setting of the Castlewellan Forest Park, just an 11 minute drive north of Newcastle – and the same distance from Dundrum – in County Down.
There are beginner level courses and those to suit more advanced adventurers – of whatever age.
Where to stay
- Murlough Cottage Caravan Park is an ideally situated retreat from the activities at Castlewellan, being on the road between Newcastle and Dundrum and therefore only a mile or two from the canoeing centre. Touring caravan pitches are all on hard standing and there are special awning pitches with gravel alongside. All pitches have electric, water and waste water points;
- Windsor Holiday Park is a short walk from the seaside town of Newcastle. Although the park concentrates on the rental of static holiday homes, there are also pitches for a number of touring caravans, on grass, but each with an electrical hookup;
- Strangford Holiday Park is on the shores of Lough Strangford and a dozen or so miles to the east of Castlewellan, ideal for further exploration of the Ards Peninsula and the iconic Mountains of Mourne. Once again, the park concentrates on static holiday homes, but also offers a number of pitches for touring caravans, all of which are on hardstanding with electricity hook-ups, water and drainage points.
Four Elements Adventure, Gortin, County Tyrone
Just a mile from Omagh in the northwest of Norther Ireland is the Four Elements Adventure centre which offers adventure breaks not just for individual visitors, but also business team-building outings and other groups. Canoeing, coasteering, and gorge walking are all on offer.
Where to stay
- In the hills of Gortin – and therefore only a stone’s throw from Four Elements is Sperrin Mountains Caravan Park. The site offers 24 touring caravan pitches, each on tarmacked hard standing (20 of which have space for the awning too) and each with an electrical hookup;
- To the southeast of the county, but still only 20 miles or so from Omagh is the large, 70-acre Dungannon Park. The site offers 12 pitches for touring caravans, each with its own electrical hookup and water supply point;
- Round Lake Caravan Park is a short walk from Filemiletown, 15 miles from the Four Elements Adventure centre in Gortin. There are 12 fully serviced hardstanding pitches for touring caravans and the site also offers a slipway for boats and coarse fishing.
“How Green Was My Valley” is the title of a nostalgic look back at the life and times of growing up in Wales. The valley almost certainly had a river running through it, but these days any hint of white water is going to attract those with the thrills and spills of adventure activities in mind.
Whether your adrenaline fix is best met by white water or any number of other activities, Wales may be certain to come up with many locations worth considering.
Adventures Wales, near Cardiff
It is only a few miles from the Welsh capital of Cardiff, yet Adventure Wales offer white water rafting on the completely wild and natural rivers Usk, Wye and Rhondda. Travel to the relevant river head by minibus and career down its course in specially constructed white water rafts guided by experienced professionals.
Although the centre offers one of the only year round white water rafting courses in Wales, low river condition might mean a last-minute switch to equally exhilarating gorge walking.
Where to stay
- Cardiff Caravan and Camping Park, if you want to stay in Cardiff, close to all the white water excitement provided by Adventure Wales, it might be difficult to beat this local authority managed caravan site on 70 acres of prime land at Pontcanna Fields in the centre of the city. It offers 43 individual and fully serviced “grasscrete” pitches for touring caravans, space for a further 20 touring caravans on grass pitches, and a further 40 pitches without an electric hookup;
- Llandow Touring Caravan Park is approximately 20 miles west of Cardiff in the Vale of Glamorgan, only three miles or so from the area’s heritage coast. The site won a Certificate of Excellence award from Trip Advisor for the 2015 season and offers a total of 175 pitches for touring caravans in two different fields. Many are grass pitches but those on hardstanding are available at no extra cost
On land or on water, the huge open spaces of the Brecon Beacons give Black Mountain Activities a head start when it comes to finding and organising adventure activities.
It is almost impossible to list all of the activities available here since they encompass everything from rock climbing and caving to white water rafting and open canoeing, from abseiling to high level rope walking, to mountain biking and orienteering – and a lot more besides. The centre is just six miles from Hay-on-Wye and ten from Brecon itself.
Where to stay
- Just one and a half miles from Hay is Black Mountain View for touring caravans. The park makes a special welcome for tourers and offers all level pitches, on grass, with electrical hookup and digital TV connection;
- Also just a short walk from Hay – and so only a stone’s throw from Back Mountain Activities – is Ashbrook Caravan and Camping Park. Pitches for touring caravans are all on hardstanding and 16 amp electric hook-ups are available on request;
Anglesey Adventures, Anglesey
If you venture to this island at the very northwest tip of Wales, you might indulge all of your adventure activity dreams, whether they be rock climbing, coasteering, gorge scrambling and mountaineering, abseiling or kayaking – probably more than enough for even the most hardened of adrenaline junkies.
If you want to get away from it all, then Anglesey may be the answer to many a prayer – and, if it makes any difference at all, you get to tread the ground that was the first home for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Anglesey Adventures is based in the island’s main town of Holyhead.
Where to stay
- Pen-y-Llyn Caravan Site to the west of Holyhead, and a 10 minute drive away at Llanfair-yn-Neubwll, this small, low-density touring caravan site is for adults only and offers just five fully serviced pitches;
- Home Farm Holiday Park or Parc Gwyliau to give it its proper Welsh name, is situated on the coast directly east of Holyhead and offers 3 individually named fields for touring caravans (Maes Isaf, Maes Canol and Maes Maes Uchaf) on a mix of hardstanding and grass pitches, many of which are fully serviced;
- Plas Uchaf Caravan and Camping Park, also on the east coast of Anglesey in the small town of Benllech, this site is listed by the Caravan Club and has RAC approval. On a mixture of both hardstanding and grass pitches it offers ample space for a good number of touring caravans.
England is not all about lazy days around the village cricket green, messing about in boats or just dozing in your deckchair. You probably don’t need to look very far to discover a far more active world of adventure activities certain to get the adrenaline pumping – whatever your age.
Peterlee Parachute Centre and Drop Zone – why keep your feet on the ground when you can enjoy the exhilaration of falling from an aircraft, with a parachute strapped to your back of course! The centre offers both solo and tandem parachute jumps – the latter with a trained and experienced tutor. The minimum age for making a jump is 16 and anyone over the age of 40 also needs a doctor’s certificate, whether jumping solo or in tandem. Those over the age of 50 must make their first jump in tandem.
The centre is located at Shotton airfield, which is 2 miles west of Peterlee and just 10 miles east of the City of Durham.
Where to stay
- Just a few miles to the south of Durham, in the village of Old Cassop, is Strawberry Hill Farm Caravan and Camping Site. Touring caravans have a choice between either grass or hardstanding pitches and all have electric hook-ups (16 amp);
- Finchale Abbey Touring Park is situated just four miles or so from the City of Durham and has been owned and managed by the same family since 1951. It is set in the tranquil countryside on a bend in the River Wear and overlooks the ruins of a Benedictine abbey. There are pitches for up to 40 touring caravans, most of which are on grass, although there are some on hardstanding. Some are also fully serviced with electrical hookup, mains water and waste water drainage;
- Durham Grange Caravan Club Site perched above the meandering River Wear, the site has attractive views and is still only three miles from the centre of the City. This Caravan Club site offers a total of 76 pitches for touring caravans, 51 of which are on hardstanding and 8 of which are fully serviced.
Crags Adventures, Windermere, Lake District
The Lake District, of course, has more than its fair share of adventure activities and from your base at Crags Adventures, in the centre of Windermere, it is possible to join like-minded individuals for climbing tours, canyoning, rappelling, abseiling and many other outdoor activities in these craggy wilds of the country. You can even add to your list of activities one that your friends might not yet have heard of – ghyll scrambling.
Where to stay
- Amongst the countless number of touring caravan sites in the Lake District, Park Cliffe is on the shores of Lake Windermere just a few miles south of the town itself and the base point for Grags Adventures. It is a large park, spread over 25 acres with one area set aside for the 70 pitches for touring caravans, on either grass or hardstanding, but all with electricity hook-ups and mains water supplies;
- Hill of Oaks is an award-winning park with its own mile-long frontage onto Lake Windermere. Pitches available for touring caravans include standard pitches and premium, lakeside pitches. All have electric hookup, with parking space for your car alongside and for your caravan’s awning;
- Braithwaite Fold this Camping and Caravanning Club site is on the eastern shores of Lake Windermere and just a stone’s throw from the town itself. The site describes itself as “compact” but can nevertheless accommodate up to 66 touring caravans, each on a level hardstanding pitch with electric hookup.
The heart of England is also a place where you can find plenty of adventure activities to satisfy even the thirstiest of adrenaline junkies.
Ultimate Activity Company, Hereford
Although based in Hereford, the Ultimate Activity Company arranges a huge range of adventure activities throughout the Midlands. Fancied your chances as a member of a SWAT team, storming buildings in order to arrest criminals or terrorists, maybe you would like to learn how to drive a tank, test yourself with some rock climbing or explore white waters in your canoe for the day – the Ultimate Activity Company arranges all these and more.
Where to stay
- Just five miles from the city of Hereford is Lucksall Caravan and Camping Park, situated in the beautiful Wye Valley. The park extends for 28 acres of mixed woodland and offers a total of 139 flat and closely mown grass pitches, including some on hardstanding, all with a 16 amp electrical hookup;
- Poston Mill Country Holiday Park is only a little further along the Wye in the appropriately named Golden Valley. There is a wide variety of pitches for touring caravans, with tariffs depending on hardstanding or grass and the level of services provided;
- The delightfully named Cuckoo’s Corner Campsite is only a few miles from Hereford and was awarded the AA’s three pennants for the 2015 season. It offers 16 pitches for touring caravans, all on hardstanding and with electric hookup and mains water nearby.
Ackers Adventure, Birmingham
It might be in the heart of the Midlands, but Ackers Adventure Pingu Ski School is open the year round and offers, skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing on its artificial slopes. The ski centre offers facilities for winter sports enthusiasts of all ages, but makes a special effort to encourage younger, fledgling skiers.
Where to stay
- In the Wythall district of Birmingham, the Chapel Lane Caravan Club Site has the twin benefits of being close to the city yet also enjoying a rural setting. Its 117 pitches for touring caravans include 85 that are on hardstanding;
- Just a stone’s throw from the city itself, in the suburb of Sutton Coldfield you will find Marston Caravan Park. Since it is in the very heart of England, the site is easily accessible from any direction and offers both hardstanding and grass pitches for touring caravans, with the option of those with an electric hookup;
- An adult’s only caravan site, in the Forest of Arden between Coventry and Birmingham, may be found at Somers Wood Caravan Park. The site offers a total of 48 pitches for touring caravans, all with 10 amp electric hookup, with some on hardstanding and the remainder on grass.
With just a shade under 300 miles of coastline, it probably comes as no surprise that the southwest’s Duchy of Cornwall packs in a host of sea and water-related adventure activities. Here are just two of them.
Cornish Coasteering, St Minver, Cornwall
Coasteering combines wild sea swimming with scrambling over the rugged rocks and taking a plunge into the waters below when your route on land becomes impassable. Cornish Coasteering is based near Polzeath on the road to Wadebridge on the north Cornish coast.
Where to stay
- The obvious choice to stay when you are visiting Cornish Coasteering is the latter’s base at Dinham Farm Camping and Caravans. Near the beach at Polzeath, the site offers easy access to the two principal stretches of coastline used by Cornish Coasteering and gives visiting touring caravans the option of an electric hookup;
- Tristram Campsite is right by the beach at Polzeath and offers you immediate sea views from the door of your caravan the minute you wake up in the mornings. It is a large site, with more than 100 pitches for tents, motorhomes and touring caravans. Pitches are graded according to the facilities provided and come as “standard”, “premium” or “prime”;
- Also close (200 yards or so) to the beach at Polzeath is one of the oldest campsites in Cornwall – Valley Caravan Park, which first opened in 1945. Today, it offers a variety of pitches with varying levels of service for touring caravans, tents and motorhomes.
JB Adventures, St Ives, Cornwall
The JB stands for Just Brilliant and – being based in St Ives – of course features a string of water borne adventure activities, all of which are supported by fully trained and certified water sports instructors. Activities include kite surfing, kite buggying and stand up paddle boarding.
Where to stay
- Polmanter Touring Park is within walking distance of St Ives and caters for touring caravans, tents and motorhomes. There are non-serviced grass pitches, hardstanding serviced pitches, multi-serviced grass pitches and multi-serviced hardstanding pitches;
- Trevalgan Touring Park is only two miles away from St Ives, nestling between the green fields of open farmland. More than 130 pitches are offered, with some having basic services, some multi-serviced and others with no services supplied;
- Higher Penderleath Caravan & Camping Park overlooks just a few miles of open countryside to the town of St Ives and operates a campsite bus there on a regular basis. Of the four fields for touring caravans, one is set aside for adults only. Pitches for caravans, tents and motorhomes are all on grass and electric hook-ups may be available.
One of the attractions of southern England, of course, is that it is likely to offer longer hours of summer daylight – not to mention the sun – to help you stay warm during whatever adventure activities you choose to pursue.
Go Ape Wendover Woods, near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire
Choose a scrambling net or climbing wall to reach the treetops of this airy adventure land and take in the views over the unspoilt landscape of Aylesbury Vale before negotiating the high ropes crossings, tree-top high wires and down to the ground zip wires.
Where to stay
- Highclere Caravan and Camping Park is approximately 25 miles from Aylesbury, near the towns of Chalfont St Giles and Beaconsfield. Described as a 4-star site, Highclere offers a variety of grass and hardstanding pitches for touring caravans in addition to motorhomes and tents;
- In the Chiltern Hills about 15 miles from Aylesbury you can find Home Farm Camping and Caravan Site. It offers up to 12 pitches for touring caravans, 5 of which are on hardstanding and electric hook-ups are also available;
- 26 miles south of Aylesbury, on the River Thames at Maidenhead, there is Amerden Caravan and Camping Park. If your adventures at Go Ape Wendover Woods have given you a hearty appetite, you might be reassured that this caravan site is within walking distance of the village of Bray and its famous restaurants. Touring caravan pitches are on grass and come with or without electric hookup. The glowing reviews from past visitors to this caravan site are worth a glance or two.