Updated 20th February 2017
According to the Ordnance Survey, the coastline of mainland Britain extends for more than 11,000 miles – a very considerable distance to say the least.
Just as you would expect of such a coastline, there is a huge number of places where visitors flock in the summer and go to blow the cobwebs away on a blustery winter’s day. At any time of year, a trip to any one of thousands of spots on the coast is likely to be worth a visit.
If you have hitched up your caravan behind you, any visit can be made still more enjoyable and give you the chance to make the very most of your journey there – in your home away from home.
Because Great Britain is a small island with a very long coastline, a spot by the beach is never far away and there is a huge range of caravan parks on which to pitch your caravan once you get there.
So great and varied is your choice that this brief guide could never claim to be exhaustive – on an entirely subjective basis, therefore, it is designed simply to whet your appetite!
This large peninsula in the south-west of Britain is surrounded on three sides by the sea and claims a coastline in its own right of some 300 miles, according to the local tourist board Visit Cornwall.
Situated at the most southerly point of mainland UK, the climate is probably the mildest the country has to offer and its glorious beaches are perhaps the main attraction of a stay in Cornwall, says the national tourist agency Visit Britain.
With the massive lure of its golden sands and the sheer length of its coastline, it is little wonder that caravan sites on this sunny peninsula abound. Here are just a few of them:
- at Sennen Cove Camping and Caravanning Club Site you could not be any closer to the edge of Great Britain and the appropriately named Lands End. Sennen Cove offers an atmosphere of sheltered tranquillity from which you can enjoy the beaches of Cornwall’s northern and southern coasts. There are 72 grass pitches on the site;
- if it is surfing from some of Europe’s best beaches for the sport, Newquay is likely to be your choice of venue and Treloy Touring Park is just minutes from the town and its beaches. The park has its own outdoor swimming pool and pitches, on grass, that provide either electric hook-ups or are fully serviced;
- The charming old fishing port of Padstow and its neighbouring beaches attracts visitors throughout the year and if you have your touring caravan in tow you might want to pitch up at Padstow Touring Park, just a mile’s walk from the heart of the town. Standard, standard plus and deluxe pitches are available, the latter on hard standing;
- rated by the Camping and Caravanning Club as one of Cornwall’s top sites for beaches, the touring park at Bude lets you explore this part of the North Cornish coast, its sandy beaches and the ancient ruins of King Arthur’s castle at rugged Tintagel. The site has around 100 pitches, many of them on hard standing;
- Trevornick Camping and Caravan Site is but a short walk across the fields to an ideal, sandy, family-friendly beach extending for a mile or so at Holywell Bay and owned by the National Trust. There are extensive facilities for touring caravans, spread across seven fields and offering six different types of pitch.
You might want to save yourself the longer drive to the busier Duchy of Cornwall by instead stopping off to enjoy the equally fabulous beaches of its twin sister Devon. It has both a northern and a southern coastline which together extend for a total of 450 miles, with one-third of that distance managed by the National Trust.
North Devon is where Exmoor comes down to the sea, providing dramatic and rugged cliff walks interspersed by sandy coves and beaches. The gentler southern coastline has rolling countryside as the backdrop to its sandy beaches, many of which are ideal for family outings.
Sites for touring caravans are many and varied, with just a selection highlighted here:
- Watermouth Cove Holiday Park is on Devon’s north coast, near the town of Ilfracombe. The park is set right beside a sheltered cove in an otherwise rugged and dramatic coastline, offering immediate access to its tranquil beach. This relatively large park has all weather, grass and hard standing pitches with electric hook-up;
- views of the sea from practically every one of its 50 individually marked pitches can be enjoyed at Little Meadow Campsite, situated between Ilfracombe and Combe Martin on Devon’s north coast. Pitches for touring caravans are described as generously sized and some (but not all) have electric hook-up;
- Soar Mill Cove, South Sands and the access to the long coastal path are all within just a mile of Higher Rew Caravan and Camping Park in the verdant South Hams on Devon’s south coast;
- Salcombe Regis Touring Caravan Site is well situated for easy access to Devon’s Jurassic coast which extends all the way into neighbouring Dorset. Close to both Salcombe and Sidmouth, the site offers pitches that are almost all on hard standing, each with its own electrical hook-up and water tap.
For 95 miles from its boundary with Devon, Dorset is home to the famous Jurassic Coast – so named because of its geological treasure trove or fossilised remains stretching back 185 million years. Not for nothing has this natural wonder been accorded World Heritage status.
Thanks to its location in the middle of southern England, Dorset’s coastline is not just for geology buffs, but has mile after mile of coastal paths, enticingly secret coves and both pebbly and sandy beaches.
Unsurprisingly, the Dorset coastline offers a number of sites to visit with your touring caravan, including:
- at Burton Bradstock, near Bridport in the east of the county is Freshwater Beach Holiday Park, with its 400 pitches for touring caravans, each with its own electric hook-up. Situated on what is fondly known as Dorset’s Golden Coast, the park is open from mid-March until mid-November;
- just 3 miles from a gloriously sandy beach at Charmouth you will find Monkton Wyld Farm Touring Caravan Park, set in the Dorset countryside and rarely seeming to be overcrowded. There are 150 generously sized pitches for touring caravans, 100 of which are on hard standing and all with electric hook-up;
- Lyme Regis is the setting for the novel The French Lieutenant’s Woman and the coastal town is little changed from the one painted in the book. Just a mile’s walk upstream along the banks of the River Lym can be found Hook Farm Camping and Caravanning Park, with its 100 pitches for touring caravans, motorhomes and tents.
The county of Sussex on the south-eastern coast of England has such a long coastline that it is divided into West and East Sussex, each with its fair share of beaches, coastal walks and historic sites, all within a stone’s throw away from a nearby campsite for your touring caravan.
From the towering heights of mighty Beachy Head to the charms of the Brighton made famous by a former Prince of Wale’s Pavilion, the county’s tourist board, Visit Sussex, can guide you towards just some of the many attractions on offer.
For those caravanners with a hankering to be close by the sea anywhere along the county’s coastline, some of the following sites may appeal:
- JM Caravans at Loveders Farm is near the East Sussex city of Chichester, a 5 minute walk from the local beach and close to the resort of Hayling Island and the unspoilt beaches of the Witterings. The site has been operating for many years and the majority of its pitches for touring caravans are on level areas of grass;
- The Lillies Caravan Park is within the seaside town of Bognor Regis, East Sussex, so just a minute or two from the beach, yet also offering easy access to local shops and to the city of Chichester. This relatively small, secluded site has 33 pitches for touring caravans on a 3-acre site;
- the seaside, the bright lights and the enduring charm of a Victorian resort, Brighton has it all, so where better to park up your touring caravan than the Brighton Caravan Club Site. It is just 2 miles from the town itself, in a tranquil fold of the South Downs and offers a total of 213 pitches for caravans, 126 on hard standing and 11 of which are fully serviced;
- you would be hard pressed to find a more historically iconic location close to the coast than the scene of the Battle of Hastings. Although the sea has receded some few miles further away than in 1066, Hastings Touring Park remains the ideal base from which to explore the battlefield, the old port of Hastings and the surrounding coastline. The park has a selection of different pitches, from grass to hard standing, with or without electric hook-ups.
In the south-eastern corner of the British Isles lies the Garden of England, our closest point to continental Europe, yet still the first line of defence of the nation’s independence.
As the local tourist board, Visit Kent, points out the county was once a separate kingdom in its own right, and the place still seems to carry echoes of that distinctive history.
Naturally, the county has a wrap around coastline that borders both the English Channel and the edge of the North Sea above the Thames estuary. If you want to get away in your caravan to a place by the sea in Kent, therefore, there are a number of places you might want to visit:
- one of the most historic sites in Kent, of course, is the city of Canterbury – which is not known for any coastal setting. But it is under 8 miles from the seaside resort of Herne Bay. Southview Camping for instance is just a mile or so from the coast at Herne Bay and Whitstable, yet still within easy striking distance of the city. It is a small family-run site, with restrictions on the length of touring caravans which may visit;
- Woolmans Wood Tourist Caravan and Camping Park is situated on the road to Rochester in Chatham, so handy for the ports and docks nearby. It boasts 60 pitches for touring caravans and motorhomes, 7 of which are on hard standing. The site is open the whole year round;
- there may be times when you want to pitch your caravan for just a night or two near a coastal port just for its ease of access to a Channel crossing. If that is your aim, Hawthorn Farm in the village of Martin Mill is just a mile or two from the bustling port of Dover and the seafront at St Margaret’s Bay. The site’s grass and hard standing pitches are spread across 28-acres;
- if you are heading for the east Kent coastal resorts of Margate and Ramsgate, Quex Park in Birchington is handily placed for both. This is a large park for touring caravans and motorhomes only, no tents are allowed.
Cross over the border into Wales and you are in a different country, scenically, historically and culturally – even the language may be different.
Through its industrial heartland of the Welsh valleys to the green and pleasant Pembroke peninsula, the principality is a land of contrasts – and these become nowhere more apparent than along its coastline.
Barry Island, for example, is close to the capital, Cardiff, and the faded industrial glory of Swansea Bay, yet has a stunning, golden sandy beach. As one of the first places English visitors to South Wales may encounter, it is a taste of still further blue star beaches to come:
- just a couple of miles inland from Barry is Happy Jakes Touring Holiday Park, where all 30 of its caravan pitches are south facing. The Jake in the park’s name is a reference to the owners’ son and a way of letting disabled caravanners know the importance they place on providing access for those with a disability;
- travel further westwards along the coast and just past Swansea, you will find the gateway at Mumbles to the stunning Gower peninsula, designated Britain’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1956. To share a taste of life on the Gower and sample within a short walking distance the sandy beaches of Oxwich and Three Cliffs Bay you might choose to stay at the Nicholaston Farm Camping and Caravan Site. The majority of pitches for touring caravans are on hard standing.
- visit the Caravan Club’s St David’s Lleithyr Meadow site for touring caravans and you have mile upon mile of coastal path in both directions at this most south-westerly part of Wales. The site offers a total of 115 assorted pitches for touring caravans.
North Wales is dominated by Snowdonia National Park and the majestic Mount Snowdon itself, the highest mountain in England and Wales. More down to earth, there are plenty of other things to do and to enjoy than scaling the dizzy heights – as the Welsh tourist Board, Visit Wales, is keen to point out.
There is the distinct charm of the island of Anglesey, where you are never so far from the coast, and beaches along both the north Welsh coast and to the south of Snowdonia:
Seaside towns in North Wales are readily accessible from some of England’s biggest, busiest and once industrial towns – the seaside resorts therefore have a nostalgic character all of their own. Towns such as:
- Llandudno – with its iconic rock, the Orme, which can be seen from nearby touring caravan park, Tyydyn Du. The mainly grass pitches all have 16 amp electrical hook-up;
- Abersoch – where you might choose to pitch up at Hen Siop y Mynydd campsite, overlooking the dramatic if somewhat alarmingly named Hell’s Mouth (Porth Neigwl);
- Barmouth – Hendremynach or the Barmouth Touring Caravan and Camping Park is practically on the beach at Barmouth and offers both grass and hard standing pitches, all with 10 amp electric hook-up.
East Anglia (Norfolk, Suffolk and North Essex)
Even the local tourist boards seem to recognise the temptation of many potential visitors to overlook the charms of East Anglia – which has probably the longest coastline of any region of England.
North Norfolk has some wonderfully sandy beaches, Suffolk has pebbles, and Northern Essex still retains some surprisingly quaint and old English coastal villages.
East Anglia occupies a large region of England and so offers plenty of contrast and variety as some of these caravan sites along its shores might illustrate:
- Walnut Farm Caravan Park is a short distance from several sandy beaches in Norfolk and only half an hour’s drive from the seaside resort of Great Yarmouth. The park has 20 large pitches, each served by a 16 amp electric hook-up;
- Cakes and Ale Holiday Park – this delightfully named caravan site lies in the centre of Suffolk’s Heritage Coast. Pitches for touring caravans are deliberately left with plenty of space between them, so you can enjoy the best of the tranquillity, peace and quiet;
- Grange Farm Campsite makes a point of being mainly for adults and only a few pitches are reserved for families with children. A small, quiet site, it is close to the popular beaches of Clacton, Frinton-on-sea and Walton on the Naze.
Although included under the same heading in this brief guide, many would argue that northeast and northwest England are as different as chalk and cheese – certainly the respective tourist boards for east and west would insist on it.
On the east coast there is the bird and seal watchers’ paradise of the Farne Islands, set just off the Northumberland coast and the sandy beaches that continue down through County Durham, as far as the drama to be had where the North York Moors also reach the sea.
On the west coast in Lancashire, there is the huge sweep of Morecombe Bay, the bright lights and kiss-me-quick hats of Blackpool, and the point where the mountains of the Lake District come down to the sea.
A region to be enjoyed in two halves, therefore, here are a few suggestions about where to pitch your caravan:
- Seafield Caravan Park is the ideal base from which to explore the Northumberland coast, Farne Islands and the imposing castle at Bamburgh Head. Pitches for touring caravans on the site are a particularly high standard, with each one on hard standing and electric, water, drainage and sewerage points illuminated by an individual light;
- Middlewood Farm Holiday Park is set on the rugged North Yorkshire coast, near the scenically charming Robin Hoods Bay, nestled in its on sheltered cove. The site has a 5-star award and all of its pitches for touring caravans are on hard standing, with electric hook-ups;
- if you want the bustle of Blackpool yet an escape at the end of the day to a semi-rural setting, the site for you might be Beechwoord Stables Caravan Site over on the North of England’s west coast. A relatively small site, all pitches for touring caravans are on hard standing;
- Seacote Caravan Park is right on the beach at St Bees in a unique corner of England where the edge of the Lake District meets the sea. Pitches for touring caravans are all on hard standing and some have a grassed area to the side to accommodate awnings. All have 10 amp electric hook-ups and mains water.
You probably don’t need the reminder from Visit Scotland that the country is world famous for its stunning scenery, its culture, its diversity – and, of course, its whiskey!
What may be less commonly quoted, though, is the fact that a country the size of Scotland and its many outlying islands, has an enormously long coastline – perfect for those who want to take their caravan north of the border and still pitch up on a coastal campsite.
From north to south, east to west, Scotland offers tremendous variety and diversity, making a short selection of coastal caravan sites especially difficult. The following, therefore, are very much just for starters:
- on the stunning west coast, as you approach the crossing to the Isle of Skye is the Reraig Caravan Site on the shores of Lochlash. It is a small family run site specifically designed for touring caravans, with each pitch offering an electric hook-up on hard standing;
- if you would prefer the gentler surroundings of the Ayr peninsula, you might want to consider the Heads of Ayr Caravan Park, on the beach, just five miles south of the town of Ayr itself. A relatively small number of pitches for touring caravans is offered, but each has its own electric hook-up;
- in northeast Scotland, Banff Links Caravan Park is right alongside the sea front and lays claim to being situated in one of the driest regions of the country. For touring caravans the site offers 38 pitches, all with electric hook-up;
- you’re almost certain to have heard of the Mull of Kintyre – now you can take your second home there. Muasdale Holiday Park overlooks the wide sweep of this Argyle peninsula and is ideal for island hopping. But there are pitches for only 8 touring caravans – each with electric hook-up – so advance booking is essential.
The stunning coastline of Northern Ireland is probably rarely visited by English caravanners – because of the relatively high cost of the ferry across the Irish sea.
But the voyage might prove well worth the time and expense in order to enjoy the dramatic scenery and unspoilt beached which you might find along a coastline which – according to Discover Northern Ireland – is some 124 miles or 200 km long.
From the world famous Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim, the golden sands of many beaches in Londonderry or the Mourne Coastal Route in County Down, there are certain to be pleasant surprises around every corner.
Here are some of the touring caravan sites at which you might want to stay:
- Ballyness Caravan Park in Bushmills, in the north of County Antrim, is just minutes from the iconic Giant’s Causeway and the sandy beach of Whitepark Bay. The park offers 50 fully serviced pitches for touring caravans, all of which are on hard standing;
- Ballyleese Town and Country Caravan Park is close to Portstewart on the north coast of Londonderry, near to The Strand beach and golf links. It is described as a family-friendly caravan site;
- Between Strangford Lough, rolling countryside and the coastal paths of County Down is Strangford Holiday Park, which offers up to 10 pitches for touring caravans.
The British Isles are naturally surrounded by the sea and therefore have an extremely long coastline. If it is the coast that draws you towards destinations for your touring caravan holiday, therefore, you are unlikely ever to be at a loss for somewhere to go – be it in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.
This brief guide has only scratched the surface with suggestion about just a few of the coastlines you might explore and the touring sites you might choose as your base.