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THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES TO PITCH A TENT NEAR LONDON

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SAM WHITTLE

JUN 20, 2019

Whether you’ve missed out on all the Airbnbs or are keen to remind yourself how to rough it in the outdoors, we’ve put together some close-to-home spots to camp up and crack into a cold bevvy under the stars. Don't worry, there are some options for those of you who can’t bear the thought of parting with a double bed and a hot shower.

You’ll find Eco Camp at Wild Boar Wood tucked away in the heart of Sussex (between London and Brighton), just two hours from London. Smack bang in the middle of a five-acre woodland are fully-equipped bell tents (you’ll even have your own fire pit and eco stove) ready and waiting for runaway Londoners. The sound of wildlife, a cracking fire, and the occasional passing train on the historic Bluebell Railway are the only noises you’ll hear. City slickers be warned: Firewood is taken care of, but don’t expect hair dryers or phone chargers!

Whether you’re down to pitch a tent or more keen on a comfy bed, Beech Estate Woodland Campsite has you covered with "wild glamping" and "real camping" options available from April to October. The campsite spans 20 acres and is nestled on the edge of a 600-acre woodland, which means theres lots of space to explore — you could even take the mountain bikes for a spin. And after your trek, you can rinse off in the on-site bucket showers (hey, it's better than nothing), put on your soft pants, and take in the fresh air and picturesque surroundings.

Taking it back to basics, The Secret Campsite Lewes is tent-only affair. It’s a space for campers who want to experience what Sussex, Brighton, and Lewes have on offer. At the family-friendly campsite (which is free of cars and dogs — sorry, furry friends), you can spot deer, hunt for glow worms, or simply relax by the campfire. They’ve also got a few “unusual” shelters, like a tree tent, for you to spend a night in — if you don’t mind heights that is. Check out more here. Note: this place takes the idea of "roughin' it" lightly, as hot showers, bathrooms, and fire pits are there for your use.

At this tiny Suffolk retreat just two hours from London, you can choose to stay in a yurt, bell tent, gypsy caravan, woodland hideout, or even experience full-blown country living in a converted barn. But if you prefer to just bring the ol’ tent to pitch, that's fine, too. Looking for something to occupy your time? The campsite has bikes for campers to borrow, so feel free to take one for a ride. When you need a break from nature, The Sweffling White Horse pub is on-site and serves award-winning local ales, just make sure you visit after your bike excursion.

An hour’s train ride will land you in Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Beauty, which has some of the best walking in the countryside, and is—you guessed it—beautiful. The Surrey Hills Yurts campsite has six Mongolian-style yurts, each decked out with locally-made wooden furnishings and all the bells and whistles for your glamping experience. The campsite is a cycle or long walk from Leith Hill and the famous Gothic tower, so make sure you check it out during your stay!

You may have already heard about the Lee Valley, as it’s known for being the adrenaline junkie’s escape. Just 30 minutes from London, it has all the good stuff — water sports, walking, and cycling. If all that tires you out, you can set up camp in a tent, caravan, or cabin. It’s the perfect getaway without really leaving London. Don’t stress — you can Netflix and chill or email, as they have Wi-Fi on-site.

Rally your fellow campers (those you can spend three hours in a car with) and head to The Fire Pit Camp in Norfolk. The campsite is pitched to be more of a hangout for groups rather than a wilderness experience, but it’s the perfect idea for a getaway with mates or a special occasion. There are multiple tents plus "The Wren's Nest” that sleeps six, a warehouse serving cocktails and coffee, and yoga classes on offer. From May to September, weekends are whole site hire-only, but smaller groups can pitch-up during the week. And yes, there’s a fire pit!

Little Ropers is a small, no-frills camping site a little over two hours from London in the Stour Valley. You won’t find any on-site breweries or fancy tents here, sorry team! But there are 100 acres of woodland to explore. Prepare yourself for all the nature vibes as you disconnect for a weekend. Oh, and if you forgot any essentials, there is a "Shop in a Box" where you can score some basics like matches, popping corn, and bread.

Any campsite that welcomes you with two bottles of cider is good in our book. Chalke Valley Camping is only two hours from London, set on a working farm in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It’s somewhere between camping and glamping — aka the toilets flush, each tent is equipped with a double bed, and some cooking supplies, but it’s still off-grid. The tents themselves are fairly large, too (they can sleep up to four), so bring a group, trade stories by the camp fire, and enjoy a weekend under the stars with your closest pals.

If you love taking care of Mother Nature as much as you love camping, you’ll feel right at home at Badgells Wood Camping, which is only an hour from London. In a large expanse of Kent woodland, there’s recycling facilities, composting loos, and even biodegradable shower gel on sale, it's all very eco-friendly. The more secluded Bluebell Camping area is hidden deep in the woods, so if you’re in need of some R&R, head down there to get some A-grade peace and quiet.

Think of a trip to Barefoot Campsites in Oxfordshire as an excuse to fully unplug, experience a true reprieve from the daily grind, and appreciate the wide-open grassy lands of the countryside. What you can expect at this campsite: bell tents (though, you can also bring your own), composting toilets, two gas-fired camping showers, and tons of opportunities for outdoor activities, like swimming or kayaking on the River Thames. What you won't find: Wi-Fi (or really much of a mobile signal at all), artificial lights, or electrical hookups. Fitt Tip: only wood purchase on the campsite can be burned, so make sure you bring some cash along.

Just under two hours from the heart of the city, The Orchard Campsite has been open to the public for over 25 years, and thanks to its 11 acres of tranquil, rural setting, multiple camping areas, and the option to have a pre-pitched tent waiting for you at your campsite, it's popular for a reason. The meadow is their largest camping area, with plenty of room to kick back and spread out, but you can also set up among the trees at The Woodland site, or by the area's pond or river (ideal if you enjoy fishing). And with up to 20 electrical hookups available, an on-site store, and even coin laundry, you'll get a backwoods camping experience without having to totally abandon the comforts of home.

A glamping experience is not what you'll get at Holden Farm in Hampshire. What that actually means is you'll have to pitch your own tent (think of the sense of accomplishment you'll get when you push in the last stake) and you'll need to bring your own cooking and grilling equipment (fire pits are provided). But camping is an adventure, and this spot also has its fair share of perks. The grounds are on a working farm, and although campers are required to steer clear of the animals and areas where crops are growing, you'll be surrounded by grassy fields that you can explore, plus ample space to relax and enjoy the great outdoors.