8 Enchanted UK forests for your next Camper Adventure
To celebrate the International Day of Forests (21. March 2022), we wanted to share 8 magical forests for you to explore during your next camper adventure through the UK.
1. The ancient Epping Forest, near London
Only a few miles out of London, Epping forest is a great first stop after picking your camper from our London station. The 2400 Hectare ancient woodland was once a royal hunting ground that was on the cusp of becoming suburbia in the late 19th century. After an uproar from the citizens of London, the park became a nature reserve and has been a popular day-trip destination for Londoners ever since.
What to do? Apart from exploring the stunning lakes and thick old-growth forests, Epping forest is also home to a range of historical and cultural monuments. Here you can visit the two Iron Age forts, the Greensted Church, believed to be the oldest wooden church in existence, or Hill Hall, a stunning 16th-century Elizabethan mansion.
Where to stay? Lee Valley Almost Wild Camping. As the name suggests, this is a real back to basics campground where you can make the most of your roadsurfer campervan.
2. World Heritage Grizedale forest in the Lake District
Located at the heart of the Lake District in Cumbria, Grizedale Forest is a magical location that was granted World Heritage status in 2017. The park’s combination of thick, oxygen-producing forest, steep hillsides and deep, dark lakes which has stunned travellers for centuries. The Grizedale Forest and the surrounding Lake District have been an inspiration for artists, writers, and musicians through the ages, especially during the Romantic Period spanning from the late 18th to the mid-19th century.
What to do? You can mountain bike, hike, climb or dive, as well as visit Grizedale Sculpture and take a tour of the sculpture trail, or visit the Grizedale Art Gallery. At both locations, you will be educated on just how important the Lake District was to local and international art movements.
Where to stay? Grizedale Camping. Perfectly located at the heart of the park, Grizdale Camping is a small & quiet campground nestled between the greenery of the forest and a gently flowing stream. No Motorhomes are allowed, but roadsurfer-sized campers are no problem.
3. Step back in time at Rivington Wood
Located in an area of the UK normally associated with industry and urbanisation, Rivington Wood, lovingly referred to as the “Little Lake District”, slightly north of Manchester and west of Blackpool, is a magical retreat in a sea of industry. With archaeological findings dating back almost 4000 years, Rivington Wood has seen the rise and fall of many empires and still offers a sanctuary of peace and tranquillity.
What to do? Rivington Wood is a perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of Manchester, Liverpool & Blackpool. The Rivington Terraced Gardens are a spectacular 45-acre plot filled with a scattering of ruins, including the Pigeon Tower or the Seven Arch Bridge. The majority of these ruins were abandoned following World War 2 and have been left to slowly return to nature.
Where to stay? Rivington Brewing Co. Yes, you read that correctly, Rivington Brewing Company offers parking for campers next to their brewhouse. Enjoy locally produced craft beer, then enjoy the solitude of Rivington Wood and wake up fresh surrounded by the stunning nature.
4. An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Forest of Dean
The Forest of Dean and the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (that is its actual name) on the Welsh – English border, is stunningly beautiful, as the name suggests. With the River Severn on one side and rolling hills of ancient forest on the other side, the Forest of Dean is not only visually stunning but also historically significant. The Romans settled here, and English Royalty used the area as a private hunting ground.
What to do? Apart from the spectacular hiking the forest offers, the Forest of Dean also has a complex cave system which are remnants from ancient iron mines. Clearwell Caves give you a glimpse into not only a magical underground world, but also a glimpse into the ancient past.
Where to stay? Cherry Orchard Farm. Located at the edge of the forest, Cherry Orchard Farm is a quaint and quiet campsite that offers a relaxed atmosphere and direct access to all the highlights of the Forest of Dean.
5. Hackfall, a beautiful Site of Special Scientific Interest
Once home to Romans, then Vikings, Hackfall is now an important scientific location because it’s the best example of an ancient, semi-natural broadleaved woodland in the UK. Located smack bang in the middle of the UK, Hackfall has stunning landscapes that were massaged into existence by landscape designer William Aislabie in the early 1700s. Hackfall is also home to some impressive structures including the Mowbray Point Ruin, Mowbray Castle and Fisher’s Hall, as well as an impressive fountain and a 40-foot waterfall.
What to do? Hike. The hiking trails are designed for every type of person with every fitness level. The Hackfall Explorer takes around 3 hours and will take you to all the major highlights Hackfall offers.
Where to stay? Sleningford Watermill. With fields of wildflowers, river views and thick UK forests all within minutes from the campground, Sleningford Watermill and the Hackfall Wood are the perfect location to stop in on your way through the UK.
6. Southern UK’s Fingle Woods
Devons Fingle Woods, in the Teign Valley along the northern edge of Dartmoor Forest, is a diverse woodland that is ideal for mountain biking & hiking. Fingle Woods is a small portion of the giant Dartmoor Forest, which is a whopping 954 square kilometres. Fingle woods is another ancient forest where native flora and fauna are making a triumphant comeback. Thrill-seekers will also find a range of activities to keep them happy, from mountain biking to high ropes courses.
What to do? Fingle Woods is an outdoor enthusiasts’ dream. You can mountain bike, hike, canoe, or laze at local cafés and enjoy the view. There are plenty of trails and tracks to explore on your own around Castle Drogo, but if you want to take a tour, Devon Safaris offer scenic tours of the Fingle, Dartmoor region.
Where to stay? Barley Meadow. At the edge of Fingle Wood and right down the road from Fingle Bridge, Barley Meadow is a relaxed campsite with perfect access to all of Devon.
7. Explore UK’s New Forest
Along the coast between Bournemouth and Portsmouth, around two hours from London, sits England’s New Forest, another wonder of the British Isles. The giant 71,474 acre geological and nature conservation site has been in use, as pasture for stock as well as hunting, since the Bronze Age and has hosted moments that defined British story. The forest is not only historically significant however, as it’s old growth forest combined with surrounding low-land bog and heath provide shelter to a wide variety of native flaura and fauna, even with its vicinity to London.
What to do? The world is your oyster. The parks’ location allows access to the ocean, so an SUP tour, for example, is a possibility. You also have the rolling hills of the national park, so a gentle mountain bike tour, as offered by New Forest Cycles, is also an option. There is also a Wildlife Sanctuary and plenty of historical treasures, like The Hurst Castle, to explore.
8. Glasgow’s Gem, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park
Two hours west of Edinburgh, near Glasgow, you will find Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. The national park is a biodiverse mix of lowland and highland, resulting in a broad range of plant and animal life taking advantage of the multitude of habitats on offer. It’s the fourth-largest park on the British Isles and is host to an array of rivers, waterfalls, lakes, grassland and wooded areas.
What to do? There are plenty of ways to enjoy Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, but due to its abundance of lakes, you can also get a bird’s eye view through the window of a Seaplane. There are also spectacular hiking trails to places like Falls of Falloch.
Where to stay? Even though Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park are not particularly remote, it’s size and northern location mean that you will, without trying, veer off the beaten track to find isolated spots just for yourselves. All info about freedom camping and the designated camping locations provided can be found at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park.
OUR final word
While cruising through England, Wales, and Scotland in your roadsurfer camper, you will be amazed by the diversity of landscapes on offer, from the rugged Scottish highlands to the warm seaside forests of southern England. When you are enjoying these moments, take a minute to appreciate our inherent dependence on forests, not just in the UK, but worldwide. Their existence supports every facet of our lives. It’s where the food we eat comes from, it’s where the water we drink is filtered, and it’s where the air we breathe is produced.
Treat forests, and nature in general, with respect and care, always.