Londoners are pretty lucky when it comes to wild and green spaces, but it’s always good to escape the city and explore further afield. While staying in a literal field, particularly after the long months of lockdown. But you don’t have to travel too far to have an adventure and explore nature at these camping sites near London.

 roasting marshmellows over a campfire
Photo by iStock.com/VictorHuang

There are plenty of campsites within an hour or two of central London. Here’s our roundup of some of the best countryside sites to suit different budgets and tastes. So whether you’re after eco-sites or escapes to vintage cabins, glamping or just simple spots for your own tent for weekend getaways and family holidays, you should find what you’re looking for. Please check with each site on its current Covid-19 policy and whether pets are allowed.

Lee Valley Camping, Essex

One of the closest campsites to London (in fact, parts of it are actually in the city), is Lee Valley. It’s a huge area that spans Hertfordshire, Essex, and greater London, and has not one but four sites to pick from (including two with caravan parks). Plus a whole lot of outdoor activities to boot, including horse riding, white water rafting, and fishing. Each site is catered to a particular type of camping, so let that be your guide.

Where: Multiple sites across Essex, Hertfordshire and London

Facilities: See each site for details.



Costs:

Nut Plat Retreat, Kent

For some rustic, cosy, cabin-in-the-woods escapism, visit Nut Plat Retreat. It’s a vintage glamping site in a rural hamlet in Tonbridge, just 45 minutes outside London. Situated on the grounds of an 18th-century farmhouse, there are only two small “Living Vans”—restored wooden shepherd huts, which are now chic tiny houses. Both vans “Ransoms” and “Bomford” sleep two (double beds) with a fold-down table and chairs.

It’s an eco and off-grid site with a wood-fired hot tub. Torches and wellies (and a raincoat, this is England afterall) are recommended. But it’s a stylish way to disconnect. Each van has its own area with separate kitchens, showers and barbeque. And if you don’t want to unplug completely, you can charge phones, tablets, etc., in the main barn.

The area is great for going on long country walks, visiting heritage sites including Old Soar Manor and Igtham Mote and unwinding in local pubs. The set-up definitely has a romantic getaway vibe, but guests can bring friends or older children (kidults, as the website calls them) in a separate tent if they wish, for an additional cost.

Facilities: Cabins, outdoor cooking, hot tub
Costs: From £100 per night (for two)



Alde Garden, Sussex

A coastal retreat and a semi-wild camping trip all rolled into one. Nestled in a secret garden, about two hours from London by train, Alde is a tiny campsite that combines glamping with tent pitches. It’s a short drive to the beach too. Camping space is limited to the teeny wildlife garden that has room for five small tent pitches. You won’t need much camping gear though because there are communal wash and cook areas.

On the glamping side are yurts, which can accommodate up to five bell tents (and sleep up to five), a cute old wooden caravan, a hut on stilts, and a cottage.

The venue does seem to be targeting couples and families, so that’s worth bearing in mind if you want to go with friends or solo (but that’s not to say other groups or individuals aren’t welcome!)

Facilities: Cabins, outdoor cooking, solar lighting
Costs:
Camping cost: From £18 (single pitch)/£28.80 (double pitch) per night
Glamping cost: From £204 for two nights (sleeps up to five)

Eco-camping at Wild Boar Wood, Sussex

Go off grid in a private woodland near Haywards Heath. It’s on the same train line as Brighton, so you could easily combine rural and coastal wandering on a weekend mini break or short holiday. Community is at the heart of Wild Boar Wood, with group glamping, communal campfires, and camp games for kids and adults, including den building. It’s a place for people from different generations to come together, surrounded by beautiful ancient woodland.

Choose between bell tents or group glamping, but leave the battery-powered speakers behind—there’s a no amplified music policy, which is pretty standard everywhere you go.

Facilities: Bell tents, outdoor showers, fire pits, eco-toilets, communal camp areas, washing up & hot water areas, renewable energy
Costs: Bell tents £82.50 per night (midweek) or £102

bell tent in the forest - camping near London
A bell tent among the tree branches | Photo by iStock.com/Miriam Cerezo Garcia

Aldenham Country Park, Hertfordshire

Stay on a country park and farm that’s only 12 miles outside central London. Aldenham Country Park is a huge site that is also home to 100 Aker Wood (for Winnie the Pooh fans). Its large size makes it a good option for both camping and glamping. Wild camping pitches are available from around £10 per night.

You can also hire bell tents, which sleep up to five people for £267.50 (although these are not classified as glamping—if you want all the extras it’ll cost double, so it’s worth just hiring the tent and bringing some home comforts).

One thing that stands out about Aldenham is that it seems to cater for solo visitors as well as families and couples.
You can hire single cabins from £187.50 and doubles from £357.50.

Facilities: Wild camping, glamping, outdoor showers, fire pits, eco toilets, cooking areas, washing up & hot water areas, renewable energy

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