I’m a County Durham girl born and bred, proud champion of the land of Prince Bishops and always keen to showcase what this wonderful area has to offer. Today, following the popularity of my wild camping near North East England, camping Northumberland coast and the ultimate guide to camping posts, I am highlighting some fantastic options for camping in Durham. I haven’t included the prices for each campsite as they just become out of date too quickly. I have included the link to each campsite I’ve mentioned for you though so you can check the latest information yourself very quickly. Here are 14 of the best campsites in County Durham.
Camping Barnard Castle
Barnard Castle – Camping and Caravanning Clubs (membership required)
Located on the north eastern edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, handy for the attractions of Teesdale and within walking distance of Barnard Castle or Barney as it is known locally, the tree-lined campsite is the perfect place to relax and unwind.
This pretty tree-lined campsite has 90 pitches. The camping field is level and has a well placed modern facilities block.
There are plenty of walks direct from the site and an excellent dog walk for those who don’t want to venture too far. Children are catered for with a play area and the visiting fish and chip van comes highly recommended. There’s fishing at Balderhead and Hury reservoirs to the west of the site. For days out visit the Bowes Museum, Bolton Castle, the Wensleydale Creamery Visitor Centre, the Dales Countryside Museum and England’s highest unbroken waterfall, High Force.
Barnard Castle hosts a Farmers’ Market on the first Saturday of the month. The nearby Post Office sells locally produced Cotherstone cheese and meat products.
Thorpe Farm, Barnard Castle
Thorpe Farm near Barnard Castle offers over 100 hard grass standing pitches for caravans and over 50 pitches for tents. Thorpe Farm is centred around an 18th Century Peel House. It offers a wide range of attractions for the whole family to make it a memorable short break.
Thorpe Farm Centre is perfect for family day trips and includes one of the best-equipped campsites in North Yorkshire and County Durham. The Thorpe Farm Campsite and Caravan Park has the following facilities onsite:
- A Coffee Shop and Bistro Restaurant plus Farm Shop
- Play Area
- Heritage Wood with 6 walks ranging from 1-8 miles starting and finishing at Thorpe Farm
- Onsite Animal Rescue Centre (Wetheriggs)
- The Farm Shop and Coffee Shop are open seven days a week, from 9am – 5pm (Sunday 10am – 5pm).
Leekworth Caravan and Camping Park, Middleton-in-Teesdale
Near Barnard Castle in Middleton in Teesdale, Leekworth Caravan and Camping Park offers superb caravan and camping facilities plus, a stone-built self-catering Shepherds Cottage.
It is situated on the outskirts of the historic market village of Middleton in Teesdale, and very close to Barnard Castle. The stunning natural beauty of the North Pennines surrounds the site and is set on the banks of the River Tees.
The famous Teesdale Way cuts alongside the site joining onto the Pennine Way and Middleton village centre, with its country shops and cafes, is only a 10 minute walk away.
There is 1000 meters of free fishing on the River Tees, (you must have a rod licence) and the surrounding area offering miles and miles of footpaths to explore.
They have an adult only section with limited pitches available.
The Leekworth Caravan & Camping Park has a newly built reception/shop and the newly built shower and toilet block has underfloor heating throughout.
They have a strict no noise policy after 10.30pm.
Orchard Farm, Barnard Castle
Orchard Farm is a pop-up site on a working farm in the fab Co. Durham countryside, just on the edge of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and about half a mile from the banks of the River Tees.
Barnard Castle and High Force waterfalls are within 15 minutes’ drives of the site.
There’s splendid scenery all around this site – and you’ll be sharing the place with friendly neighbours in the form of the resident cows, horses and sheep. It’s a thoroughly rural experience but one doesn’t involve miles of driving along winding lanes. It’s easily accessed from the B6282 and that handy location also means it’s easy to get out to see some of the area’s top sights, including the High Force and Low Force waterfalls and Gibson’s Cave.
Camping near Hamsterly Forest
High Shipley Farm (Camping and Caravanning Club Membership required)
High Shipley Farm is a working farm camp site ideal for visiting Hamsterley Forest. Visiting in the spring with children is a great option when the lambs are around. According to the reviews, the owners are very welcoming and enjoy showing visitors round the farm. Within easy distance to the picturesque village of Wolsingham and nearby larger towns.
Camping Durham Coast
The Barn, Easington
The Barn at Easington is contained within a beautiful thirty-acre farm on the coast of the unique Durham magnesian limestone plateau, and on the edge of Hawthorn Dene. Hawthorne Dene has some beautiful walks that end at a gorgeous beach. It has stunning views of the sea, woods and fields.
Normally you can camp there for £12 per person per night but at the moment they have stopped camping due to COVID-19. Whilst they aren’t open for camping at the moment, I’m including them as they will be great to visit when the pandemic is over and I feel they are a good option for socially distanced ‘glamping’ during the pandemic.
They are offering their Caravans and Camping Pods so that guests can be safely socially distant from each other. You have to take your own bed linen at the moment. Units will only be available on a minimum 4 day booking and they will have a mandatory gap of 2 days between bookings so that the units can be safely deep cleaned.
Also, by the looks of the photos they have chickens and pigs on site! The site ethos sounds awesome too.
Sharpley Camping, Seaham
As cracking Co Durham locations go, Sharpley Camping has surely managed to bag one of the finest spots. This spacious 4 acre rural site is in a particularly nifty location between Durham (20 minutes’ drive) and the seaside at Seaham (10 minutes). In fact, you can even spot the sea from various points around the site.
Campfires are allowed to keep you warm on an evening, and there’s space for kids to play well away from the flames too (with free go-karts to pedal if they’re after a bit of extra entertainment).
Facilities at this laidback site are fairly minimal, but all the basics are covered, including a washing-up area, showers and toilets. There’s a pub in the village of Seaton (five minutes’ drive) and supermarkets within a similar length of drive. They have 10 well spaced camping pitches. 5 are with EHU (6 amp limit)
Thornley Hall, Wheatley Hill
Thornley Hall Farm site is a dog-friendly rural pop-up site between Durham and the coast. A 15-minute drive from Durham; 20 minutes from Hartlepool and Seaham. Shops, takeaways, café and pub within walking distance and walks nearby.
Campsites near Beamish
Beamish Holiday Park, Beamish
Formerly Bobby Shafto Caravan Park, Beamish Holiday Park has pitches available for camping and touring, as well as other accommodation such as pods through to new, luxury statics. 2021 saw them launch a new children’s play area on the touring field and their new shower and toilet block opened in 2020. In late 2021 they will open the Bobby Shafto Bar and Reception Clubhouse on site. Perfect for a visit to the wonderful open air museum Beamish nearby.
Farm Camping in Durham
Strawberry Hill Farm
Strawberry Hill Farm is on the outskirts of Durham city itself. As well as being well located, the site has good facilities:
- Tea room and shop with basic grocery supplies serving cakes and light bites
- Small Children’s play area
- Outside patio area
- New security barrier with keycode entry
- 24/7 CCTV security system
- BBQ Supplies
- Dogs are welcome
- Laundrette and Washroom with book exchange
- Dog walking area
- Freezer pack service
Meadow Farm Park, Bishop Auckland
Meadow Farm Park is perfect for visiting the immersive attraction Kynren (5 miles away). From the photos on their website I get the impression that this site might be a rowdier one. Let me know if that’s the case if you have been! Facilities include:
- Play area
- Shower block
- Toilet block
- Washing-up area
- Charging facilities
- Chemical disposal
- Recycling available
- On-site accommodation
Nearly wild camping in County Durham
Forrest Valley View, Esh
Forrest Valley View is a well-kept adults-only site with far-reaching valley views. It has direct access to the Lanchester Valley Railway Path. It’s a 15-minute drive from the North Pennines or Durham city centre.
This is a back-to-basics site so you’ll need to be fairly self-sufficient. There is no electricity, shower or toilet available. Alfresco cooks can set up barbecues, though. You can drive 15 minutes down the road to a farm shop for supplies or check out the shops in the village. Hot food can be often sorted by the site staff and you can also pick up welcome boxes full of food or get free-range eggs for your brekkie.
Fancy treating yourself to a meal out? A highly-regarded local pub is about a mile away from site and there are a couple of restaurants in Lanchester.
Guests under the age of 25 aren’t allowed on the site.
Other camping in Durham sites
The Hammer and Pincers, Newton Aycliffe
The Hammer and Pincer was opened in September 2017 and is set in a rural and scenic location with open views. Conveniently situated next to a traditional country pub that serves great quality pub food and real ales. It is 3 miles from A1 north/south, the site is ideal for stop-overs or long weekends.
The Hammer and Pincers have 20 hard-standing pitches, with 12 electric hook-up and 10 camping pitches with 4 electric hook ups, water and grey waste facilities. They have 1 gents toilet block with 2 toilets, 1 shower and a baby change unit and 1 ladies toilet block with 3 toilets and 2 showers.
It is a family friendly and dog friendly site with flexible arrival and departure times. Small well managed camp fires are allowed.
Bolbec Manor Campsite, Shotley Bridge
Bolbec Manor Campsite overlooks Muggleswick Moor and is on the north-eastern edge of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a wildlife and walking haven making up the second biggest AONB in the country.
The Derwent Reservoir, one of England’s biggest inland waterways, is five minutes’ drive away for sailing, windsurfing and lakeside cycling; fishing and golf are close by, and city days are easily sorted at Durham and Newcastle, each 30 minutes’ drive away.
Bolbec Manor has toilets, shower facilities, a washing-up area, chemical disposal and a drying room. Barbecues and campfires are allowed; the nearest shops are at Shotley Bridge five minutes’ drive away and Consett within 10.
As a peaceful site, no loud music is allowed (the soundtrack here will be provided by the hens that scratch about on site).
Things to do nearby when camping in Durham
There is so much to do when camping in Durham. You have the incredible cities of Durham and Newcastle nearby with all the great architecture, nightlife, bars, restaurants and museums that they have to offer. The coast is always nearby and there is gorgeous countryside. Here’s some of my other posts of places to go in the area:
- Visit Preston Park
- Visit Washington Wetlands
- Stepping into the past at Beamish Open Air Museum
- Rockliffe Hall Brasserie restaurant review
- Diggerland Durham review
- Free family day out at Derwent Waterside Park, Consett
- 7 of the best summer family days out in North East England
- A cultural family day out at Ouseburn, Newcastle
- HWKRMRKT at By the River Brew Co Newcastle Gateshead review
If you enjoyed this post you might also like:
- Ultimate guide to family camping
- Camping North East England
- Wild camping North East England
- Creating a family camping starter kit from scratch
- Camping Newcastle has some great camping sites in the Newcastle and Gateshead area of North East England.
- Camping Northumberland coast
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