Long time followers of the blog will know that we love family camping. We usually do a couple of music festivals as a family each summer but clearly that is not an option this year in the midst of the pandemic. However, we desperately want to get out under the stars again this year. Papa Ginge has always wanted to try wild camping and it seems to be a safer option to us right now. So I’ve been searching for the best options for wild camping near North East England. I say wild but I mean wild-ish (wild camping is actually illegal unless you have the landowner’s permission), or more accurately, somewhere you can just keep yourself to yourself and keep away from other people and shared facilities. Here are my 9 favourite finds within a 1.5-hour drive of Newcastle…
The Barn at Easington, County Durham
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. 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. So this one isn’t really wild at the moment but 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.
Birkheads Wild, Gateshead
A 1.5-acre site in rural Gateshead. They only ever hire out the site to one group at a time so you’ll always have exclusive use of the space for groups of up to 25 people. They also hold a limited number of events across the year especially for families but you’ll have to keep an eye out as they book up fast apparently. Sam from North East Family Fun talks about their experience at Birkheads Wild here.
Blaydon Burn Farm, Gateshead
Blaydon Burn Farm at Brockwell Wood is only 7 miles away from Newcastle upon Tyne in 26 acres of ancient woodland, offering visitors a tranquil, yet accessible retreat from the hurly-burly of modern life. This campsite is for those who want a back to nature experience. There are no shops, toilets and showers at the site, but real back-to-basics camping. You get a map and spade to bury your human waste so it’s really back to basics! They also have great quality free-range grass-fed meat on site.
The Boe Rigg, Northumberland
Remote, wild, spacious and scenic are all terms rightly fitting The Boe Rigg, in Northumberland National Park a few miles from the market town of Bellingham. The Boe Rigg camp is a little wilder and rustic compared to other sites but they do have a cafe, restaurant and bar.
On the doorstep is Kielder Forest and Water and the renowned darkest skies in the UK.
Bellingham is just two miles away where you will find a well-stocked Co-op, country store, newsagents, butchers & selection of pubs and cafes.
Hemscott Hill Farm, Druridge Bay, Northumberland
This is one I’m desperate to do – wild-ish camping on the Druridge Bay dunes. They reopen early August but sadly have banned children during the pandemic which means this is a no go for us personally otherwise I would have been booking it. Just imagine going to sleep to the sounds of the waves and waking up to this view.
Christmas Farm, Longframlington
Christmas Farm, is a small organically certified family farm in the heart of Northumberland. They produce rare breed organically reared meat and eggs together with a range of fruit and vegetables. Christmas Farm offers a field with glorious views of the countryside for a wild camping experience. For many people the view, fresh water, a compost toilet and unlimited firewood are all they need to get back to basics, unwind and recharge. Wild camping on Christmas Farm costs just £15.00 a night based on two adults camping. Children under 12 stay for free.
Deer Shed Base Camp, North Yorkshire
Not wild camping per se but something that I really liked the sound of is Deer Shed Base Camp in North Yorkshire. Deer Shed is normally an annual summer festival but as that can’t go ahead this year they have come up with a great idea for a socially distanced camping weekender. You park next to your tent, have your own pitch with your own portaloo with water. They even have their own radio station for entertainment for the weekend and you can come and go off site as you please. It sounds perfect. My only concern is lots of people being in the same place, even if it is socially distanced. It’s a guaranteed sold out camp site whereas with other camp sites, they might be quieter. Sadly this is now sold out but it’s a great idea for other festivals to emulate I think.
Hazel Brow Farm, Swaledale
Hazel Brow Farm in Swaledale offers an enclosed, sheltered site in an orchard opposite a Yorkshire Dales farm. It looks out over green fields grazed on by sheep with River Swale walks right from the grounds.
Ruberslaw, Scottish Borders
Just North of North East England is Ruberslaw – 500 acres of unspoilt upland is set in the heart of the Teviot Valley’s Special Landscape Area in the Scottish Borders. Ruberslaw offers wild camping. Their Gledswing Lookout lets you pitch in mature woods sheltering the Gledswing field, behind a stone dyke. You have views west up the Teviot Valley, a great view of Ruberslaw, and down Rulewater valley to the east. All pitches are serviced by an exclusive, discreetly positioned Thunderbox pine hut. These have a sink supplied with fresh water daily for drinking, washing and washing up and a composting toilet. These are cleaned daily. They should be opening their wild camping back up soon and are certified ‘Good to Go’ by Visit Scotland showing their take their coronavirus readiness seriously.
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