There really is a wide range of campsites available that suit all tastes and requirements when it comes to camping trips. You can find everything from super basic sites with little to no facilities aimed at adults wanting to get away from it all, to sprawling holiday park sites that are more like all inclusive resorts.
When we borrowed the T6 campervan from Goboony and headed down to Devon and Cornwall for a long weekend (read about my gifted adventure here), I fancied seeing what vanlife would be like in a variety of settings. I researched online and asked my friends for recommendations, and chose three different sites for our three-night road trip that ticked three sets of boxes. My campervan trip was a bit of bucket list tick, certainly, but it was also going to be a real test to see what life might be like should I ever find enough pennies to buy my own van.
While you can, if you so choose, park up and sleep anywhere that doesn’t say you can’t, for my first experience of a home on wheels I wanted at least a bit of security and backup. And with it still being winter (the middle of March was COLD!), I fugured some warm running water to wash my face each morning and an indoor loo was a pretty acceptable minimum on this occasion.
The three sites I picked included an eco-site with compost loos and solar showers, a site at the back of a pub aimed at campers wanting to explore Dartmoor with the standard facilities, and a holiday park with high quality facilities (and electric hook-ups) that would make for a happy camping home for several weeks.
Cerenety Eco Camping, Bude
This was a twitter recommendation which turned out to be a great shout. Basically a large field at the top of the hill just out of Bude, with a not-too-distant sea view.
It was peaceful, basic, back to nature camping. The composting loos and solar showers mean that a stay here has little effect on the environment. There is a space for a campfire by every pitch, a picnic area with tables, a caravan-sized coffee shop in the summer.
We had the whole site to ourselves and despite calling the number on the gate on arrival (as requested on the sign) and leaving a message, we didn’t see the owners or anyone else throughout our stay. We’d already paid online so we just parked up and got on with our stay. This suited me fine – this introvert is quite happy being alone!
We walked down the hill into Bude in about 20 minutes, where there are plenty of choices for dinner if you don’t want to cook.
I would happily return to Cerenety in either a van or a tent, it would make a lovely base for a weekend getaway focused on exploring this area of north Cornwall.
Facilities: Large field, campfire circles per pitch, ablutions block with composting loos and solar showers, café in the summer.
Paid (March 2019): £15
The Plume of Feathers, Princetown
Another recommendation, actually for the walker friendly pub this site is attached to the site, this is a very well-appointed site in the middle of Princetown which, in turn, is in the middle of Dartmoor National Park. You can’t book camping ahead – you simply head into the bar and pay on arrival.
A bit of a step up from Cerenety in terms of facilities, this is a more traditional campsite, with toilets and showers inside. Although I have to say the block at Cerenety was much nicer.
Despite being a stormy day (including some snow) in early March, the site was quite busy with DofE groups and other campervanners. This meant that there was a lot of activity very early in the morning as the DofE groups got going on day two of their expeditions, but that kind of thing doesn’t bother me – just brings back memories!
We ate at the pub itself which I would highly recommend. The food – especially the pie (which was cooked to order) – was excellent. It was busy with locals, other campers and walkers and if I’m ever in Princetown overnight again I will certainly return.
Facilities: Large camping field, hard standing “car park” for vans, male and female ablutions blocks with toilets and showers attached to the pub.
Paid (March 2019): £17
Pooh Cottage Holiday Park, Budleigh Salterton
I wanted to stay in Budleigh Salterton specifically because one of my 38 Things for 38 Years items was to visit this seaside town to check the sea was still there – for old times’ sake. I found Pooh Cottage online and it sounded lovely, and was within walking distance of the seafront (about 30 minutes walk).
Pooh Cottage isn’t a large sprawling holiday park like Haven or similar, but rather is a small site with seasonal and touring pitches designed for people wanting to pitch their caravan or motorhome for a decent length stay. It’s a very well looked after site, with well-groomed pitches and electric hook-ups.
The ablutions facilities really were superb, possibly the nicest I have ever come across while camping. I mean, there was underfloor heating, need I say more?! It was our most expensive stay of the weekend, but you can see where the money goes. I could see myself returning here for a night or weekend stay – a touch of luxury isn’t bad on occasion.
Budleigh is one of those traditional seaside towns that is still unspoiled by neon signs and arcades. It’s very much a slow and steady place, much of it remained as I remembered from my childhood. But that also means there are very limited places to eat out, especially on a Sunday evening in winter. We ended up in an Indian restaurant on the main street, where we had a lovely meal.
Facilities: Well-groomed holiday park site with individual “bathrooms”. No tents.
Paid (March 2019): £21 (with hook-up)
As you can see, each site offered an excellent place to stay, decent facilities, at a pretty decent price. I think I chose three great sites! I wouldn’t want to do a long road trip paying £15-21 per night for camping, that would simply be unaffordable, but for short weekend trips like this when comfort and security are important, it’s fine. There are ways to find cheap and free places to park up – the iOverlander app and Britstops are two suggestions that spring to mind that I know others have used very successfully on longer adventures. And, of course, there are always (legal) laybys!
If you are road tripping Devon and/or Cornwall in a campervan, I’d happily recommend all three of the sites I used for this trip. There are certainly hundreds more to choose from, too, but these three might get you started. Let me know if you stay at any of them, and feel free to recommend your favourites in the comments below.
In the interests of being completely open, please know that my three-night van hire from Goboony was a gift from them to help me with a couple of things on my 38 Things for 38 Years list. The three sites listed here were my own choice and nothing to do with the project. None of my vanlife posts are sponsored advertorials. If you register/book with Goboony through my link you will get £20 credit to get you started and I might eventually be able to hire a van for another weekend!