6 of the best riverside campsites in the UK

6 of the Best Riverside Campsites in the UK

Whether it’s wild swimming, launching a canoe, or simply enjoying the tranquil setting, you can’t beat camping beside a river. There’s something undeniably calming about pitching your tent on a riverside. Perhaps it’s falling asleep to the sound of the water or having the opportunity to cool off on a balmy summer’s day, but it really can turn an ordinary camping holiday into something truly special. To help find the ultimate riverside campsite, we asked the experts at Hipcamp for their pick of the best spots beside the water this summer…

6 of the best riverside campsites in the UK

Canal Camping, Norfolk

This charming Norfolk site, five miles from the coast and the famous Happisburgh lighthouse, is set along the banks of a former canal. After falling into disrepair since the 1930s, the canal is now a much wilder, river-like, waterway, where you can paddle canoes amongst lilly-pads and dragonflies. There’s a secret waterfall in an old lock and you can drift downstream to where the canal joins the Norfolk Broads (where there’s also a good waterside pub). The campsite itself is a gem – family-friendly, dog-friendly, and with campfires allowed. Early booking is recommended.

6 of the best riverside campsites in the UK

Digeddi Wildlife Camping, Powys

Inside a great sweeping meander on the River Wye, this spacious farm campsite has unbeatable river access. A beautiful pebble beach makes it easy for wading, swimming, and launching canoes, and you can get picked up further downstream so you never have to paddle against the current. Walkers love the place too – there’s great access to Hay Bluff and the mountains of the Brecon Beacons – and the whole thing is a five-minute drive (or 15-minute cycle) to the famous book town of Hay-on-Wye.

6 of the best riverside campsites in the UK

Smugglers Cove Boatyard, Gwynedd

This secret spot is a true one-of-a-kind campsite… if you can even call it a ‘campsite’ in the traditional sense of the word. It’s wild, basic, has terrific views, and you can only reach it on foot. Campers park in a nearby boatyard, then walk a narrow footpath beside the Dovey Estuary (Afon Dyfi) to where just three or four tent pitches can be found. It’s all set on the southern edge of Snowdonia National Park, so there’s good hiking nearby, as well as popular seaside towns like Aberdovey (Aberdyfi).

6 of the best riverside campsites in the UK

Wild Canvas Camping, Bedfordshire

This pop-up campsite is only around for the school summer holiday and is the perfect place to wear out the kids. Along the banks of the River Great Ouse, you can swim, hire stand-up paddleboards, or cast off the young ones for mass games of football and quirky family activities. One Hipcamper described it as, “camping with just a hint of festival”, in a recent review, which pretty neatly sums the place up – there are good food vans, a pop-up bar, and the sort of tipi glamping options you might see at Glastonbury. 

6 of the best riverside campsites in the UK

Radcot Leisure on Thames, Oxfordshire

Pair a good riverside campsite with a good riverside pub and you’re sure to be on to a winner. This popular spot, on a long river island, is directly opposite Ye Olde Swan, a classic country pub, reached via one of the oldest bridges on the Thames. In summer, a mobile bar makes its way over to the campsite, along with the occasional food stall, and you can graze and gaze as canal boats drift by. Bring bikes to make the most of the riverside cycling network or you can hire stand-up paddleboards for your own waterborne adventures. 

6 of the best riverside campsites in the UK

Great Haywood Canalside Campsite, Staffordshire

Canalside Camping opened for the first time in 2022 but already has a reputation as a chilled out, spread out, popular country campsite, on the northern edge of Cannock Chase. It’s just across the water from the National Trust’s Shugborough Estate, home to a grand Georgian Mansion, and, as the name suggests, the campsite sits right beside a canal. In fact, two canals converge here – the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal joins the Trent and Mersey Canal – with a farm shop and café already onsite before the camping came along. Grab good food, set up the tent, and get the campfire going, as you watch canal boats coming in to moor for the night.

6 of the best riverside campsites in the UK

More About Hipcamp

Hipcamp offers tent camping, campervan stays, glamping, and more—everywhere from family farms to private islands. Opening access to some of the most beautiful private land in the world, Hipcamp is creating new campsites and making it simple for you to get outside. 

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