The highest coastline on Britain’s mainland – thanks to coastal hills rising over 400m high – alongside vast untamed land, makes camping in Exmoor one of the best outdoor holidays in the UK. Best known for its soaring cliffs, velvety heather, rocky beaches and exclusive star shows, this stunning region is an adventure lover’s paradise!
Spanning over 267 square miles of captivating landscapes, the Exmoor National Park is also an eco haven for nature lovers and an ideal destination for campers, hikers, and cyclers. There are several campsites in and around the region of Exmoor to choose from that are situated close to the best trails and natural spots – we recommend some of our top picks in this article.
Although wild camping in Exmoor is technically illegal, people still do it. However most of the land in Exmoor is privately owned so if you want to stay on the right side of the law you will have to seek the landowner’s permission to wild camp. We have some more information on wild camping in Exmoor – and guidelines to be a considerate camper – later on in this article.
So grab a tent and some hiking boots – let’s begin your Exmoor camping adventure!
Camping in Exmoor
Exmoor’s landscape is perfect for anyone seeking to reconnect with nature and experience diverse, serene and spectacular views. Whether that’s hiking up ancient trails, or stargazing from the comfort of your own tent at night.
In fact we recommend camping in Exmoor because the starry nights here are some of the best in the world due to low light pollution. That’s why Exmoor National Park is an International Dark Sky Reserve.
A good quality walking in Exmoor book – like this one which has dozens of trails – can help you plan what campsites may be of interest to you if you’re planning a walking and camping trip.
If you’re planning to wild camp (more on that later), then an Ordnance Survey map could be an invaluable resource for finding the perfect spot, away from settlements and rural enough so that you will not be bothered.
However if you’re looking for some great campsite recommendations, below we share a few of our favourite campsites in Exmoor. All of which are located close to some of the main walking, hiking and cycling routes in Exmoor.
Camping in Exmoor: Some of the best campsites in Exmoor
We love this traditional 500-acre working hill farm, because of its tranquility and stunning surroundings. Westermill has also received the David Bellamy Conservation Award, making it even better in our eyes.
With beautiful wooded valleys, dramatic coastal views and open moorland, this spot captures the heart of any camper. It’s also nicely tucked away from the hustle and bustle of roads, and has great options for accommodation such as self-catering Scandinavian style cottages, as well as a very spacious camping site right next to the River Exe!
With four way-marked walks as part of the family-run site, and creative ideas to keep children entertained for hours like fishing with nets, feeding farm animals, and making dams, families really do have the opportunity to recharge their batteries at this cozy getaway.
Halse Farm and Campsite
With free roaming hares, red deer, buzzards and even endangered Exmoor ponies passing by, this campsite has so much to offer for nature lovers. In fact such a variety of bird life can be observed at this charming campsite, it’s little surprise that it too has been awarded a David Bellamy Conservation Award.
The facilities are very well maintained and families can enjoy incredible views as Halse Farm is situated right beside Winsford Hill – a gorgeous moorland area with colourful wild flowers.
This site also has great camping facilities, and if you want to be near amenities such as shops and pubs then the quaint town of Winsford is within walking distance.
Doone Valley Campsite
Doone Valley Campsite is a great family-friendly location for you to pitch your tent at an affordable price. This campsite is perfectly located for day trips too, as it sits in close vicinity to the towns of Porlock and Lymouth, as well as the spectacular Valley of the Rocks.
This campsite can even welcome groups of over 20 individuals in their quirkily named Pony Paddock, Stone Circle Field and Tree Field sections – making Doone Valley a great choice for friends looking to enjoy some beers by a campfire. Plus, with options nearby for thrill-seekers such as mountain biking, horse riding, canoeing and paddle boarding, you won’t be bored if staying here.
The site and facilities are kept clean and tidy, and if you are looking for restaurants and shops, the closest town is Brendon which is only 2.5 miles away.
Pool Bridge Campsite
This picturesque campsite is located by the beautiful River Horner and offers a great opportunity for campers to enjoy the relaxing sound of water rushing by.
Although this site is not the best place for phone reception, it is an ideal spot to reconnect with nature and enjoy the peace and quiet in a sublime valley setting.
Along with rewarding views, Pool Bridge Campsite provide their their own farm products for sale on site. With amenities like electric hook-ups, a well maintained toilet and shower block, as well as access to freezer space, we think this campsite is a great pick for any Exmoor camping vacation.
Wild camping in Exmoor
Like other areas of England and Wales, wild camping in Exmoor is not technically allowed, however people still do it. Although campers are allowed to pitch their tent if they have the permission of a landowner. However that’s often easier said than done.
Yet the scenic hills, verdant valleys and stunning coastline that make up Exmoor is a tempting destination for wild camping, whether you’ve got permission or not. Therefore if you are planning to wild camp in Exmoor – and can’t be swayed to stay in a campsite instead – we’ve compiled the following guidelines to help you camp in a considerate manner:
You should camp in the same place for one night only, and pitch your tent discretely and in a remote place which will not be easily seen. Therefore don’t camp in or near settlements, someone’s farm or on cultivated land. If you think you’re on private land, always try and seek out the landowner and ask permission. They may request a small fee.
Campers should set up their tent at dusk, and take it down at dawn. A tent that is discreet, blends in with the landscape, and pitches quickly is best. Therefore a lightweight walking tent like this one would be a great investment for someone planning to go wild camping in Exmoor.
Be aware of signs that mention restricted areas, such as sites of scientific interest or areas of conservation to protect natural features. Avoid these areas completely.
Most hikers and walkers tolerate camping beside trails that involve multi-day hikes – after all, serious walkers need somewhere to sleep! However as a matter of courtesy you should camp away from any path.
Respect the leave no trace policy and take any rubbish with you, and leave your camping spot exactly the way you found it.
Below are our top tips for camping in Exmoor:
- Heavy rain can happen in Exmoor – even during the summer months. Therefore make sure you have a rainproof tent that can survive rain. A lightweight one-man walking tent like this or similar would be perfect. For a good value tent that fits more than one person, this mosquito-proof one would work well too.
- There are many water sources in Exmoor but remember to always have plenty of water on you when you’re walking and camping. A space-saving collapsible water bottle would be a good purchase.
- If you’re wild camping, then go to the toilet at least 30-50 meters away from water sources, such as rivers. Make sure to use a trowel (like this folding one) to bury any human waste.
Camping in Exmoor: The weather and best months to visit
For those seeking to enjoy lush green countryside and stunning wild flowers in bloom, then spring is the best time to visit.
However the months of July and August have the warmest temperatures and longest daylight hours – great for camping, and giving ample time to make the most of long hikes.
Early autumn (September/October) brings breathtaking views as the moors provide a stunning backdrop of purple heather contrasting with bright yellow gorse.
Winter months are known for cold, crisp, clear days, but are perfect for stargazing.