Cornwall is unsurprisingly one of Britain’s most popular vacation destinations because of its numerous sandy beaches, towering cliffs, and tantalizing coastlines.
Whether you’re planning to surf, cycle, hike, or just searching for a cheap way to explore this region of South West England, wild camping can be fun – as well as a cost-effective – way to do that.
However, while it’s true that there are plenty of spectacularly remote locations for wild camping in Cornwall, this is also one of those areas where it’s crucial to be aware of all the rules and regulations regarding camping.
Why Should I Camp in Cornwall?
Cornwall’s rough landscape and numerous forts, stone circles, and standing stones make this part of England one of the best places for wild camping in the UK.
While doing so, one also gets to enjoy spectacular and diverse views – Cornwall has an utterly gorgeous coastline and a plethora of genuinely amazing hiking trails.
These trails turn Cornwall into a great destination for those interested in hiking. Some of the best – and the most challenging – hiking trails located in this historic county include the Godolphin to Tregonning Circular Walk and the South West Coast Path.
Those who would rather pitch their tents close to the sea and surf can also have a great time in Cornwall. Some of the region’s surfing sweet spots feature 30-feet high waves, and these are bound to test your surfing skills.
Is Wild Camping Allowed in Cornwall?
As long as it’s done discreetly and respectfully, wild camping is generally tolerated around the United Kingdom.
However, Cornwall’s popularity as a camping destination, combined with its history of disrespectful camping, has caused the local authorities to devise a series of bylaws, most of which are strictly enforced.
The primary purpose of these bylaws is to protect the crops of local farms. However, they exist for safety reasons as well. For example, bad weather can cause the clifftops to become unstable and, therefore, extremely dangerous for folks camping on them.
Those who take a walk along the region’s popular coastal areas will almost certainly bump into “no overnight camping” signposts now and then.
None of this should discourage you, though. As I said above, as long as it’s done in a discreet and respectful manner, wild camping is perfectly possible in this part of England. However, if you want to go wild camping with fewer limitations, check out our post on wild camping in Scotland.
The Importance of Responsible Camping
Like other parts of England, Kernow has had its share of careless camping enthusiasts in the last two decades.
Careless wild camping can mean crop damage, fires, and littering, and all of these have caused landowners to be quite reluctant when it comes to allowing strangers to pitch up tents on their properties. What is more, irresponsible camping often damages local wildlife habitats.
So, if you’re planning to camp in Cornwall, it is of utmost importance that you always follow the primary principle of respectful camping – leaving no trace. For more info, this post explains everything about wild camping.
Best Wild Camping Areas in Cornwall
In this part of the article, I will provide a few fully-accessible plots of land in Cornwall where wild camping is allowed (with a few bonuses that make this camping style a bit more comfortable).
From multi-acred working farms to small, family-run destinations, these are Cornish places where folks can pitch their tents without having to worry about being fined.
Lower Penderleath Farm
“Going wild” at Lower Penderleath Farm is easy – it is hidden away in a Cornish wildlife refuge.
It is conveniently close to a local pub with food, which is only 15 minutes of walking away from the farm. Moreover, it’s only 8 minutes of driving away from the seaside town of St Ives, which has been a popular tourist destination since the 19th century.
That’s not to say that you’ll ever even want to leave this place for an evening out – its sunsets are as spectacular as you can imagine.
Lower Penderleath Farm is a perfect base from which you can explore the magnificent Penwith Peninsula. The nearest beaches are only a few miles away from the farm, and the whole place is well-maintained and very clean.
As for the facilities, you’ll find an on-site shower block with washing-up areas and hot water. This is one of those rare camping locations that look and function almost like developed campsites but still have a very “wild” feel.
Forged Earth Camping
Located less than 7 miles from the romantic seaport of Bude, Forged Earth Camping is a 12-acre farm that stands as one of the best options for campers looking to experience Cornwall’s remote side.
Here, you’ll be able to “reconnect” with civilization pretty much anytime you want – not only is the whole region dotted with villages and hamlets, but the property itself has a number of on-site welding craft and family pottery retreats.
You can find washrooms, portaloos, and flushing toilets at Forged Earth Camping. I should also point out that the owners are very friendly and welcoming and that children are allowed to feed the farm’s animals.
Lastly, this farm is close to the beaches of Bude (the aforementioned seaside town), Crackington Haven, and Widemouth Bay. It also provides a myriad of options for unforgettable walks along the picturesque South West Coast Path, where you’ll be able to bask yourself in the glow of captivating Cornish sunsets.
Situated about 30 minutes of driving away from the Eden Project and around three miles away from the coastal town of Looe, Watergate Camping is a family-run estate that provides its visitors with an opportunity to engage in activities often enjoyed by the more “rugged” camping enthusiasts.
Some of these activities include wildlife watching, canoeing, paddling, and fishing – all of these can be done on the nearby West Looe River. What is more, wild campers are even allowed to cook everything they catch over a campfire or a barbecue.
The fact that Watergate Camping is kitted out quite minimally isn’t necessarily a bad thing – after all, many wild campers search for, well, an authentically-bare camping experience. There is, however, a communal fridge, a washing-up area, and a toilet block. For everything else, you’ll be left to your own devices.
One item I definitely recommend bringing is a quality insect repellent. You’ll be pitching your tent very close to the aforementioned West Looe River, and the last thing you want is to have mosquitoes and other pests ruin your wild camping experience.
Tragella Place Camping
Next up is Tragella Place Camping, a dream-come-true for all those wishing to camp in the middle of the authentic Cornish countryside.
Nested between secluded, grassy farmlands, Tragella Place Camping is less than a mile (10 minutes of driving) away from Padstow, a fishing port where you can go to get all of your necessities. In other words, this is a genuinely rural spot that’s still quite close to a pub that serves food, a supermarket, a chicken farm, and everything else your heart might desire.
I think it’s pretty safe to say that all those who come to wild camp in Cornwall want to regularly visit the peninsula’s beaches. Tragella Place Camping has you covered there – it is less than 10 minutes of driving away from the Trevone and Harlyn beaches. The proximity to the Camel Cycling Trail also deserves a mention.
As for on-site amenities, there are showers, a washing-up area, and a toilet block. There are also charging and chemical disposal facilities and the visitors are allowed to make campfires and barbecues, and to bring their pets.
Blakes Kiero Caravan Site
As its name suggests, the Blakes Kiero Caravan Site is a great option for folks who prefer motorhome camping over tent camping. It is also a fine choice for camping enthusiasts looking to enjoy some of the region’s simpler traditions, such as Cornish cream teas.
This caravan site is located only a couple of miles away from the beaches (and their watersport activities) at Polzeath and Rock. And, due to its unique position, the Blakes Kiero Caravan Site provides truly breathtaking views of the Camel Estuary. Although it’s pretty big, this place is rarely crowded – you’ll have plenty of space for yourself.
Just like the Lower Penderleath Farm described above, this is yet another campsite with a “wild” feel. That’s because it has almost everything that most established campgrounds do – toilet blocks, showers, parking spots, and fire pits – while still providing a lot of space and, thus, the much-needed feel of “remoteness.”
Other things worth mentioning are that this is a dog-friendly site and that it has easy access to the Eden Project, Tintagel, Port Isaac, and Padstow. Furthermore, the staff is very friendly and helpful, and the site itself is among the most peaceful ones on my list, which probably has something to do with the fact that here, no loud music is allowed after 9 PM.
For those seeking an even more unspoiled and rugged experience, wild camping near Avon offers an authentic encounter with nature. Nestled amidst pristine landscapes, Avon’s wild camping spots are a hidden gem for adventurous souls yearning for untouched beauty.
Best Established Campgrounds in Cornwall
As I mentioned above, wild camping in Cornwall is technically not allowed, although a blind eye is routinely turned from campers who get the landowner’s permission.
If you’d rather pitch your tent – or park your motorhome – on an established campground, this part of England provides many options. Here are some of Cornwall’s best developed campsites:
Behind this simple name hides a campground situated in a rural area, away from noisy roads, and one that provides its visitors with an astounding sea view and spectacular sunsets.
The location of this place is certainly the best thing about it: you’ll find this small family-run campground at the top of Caerthillian Valley, from where you’ll be able to easily access some of the area’s most enchanting beaches – Polpeor, Pentreath, Kynance Cove, and Housel Bay.
It takes only ten minutes of walking to get from Henry’s Campsite to mesmerizing coastal paths and just a few minutes to get to the center of a small village called Lizard. There, you’ll be able to buy interesting souvenirs as well as eat some pretty delicious pub food.
Henry’s Campsite easily captures visitors’ eyes with its many animals, exotic plants, and quirky art. If you have children, bring them here – they will love feeding the ducks, chickens, goats, pigs, and alpacas that live on the property. Lastly, this campground has a large communal fire pit, where you can share your stories with other camping enthusiasts.
Acorn Camping & Glamping
Next is an environmentally-friendly campground in the Luxulyan Valley, a thickly-wooded area dotted with industrial remains. This has been a World Heritage Site since 2006, and, as such, it provides myriad options for admiring its beauty through hiking and camping.
A setting that’s as serene as this one is ideal for all those interested in wildlife spotting. What is more, Acorn Camping & Glamping is a standout option for the Lord of the Rings fans – the place features several charming Hobbit huts. Each of these is equipped with washbasins, showers, lanterns, stoves, tables, and benches, and there’s also a large fire pit that all visitors can use.
I recommend stocking up on essentials before coming here, though – the closest pub and shop are about a mile and a half away. And while you won’t be able to bring your pets here (due to local wildlife), your children will certainly have the time of their lives participating in on-site treasure hunt activities.
The owners recommend bringing towels, toiletries, toilet rolls, pillows, sleeping bags, and a small butane gas canister (which you can also purchase on the site). You’ll be able to park your vehicle at a car park that’s a short walk away from the campsite.
Treen Farm Campsite
If you’re a camping purist looking to reconnect with nature, Treen Farm Campsite is undoubtedly one of your best options in the entire Cornwall. This place provides unmatched views of blue waters stretching from the Isles of Scilly to the Lizard Peninsula, and more.
It’s a clifftop retreat situated about three miles from Land’s End, and one from which you’ll be able to easily visit some of the region’s most-renowned beaches: Porthcurno and Green Bay. It takes only 10 minutes of walking to arrive at the closest beach – Pedn Vounder, famous for its golden sand.
The sights are definitely what makes the Treen Farm Campsite a standout among Cornwall’s established campgrounds. There’s a good chance you’ll even get to spot glorious whales from the clifftop, and that’s certainly an unforgettable experience for both kids and adults. Most people who decide to camp here usually get visited by cows that live on the property, too.
As for the facilities, you can expect drinking water standpipes, chemical waste disposal, outside catering, washing-up sinks, coin-operated washing machines, electrical hookups, toilets, showers, a campers kitchen, and a communal fire pit. It’s a complete package!
Trevaylor Caravan & Camping Park
The last Cornish campground I’ll be taking a look at is situated in the lovely West Penwith area, very close to the region’s stunning rugged coastline. Its name is Trevaylor Caravan & Camping Park and it’s a place that has something for all kinds of camping enthusiasts.
The lovers of history will be pleased to know that this campground is very close to the historical Crowns Mine, which boasts old engine houses set on the rugged coastline mentioned above. If you’re an avid surfer, on the other hand, make sure to visit the nearby Sennen Cove – it’s a world-renowned surfing beach that’s guaranteed to get your adrenaline pumping.
The closest town is St Just, the home to the popular Lafrowda Festival and a place which you can visit whenever you need provisions. There, you will find two supermarkets, a bakery, a chemist, and a couple of pubs – it’s an ideal destination for folks who’d like to enjoy a local pint coupled with a Cornish pasty.
When it comes to the on-site facilities, there are indoor washing-up sinks, coin-operated tumble dryers and washing machines, Wi-Fi, and 16amp electrical hookups. The bus station is just outside the campground.
Cornwall is a magical place – there’s no doubt about that. Fortunately, those interested in wild camping can engage in their favorite activity in this region as long as they get permission from the landowner.
This means that it’s pretty much impossible to engage in true wild camping in this region. However, most of the places I’ve described in this article definitely do provide that “wild” feel – these are huge properties where one is able to enjoy Cornwall’s breathtaking sights almost completely unbothered by other people.
I love hiking, backpacking, and camping. From the Camino de Santiago to the West Highland Way in Scotland or simply a great day hike on the weekend. Hiking refreshes me, my mind, and keeps my body reasonably fit. So far I have walked three Camino routes and many other long distance hikes in the UK, Canada, and around the rest of Europe. One of the best was my hike up Ben Nevis.