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12 of the wildest campsites in Wales to book this summer

Though wild camping is off the cards in Wales, there are plenty of places to pitch that feel far-flung and steeped in nature — if you know where to look. So, settle in for starry skies at these 12 beautiful Welsh campsites.

In Wales, campsites offering just a handful of pitches often tick the most wild camping boxes in terms of personality, views and seclusion.

Photograph by Getty Images
Published 28 Jun 2021, 10:05 BST

With its ancient woodlands, dramatic coastline and glassy lakes, there’s something truly distinctive about the Welsh wilds. The country holds some of the UK’s oldest national parks — Snowdonia, Brecon Beacons and the Pembrokeshire Coast — all founded in the 1950s, protecting around 20% of all the country's land. And, though wild camping is illegal in Wales, as is the case across most of the UK, there are plenty of places to stay that feel far-flung and steeped in nature. Sites offering just a handful of pitches often tick the most boxes in terms of personality, views and seclusion. With this in mind, we’ve rounded up some of the wildest spots in Wales for a scenic — and delightfully rugged — camping experience. Wrap up, gather round the campfire and settle in for some beautiful starry skies at these 12 camping grounds.

Read more: Must-have camping gear for summer 2021

Right by the shores of the Dyfi Estuary, Smuggler's Cove Boatyard is a small and peaceful spot for waterfront camping.

Photograph by Smuggler's Cove Boatyard

1. Aberbran Fawr, Brecon Beacons

Walking, mountain biking and horse-riding trails are all close to this peaceful campsite, just three miles from the historic cathedral town of Brecon. And for the more adventurous, caving tours are an option in the forest and waterfall strewn area. Opt to pitch your tent in the meadow opposite the River Usk, with panoramic countryside views. From mid-June to August, you can even pick your own fruits from the farm to tuck into during your stay. £9 per night per adult. aberbranfawr.co.uk

2. Brynglas Retreat, Glamorgan

Set in the foothills of the Black Mountains, this campervan campsite describes itself as ‘semi-wild’. While it’s set up for motorhomes, it’s also in harmony with its wild surroundings, offering wildflower meadows, a stream, a compost toilet and non-electric pitches. Only over-25s are allowed to stay here, a convenient 10-minute drive from Brecon Beacons National Park. There’s a communal barbecue and firepit as well as a red kite feeding station, plus plenty of walking routes nearby. Dogs are allowed, too. From £12 for one person for one night. brynglasretreat.com

3. Camping Wild Wales, Pembrokeshire

With a website made up of mostly poetry and pictures, the owners of Camping Wild Wales encourage campers to ‘leave that tarmac, feel the Earth, see the stars and hear the sea’ at their meadow campsite, with secluded, back-to-basics pitches that are dog- and family-friendly. This one is just off the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, between Fishguard and St Davids, and is a great option for coastal walkers or anyone interested in trying out cliff jumping, coasteering, kayaking or other adventure watersports. Each pitch comes with its own water and firepit. £11 per night per adult. campingwildwales.co.uk

Rivers, waterfalls, historic castles and Lake Vyrnwy make for special surrounds at Tipis at Ponty, in Powys.

Photograph by Ruby Walker

4. Cwellyn Arms, Snowdonia

Set within the limits of Snowdonia National Park, this is the Snowdon Base Camp. Located directly at the base of Mount Snowdon, the site is fairly close to a popular ascent, but with its strict no-music policy and no vehicle access route, it still manages to feel peaceful and secluded. It overlooks Cwellyn Lake with views extending up to Wales’ highest mountain. There are plenty of facilities here to help hikers and climbers warm up, like firepits, coin-operated electric sockets and underfloor heating in the shower. From £12 per night for an adult. snowdoninn.co.uk

Read more: A beginner's guide to wild camping

5. Graig Wen Arthog, Gwynedd

While on first appearances this small campsite might not seem like the wildest option (there’s a yurt and some shepherd huts, plus some space for motorhomes with electric hook ups), take the option to pitch further afield near the Mawddach Estuary, which has incredible views. These pitches are in ‘secret’ meadows — follow the stone walls through the woods to get there — with sheltered glades and campfires. There’s a compost toilet, too. Pitches start at £7 per adult. graigwen.co.uk

6. Gwalia Farm, Powys

Set beside a lake in the hills close to Machynlleth, this a small, family-run organic farm serves up beautiful views over Snowdonia along the Cambrian Way (making it ideal for walkers keen to tackle sections of the 185-mile mountain route). There are no fixed pitches at this site — instead you’ll find peaceful wilderness, open water swimming spots, ‘earth loos’ in the woods and a natural spring that provides drinking and washing water. In the day, otters and nightjars can be spotted, while at night, glow worms illuminate the woods. Pitches start from £4 per adult. gwaliafarm.co.uk

Gwalia Farm is a small, family-run organic farm that serves up beautiful views over Snowdonia along the Cambrian Way.

Photograph by Gwalia Farm

7. Gwern Gof Uchaf, Gwynedd

Set in the foothills of Tryfan peak, on a 750-acre working farm above the Ogwen Valley, this campsite is bordering on a high-altitude base camp. It’s a great one for mountain hikers looking for a wild place to set up camp, with the Carneddau and Glyders summits within easy reach. After all the hiking, hot showers are on hand to tend sore muscles. The Plas y Brenin National Outdoor Centre is close by too, offering outdoor activities like canoeing and climbing. £7 per person per night. tryfanwales.co.uk

8. Into the Sticks, Pembrokeshire

A dead-end track snakes up to this 14-acre nature reserve, where just five camping pitches are set up (near to one diminutive house). The pitches are dotted between sections of long grass, each with its own picnic bench, surrounded by the River Cleddau, woodlands and an abundance of Welsh wildlife. The firewood is free (campfires are allowed) and for rainy days, there’s the Campers’ Barn to shelter in — complete with board games and darts. £35 per night for two adults. intothesticks.co.uk

9. Lone Wolf, Glamorgan

It’s a truly wild affair at Glyn Y Mul Farm in Aberdulais. The River Dulais runs through the 18-acre wood, where campers can choose to pitch in the top field, close to some basic facilities (think microwave, fridge and hot shower), or go full ‘Lone Wolf’, walking into the woods to be completely immersed in the natural surroundings by a campfire. There are clearings by the river, and only a handful of people can camp at any one time, many just opting for a hammock or bivvy over a tent. £10 per night per adult. glynymulfarm.co.uk

Cwellyn Arms overlooks Cwellyn Lake, with views extending up to Wales’ highest mountain, Snowdonia.

Photograph by Cwellyn Arms 

10. Priory Mill Farm, Brecon Beacons

While only a 10-minute drive from the popular Brecon Beacons, this small-scale, low-impact riverside meadow camping spot feels secluded — the only building on site being a Grade II-listed mill, dating back centuries. The owners are conscious of trying to provide a comfortable spot without taking anything away from the beauty of the nature that surrounds it. The site has direct access to walking, hiking and cycling routes in the Brecon Beacons, which is celebrated for its unpolluted views of the night sky. £10 per person per night. priorymillfarm.co.uk

11. Smugglers Cove Boatyard, Snowdonia

Right by the shores of the Dyfi Estuary, this small and peaceful setup is a great spot for waterfront camping. There are three pitches (all are campfire and dog-friendly), and it’s just three miles from Aberdyfi and seven from Machynlleth, where there are plenty of good pubs and cycling tracks. When the tide’s out, a little beach appears in the estuary, and when the water’s high, campers can swim or even canoe. Come evening, it’s the perfect place to watch the sun set over the river. £20 per night for a two-person tent. smugglerscove.info

12. Tipis at Ponty, Powys

This tiny, adults-only campsite scores highly with guests. There are two tipis and three riverside pitching spots across a six-acre plot, meaning space and privacy aren’t in short supply. The tipis come with a fire basket and outdoor seating, while all guests enjoy a sheltered area for cooking and playing board games (you can also pick up some homemade produce for sale here, too). As well as exploring the adjacent River Cain, there are waterfalls, Lake Vyrnwy and historic castles nearby for day trips. £30 per pitch. thewhytes.co.uk

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