The Top UK Canalside Camping Destinations for Families

Who doesn’t dream of escaping to the great outdoors, waking to crisp country air at sunrise, hiking forgotten trails, gathering around barbeques at night?  The snag is traditional campsites could get rather crowded, especially during summer.  But that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying nature with your family.

The UK has about 3,500 km of waterways traversing the country.  On the canal banks, you will find a mishmash of rustic old towns, breathtaking countryside, booming cities, and, of course, a bunch of campsites.  But where are the best canals to pitch camp? Read on to find out.


  1. Camping by the Bude Canal

Small and quiet, the seaside town of Bude is ideal for relaxing weekends.  But if you want an out-and-out water adventure, it’s close enough to some of Cornwall’s best beaches Cornwall camping can be an unusual family holiday but has something for everyone. And if you crave some fancy dinner, the town centre has its share of trendy cafes and restaurants.

However, the best attraction in the area is the 35-mile Bude Canal that dates back to 1825.

Originally built to carry lime-rich sea-sand, coal, and timber, the canal closed in 1891 when trade declined as the railway reached the town.  In 2009, parts of the waterway opened for tourism after a £ 5 million restoration project.  Now, you can walk or cycle along the towpath, navigate the waters on a kayak or canoe, or go on a fantastic fishing adventure.


  1. Camping by the Oxford Canal

Being landlocked hasn’t stop Oxfordshire from hosting an impressive number of waterside camps – thanks to River Thames, its tributaries, and the Oxford Canal.  The 78-mile waterway connects the city of Oxford to the market town of Bedworth in the Midlands.  Most parts of the canal are tranquil, with nothing but diverse wildlife and the occasional traditional narrowboats.   But some areas teem with waterside markets, shops, and pubs.

If you love the idea of no-frills camping, there are tents-only sites by the canal.  However, plenty of campsites welcome motorhomes and campervans.  A few even offer glamping accommodations.

Are you wondering about the best way to get there?  Hire a canal boat and enjoy an Oxford narrow boating holiday as well as a camping break, not only for the views but also the experience.


  1. Camping by the Leeds and Liverpool Canal

The 200-year-old canal links the vibrant cities of Leeds and Liverpool.  The waterway flows through East Lancashire, traverses the Pennine countryside, glides by scenic villages on the fringes of the Yorkshire Dales before ending in Leeds. Stretching for 127 miles, it is ideal for scenic hikes, boat expeditions, and wildlife spotting.

One of the best campsites by the Leeds and Liverpool Canal is Niffany Farm, a working homestead that offers space for caravans and motorhomes, plus an unobstructed view of the Aire Valley.  From the camp, you can conveniently access the Yorkshire Dales and the bustling market town of Skipton.  But of course, you should never miss the chance to cycle or hike along the canal first.


  1. Camping by the Grand Western Canal

The 11-mile Devon section of the Grand Western Canal is all that remains of an ambitious plan to link the Bristol Channel with the English Channel through an artificial, upcountry waterway.  The canal is now a country park and nature reserve, offering stunning views of the surrounding countryside, a wealth of wildlife, and thrilling adventures for people of all ages.

Get on a boat and paddle your way through tranquil waters, spotting moorhens, swans, and kingfishers.  Find a quiet spot and try your luck fishing for tench, pike, or perch. Ramble along the towpath and look for structures from the canal’s heyday, including the Tiverton Basin and the 40m-long Waytown Tunnel.

Not sure where to camp?  Check out the Minnows Touring Park or the Waterloo Cross Caravan Park.