Q. We're looking for a campsite in the UK, which isn't just a huge field packed with tents and caravans. I'm trying to find something like the National Parks Service sites where we stayed in the US. The plots had a space for a car, a couple of tents, a picnic table and a barbecue, plus small shops and a shower and toilet block. They had all the "getting-back-to-nature" feel of camping, but with none of the inconveniences. Is there anything like this in the UK?
H Bloomfield, via e-mail
A. Britain may not have the network of campsites offered by the NPS, but it is possible to find somewhere that offers more than a plot of land to pitch your tent on.
The National Trust (0870 458 4000; www.nationaltrust.org.uk) has more than 50 campsites throughout rural England, Wales and Northern Ireland. They often have only a few places at each site, so noise and intrusion are kept to a minimum. Sites are managed by the Trust itself, the Caravan Club (01342 326944; www.caravanclub.co.uk) and the Trust's tenant farmers.
The National Trust manages three campsites in the Lake District: Wasdale (019467 26220), Great Langdale (015394 37668) and Low Wray (01539 432810). There is a shop, laundry, hot water, disabled facilities, a nature trail at Wasdale and boat launches at Low Wray.
Wasdale Head is under the Scafell range at the head of Lake Wastwater. There is plenty to do such as hiking up England's highest mountain, Scafell Pike. Canoeing is possible on the lake. Beaches at Silecroft, Millom and Drigg offer respite from the fell walking. Prices are £4.50 for an adult, £1.50 for a child and £2 for a car.
The Camping and Caravanning Club (024 7669 4995; www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk) has more than 1,000 campsites around the UK. These sites are available to members only, but come with a guarantee of no more than five caravans per site. The grounds also offer drinking water and disposal points, with "hideaway" sites for a real retreat. Membership costs £30 per year (plus a £5 joining fee).
One such site, Inverewe Garden Poolewe (01445 781249), in the Scottish Highlands of Achnasheen, offers both a natural escape and an unusual sub-tropical climate thanks to the Gulf Stream. It has breathtaking views of the lochside scenery and the National Nature Reserve at Beinn Eighe. Facilities include toilets, showers and a laundry with prices from £4.30 per night for adults.
If you are really looking to get away from it all, try Resipole Farm (01967 431235; www.resipole.co.uk) or Glenview Camping Park (01967 402123) in Acharacle near Fort William, in western Scotland. Both are remote campsites with limited pitches, overlooking Loch Sunart - a great spot for sailing, kayaking and fishing. The Glenview site is a quiet, family-run park with superb views of the Ardnamurchan peninsula, close to the village of Strontian, offering separate fields for caravans and tents. Tent pitches cost £4-£4.50 per person per night. The Resipole site promises peace and tranquillity with stunning views, good amenities and a feeling of seclusion. Camping for two adults starts at £10 and £1 for children.
The Countryside Discovery Parks (0870 240 6085; www.countryside-discovery.co.uk) is a consortium of family-run campsites in peaceful locations around the UK. The campsites pride themselves on the tranquillity of their location, but still offer the amenities that you are looking for. Of these, I would recommend a visit to Westermill Farm Campsite (01643 831238; www.exmoorfarmholidays.co.uk), in Exmoor National Park. The 60 pitches are dotted around six acres of meadow beside the river Exe. Amenities include a laundry, a shop selling fresh produce from the farm, hot showers and a dishwashing area. You can swim and fish in the river, or explore the countryside. No caravans are allowed. Prices are £4 for adults, £2 for children and £2 for a car.
Many other independently owned campsites around the UK can be found by contacting local tourist boards. Visit Britain (020-8846 9000; www.visitbritain.com) also offers comprehensive information.
Send your family travel questions to The Independent Parent, Travel Desk, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org