Summer 2012: Under canvas


Pitch up at the new luxury campsite at Dromquinna Manor (00 353 64 664 2888; on the south-west coast of Ireland. A dozen safari tents, including five suitable for families, are the latest accommodation on offer at this waterside estate in Co Kerry. Swimming, cycling and horse riding are among the activities on offer and there's a daily water-taxi to nearby Kenmare. Two-bed family tents cost from €150 (£120) per night for two adults; children under 16 pay €15 (£12) per night. Return ferry crossings from Pembroke to Rosslare cost from £330 with Irish Ferries (0818 300 400;

Hop over to the Mayenne (, in the Pays de la Loire, France, where Echologia (00 33 09 82 47 60 31; has just opened. This 69-hectare reclaimed quarry features woodland and lakes for nature-based holidays, with 100km of greenways for walkers and cyclists and activities including rock climbing, archery lessons and joining volunteers to help restore the area. Accommodation is available in yurts, tepees and cabins that float on a lake. One night's B&B in a yurt starts from £85 for two sharing. Rail Europe (0844 848 4070; currently offers returns from London St Pancras to Laval (via Paris) from £145 per person, from where free transfers are provided.

If you really want to get back to nature, take some advice from Campingninja (, which has been championing good old-fashioned experiences with its Real Camping campaign, counting the quality of the views as more important than the threadcount of your linen. Some of its favourites include Parkgate Farm in the western Lake District, overlooking the fells of Eskdale, Porthclaise Farm Campsite at St David's in Pembrokeshire on the newly-completed Wales Coast Path, and Trewan Hall in Cornwall, set in woods around an old stone mansion.