'Cool Camping England' reveals the best places to pitch up in 2011

Here, the guide's editor Jonathan Knight selects his favourites, from forest hideaways to fairy knolls
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The Independent Travel

Secret Garden, Cornwall

Located in the grounds of a rather grand, granite mansion, the site is hidden from view, as its name dictates it should be. There are just 12 pitches here, so you won't have to share the secret with many. Facilities are colourful and spotless, and you'll discover many little-trodden footpaths leading coastward. Escape the crowds and take a dip at Cape Cornwall, before wandering back in the afternoon's glow for a cream tea in the garden.

Secret Garden, Bosavern House, St Just, Penzance, Cornwall, TR19 7RD (01736 788301; secretbosavern.com). A tent sleeping two adults costs £15 per night. Open 1 March-31 October.

Hole Station, Devon

Among the wild flowers and ancient oaks, you'll discover a site so special you won't want to leave your leafy hideout. Woodland pitches offer privacy within a magical tree-filled setting, while the meadow pitches enjoy the heavenly, heady aroma of wild flowers and campfires. Each pitch has a fire-pit, and fire-starting kits (including environmentally-sensitive coppiced wood) can be yours for a fiver. You can also rent a pre-erected tent, if you prefer to travel light.

Hole Station, Highampton, Beaworthy, Devon, EX21 5JH (01409 231266; freewebs.com/holestationcampsite). A pitch for a two-man tent costs from £12 per night. Rent-A-Tent for two adults costs from £25. Open April-October.

Riverside Lakes, Dorset

With 12 acres of dreamy natural meadow and woodland, and three lakes enclosed by circular paths and thick shrubbery, Riverside Lakes offers space and seclusion in a beautiful setting. It's a chilled-out site with an emphasis on peace and quiet where groups can hire a "cluster" of pitches, carved out of the tall, wild meadow grass for extra privacy. There are also bell tents for two, four or six people equipped with mattresses, cushions, a table and wood-burning stove.

Riverside Lakes, Slough Lane Horton, Wimborne, Dorset, BH21 7JL (01202 821212; riverside-lakes.co.uk). A tent sleeping two adults costs from £14 per night. A Soul Pad bell tent costs from £38. Open 21 April-3 October.

Woodland Camping Eco, Sussex

If your idea of camping heaven is somewhere between the silver birch sanctuary of Tolkien's Rivendell and the woodland storybook bliss of 100 Acre Wood, then fling wide those pearly gates, my friend – you've found it. Starting with a 15-minute amble past fairy knolls and a maze, you transport your belongings in wheelbarrows (or by tractor if you're an enthusiastic packer) to the simple site. This leaves the camping area in glorious car- and fume-free harmony, perfect for getting in touch with your inner bushman.

Woodland Camping Eco, Ashwood Farm, West Hoathly Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19 4ND (01342 316129; woodlandcampingeco.wordpress.com). A tent sleeping two adults costs £24 per night (£16 if you don't arrive by car). Open April-October.

Alde Garden, Suffolk

You can't fault this site on sheer diversity of accommodation... In fact, you can't fault it on much else either. You can camp as nature intended (in your own tent), or else try the bell tent, yurt, tepee, gypsy caravan or the catchily named "wooden-tent-on-stilts". The jungle shower is a particularly fine addition, where you can shower al-fresco under droplets warmed by the sun's rays, while checking out the view of next door's pigs.

Alde Garden, The White Horse Inn, Low Road, Sweffling, Suffolk, IP17 2BB (01728 664178; aldegarden.co.uk). A tent sleeping two adults costs from £10 per night. Other acc ommodations cost from £30. Open Easter-October.

Holycombe, Warwickshire

Norman castles, moats, stone circles and converging ley lines? This is definitely a special place with a rich history. It is all the more ironic then, that before owners Sally and Andy Birtwell built their eco-home and adjoining campsite here, it was a scrapyard. A lot has changed since then, and there is now an on-site holistic healing centre along with two bell tents, a Bedouin tent and a tepee. Explore the adjacent wildlife-rich conservation area to spot deer, polecats or even kingfishers.

Holycombe, Whichford, Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire, CV36 5PH (01608 684239; holycombe.com). A tent sleeping two adults costs £15 per night. Other accommodations cost from £25. Open all year; Bedouin, bell tents and tepee open May-September.

Foxholes Castle, Shropshire

Do not be alarmed; the armoured knight waving a sword at you from his rooftop perch is quite harmless. He's just one of the many crazy statues and quirky, creative touches that make this campsite such a joy. Divided into four meadow-like fields, each with its own character, there's something here to suit all camping whims. The views aren't bad either – as long as you're a fan of hills. Bird-lovers and walkers can rejoice too, the goldfinches here are outnumbered only by the butterflies, and there are several long-distance footpaths running close by (or straight though) the site.

Foxholes Castle, Montgomery Road, Bishop's Castle, Shropshire, SY9 5HA (01588 638924; foxholes-castle.co.uk). A tent sleeping two adults costs £12 per night. Open all year.

New House Farm, Peak District

This site offers camping at its very basic best. And when we say basic, we're talking no showers. Or hot water. Those minor details aside, this site is all about effortlessly blending into the playground of no-holds-barred natural wonderment that is the beautiful Derbyshire countryside. Bob Smail owns this site on an organic farm; he'll happily sell you all manner of organic produce, before packing you off (map in hand) on his very own archaeological trail.

New House Farm, Longrose Lane, Kniveton, Ashbourne, Derbyshire, DE6 1JL (01335 342429; www.newhousefarm.co.uk). A tent sleeping two costs £10 per night. Open April-September: school holiday weekends only.

Rydal Hall, Cumbria

The little hamlet of Rydal has William Wordsworth's seal of approval, and that old romantic sure had an eye for a pretty view. Rydal Hall is perched on a hill above Rydal Water, and boasts 34 acres of woodland, a formal Edwardian garden, a waterfall and viewing hut, a croquet lawn, teashop and quite possibly one of the most cultured campsites in England. All the features and facilities are open to campers, and even "glampers" are catered for with yurts (a separate operation) and eco pods (insulated wooden huts) dotted about the grounds. Pure camping poetry.

Rydal Hall, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 9LX (01539 432050; rydalhall.org). A tent sleeping two adults costs £13 per night. Eco pods cost £30. Open all year.

Swaledale Camping, North Yorkshire

This site is delightful in its simplicity; a stretch of grass flanked by old dry-stone walls and a lovely river, with a tap for water and the thumbs-up for campfires. It's countryside camping at its best – and who needs an amenities block, when you have a fast-flowing river of finest Yorkshire water? Camping purists will be heartened to know there's no mobile phone reception here, which only adds to the off-grid appeal.

Swaledale Camping, Hoggarths Farm, Keld, Richmond, North Yorkshire, DL11 6LT (01748 886335; swaledalecamping.co.uk). A small tent costs £3 per night, large tents £5. Open March-October.

'Cool Camping England' by Jonathan Knight (Punk Publishing), £16.95; coolcamping.co.uk

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