What you Need to Know about National Forest Camping, UK

The National Forest is one of the UK’s proudest achievements, with eight million trees planted by local councils, landowners, schoolchildren, charities and individuals, it is one of the national treasures. However, few realise its potential as an affordable holiday destination, especially for those seeking a budget break in the UK

There is so much to see and do throughout the National Forest, making it an ideal destination for a range of travellers. From its plethora of hiking and biking trails to its rich history and heritage and much more, you’ll never be bored when visiting here. Whether you’re planning a solo backpacking adventure, a trip with the whole family, or a romantic getaway, this beautiful part of the UK is sure to impress. 

Keep reading to learn more about the National Forest, alongside some top tips and things to do on your break here! 

Why Visit the National Forest? 

The National Forest promises days of discovering the UK’s amazing and varied wildlife, without having to spend a penny. Footpaths and cycle trails wind across the whole area, providing plenty of opportunity to see as much or as little as you like – you could even try travelling through the hills and fields on horseback! 

There are several beautiful reservoirs with picnic areas and playgrounds, accessible from most of the woodland walks. Fishing is another popular way to discover the nature of the National Forest, and a great opportunity to learn a new activity!

Its beautiful scenery and impressive landscapes create the ideal environment to disconnect and relax during your getaway. With so many wonderful places to explore and historical sights to uncover, you’ll find yourself lost in all that the National Forest has to offer.

For those looking to scour some of the top places in the UK, the National Forest is a must. With plenty of exciting activities and unique attractions, a trip here won’t disappoint! 

The Best Time to Visit the National Forest

When you decide to visit the National Forest ultimately depends on how you plan to spend your time here. The UK is known for its varying seasons and climate which can affect several aspects of your break. Below is a little more information on the weather throughout the seasons, this way you can plan your trip with all of this in mind. 


With colourful flowers beginning to bloom, the sun shining bright and the song of birds echoing through the forest, spring is a lovely time to explore the UK. Temperatures range from 12°C to 18°C during this time, providing an excellent climate for those looking to get out and active. You will also discover lots of new life when staying in the National Forest during this season as lambs are born and wildlife begins to emerge from hibernation. 

Generally, fewer tourists are visiting the National Forest in spring, making it ideal for those planning a tranquil getaway. However, there can be a few rain showers during this season so we recommend packing plenty of waterproof clothing when planning to spend time outdoors. 


As summer approaches, so do the eager tourists, making it a much busier time to visit the National Park. With a vibrant atmosphere and excellent climate, it comes as no surprise that this is a favoured season for those planning a break in the UK. 

Temperatures average from 12°C to 23°C in summer, allowing for plenty of outdoor activities and adventures. There are also lots of events and festivities, alongside great attractions throughout the UK, perfect for those looking for a ton of things to do during their break here. 


A trip to the National Forest in autumn is truly spectacular. Hues of orange and red coat the grounds as the summer leaves begin to fall. The air is crisp and there is still plenty of sunshine for visitors to enjoy. 

Temperatures drop to around 6°C to 13°C and the landscapes change in colour. With still lots to do around the National Forest in autumn, a trip here during this time is sure to impress. We recommend packing plenty of layers for your break as there can be some cool days during this season, especially at night. 


If you’re seeking frosted landscapes and festive cheer, winter is the best time to plan a break in the UK. The weather is much cooler during this season with average highs of 7°C and lows of around 2°C. With this in mind, plenty of warm layers and thick jackets are recommended for your stay. 

You can scour Christmas markets and marvel over the pretty lights throughout the towns and villages. The National Forest glimmers under frost and with a chance of snow, you can enjoy the stunning scenery blanketed in white. 

It is important to note that the days are shorter in the UK in winter with fewer daylight hours to enjoy. This means that planning is essential for your break as you’ll want to ensure you have seen all the top sights and attractions before nightfall. 

Activities in the National Forest 

You will discover an abundance of activities to enjoy around the National Forest, great for those planning a jam-packed break. From hiking, biking, horse riding and more, there’s something for everyone in this lovely part of the UK. 

To help get your planning started, check out some of the best activities to appreciate in the National Forest below. 


The National Forest is home to a plethora of hiking trails, great for those seeking plenty of adventure during their break. With hundreds of miles of paths to scour, you’re sure to find a walk to suit a range of abilities when staying here. 

Some of the best routes worth checking out include Beacon Hill Country Park, Boothorpe Wood, Calke Abbey and Park, Rosliston Forestry Centre, Jacksons Bank, plus many more. So, grab your hiking boots and get ready to embark on incredible adventures when exploring the National Forest on foot! 


Much like the many walking routes around the National Forest, you will also discover some excellent bike trails. You can spend time riding through idyllic country lanes, peaceful bridleways and much more when embarking on a cycling adventure here. 

Conkers Circuit, Calke Abbey Tramway and Hicks Lodge are some of the favoured bike paths around the National Forest. However, when exploring the area, you’re sure to discover an abundance of other routes to enjoy. 

Horse Riding

For those looking for a unique way to explore the National Forest, horseback riding will allow you to do just that! There are several bridleways throughout the forest, providing the perfect place for horse riders to immerse themselves in the stunning surroundings. 

Beacon Hill Country Park, Hicks Lodge and Boothorpe Wood in Moira, plus Sence Valley Forest Park are all excellent locations for those looking to ride here.  


Visitors will also find a fantastic network of waterways throughout The National Forest, making it ideal for those pursuing adventure atop the water. With sailing, windsurfing, canoeing and fishing available, you will discover a plethora of activities for all to enjoy here. 

Some excellent sailing and windsurfing spots include Staunton Harold Reservoir and Foremark Reservoir. Whereas fishing can be found in multiple sites across the National Forest. These are perfect for those looking to try something different during their break, or anyone hoping to explore the waterways around the area.  

Wildlife Spotting

You will discover lots of stunning wildlife throughout the National Park, providing the perfect opportunity to sit back and spot the many species here. With plenty of birds, deer, rabbits and much more throughout the forest, there are a ton of chances to catch a glimpse of the lovely nature here. 

Some of the best spots for wildlife spotting include Lount Nature Reserve, Dunstall Estate, Martinshaw Wood, The Partings Wood, Sunnyside Wood, The Outwoods and many more. Plus, it’s likely that as you make your way around the National Forest, you’re sure to spot a selection of creatures along the way – so be sure to keep your eyes peeled! 

Attractions in the National Forest

There are so many attractions in the National Forest area that it can be difficult to know where to start. Take a walk through historic castles and gardens, or head to one of the zoos and nature reserves in the area to learn more about the UK’s native flora and fauna. Surrounding National Trust attractions are a great way to see the area’s heritage and you can spend days on end just exploring the beautiful landscapes. 

Below are some of the favoured attractions around the National Forest. This way you can plan your trip here with all of the top spots in mind.

Ashby de la Zouch Castle – Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire

The Ashby de la Zouch Castle is a 15th-century manor house, featuring extensive remains including the chapel, buttery, tower and even a secret kitchen tunnel. You can find this attraction in Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire, an excellent way to uncover some of the area’s fascinating history. 

Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre & Country Park – Sutton Cheney, Nuneaton

Learn everything you ever wanted to know about Mediaeval battlefields, with amazing displays and archaeology tours at the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre and Country Park. Detailing the rise and fall of the Tudor Empire, this is an excellent attraction for the whole family. Be sure to visit in August where you can also catch a glimpse of the impressive re-enactments! 

Marston’s Brewery – Burton Upon Trent, Staffordshire

A must for beer lovers, this traditional Victorian brewhouse includes a tour of the brewery itself and a tasting session with the brewing team. This is perfect for those hoping to spend some time relaxing, or simply indulge in an impressive selection of beers. 

Woodland Ways Bushcraft and Survival – Rowsley, Matlock

Essential training for even the most seasoned camper, this excellent attraction is great for those looking to try something a little different. The survival sessions give you the skills to build a shelter and light a fire as well as plant and animal identification, all in the heart of the forest.

Bluebell Arboretum and Nursery – Smisby, Ashby-de-la-Zouch

For those looking to spend some time scouring the National Forest on foot, be sure to check out the Bluebell Arboretum and Nursery. This is a stunning woodland walk with rare plants on display and a fantastic collection of specialist trees and shrubberies – ideal for the botanical enthusiast!

There are also opportunities to partake in guided walking tours around the New Forest National Park, great for those looking to learn more about the wildlife and landscapes. Get your tickets here which will help plan your trip with ease. 

Food and Drink in the National Forest

You will discover an impressive selection of bars, restaurants and cafes in the many towns and villages around the National Forest. These cater to a range of tastes and preferences, great for varying holiday itineraries. 

There are also regular farmers’ markets and a large number of farm shops in the area, ideal for hungry campers looking to try some local produce. You’ll even spot several food fairs cropping up throughout the year, so be sure to check in advance to see what’s on

Accommodation in the National Forest

If you’re not so keen on camping, don’t worry! We’ve also included some great hotel options below. This way you can plan a break to the National Forest with a little added luxury!

Hotels in the National Forest

Wychnor Park Country Club

Set in an idyllic country estate is the lovely Wychnor Park Country Club in Staffordshire. This accommodation is an excellent option for those pursuing beautiful natural surroundings and a lavish break near the National Forest. There are plenty of added amenities and fantastic facilities at this hotel, providing guests with a lot to do during their stay.

For more information or to book your visit to Wychnor Park Country Club click here.

Champneys Springs Health Resort

Champneys Springs is positioned in lovely parkland providing guests with pretty natural scenery at every twist and turn in beautiful Leicestershire. You can explore the National Forest and then head back to your hotel to enjoy a swimming pool, hot tub, fitness centre or steam room – the best way to relax after a day of exploring.

Check out Champneys Springs Health Resort here to make your booking today.

The Bubble Inn Hotel

Those seeking a charming break near the National Forest are sure to be impressed when visiting the Bubble Inn Hotel in Derbyshire. You will discover plenty of things to see and do from the hotel, making it an excellent choice for the whole family.

For more information and to make a booking, you can see more about the Bubble Inn Hotel here.


We hope that after reading this article you can now plan your next trip to the National Forest with everything you need to know in mind. This is a beautiful place to visit in the UK and caters to a range of holiday itineraries. With its abundance of fantastic wildlife, beautiful scenery, thrilling activities and unique attractions, this is a must-visit destination. No matter how you decide to plan your getaway in the National Forest, you’re sure to find something for all when staying here, alongside memories to last a lifetime. 

If you’d like to check out more places to explore around Europe, see our other travel guides which are packed with information!

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About the Author

Ella Whitehead

Marketing Executive for SEO Travel, travel writer for Backpacker Boy, passion for content creation and adventure!