While there has been debate about whether 'staycation' means just not going abroad or holidaying from your own house, it's clear that holidaying closer to home is a good idea while covid is still with us - and we're fortunate that Oxfordshire is a great place to enjoy your well-earned time off! Whether you're looking to take your family on a rugged adventure, or just have a break from the familiar four walls of home without the hefty price tag of a hotel, camping offers great flexibility and the chance to discover some wonderful new locations.
Back to Basics
If you really want to get away from the hustle and bustle of working life, you could opt for a totally off-grid experience such as those offered by Barefoot Campsites. Located at the beautiful Northmoor Lock (on the Thames Path about 6 miles out of Oxford), they have no electric hook-ups, no cars onsite, and composting toilets (and unsurprisingly, given all this, no wifi!), providing that bit more encouragement to reconnect with the landscape and your fellow campers, through walks and wild swimming.
Our team member Jen stayed here as part of a walking holiday along the Thames path. She says: "It was one of the lowest key and best holidays I've ever had, despite the cold April nights. Really beautiful, all the locks have water taps so you don't have to carry much water, you can kind of measure your progress by the locks you pass, it was gorgeous."
Famed for their ethical and organic produce, Willowbrook Farm (at Hampton Gay near Kidlington) offer a similarly eco-friendly approach to camping: their site is electricity-free with composting toilets, and a wealth of footpaths around the site offers opportunities to meet two and four-legged friends from the farm, as well as neighbouring wildlife. They run an annual Music Festival in August primarily for people staying at the campsite!
Probably the best-value holiday accommodation you can find in Central Oxford, the campsite at Go Outdoors off the Abingdon Road is conveniently located to try out a newly-purchased tent. Run by the Camping and Caravanning Club (members get discounted pitches), there's a back-to-basics charm while being so close to the City Centre.
A Touch of Luxury
At the other end of the scale is the option of glamping, where you can get close to nature without giving up on creature comforts. Our team member Anna recently stayed at Valley Farm Campsite, in one of their spacious Bell Tents. She says "If, like me, you enjoy the idea of camping but not the reality of sleeping on the ground, I can thoroughly recommend glamping at Valley Farm. They have everything you could want from a hotel but with buckets more charm - hot showers, a comfy bed, fire pits and even an onsite wood-fired pizza restaurant!"
The site is located near Farmoor Reservoir, a short bus ride from both Oxford and Eynsham, and they also have pitches for tents and caravans if that's your preference.
Equally luxurious, Rolling Fields recently opened their site, exclusively offering glamping, in bell tents, larger Luna tents, or a refurbished shepherd's hut - all with their own private bathrooms! Located near Cholsey (perfect for exploring the delights of South Oxfordshire's countryside), they provide all equipment for cooking, towels and linens, and even a selection of food to cook yourself on the fire pit, so you can just rock up and let your hair down.
Close to the Action
If you want all your thrills in one place, these campsites all offer additional activities to give you even more reason to stay.
Greenhill Leisure Park near Bletchingdon offers space to pitch tents, caravans and motor homes, but so much more besides: they have fishing lakes onsite, as well as a kids' playground, an art studio, farm animals (including alpacas!) and even beauty treatments, so you can plan a relaxing spa getaway, an action-packed family holiday, or a combination of both, in one go...
Riverside Park and Pools in Wallingford is the perfect place to stay if you want to explore the picturesque town, while also making full use of the heated outdoor pool and splash park! To make even more of a splash, it's a short drive to Oxford Wet and Wild: an inflatable theme park floating on Queenford Lakes. You're certain to make memories (or advance your training for Total Wipeout).
And for something completely different, the owners of recently-opened Ridgeway View campsite have built an onsite axe-throwing range (see our review here)! Turn your camping into a tribal bonding experience by sharing close quarters at night, then learning how to unleash your inner Viking through specialist lessons by day. If you're looking for a slightly calmer way to let off steam, it's also the perfect setting for a scenic countryside walks along the eponymous Ridgeway.