Top 5 Family Backpacking Destinations in the UK


Holidaying at home, otherwise known as a ‘staycation’, is becoming a more and more popular choice for families. There are a lot of different holidays available in Britain with a diverse landscape to explore, but have you ever considered backpacking? It’s not only for students on a gap year, it can be a great adventure for all the family. The UK has many suitable routes, easily accessible and with lots of activities, so we’ve picked our top 5 which will guarantee the family and their backpacks lots of outdoor family fun.

  1. Arran

An island off the south-west coast of Scotland, Arran can be reached by ferry from Ardrossan and it is more than worth the short boat ride. There are lots of outdoor activities available; not forgetting to mention the long sandy beaches all around the island. Notable sights to visit include the Machrie Standing Stones, Glen Rosa with its pure, blue natural pool, the Kings Cave, Eas Mor waterfall and Brodick Castle.

Getting around the island is pretty straightforward, as there’s one ring road that goes around the whole island with regular bus service. Cycling is an option too, with bikes for hire at multiple points, as well as guided walks.

There are a number of campsites (worth booking in advance during peak times) or there is the option of wild camping – just don’t set up beside a main road or on private land without permission.

  1. North York Moors

Get your hiking gear at the ready. Located next to Whitby and Scarborough in the North West of England, the North York Moors form a large national park. Its infamous purple heather moors and unspoilt woodlands which stretch for miles are steeped in history. We’d recommend visiting the Forge Valley, pitched as the real Jurassic Park, Robin Hood’s Bay to track down the Baytown Smuggler’s trail, and Thornton Le Dale Village, officially Britain’s Prettiest Village.

There are many campsites that are spread across the moors but one that stands out is Stoneclose Campsite. Set on the edge of a farm, it’s rated highly for its well-kept facilities, fresh eggs and homemade sausages.

  1. Lake District

The breath-taking Lake District in the north east of England is steeped in beauty and history. Home to England’s highest peak, Scafell Pike, as well as Wastwater, England’s deepest lake, the view from the lake of the peak has also been awarded Britain’s Favourite View.

Come rain or shine there’s lots to see including Beatrix Potter’s Lake District House, Muncaster Castle, with its grand gardens and Hawk & Owl Centre, and the Hardknott Roman Fort.

There are many campsites around the lakes with campervans and motorhomes for hire. Alternatively there are 14 camping barns dotted around the lakes for a warm bed and basic facilities for a decent nightly rate – excellent to dry out in if your tent’s a bit soggy.

  1. Wild Atlantic Way

Spanning the whole west coast of Northern and Southern Ireland, covering 2500km, the Wild Atlantic Way is a rugged and awe-inspiring journey. Split into 6 parts, each area has its own unique coastline and atmosphere. From dramatic and remote landscapes at the northernmost point to thriving seal colonies in secluded beaches at Bay Coast. There’s a lot of wildlife to see along the way including over 20 species of seabirds at the UNESCO protected area – the Cliff of Moher, bottlenose dolphins at the Shannon Estuary and whale watching at the Haven Coast.

The main bus operator, Bus Eireann, offers an Open Road Travel Pass that allows unlimited travel on all routes, you just need to choose a date range. There’s over 50 camping and caravan sites to choose from, some offering glamping, as well as numerous B&B’s starting at 20 euros per night.

  1. Cardiff & Surrounding Areas

A capital city might not immediately spring to mind for a family backpacking trip but Cardiff is unlike any other city. In fact, it has more green space than any other city in Europe. Not to mention it is situated next to the beautiful Brecon Beacons

In the city there’s Cardiff Castle, The National Museum of Cardiff and Techniquest Science Discovery Centre – plenty of indoor activities if the weather takes a turn for the worst.

At the Beacons there’s a whole national park to explore. From water sports to horse riding, abseiling to stargazing, it truly is a space to get out there and get active in.

With cabins, bunkhouses, B&B’s and campsites aplenty, not forgetting the canal boats, you won’t be short of options on where to stay. Easy to get around with lots of good public transport, there are plenty of cycle routes and even electric boats for hire.

With lots of options for activities, accommodation and modes of transport, backpacking with the family in the UK is a great alternative to the typical package holiday. Suitable for any budget, with unlimited options for entertaining the kids, your trip can be as organised or as spontaneous as you’d like. However, having a rough idea of the outdoor/indoor activities available and your nearest spot to settle down for the night is a must when the rain strikes. Ultimately it’s an adventure to bond over, learn about nature and the wildlife that surrounds us, and to talk about in years to come.