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Welcome to our new Creative Arts & Progression Worker Sara Turrill!

Sara will be focused developing partnerships with arts and environmental organisations in Bristol, to develop opportunities for Imayla's children, young people and families to get involved in! If you are interested in working with us please contact

If you are interested in volunteering with us please contact Sara: 






This is another book in itself, so we can only give you a tiny flavour of how much value camping trips offer…

There are many wonderful places to camp within a two-hour drive of Bristol, and we have a listed a few below. We’ve also given you our top tips for camping near the sea, but take a look at Beaches and Outings for other ideas and contact details.

For those living in or near Bristol, one of the best and most accessible camping spots for youth groups is the Forest of Dean, just over the Severn Bridge and into Wales. Camping in the Forest run a number of sites, some with more facilities than others. One of these, Braceland, will book you a large camping area for a youth group and has good showers and a shop, etc. Visit The Royal Forest of Dean Tourist Information Centre for info on these and other campsites in the area.

To run a really successful camp, make sure there are plenty of other activities you all can do nearby. In the Forest of Dean, for example nearby activities include Littledean Riding Centre (01594 827044), offering forest trails for all and Wye Pursuits for Kyak and Canadian canoe hire, climbing, caving and white water rafting. There’s also Monmouth Canoe Activity Centre not far away, who offer half-day, whole day, weekend or week-long packages tailored to your needs. Pedalbikeaway bike hire offer a range of different bikes (including wheelchair tandems), give advice on local routes and also run guided rides.

Camping at the beach

Port Eynon, Gower, S Wales (2 ½ hours from Bristol) – A big beach with dunes, rock pools and lots of facilities including a good café. Bank Farm Campsite is recommended by Bristol group Full Circle and has a small outdoor swimming pool. If you want, you can rent a field to yourselves. 

Porthcurno, Land’s End, Cornwall (5 hours drive). Within a stone’s throw of each other and only 4 miles east of Lands End are two of the most strikingly beautiful beaches in Cornwall - granite cliffs, clear sea and golden sand with plenty of sun. In season life guards are on duty. Treen Campsite is a short cliff walk from the beach, which is simple, with showers and toilets. You’re also close to Sennen Beach, one of Cornwall’s best surfing beaches.

Rossilli Beach (2½ hours drive) – recommended by Time Out of Town & St Pauls Adventure Playground. This beach has a laid back, young atmosphere with great, safe surfing and bodyboarding. Hillend Camp site is situated at the Llangenith end of beach where there is a 5-aside pitch, play area, shop & cafe on site It caters for groups (good deals to be made on price) and provides good showers and toilets. You can book surfing lessons with Gower Surfing and can rent body and surfboards and wetsuits from PJ’s Surf Shop in Llangenith, 10 mins walk from beach.

Whitesand Bay, Pembrokeshire (4 hours drive). This is a fine white sandy beach, and one of the best surfing beaches in Wales. Good chips and excellent campsites nearby. See for details of nearby campsites.

Woolacombe Beach, North Devon (2 ½ hrs drive). A good 2-mile long sandy beach with lots to do – surfing, wind surfing, sea canoeing and sailing – and a great coastal path. North Morte Farm in Mortehoe, the next small village up the coast from Woolacombe, has a little beach of its own. The campsite overlooks the sea and has basic amenities. Ring and check how many people can camp together. Nearby there is a surf school, cycle hire, and at Ilfracombe there’s a quad adventure centre. Contact Woolacombe Tourist Office for other ideas.

Camping in (or near) town

If this is your group’s first time camping, you might think about organising an overnight ‘in-town’ camp if you have a good venue to hand. Ask your local park if it would be possible to camp there, or perhaps the grounds of a community centre or school. You’ll need to think about security though – does it lock? Can you afford a security guard? Do you have a pair of keen dads who could be look outs?

Timber Routes have a small wood just outside Siston Common and are open to working with groups of young people who are interested in conservation and environment. See also Goblin Coombe and Rocks East.

Tipi Home from Homes - For a Native American adventure experience, hire a tipi that will take a campfire from Bristol and Bath Tipi Hire.  

DIY Residentials - Can’t afford a residential, but you all want to go away together? Think about a longer, out-of-town camping trip. Camping somewhere for a week or more will need several weeks to organise, but you can always get your young people on board to plan and arrange it.

Organised camps and festivals All over the country there are camps and small festivals put on by small, slightly alternative groups. There’s generally much on offer to learn, and they are a way for your group to get out and meet different people – especially recommended for younger age groups. To make sure that the camp is suitable, talk to the organisers in advance – you need to check that the food on offer and toilet arrangements will be acceptable to your group, if possibly a bit challenging. Often they have pit-style toilets which children can find a bit difficult to deal with at first! If you do decide to go, take enough workers to make sure you don’t overstretch yourselves. For details of what’s on where and when, check out the Campscene Directory

One place you might consider is Bristol’s old school favourite, Exmouth Camp. The campsite is available for youth organisations in the summer and spring half-term holidays. Tents and field sports equipment are provided, and so are self-catering facilities with all pots and pans - or you can pay for catering. They’ll give you advice on local activity providers, and prices are negotiable. For more advice,  see Bristol Schools Camps.



Canoeing is really good fun – a great physical activity, lots of fresh air and an exhilarating experience! Try the following to find out where and when you can canoe in and around Bristol:

Young Bristol provide canoeing and kayaking basic skills on safe, sheltered water at Pooles Wharf Activity Centre, Hotwells, before progressing to more challenging paddling and journeys. Equipment and clothing are provided and you can organise a minibus pick-up. 

British Canoe Union and Bristol Canoe Club have info on courses, coaching and events for young people.

Outside Bristol, the River Wye in Herefordshire is ideal for a canoe expedition for any novice - slow flowing current, beautiful scenery and numerous stopping points. You can hire canoes and instructors at Biblins Adventure Centre, which is run by Gloucestershire Youth & Community Service on the banks of the Wye in a wooded gorge. Accommodation consists of two dorms sleeping 35 and 19 and camping for up to 450 people and is self catering only. It is an ideal base for outdoor activities, with the canoe launching point next to the centre.

There is also a tranquil riverside campsite with all basic facilities at a reasonable cost at Symonds Yat, Herefordshire. Or contact the Welsh Bicknor Youth Hostel for a comfortable bed and a hearty breakfast. The youth hostel, on the bank of the river, has a drying room and somewhere to leave canoes over night.

Castle Quarry Training & Activity Centre - Wooton under Edge Offer Kayaking and open Canoeing on a man-made lake, which allows beginners to practice on non-moving water.

Going south instead of north, the SW Lakes Trust runs four watersports centres on lakes in Devon and Cornwall, and offers courses in sailing, canoeing and windsurfing. Ask about their special rates for schools and youth groups for multi-activity days.

For other canoeing options, including kayaking, see activity centres – such as Aadvark Endeavours – and Camping.


Castles & Re-enactments

There is a dazzling selection of castles within an easy drive of Bristol, and many of them have enactments of local battles and events in historical costume. Others have falconry displays, or open-air plays. Call them to see what’s happening when:

Corfe Castle (National Trust) near Swanage, Dorset - Wow! It is a ruin, but what a ruin!

Farleigh Hungerford Castle (English Heritage) near Trowbridge, Wiltshire.

Chepstow Castle - A Norman Castle situated above the River Wye in South West Wales. For opening times and admission costs see the Cadw website.

Goodrich Castle (English Heritage) is situated 5 miles south of Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire, just off the A40.

Pendennis Castle (English Heritage) can be found 1 mile South-East of Falmouth on Pendennis Head, Cornwall. It is part of a chain of castles built by Henry VIII along the south coast. There is an exciting interactive exhibition where you can experience the sights and sounds of battle and relive an enemy attack on a Second World War observation post.

Tintagel Castle (English Heritage) Tintagel Head, Cornwall - For sheer atmosphere it is tough to beat Tintagel. On a windswept point of rock, with waves crashing all around, the 13th-century castle is a romantic ruin. It is surrounded by remains from the Roman and Dark Ages and legends of King Arthur, who is said to have been born here.

Kenilworth Castle Warwickshire.

Visit Historic UK for details of some of the Living History re-enactments taking place around the country.

See also Outings


Start by visiting some amazing show caves such as these to get your appetite going:

Cheddar Caves - fantastic cathedral-like showcaves (see Outings for more to do at Cheddar)

Clearwell Caves near Coleford, Forest of Dean are well-lit caverns created by iron mining as long ago as the Iron Age.

Wookey Hole Caves, near Wells, Somerset, have half a mile of floodlit subterranean tunnels with many myths and legends attached. 

The Grotto, Goldney Gardens, just off Coronation Hill in Clifton, is below ground and totally covered with shells and crystals, with an underground water-course and statues. It was built in the 1750s. Contact the Bristol Tourist office for opening times (by email:, by phone: 0906 711 2191 calls cost 50p per minute) or see the Visit Bristol website.

When your group want to try caving themselves, find an experienced guide and see how far they want to go! Contact Young Bristol,  Aadvark Endeavours in CheddarCheddar, Mendip Outdoor Pursuits or the Charterhouse Centre near Blagdon.


Climbing & Abseiling

This is a serious adrenalin and team building activity for older children and adults.

A good place to start learning rope-work and climbing technique is at the excellent Undercover Rock based at the Bristol Climbing Centre. They will tailor one-offs or a series of sessions to the needs of your group - equipment hired by the session and helmets are free.

Also based in Bristol are Young Bristol who organise outdoor group climbs, usually at the Avon Gorge. They also offer indoor climbing sessions.

UK Climbing provides a general overview of climbing centres around the UK plus other information and links.

Other climbing centres within easy reach of Bristol include:

Aadvark Endeavours provide transport to a local crag in Cheddar, Somerset and training on a climbing tower. 

Cheddar Caves & Gorge who give a 1½ hour intro to climbing, abseiling & caving, suitable for both sexes of reasonable fitness. (Minimum age 11, minimum height 4’ 8”(142cm)).  

Castle Quarry Training & Activity Centre offers an indoor climbing wall with six graded climbs. Suitable for ages 8 upwards.  

Charterhouse Centre, around 30 minutes drive from Bristol, have a climbing venue in the heart of the Mendip Hills.