Alton Towers has been whitening the knuckles of thrill-seekers since 1980, with adrenaline-rush rollercoasters such as Nemesis, Hex, Oblivion and the 14-loop Smiler maintaining this Staffordshire institution’s status as the UK’s leading theme park. For younger children, CBeebies Land offers gentler rides inspired by beloved TV characters including Postman Pat and Charlie and Lola. Your family won’t want to leave – and, if you stay at a caravan park near Alton Towers, you can visit several times a year with a good-value season pass.
There are several caravan parks near Alton Towers, all set in peaceful countryside and offering easy access to the glorious Peak District, so this underrated part of England is perfect for a short break or longer holiday. We’ve chosen five fabulous family-friendly places to park up your caravan, all within half an hour of the theme park, and listed them in order of distance from Alton Towers, from nearest to furthest.
What Else Can We Do In The Area?
With a water park, a spa and crazy golf as well as all its rides, Alton Towers could keep you occupied for days. That said, it’s well worth looking beyond the theme park, because some of England’s prettiest scenery is on the doorstep.
It’s a short drive from Alton Towers to Dovedale, a gorgeous ravine with stepping stones over the River Dove: ideal for your Instagram feed. Junior Avengers fans will leap at the chance to visit Thor’s Cave, a natural marvel cut into a limestone cliff, and wannabe Bob the Builders of all ages can book a tour of the nearby JCB factory.
You can ride a steam train on the Churnet Valley Railway, try sailing, kayaking or windsurfing at Carsington Water, and give your kids a taste of Victorian education (minus the corporal punishment) at the Museum of Childhood, in the grounds of Sudbury Hall. And here’s something for grown-ups only: you can create a bespoke gin or vodka under expert supervision at Nelson’s Distillery and School. It’s an ideal way to drown your sorrows if your horse came in last at the nearby Uttoxeter racecourse.
LOWER MICKLIN TOURING PARK, ALTON, STAFFORDSHIRE ST14 5DJ
Open all year
If you want to be first in the queue for the big rides at Alton Towers, this caravan park is a six-minute drive away. Lower Micklin Touring Park is a family-run operation with 21 pitches for caravans, electric hook-up and award-winning toilet and shower facilities. It’s not the flashiest place on this list, but it has panoramic views of the local countryside, with direct access to the Staffordshire Way. There’s a playground and plenty of room to walk the dog or have a kickabout, as well as free WiFi and a strong 4G signal, so teenagers can while away the hours ignoring you as usual.
It’s a 20-minute drive to the Peak District National Park and a 10-minute walk to the village of Alton, which has basic shops and several pubs – the Bull’s Head offers a free minibus service to and from Lower Micklin Touring Park for anyone who’s knackered after queuing for rides. If you’re planning a pukka picnic, there’s a farm shop in Denstone, three minutes’ drive from the park; for a wider choice of shops, head to Cheadle or Ashbourne, five and seven miles away.
Prices: £20 a night for two, each extra person £5, under-5s free
Top tip: there’s a daily bus service to Alton Towers from the entrance to Lower Micklin Touring Park, so no need to pay for parking
ALTON, THE STAR CAMPING AND CARAVANNING CLUB SITE, COTTON, STAFFORDSHIRE ST10 3DW
Open from March to November
Another excellent option for getting the most out of your day at Alton Towers, The Star is a four-minute drive from the theme park, and slightly closer to the Peak District than Lower Micklin Touring Park. As the name suggests, it’s run by the Camping and Caravanning Club, with discounts for members, but all are welcome.
The Star offers pitches for tents and caravans, with electric hook-up and WiFi, and has “safari tents” for glampers. You won’t see any lions, but there is a designated area for walking the dog. The site has a playground, a laundry, showers and dedicated disabled facilities, as well as a parent and baby room. It’s in a sheltered spot with lovely views and there’s a 16th-century inn five minutes away, though you’ll need to drive to Cheadle, 10 minutes away, to pick up any shopping.
Prices: from £7.10pp a night for members
Top tip: the local pub, also called the Star, does a stonking full English from 9am. It should set you up for a yomp through Dovedale, though perhaps not for the stomach-churning 4.7G turns on the Rita rollercoaster
SPRINGFIELDS COUNTRYSIDE CARAVAN AND CAMPING, TOTMONSLOW, STAFFORDSHIRE ST10 4JL
Open from March to September
Here’s one for the caravanning purists: simple, clean, peaceful, friendly and sensibly priced. There’s no WiFi or fancy facilities at Springfields, but it offers electric hook-up, recently renovated showers, toilets and, most important of all, bucketloads of rural charm. This is a 3.5-acre site in the Staffordshire moorlands, with a dozen caravan spots and 10 tent pitches on level grass, so there’s plenty of room to walk the dog or let the kids off the leash. You can even light a proper fire.
Springfields is 20 minutes from Alton Towers and a five-minute drive from Cheadle, where there’s a good range of supermarkets and restaurants. You’ll find pubs and a petrol station down the road in Tean, but foodies should go the extra mile for the venison and black pudding faggots at the Draycott Arms or wood-fired pizza and homemade pork pies at the Roebuck in Forsbrook. If you’re interested in the region’s industrial heritage, it’s a 15-minute drive to the pottery museums and factory shops in Stoke-on-Trent, which are not just for old crocks.
Prices: from £19 a night for two
Top tip: take your cheeky monkeys to the Trentham estate, south of Stoke, where they can meet 140 Barbary macaques in the Monkey Forest – including four babies born during the lockdown
CALLOW TOP HOLIDAY PARK, SANDYBROOK, ASHBOURNE, DERBYSHIRE DE6 2AQ
Open from March to November
With an outdoor pool, a playground, a games area, a football pitch, country views and an on-site pub and cafe, Callow Top Holiday Park is the perfect base for families spending a few days in the area. It’s on the Derbyshire-Staffordshire border, a 25-minute drive from Alton Towers and a mile or so from Ashbourne, a local hub with an M&S Simply Food and plenty of pubs and restaurants. Dovedale is on the doorstep and it’s a 40-minute drive to Chatsworth House, a super stately in lush grounds, with paintings by Rembrandt and Reynolds on the walls.
Callow Top can’t match Chatsworth for luxury, but it offers plenty for your pound, with toilets, showers, a laundry, WiFi and electric hook-ups. Dogs are welcome if kept on a lead, you can order basic provisions such as milk and eggs, and larger pitches are available for twin-axle caravans. Bring your bikes, or rent some from the park, for rides on the Tissington Trail; or take advantage of the fishing lake for Mortimer and Whitehouse-style bonding.
Prices: from £23.50 a night for two
Top tip: for added privacy, book a pitch in field 2, where conifer hedges conceal the caravans from view. Some of the facilities were unavailable in 2020 because of Covid-19, so check what’s on offer before you book for next year
ASHBOURNE HEIGHTS HOLIDAY PARK, FENNY BENTLEY, ASHBOURNE, DERBYSHIRE DE6 1LE
Open from March to December
This full-facility caravan park delivers exactly what you’d expect from its name: great views and easy access to shops and pubs in the market town of Ashbourne, a 10-minute drive away. The drive to Alton Towers takes a shade less than half an hour and you can walk to the Dovedale stepping stones or Ilam Park, where the tearoom has views of the White Peak and the Italian-style gardens.
There’s plenty here to keep the family occupied, with access to the Tissington Trail cycling path from the park entrance, an indoor pool, a vast play area, a licensed shop, the Farmhouse cafe/bar and a nature reserve. Ashbourne Heights has grass and hardstanding caravan pitches with electric hook-up, showers, toilets and a laundry room. There are also static caravans and lodges on site, not to mention a glamping pod with a hot tub if you really want to push the boat out. Dogs are welcome, but there’s an extra charge… grrrrr!
Prices: from £20 a night for two
Top tip: Ashbourne Heights offers a “rainy day plan” for £20 so you can change your holiday dates if a washout is on the cards