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It’s always a risk blogging about the best campsite you’ve found in the Lake District, when word gets out you might not be able to get in the next time you fancy a cheeky night away, but we were so impressed with Castlerigg Hall campsite, we can’t help but tell you about it.

Just up the hill from Keswick you’ll find family run Castlerigg Hall campsite (not to be confused with Castlerigg farm which is a little further up the hill). We made a last minute decision to drive from our home in Morpeth over to the Lake District around 6.30pm the other weekend when we were going through a heatwave. The beauty of this campsite is that you can’t book it – you have to rock up and see if there’s a pitch. We phoned en route to check and the chap on the phone confirmed there were spaces and kindly assured that he’d wait for us to check in. On arrival we were met with a pleasant reception and check in took less than 5 minutes before we took to the field to find a pitch.

Pitches aren’t marked out, so don’t expect the Camping and Caravanning Club, nor expect basic campsite facilities. There’s a rule of keeping distance from your neighbours and the field is on a slight incline, so position your tent carefully. If you’re lucky, like we were, you’ll manage to pitch with a beautiful view over the lake and have a prime view of sunset behind the mountains. Perfect!

Castlerigg Hall has a strict no noise after 10pm policy, which is perfect camping with a 6 year old. You know that you’re going to get a good night’s sleep and not be kept awake by groups of loud campers (they also don’t accept groups, hooray!).

The campsite facilities were some of the best we have stayed in – the showers are spotless and very roomy for washing with a small child. Lots of toilets and an enclosed room for washing up pots and pans. There’s a campers lounge area that we didn’t use, but if the weather was dreadful this is a place you can go and make a cuppa away from the cold and rain. The shop is stocked with a good selection of food including milk in glass bottles from a local dairy! Top points from us!

Being ‘up the hill’ from Keswick meant we were straight onto some stunning walks. We walked from the campsite to Walla Cragg, down to Derwentwater and into Keswick. It was a scorching hot day, so we stopped to paddle our feet in Derwentwater before continuing to Keswick for some lunch. I have to admit after walking for almost 4 hours with a small child, we did cheat and get a local taxi to take us back up the hill to the campsite, or it would’ve been a totally car-free day!

On our final day we opted for breakfast at the little onsite café before taking a walk to the Castlerigg Stone Circle – again a walk you can do directly from the campsite which was less challenging than the walk the day before. It took us less than a hour to get there and there was a perfectly positioned ice cream van next to this well known tourist spot… needless to say we indulged ourselves in a ‘99’ with a flake before heading back.

One more fabulous place we recommend going is Ashness Bridge – we could’ve walked here on our circular walk on day 1, but took a shorter walk due to the heat, but it’s beautiful place for a picnic and to plodge in the stream.

Check out the campsite at https://www.castlerigg.co.uk/ and let us know if you take a trip @helloecoliving on Instagram and Twitter

Best sunset from our tent

I blame Diane and her mid-life crisis.  Clinging to the vestiges of a past life, attempting to reincarnate youth.  Oh, if it were as simple as taking an elixir to recreate that past era.

camping

Camping is in the blood.  As a child, I went camping to Scotland.  Dad dug trenches around the ridge tent, adjusted guy ropes day and night to avoid flooding, tricks learned as a boy scout in the 1930’s.  DDT was used to kill the bugs.  Cooking was on a one- ring burner.  Milk came in cartons from a machine on the main street of Fort William.  The equipment we needed fitted neatly into a Ford Prefect.  Every year the same ritual: set off at 5 a.m. to avoid the non-existent traffic, breakfast at Lauder consisting of traditional Scottish mutton pies and onwards to Pitlochery, singing, ‘Over the Sea to Skye’.  This was in the days before the Forth Road Bridge, reliant on the ferry from Queensferry.

When my children were young we decided to take them camping – experience the good life.  We paid a mere £100 for a second-hand frame tent and all of the equipment.  Yes, a frame tent!  We could only dream of one of these luxury items when I was a child.  Yet again, setting off at 5 in the morning, breakfast at Lauder  (although husband refused the mutton pies), disappointment at having to buy milk in a shop, equipment fitting neatly into a Renault 11.  But this time, as a parent, immense satisfaction at introducing the offspring to the wonders of nature, instilling in them a passion for the outdoors.

Oh Diane!  What have you started.  One simple statement,

“Guess what, we’ve bought –  a tent and we’re going to start camping.”

          “Aaarh!”

A few months earlier it was a Harley Davison.  This is Diane who only ever travels 5 star.  This is the Diane who has weekly facials and manicures.  How could Diane possibly be going camping?  Diane does not camp!  We camp… well, used to camp.  Let’s face it.  Lots of people used to camp.  Say what you like about the outdoors and getting back to nature, when you can afford to give up camping, you give up camping.  I like my 5 star luxury hotels, with waiter service, en-suite complete with toiletries, maid service, mints on the pillow and complimentary champagne and fruit.

Imagine then the panic!  Camping!  Diane had invited us to a camping exhibition.  There should have been a warning sign – no males over 50!!  I saw the gleam in his eye, the excitement as he prowled from tent to tent.  And there it was… it lured us in – ‘The Bear Lake 4’.  The Rolls Royce of tents.  No simple, lightweight, cheap, ‘don’t mind if you’re never used ‘ tent.  This tent begins at £500.  It has breathable fabric with holes that close when it rains!  It has windows with curtains and tie backs and mosquito nets, its own doormat and matching windbreak.  Irresistable to any man over 50. I could sense his return to youth, the excitement, the outdoors, back to nature, shed the trappings of modern day life.  The money was handed over so quickly.  The return to camping had begun.  But, we have no equipment!

Oh, how times have moved on.  We are now the proud owners of an electric hook-up, an electrically inflated air-bed (double height), high tech cooking facilities, a camp kitchen, matching crockery complete with tray stored on shelving unit, an electric cool-box, electric kettle – no more whistle – I miss the whistling kettle.  All of this for a mere £500.

And now, the latest addition – a new car to put it in!  Not any car but a carefully structured piece of engineering that was longing for owners to take it camping.  This is the Rav4.  The cheap holidays that we can have as we move into retirement….has now cost us a further £24,000!  Not quite the £100 of days gone by.  At these costs we will have to use it!

Scotland, mutton pies at Lauder are beckoning… can’t wait.

Hope there’s a hotel nearby in case it rains.  I’m sure I can fit the hair straighteners in….television……en suite bathroom……..