Camping, Bushcraft & Survival

10 of the Best Campsites in the Lake District

Planning a camping trip to the Lake District? Look no further than these excellent campsites

Forget boutique B&Bs and swanky hotels – campsites are where it’s at in the Lake District.  With their rustic charm, social vibes and idyllic locations, you’ll be slap bang in the middle of the action, whether you’re off hiking Wainwrights, trad climbing like a boss or saying ‘whassup’ to the best SUP spots. It won’t be luxurious, but you’ll get a flat grassy pitch and basic amenities at a rock bottom price – and who doesn’t love a bargain weekend getaway? Simply pack your tent, jump in the campervan and hit the road – an epic, back-to-basics Lake District escape awaits.

Great Langdale Campsite, Great Langdale

Nestled in the shadow of the Langdale Pikes – that iconic skyline of spectacularly-jagged, distinctively-handsome peaks – this National Trust-owned campsite is a Lake District institution. You’ll spend your days spoilt for choice of where to hike, with Pavey Ark, Crinkle Crags and Bowfell all on your doorstep; and then spend the evenings toasting your acts of derring-do with the lively adventure crowd at the Old Dungeon Ghyll or Sticklebarn pubs. Oh – and you won’t be slumming it here either. The campsite marries stunning remoteness with serious creature comforts, like a newly-upgraded shower block, children’s play area and glamping pods.

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Pictured: Crummock Water in the Lake District

Syke Farm Campsite, Buttermere

This is old-school camping – in a good way. You don’t get those clinical rows of numbered pitches or characterless flat fields you see in some campsites. Instead Syke Farm feels a little like wild camping, with its untamed Lakeland setting of rocky outcrops, tumbling stream and lumpy-bumpy terrain. But don’t worry. There are plenty of flat patches of lush grass amongst the ruggedness to pitch your tent and get some precious shut-eye. You’ll need it too, because in Buttermere the adventures come thick and fast – dawn dip in Crummock Water, mid-morning cycle up Newlands Pass, lunch in Croft House Farm Cafe, afternoon adrenaline fix of via ferrata, sunset hike for dinner atop Fleetwith Pike, and that’s just day one of your trip.


Gill Head Farm, Troutbeck

Wake up, rub your bleary eyes, poke your head out of your tent, and be immediately greeted with a grandstand view of majestic Blencathra – that’s what you get at Gill Head Farm. This site in the village of Troutbeck, off the A66 between Penrith and Keswick, is located on a family-run hill farm, offering a tranquil getaway with a healthy dollop of creature comforts (think fresh farm eggs every morning, well-maintained shower block, communal cabin, and WiFi hotspots). The view of Blencathra, the iconic giant of the northern fells known for its razor-sharp ridges, is so alluring you’ll be unable to resist spending a day scrambling up Sharp Edge and down Hall’s Fell ridge – and once that’s ticked off there’s plenty more to do. Ullswater, Keswick, Helvellyn and the quiet Back o’ Skiddaw fells are all within easy touching distance.

Pictured: Wast Water, the deepest lake in England

Wasdale Campsite, Wast Water

The National Trust describe their campsite in Wasdale as an “adventurer’s paradise” – and they aren’t fibbing. Located at the foot of England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike, and with England’s deepest lake Wast Water but a stone’s throw away, this campsite’s setting is as remote as it is spectacular. Kayak on the lake, fell run up Great Gable, watch the sunrise from Yewbarrow, rope up on Broad Stand – the opportunities are endless. And after your intrepid exploits, the campsite has everything you need including an on-site shop, refurbished shower block, laundry room, washing-up area and even charge points for electric bikes.


Stonethwaite Farm, Borrowdale

Borrowdale might be one of the wettest places in England (don’t forget your rain coat), but it’s also one of the loveliest. Guidebook writer Alfred Wainwright described his explorations in the valley as “a walk in heaven” – and hopefully a stay at Stonethwaite Farm will give you a similar sense of nirvana. The location is achingly pretty – wobbly dry stone walls, craggy peaks, blankets of birch and oak, and babbling brooks – while the campsite is unapologetically no-frills. You get cold running water, toilet block and pot washing facilities, and that’s all you really need. Because you’ll be way too busy climbing Rosthwaite Fell, cliff-jumping at Black Moss Pot swim spot, or just sitting back in your camping chair enjoying an ice cold Bud (or three).


Eskdale Campsite, Eskdale

Completing a trio of National Trust entries in our top 10 round-up, Eskdale Campsite has the same ‘I never want to leave’ vibes as the much-loved Wasdale and Great Langdale sites. Set in eight acres of of tranquil grounds, you can choose from three flat meadow areas to pitch in, whether that’s tucked away near the quaint beck, amid the friendly action of the tree-lined main field, or hidden in a corner of the ‘no cars’ meadow. Whichever spot you choose, you’ll have access to the camping shop and modern facility block with showers, toilets, washing up areas and laundry rooms. Off-site, however, is where the real action lies: take a road trip over Hardknott Pass (England’s steepest road), hike to the rocky summit of pyramid-shaped Harter Fell, or take a steam train ride on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway.

Pictured: Glenridding campsite at the base of Helvellyn

Gillside Farm, Glenridding

With piping hot showers, sausage-sandwich-serving breakfast van and a ridiculously convenient location at the foot of Helvellyn, the UK’s favourite mountain, Gillside Farm campsite has a lot going for it. There’s an outdoorsy crowd and you might just make some new friends for your hike up Helvellyn – and what could be better than taking on the grade one Sharp Edge-Swirral Edge scramble with a motley crew of adventure buddies? Once you’ve satisfied your Helvellyn cravings, there’s loads more on the adrenaline schedule: kayaking on Ullswater, hiking Sheffield Pike at sunset, or climbing St Sunday Crag’s Pinnacle Ridge. The dog-friendly campsite has 60 pitches, a modern toilet block, pot-cleaning sinks and a laundry with washer and drier, as well as a separate 20-person bunkhouse.


Hollows Farm, Borrowdale

Charmingly minimalist and wonderfully rugged, this Borrowdale campsite will immerse you in the nature and scenery of the Lake District like nowhere else. There are two camping fields, but for true escapism opt for the woodland one – it’s difficult not to fall in love with the place. With red squirrels hopping through the trees (if you’re lucky) and the dawn sun dappling through the canopy, you can wander down to the crystal-clear green waters of the River Derwent to paddle your toes and skim stones, before marching up Castle Crag – one of Lakeland’s best small fells – for the eye-watering views over Derwent Water. Stop off in Millican Dalton’s Cave for a brew on the way down, and then discuss your plans for the day over a bacon sarnie back in camp. What will it be? Cafe-hopping in Keswick, cycling to Honister Pass, hiking up Great Gable – your only problem will be making a decision.


Kentmere Farm Pods, Kentmere

If the thought of uneven ground, rain-battered tents and muddy fields fills with you with dread, but you still want to experience the back-to-basics ambiance of a remote campsite, look no further than Kentmere Farm Pods. These glamping-style, timber pods add a welcome dose of luxury to your camping experience, courtesy of their cosy double bed, en-suite shower, under-floor heating, fully-equipped kitchen and private patio with unhindered mountain views. Located in Kentmere, between Kendal and Windermere, you can’t really stay here without walking the Kentmere Horseshoe – a classic high-level, looping ridge walk bagging several summits. Or, if you prefer two wheels to two feet, the off-road mountain biking options are ample, whether you’re taking on Nan Bield or Green Quarter.


Park Cliffe Camping & Caravan Park, Windermere

Located just three miles from Bowness-on-Windermere, Park Cliffe Camping and Caravan Park somehow feels a million miles from the touristy hustle and bustle of the popular town. Combining the contemporary feel of a large, modern, well-run campsite with the peacefulness of a rural getaway, Park Cliffe caters for tourers, tents and caravans, and also features excellent luxury pods, static caravans and lodges. TV botanist David Bellamy is said to be a big fan of the park’s abundant wildlife, including squirrels, birds and roe and red deer, while the views across Windermere are second to none. The park has a bar and restaurant, games room, well-stocked shopchildren’s adventure playgroundprivate bathrooms for hire and free park-wide Wi-Fi.



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