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.
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.