A night’s camping at How Stean Gorge

Checking the weather forecast on a Monday for the coming weekend it was looking great. So we booked a short trip to a campsite at How Stean Gorge in North Yorkshire. It was only a 40 minute or so drive away and our camping equipment was already packed up and ready to go so we decided to go for it. It’s the only campsite near where we live that not only allows firepits but also allows you to book just one night at weekends.

The drive there is pretty beautiful. Meander through Pateley Bridge and head out on the nothern road along the edge of Gouthwaite reservoir towards Lofthouse, remembering to slow down for the many cyclists and horses you’ll pass on the way. We spotted a Little owl on one of the dry stone walls, tucking in to some roadkill for his lunch.

View from How Stean Gorge campsite

View from the campsite.

How Stean Gorge is signposted but it’s eassy to over shoot the turning off the road. There’s also a place called Studfold Farm which has bigger signs and is right next door. Basically you drive into Studfold, then continue over a little stone bridge and turn right immediately. Up a steepish hill and the entrance to the gorge is directly in front.

How Stean gorge is not just a campsite it’s also a place of natural beauty with it’s limestone rock formations, gushing river channels, caves and tunnels. They have an activity centre based there too that offers abseiling, a via ferrata trek, bouldering and canoeing or kayaking.

View from How Stean Gorge campsite

The weather turned slightly.

How Stean Gorge

Looking down from the bridge.

The drive into the campsite is over a bridge spanning the gorge. You can look down through the planks and it’s quite a long way down!

Building a fire

Getting the firepit started.

Great shaped Firepit     PACMAT Enojoying a glass or two in the evening    Ewes or ladies loos

Nice touches at the facilities.

The next day dawned bright and sunny and we donned our hard hats and descended through the wardrobe down the the gorge itself. There was a team of folk bouldering through the water and it looked like great fun. Maybe next time.

Adventuring through the gorge

 

New campsite at Butt Farm

Campsite with cows

As a birthday treat trip to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park forced us to head to, gulp, south Yorkshire we decided to find a new campsite for the night to save us from the dreary motorway journey home. So we threw the camping gear and tent into the car the night before we headed off to Doncaster.

I found this new campsite on the UK Camp Site website, which, despite being a very old fashioned looking website, is pretty much the best one to use for finding recommendations and reviews of UK campsites. The campsite I found is called Butt Farm and is a brand new site opened at the beginning of this camping season year by the new-ish owners of a farm near Beverley, in East Yorkshire.

The site itself was a simple rectangular field with hardstanding and grass pitches, some with electric, It wasn’t huge, but there was plenty of space around the pitches for the kids to run about. The cows came to say hi too!

The campsite is next to the cows field

There’s plenty of space to run around and play football, although it’s not advisable to play that in crocs as we had a toe injury. The area was very peaceful, with the gentle moo-ing of the cows (and bull) in the fields next door.

Plenty of space to run around and play in the campsite

The owners had renovated the old barn, or cowshed, into the shower and washroom facilities, and they were very well looked after. Warm and cleaned regularly, with clever use of wooden crates for shelves by the basins.

Fire pits for hire from the campsite

It was £10 a night to hire a firepit, wood and marshmallows which seemed a little steep, especially as if you stay more than one night. Most other sites which sell wood, offer the fire pits for free, just simple wheel rims on a stone base, and the bag of wood and kindling is just around £4.50 – £6.

The only other very slight downside is you could hear the road noise in the evening which did die down during the night however as the site is so close to a town it was to be expected. But apart from those two niggles it was a perfect spot for peaceful camping for a night. I’d never visited the town of Beverley either and it’s really pretty with a town square and lots of boutique style shops to browse in.

Camping in Eskdale – May bank holiday

Gazing at the stars over the mountain peaks

Last year a bunch of us went camping in the Lake District, at Fisherground campsite in Eskdale. We had such a good time we did it again this year on the May bank holiday weekend. And we were lucky as it was hot, hot, hot!

There’s nothing better than relaxing by a warm campfire with a glass of chilled wine at hand and having hilarious conversations with old friends. And if the weather is great it feels like a proper holiday that you’d pay hundreds for via a travel agent. I love the smell of campfire smoke, even when it permeates all your clothes and sleeping bags. It’s a comforting cosy smell that reminds me of childhood Brownie camps and Bonfire nights.

This isn’t a review of the campsites we stay at by the way, just some diary-style notes about our camping weekend, but the campsite at Fisherground is highly recommended for family trips. These two munchkins below had a blast and the weather was fab, did I already say that in a smug kind of way? 😉

Fisherground campsite is in the beautiful Esk valley just outside the small village of Eskdale Green, and has a pub at the end of the road. The owners bend over backwards to welcome happy campers, even though May bank holiday is their busiest weekend of the year, they were still smiling as hundreds of campers arrived throughout the day and evening.

Fisherground Campsite, Eskdale

The campsite also has it’s own train station for the La’al Ratty, a miniature steam train which runs from Boot at the top of the valley to Ravenglass at the coast and back again. A must trip for everyone, and very relaxing sitting either in the open air coaches, or in the olde worldey wooden compartments which are under cover.

Getting to Eskdale Green is a fun drive, just as you think the last six miles will be a breeze, the road suddenly points up and begins twisting and turning at an angle of almost 45 degrees in places. Make sure your brakes work! If you see a sign to Hardknott Pass make sure you’re going in the other direction. It’s called that for a few very good reasons.

Camping paddling ponds

The children’s rafting pond!

It’s a fabulous camping site for children too. It has a large naturally created paddling pond fed from a fresh water stream that the owners have made into a watery pirates den. There are 2 or 3 old tractor tyres transformed into rafts with ropes and big sticks to pole each other across the pond by. There were a few Swallows and Amazons style games being played and even though the water was cold it didn’t bother the kids.

Right beside the pond is a great adventure playground in the wooded copse. A zip wire, more swinging tyres, climbing ropes and a couple of rope swings, one of which flies over the water, were all more than enough to make it a kids heaven.

The adventure playground at Fisherground

Rafting in the ponds

Trying not to fall in!

Trying not to fall in! (but of course they did).

Facepaint makes the pirate games more authentic.

Facepaint makes the pirate games more authentic.

Teamwork

Rescue mission to the Rocks

Taking turns to push

Taking turns to push

Fire pits, our essential camping requirement, were provided at no extra charge. A wheel rim balanced safely on a stone slab in the centre of our circle of tents, and the wood was bought from, and delivered by, a very cheerful man with a van, with optional marshmallows if you’d forgotten your own. The smoke from the fire is also useful when the midges descended in the early evening. Only a slight irritant as there was water nearby and trees of course. We found the local pubs even sold Avon’s Sun So Soft spray which is the only, I mean the only, lotion that keeps the little blighters away.

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The first day after arriving, we headed round the valley to Wastwater to gaze at the view towards Scafell Pike and fells, we realised we had headed went in the wrong direction and left the sun behind us in the Esk valley! The view is still spectacular under cloud, and it’s so peaceful, as hardly any tourists hang out at this side of the lakes which is further west of the more popular areas. More serious walkers and outward bounders can be found here.

WastwaterWastwater views over to Scafell Pike.

The next day we took the steam train to Muncaster Castle for fun day and even found a slow worm basking in the sun at the side of the pavement. I’ve never seen one before and they are very pretty close up.

Sam the slow worm

Sam the slow worm.

The view from Muncaster Castle grounds.

The view from Muncaster Castle grounds.

A bone-rattling ride on a recommissioned army truck takes you direct from the campsite up to the Woolpack Inn for an evening meal. You’ve got to watch how much alcohol you consume at the pub, as the ride back down can be even hairier! Especially as the roads are single tracks. Stomach churning.

Marshmallows round the campfire and a few glasses of wine with friends rounds off the evenings well. As soon as the kids got their bearings it was great that they all made friends and dashed from tents, to ponds, to the playground and the ‘mountain’ by themselves. All the larger groups of camping families were set up together in a separate field, presumably to keep any late night noise to a minimum, or at least all together but we found no unpleasant noise at all which was nice, unless we were the culprits!

We can’t wait to go back, it’s beautiful camping countryside, with loads of places to visit and things to do, and a relaxing cuckoo calling every morning as we woke up.