Deershed Festival 2016 camping

Musical crowds and festival flags at sunsetJust 15 minutes up the road from us is where the Deershed Festival is held every year in July at Baldersby Park since 2010. It’s a family friendly music and arts festival is held called the Deershed Festival. The festival started small, about 2000 people tops, but has now grown to a capacity of 8000 people.

The Helter Skelter at the Deershed Festival

The Helter Skelter

The festival has all the usual chilled out vibes and entertainment you;d expect such as bands, big tops, comedy and food and shopping stalls. Deershed is slightly different because the entertainment is aimed at children. There are workshops based on an annually changing theme such as monsters, time travel, up in the air, machines, and sky at night, comedy, sports, the legendary Bubble Man and loads more to do. Festival goers can also enjoy a game of swing ball, in the largest swing ball pitch ever.

I think the theme this year is “At the movies”, but you can check the website for all the details. It can be a bit pricey for a larger family but if one of you volunteers to help out by doing a few shifts in the workshops or camping fields, you get your ticket for free! The review on their Facebook page say it all again.

The Deershed Festical Arena

You can camp, or glamp, come for the day (but you’ll miss the best acts) and enjoy a brilliant range of things to do. There’s a big top, 3 stages for music alternating so they don’t clash, after hours clubbing somewhere in the woods nearby so as not to disturb the young sleepers and plenty of portaloos which are cleaned out all day long.

Up in the Air

Hot Air Balloon for up in the air

We’ve been to about 5 Deer Shed festivals now so are having a break to try something different this year, but 2016’s event was great fun, and boiling hot. The usual Saturday morning kids fun was Cardboard City of course what else do you need but a big pile of cardboard boxes and leave them to it to use their imagination.

Cardboard city on a Saturday morning

The bands that play range from folk, rock and little known local bands but there’s always a bigger name to headline on Friday and Saturday night. We’ve seen St Etienne and the House of Love there, and picked up a liking for some of the more obscure bands from hearing them play at the festival.

Fairground Rides are a bonus

The big wheel Carousel at the Deershed Festival fair

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

 

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.

Low Greenside campsite – Camping as it used to be

Last weekend was our first camping trip of this year, and only the second time we’d used our new Vango tent. Deciding to go for a couple of nights at short notice, even at this time of year it proved tricky to find a campsite that met with our strict prerequisites for camping, distance to travel for a short trip and interesting countryside to explore. I fired off several emails to likely looking places and settled on Low Greenside Campsite at Ravenstonedale in Cumbria. Five miles south of Kirkby Stephen it is far enough away for us to feel like we’re in a different place to home, but not too far for a short weekend break. Just dodge the colourful macaws on your way through Kirkby, (yes really) and it’s basically a field on a small farm surrounded by the Pennines on one side and the Lake District on the other. Camping as it used to be.

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Tents were set up when we arrived on Friday evening and we toasted marshmallows around the fire. And kept warm as the sun went down at the same time as the temperature dropped below zero.

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During the night we were woken by the cold, as well as a nosy lamb pawing (hoofing?) at our tent. But the morning dawned sunny and it sooned warmed us up again.

The next morning after the bacon butties and cups of tea we set off for a ramble to Smardale Gill and the nature reserve.

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Spring showed it’s face in the flowers.

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And fun was had when we returned to the campsite.  IMG_2330

Thoroughly recommend this campsite if you’re looking for space, beautiful scenery, campfires and camping as it used to be.