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 backward 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.
The campsite also has its 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 worldy’ wooden compartments which are undercover.
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.
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 freshwater 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.
Trying not to fall in! (but of course, they did).
Facepaint makes the pirate games more authentic.
Rescue mission to the Rocks
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.
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 west in the wrong direction and left the sun behind us in the Esk valley! The view is still spectacular under the 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.
The next day we took the steam train to Muncaster Castle for a 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.
The view from Muncaster Castle grounds.
A bone-rattling ride on a recommissioned army truck takes you directly 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 around 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.