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Birch Bank Farm, Stamford Lane, Christleton, Chester, Cheshire
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Birch Bank Farm, Stamford Lane, Christleton, Chester, CheshirePass up a short drive, through a gate, across a small courtyard bordered with Mowers, and you'll discover a tiny treat. Bitch Hank Farm's campsite runs to a mere half acre, with just 14 pitches, so the words 'sprawling' and 'rammed' never get an airing here. You can plop yourself down in one of the many spots with a view of distant Beeston Castle, or hunker down under one of the apple trees. Loos and showers, meanwhile, arc handily housed in a brick outbuilding right next to the firmhouse.

The farm - on which cattle graze - runs to 77 acres and has been in the same family since the firmhouse was built in 1844.The most recent dog to call the place home is a friendly young thing, and the source of no little amusement as he makes repeated dashes in vain pursuit of the many swallows who shoot about at grass level.

Cyclists have the delightful option to ride to the campsite along the Shropshire Union Canal either from Chester or Waverton, while walkers can hop on the towpath at any point from Wolverhampton to the Mersey Estuary. Just turn off at Christleton, and Robert's your mother's brother.

Birch Bank Farm, Stamford Lane, Christleton, Chester, Cheshire


COOL FACTOR Small and friendly: the Ernie Wise of sites.

WHO'S IN? Tents, vanners, dogs (under control), big groups (if they book the whole site) - yes. Young groups - no.

ON SITE Fourteen pitches and 8 hook-ups. Facilities: loos (1W, 1M; and 5W, 1M in a Portakabin - with more planned); showers (1W, 1M); ice packs refrozen free of charge. There's occasional traffic noise from the road. No campfires.

OFF SITE Chester's cathedral and city walls are a day out in themselves. There are some extraordinary views from Beeston Castle (01829 260464) - 8 counties on a clear day. Kids will love the quirky Cracky Trail (01244 336161) in Waverton.

FOOD AND DRINK Christleton's Ring О Bells (01244 335422) holds gourmet nights and has pretty tasty food on other nights too. Sheaf Farm Shop (01829 741402) nearTarvin stocks loads of local produce.

GETTING THERE From Chester take the A51 eastwards. Turn first right after Littleton. Birch Bank Farm is on the left-hand side, soon after a sharp right bend.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT Train to Chester, then bus no. 41A to Christleton village (1 mile away).

OPEN May-October.

THE DAMAGE Pitch £5 per night; adult £3; child (5 to 15 years) £2, under-5s free; electricity £2.50.



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