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New House Farm, Longrose Lane, Kniveton, Ashbourne, Derbyshire
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New House Farm, Longrose Lane, Kniveton, Ashbourne, DerbyshireIf you like your camping raw then you'll adore this spot located on the Derbyshire Limestone (aka White Peak). Owner Bob Small has done his level best to make limited comfort concessions to people staying on their working family farm -not because he's a sadist but because he believes it adds value, character, and authenticity to the experience. And we believe he's right.

If you're squeamish about compost toilets or think opening your tent to find yourself face to face with a snoopy sheep is a nightmarish incident on a level with The Exorcist, best you look elsewhere. Because New House is all about blending in with the surroundings, which just so happen to be a playground of no-holds-barred natural wonderment.

Once you've found the narrow lane that leads to the farm, it's a short drive (or walk) to Bob's delightfully ramshackle farmhouse. Fanning out from this early Georgian-era property are a number of old-school caravans (available to hire), animal sheds, and various workshops that are rented to local tradesmen (presently a blacksmith and a green-wood worker).

You'll also spot some of the site's lively menagerie. Chickens, ducks, geese, and goats roam freely; and if you hear voices speaking German or French from the direction of the cowshed, where a couple of students are busy mucking it out and laying fresh straw, don't be alarmed - they're more likely farm volunteers than guests, paying their way with some good old-fashioned elbow grease.

The camping fields lie just beyond the farm.There are three in total, all vast and undulating things; which ones are available depends on whether the cattle are munching their way through the grass or not. Our favourite is the one just above the escarpment, looking out over bucolic Peak District scenery. In all cases there are no marked pitches — just set up where you like.

New House Farm, Longrose Lane, Kniveton, Ashbourne, Derbyshire

Be warned that there's no electricity, shower block, or hot water, though there is a compost toilet and Bob allows campfires so long as they're raised off the ground (firewood available on site at £5 per bag). He can also sell you some of the farm's home-grown organic vegetables, fruit, eggs, and meat - either as premium cuts or pre-made sausages and burgers. And if you're really against camping at such basic levels, Bob's friend Craig has built an eco-pod for rent, complete with a hot shower, compost toilet, solar-powered electricity, and cooking facilities.

As for things to see and do, you can start right on the farm. Rumour has it that this area has been farmed since the Bronze Age, and Bob has created his very own archaeological trail (ask him for a map or join a tour) which takes you on an expedition of historical landmarks on his farm.

New House Farm, Longrose Lane, Kniveton, Ashbourne, Derbyshire

Haifa mile along the road there's the sleepy village of Kniveton (which has a pub serving family meals, but no shops), and a bit further on lies the agreeable Georgian market town of Ashbourne, where walkers and cyclists сап begin the pleasant and relatively flat Tissington Trail that starts at Mapleton Lane and extends 13 miles into the Peak District, meeting the High Peak Trail (another old railway line) near Harrington. Stay a couple of days and a wonderful sense of how pre-Industrial Revolution England may have been starts to pervade.You may even find yourself tempted to roll up your sleeves and muck out the cowsheds - it'll improve your language skills, too.

COOL FACTOR A wild camping experience on a natural site steeped in history.

WHO'S IN Tents - yes. Campervans, dogs, groups - by arrangement. Caravans - no.

New House Farm, Longrose Lane, Kniveton, Ashbourne, Derbyshire

ON SITE Campfires allowed on a brazier or fire pan -freely available. Bag of wood £5. No showers or hot water, unfortunately, just a mains water tap in the main field and another in the farmyard, where you'll also find a basic compost toilet. For the eco-pod and its mod cons call Craig (07929 616282).

OFF SITE There are a few interesting museums and galleries in Ashbourne: the St John Street Gallery and Cafe (01335 347425; www.sjsg.co.uk) is packed with contemporary art, ceramics, and jewellery in a spacious Victorian building; at the Life in a Lens Museum (01629 583325; www.lifeinalensmuseum.co.uk) you can trace the history of popular photography from its invention in 1839 to more recent times, and take tea at their Victorian Tea Shop too. Cromford Mill (01629 823256; www.arkwrightsociety. org.uk) offers guided tours of the first water-powered cotton-spinning mill developed by Richard Arkwright in 1771, and the wholefood cafe in the yard serves lunches, home-made cakes, and hot drinks. Charming Chatsworth House (01246 565300; www.chatsworth.org) boasts a 1,000-acre park with regular events and entertainment, plus a farmyard and woodland adventure playground for kids. If you're in the mood for active sports, Carsington Sports and Leisure (01629 540478; www.carsingtonwater.com) offers a huge range of activities from sailing, kayaking, windsurfing, and powerboating to raft-building, orienteering, mountain biking, and climbing. For thrill-seeking kids, Alton Towers (www.altontowers.com) is just 30 minutes away, or there's Gulliver's Kingdom (01925 444888; www.gulliversfun.co.uk) in Matlock Bath - a family theme park designed to cater for families with children under 13 years.

FOOD AND DRINK No onsite 'shop' as such, but the site can sell you fantastic beef and lamb in all kinds of cuts, including BBQ-friendly steaks, burgers, and sausages. The Red Lion (01335 345554) on Kniveton's Main Street is the closest place to eat, offering decent grub, a friendly welcome, and a beer garden. For something a little more fancy try the Dining Room (01335 300666; www. thediningroomashbourne.co.uk) in Ashbourne. Arguably one of the best restaurants in the area, it serves seasonal, organic produce and offers a 7-course tasting menu. The Lamplight (01335 342279), also in Ashbourne, is a family-run restaurant serving traditional English and French cuisine, whose history dates back to the 16th century. You can also find farmers' markets in Matlock, Belper, Derby, and Ripley among other nearby market towns.

GETTING THERE In Ashbourne take the B5035 towards Matlock. After 3 miles, in Kniveton village, turn left opposite the church. After just over 350 metres turn right on a left-hand bend (not the sharp right turn). After another 350-odd metres turn right into the farmyard through the green gate.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT The nearest train station is Derby. Take bus nos. 109 or 1 to Ashbourne, then nos. 110/111/112 to Kniveton. The site is ½ mile up Longrose Lane from the bus stop at the village school.

b]OPEN[/b] April-September: school-holiday weekends only.

THE DAMAGE Adult £5 per night; child (school age) £2 per night.

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