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Waterside House Campsite, Howtown Road, Pooley Bridge, Penrith, Cumbria
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Waterside House Campsite, Howtown Road, Pooley Bridge, Penrith, CumbriaUllswater isn't exactly lacking in campsites. It has all kinds, from large and loud commercial parks to quieter farms and hidden spots. But Waterside House is one of our favourites; there's something easy-going yet professional about the place that makes you feel relaxed and in safe hands.

Undoubtedly this has something to do with it being a family-run site, handed down through several generations to current tenants Joan and Colin Lowis and their son Mark. Not only that, but, as the name suggests, Waterside is snuggled right up against the lake's shore. Pitch on the grass to the left of reception and your morning views will be of the surrounding fells (including the ancient woodland at the foot of Barton Fell), foregrounded by the gently bobbing moored boats and curious swans and ducks.

The lakeside pitches continue, on the other side of the reception block, with picnic tables and a children's play area. There's also a second field for campers who don't want to be right on the water, which tends to cater more for families and larger, activities-based young groups.

Since Waterside is a working farm, the atmosphere is pleasingly rural.You might even experience, depending on the season, activities such as lambing and shearing.Then again, there's every chance you'll be hiring one ofWaterside's rowboats or sea cycles to enjoy the lake, heading off for lunch in pretty Pooley Bridge (there's a lakeshore footpath from the site), or borrowing a mountain bike to explore the surrounding terrain.

COOL FACTOR Lakeside bliss in a rousingly rural setting.

WHO'S IN? Tents, campervans, caravans, dogs - yes. Groups - supervised only.

ON SITE Some of the 90 pitches have electric hook-ups and there's a children's play area near the water. The shower and toilet facilities are a bit old-fashioned, but there's plenty of hot water, and hairdryers. Another block has a washing machine (£3 in tokens), dryer (50p), and coffee machine. A well-stocked shop does gas and bottle exchange; freezer for ice packs; phone; volleyball and table tennis. You can even store your boat and use the launch. No campfires, but BBQs are fine.

OFF SITE Aside from all the lake-based activities on offer (try a steamer ride with Ullswater Steamers; book with the site), there's Dalemain House (01768 486450) to visit, with its wonderful garden and various events on throughout summer. For the kids: Eden Ostrich World (01768 881771) has ostriches, wallabies, guinea pigs, and even spiders.

Waterside House Campsite, Howtown Road, Pooley Bridge, Penrith, Cumbria

FOOD AND DRINK The Howtown Hotet (01768 486514) has great food, an old-fashioned ambience, and friendly staff (dress smartly). The Martindale (01768 868111) is less formal and sells local produce.

GETTING THERE Take the A592 for Ullswater and Pooley Bridge. Turn left at the lake; go straight on, over the river and through Pooley Bridge. Take the first right, towards Howtown, and Waterside House is the second campsite on the right.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT Penrith station is 5V4 miles from the site. The bus from Penrith to Patterdale will drop you off at Pooley Bridge, but a taxi is the only way to get right to the door.

OPEN March-October.

THE DAMAGE Tent plus 2 people and a car £14-£22 (depending on season) per night.

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