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Gill Head Farm,Troutbeck, Matterdale, Penrith, Cumbria
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Gill Head Farm,Troutbeck, Matterdale, Penrith, CumbriaGill Head is a lovely little working hill farm that's been run by the same family for generations. Ensconced within the Lake District National Park, yet far removed from the tourist hordes, it offers space for tents and caravans, as well as B&B rooms and six rather funky timber camping pods.

The main camping meadow is wide and flat with space for around 50 pitches (the 21 hardstanding caravan pitches are in a separate field), offering campers grand views to the mighty Blencathra - known locally as 'Saddleback', a ridge of six separate fell tops - and Northern Fells, stretching right down the valley to Keswick.

In keeping with the splendid, spacious setting, the site has a laid-back, natural feel to it. There are fields, and streams to paddle in, an organised play area for children, and decent facilities that include a modern and spacious shower, toilet, and laundry block.There's even a log cabin (with TV lounge and sheltered BBQ area) for communal get-togethers and wet-weather relaxation.

Beyond lie the Lakes and a wealth of hiking, biking, gill scrambling, and water-based activities, and the owners have been thoughtful enough to arrange regular onsite activities, games, and even bushcraft courses (run by local firm Reach Beyond Adventure).Those 'who don't want to feel like they're on a campsite', as the owners put it, can ask to pitch in the 'hidden' field, which comes with its own waterfall and steep, wooded banks.You'll have to walk further to the shower block, but it's a small price to pay for such pleasant, leafy isolation.

COOL FACTOR Relaxed site within easy reach of the Lakes.

WHO'S IN? Tents, caravans, campervans, dogs - yes. Groups - by arrangement.

ON SITE Campfires off the ground are allowed. Modern, spacious toilet/shower (5W, 4M) block; undercover BBQ and dining/recreation area; comprehensive play area for kids; dog-walking trails; lock up for bikes; shop offering basics and takeaway breakfasts. Onsite activities and bushcraft courses.

OFF SITE The surrounding area has some of the best walking in the Lakes - ask on site for info and routes. Ullswater (www. ullswater.co.uk) is a short drive away and, being England's second largest lake, has a huge range of activities and water sports to offer, including sailing, kayaking, and fishing trips. The Rheged Centre (01768 868000) in Penrith has shops, a giant cinema, and kids' activities. Rookin House Equestrian Centre (01768 483561) is an adventure venue with everything from shooting and archery to riding lessons and trekking.

Gill Head Farm,Troutbeck, Matterdale, Penrith, Cumbria


FOOD AND DRINK The refurbished Troutbeck Inn (01768 483635) is within walking distance, with pricey but delicious food. The Mill Inn (01768 779632) in calm, unspoiled Mungrisdale serves good food based on traditional Cumbrian fare. Veggies love the Lakeland Pedlar Cafe (01768 774492), an organic wholefood vegetarian cafe with beautiful views.

GETTING THERE Take the A66 towards Keswick. At the Troutbeck Inn T-junction take the A5091, signposted Ullswater. After 100 metres turn right for Gill Head Farm.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT Train to Penrith or Keswick then bus no. X4 or X5 (every hour between Penrith and Keswick) to the Troutbeck Inn and walk the ¼ mile to the site.

OPEN March-November.

THE DAMAGE £7.50-£8.50 (depending on season) per person, per night; camping pod £30-£40; hook-up £1.



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