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Castlerigg Farm Camping Site, Castlerigg, Keswick, Cumbria
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Castlerigg Farm Camping Site, Castlerigg, Keswick, CumbriaKeswick is undoubtedly the tourism focal point in the northern half of the Lake District, and there are a good number of campsites to be found within reach of the bright lights of Hiking City. Some are big corporate places, others club sites bursting at the seams, and most require booking years in advance to get a pitch in the peak periods.

Camping should be about spontaneity, chucking the tent in the boot, or strapping it to the rucksack, and taking off when it suits. But if it's a weekend or the school holidays, where on Planet Lakeland can you find an uncommercial campsite within walking distance of Keswick's diversions that doesn't need booking months in advance?

This is where Castlerigg Farm, sitting atop its hill with a huge view out over Keswick, comes riding to your tenting rescue. There's probably enough space for the entire camping fraternity to stay here and look upon the fells, but by design, they don't pack them in tight. What you get here is a cast-iron guarantee of noiseless nights, complete P&Q, and a fantastic night sky.

The site's lofty location may be a bit of a deterrent to those in need of the bright lights (25 minutes down to town - 45 back up), but this does mean that the hills are just a few steps from the campsite, and for many this is the better deal. In much less time than it takes to descend to the chaos of Keswick, those few steps along the lane will take the soul and soles to some of the loveliest Lakeland views, and is it not better for the spirit to be soaring nearer the sky than the shops?

COOL FACTOR Guaranteed undisturbed nights.

WHO'S IN? Tents, campervans, caravans, dogs - yes. Groups - no.

ON SITE Eighty pitches, of which 24 have hook-ups. The modern and spotless facilities block has loos and showers (6 altogether, 50p metered). There's also a laundry; washing-up sinks; small shop; onsite cafe. Ice packs can be frozen, phones recharged, and the laptop refreshed. Strictly no noise after 10.30pm. No campfires, but BBQs off the ground are okay.

OFF SITE This is a place where the car can be left motionless for the duration. Besides the obvious allure of walking the fells straight from the site, there is so much else to do nearby. Firstly, the splendid old Keswick Launch Company (01768 772263), which runs a scheduled service gliding around Derwentwater.At Honister Slate Mine (01768 777230) there's a dizzying Via Ferrata and underground tours.

FOOD AND DRINK The site's own Hayloft Cafe serves breakfast, lunch, packed lunches, and evening meals - all containing local seasonal ingredients. Keswick is awash with decent food, but highly recommended is the Mill Inn (01768 779632; www.the-millinn.co.uk) in Mungrisdale, where only the view can distract you from the delicious food.

GETTING THERE Castlerigg Farm is signposted off the A591 at the top of the hill travelling out of Keswick towards Ambleside.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT The Stagecoach bus no. 555 (Lancaster-Kendal-Keswick) stops at the end of the lane, about 300 metres from the site. All of the places mentioned above are easily accessible by bus or bike.

OPEN March-November.

THE DAMAGE Tent plus 2 adults £12-Е 15 (depending on season) per night; extra adult £5-£6.20; child £2.90-£3.50.



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