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Stone handaxe
THIS small handaxe is one of the most beautiful in the British Museum. It is made from quartz with attractive amethyst banding, a difficult material from which to make tools because it is extremely hard. The toolmaker would have had to hit with considerable force and accuracy to remove flakes. Such a high degree of difficulty makes the thin, symmetrical shape of this piece a masterpiece of the toolmakers’ art.
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Thirlspot Farm, Thirlmere, Keswick, Cumbria
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Thirlspot Farm, Thirlmere, Keswick, CumbriaAnother nigh-on perfect little Lake District site. Not perfect in terms of efficiency, immaculate coiffure, or all-singing all-dancing facilities; perfect in that simple feeling of well-being, which seeps into the soul on your arrival.This might have something to do with the mountainous backdrop that manages to wield an emotional power over us. One such pile of potential life-enhancing rock stands tall and proud right behind Thirlspot Farm. It's called Helvellyn, and there are several different ways to its summit from the campsite, each challenging, but each life-affirming in many ways.

But can one mountain really be sufficient for a well-balanced holiday? Or reason to call this a nigh-on perfect campsite? Some of us think so, but in case you have any lingering doubtsjust take a look at the amazing OS Explorer OL5 map, and discover all the other life-validatory, blister-inducing opportunities on offer from Thirlspot. Oh, and did we mention that the King's Head, one of the Lake District's finest traditional coaching inns, is directly next door to the campsite? So Thirlspot might actually be a bit better than nigh-on perfect...

COOL FACTOR Be humbled by the scenery.

WHO'S IN? Tents, campervans, dogs (if under control; this is a sheep farm), motorcycling groups - yes. Caravans - no.

ON SITE Just 25 pitches in total. A minor downside to this stunning situation is the proximity to the main road on one side, so traffic noise may be a concern. The simple, rustic facilities are in one of the old stone outbuildings, with toilets, free showers (2W, 2M). No washing-up sinks; no advance bookings; no campfires - but BBQs off the ground are okay.

OFF SITE The cycle path around Thirlmere is just across the road, and the Mining Museum (see opposite) is a scenic and peaceful 5-mile overland pedal along St-John's-in-the-Vale.

Thirlspot Farm, Thirlmere, Keswick, Cumbria


FOOD AND DRINK The adjacent King's Head (01768 772393) is undoubtedly good, but not friendly on the wallet. Across the road, the Dale Head Hall Hotel (01768 772478) has posh nosh, proper wine, and a fantastic view, but is also pricey. Campsite-owner Steve Gaskell suggests the Salutation Inn (01768 779614) at Threlkeld - an authentic Lakeland pub.

GETTING THERE The site is on the east side of the A591, 4 miles south of Keswick.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT As opposite.

OPEN Early March-mid November.

THE DAMAGE Adult £6 per night; child £3; car £2; dog £1.



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