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Sykeside Camping Park, Brotherswater, Patterdale, Cumbria
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Sykeside Camping Park, Brotherswater, Patterdale, CumbriaSykeside is one of those campsites that are all about the views. Situated in the midst and mists of the Lake District's Dovedale Valley and surrounded by the fells of Dove Crag, Hart Crag, and Fairfield, it offers glorious mountain vistas wherever you decide to pitch - and the Lakes themselves are enticingly close by.

Innumerable campers have been spilling into Sykeside's friendly embrace for over 35 years now.The current owners have been running the place for more than a decade, and know a thing or two about how to make things run efficiently. The campsite is fastidiously cared for, with neatly trimmed and well-nourished grass, but still manages to emit a reassuringly natural, outdoorsy vibe. Tent pitches are unmarked so campers can choose their very own patch of grass on which to throw their canvas when they arrive.

The best place to pitch is on the terrace on the left-hand side of the site. As it's higher up it gives better views and stays relatively dry all year round (it's the only part of the site open to tents in the winter months), and as you can't take cars up the bank it's often quieter there in summer. (A word of warning, though: it's very occasionally reserved for the use of a school group.)

The onsite facilities are superb. It's true that the bunkhouses and showers could do with a bit of a makeover, but there's a well-stocked shop (summer only) at reception, and a bar (weekends only), as well as the onsite Brotherswater Inn - a quintessential Lake District pub that offers decent grub, draught beer, and accommodation for any non-tenters. Then for the kids there's the use of an entire spare field (except during lambing season) allowing plenty of space for running around and football games.

Sykeside Camping Park, Brotherswater, Patterdale, Cumbria

The location is a boon for walkers, with some excellent routes starting straight from the site: from easy strolls around Brothers Water - a relatively little lake for this district's standards, and favourite of Dorothy Wordsworth, no less - to more challenging ascents up the likes of Fairfield, Helvellyn, and High Street. It's easy to pick up the Fairfield Horseshoe ridge walk, ramble to Priest's Hole cave, or amble on to Ambleside.

In fact, about 40 peaks in the Eastern and far-Eastern fell ranges are feasibly within reach, depending on how tar you fancy stretching your legs on any given day - and on the weather, of course. If you do leave, be sure to keep your food somewhere safe. There may not be any bears around, but the local badgers are stealthy and prone to breaking into tents to steal your stash of Jaffa Cakes if you aren't careful.

The nearby area is also full of activity options. You can walk to the top ot the Kirkstone Pass and enjoy a pint or an afternoon tea at the agreeable inn there or catch a steamer from Glenridding (four miles away) to Howtown or Pooley Bridge, then stroll back along the shores of Ullswater lake. And if you'd prefer to do your exploration from a sedentary position, hire a rowing boat on Ullswater and spend an afternoon fishing or picnicking.

With polite, helpful staff making sure the site remains quiet after 11 pm, a complete lack of mobile signal (though the pub does offer a very slow wi-fi connection), and a host of wildlife and nature right on your doorstep, Sykeside provides another fantastic get-away-from-it-all camping experience among the plethora of wonders that make up the Lake District.

Sykeside Camping Park, Brotherswater, Patterdale, Cumbria

COOL FACTOR Panoramic mountain views and great hiking action right in the middle of the Lakes.

WHO'S IN Tents, campervans, caravans, motorhomes, dogs, big groups (Duke of Edinburgh only) - yes.

ON SITE There's space for 80 tents, 19 motorhomes, and 5 caravans. The toilet and shower (5W, 6M) facilities are slightly run down but clean (hot water can be scarce when the site is full); shaving sockets and power points are available in the shower block.There's also a laundry room, dishwashing area (with freezer for ice packs), and well-stocked shop at reception (open summer only) selling groceries, camping equipment, maps, and guides. As well as the onsite Brotherswater Inn, there's the cosy Barn End bar (open at weekends throughout summer) for meals and drinks in the evening. Play facilities for kids are limited to an empty field. No campfires.

OFF SITE Boat trips with Ullswater Steamers (01768 482229) from Glenridding (a 10-minute drive) are available all year round: you can take a boat halfway around Ullswater, then walk back to your car. If you'd prefer a more adventurous trip, Glenridding Sailing Centre (01768 482541; www.glenriddingsailingcentre.co.uk) offers a range of sailing tuition and boat hire. On dry land, a 30-minute drive away, Castlerigg Stone Circle (see www.visitcumbria.com) is a sight to rival Stonehenge. Keswick has the surprisingly excellent Cumberland Pencil Museum (www.pencilmuseum.co.uk) and a very good museum and art gallery (www.keswickmuseum. webs.com) for rainy days. You can also spot ospreys nearby, at Bassenthwaite (www.ospreywatch.co.uk).

FOOD AND DRINK The Brotherswater Inn serves generous portions of hearty pub grub along with a full range of beers and lagers. The Glass House (01539432137;www.theglasshouserestaurant.co.uk) in Ambleside, 6 miles away, is located in an atmospheric listed building and serves great lunches and dinners, superb wines, European beers, home-made flavoured vodkas, over 60 malt whiskies (some of which are very rare), and a collection of vintage Armagnac dating back to 1900. The tea room at Cote How Organic (01539 432765), at Rydal, is definitely worth a visit for a cream tea and to stock up on local organic food.

GETTING THERE If you're travelling from the south, take the A591 Kendal bypass to Windermere. Just past Windermere turn right on to the A592 towards the Kirkstone Pass and Ullswater. Head over the pass and down the other side and you'll see the Brotherswater Inn on the left. Turn into the pub car park - then drive through for the campsite. If you're coming from the north, take the A66 towards Keswick. After ¼ mile turn left, on to the A592 towards Windermere and the Kirkstone Pass; pass Ullswater, and the entrance to the campsite is about 2 miles beyond Patterdale, on the right-hand side of the road, before the Brotherswater Inn. If you miss this entrance, turn into the pub car park and go on through to the site.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT The nearest train stations are Windermere (12 miles) and Penrith (18 miles), where you can pick up the Kirkstone Rambler (bus no. 517, runs at weekends from Easter until October, and every day during the school summer holidays) to Glenridding.

OPEN All year except Christmas Day.

THE DAMAGE Tent plus 2 people and a car E13-E22.50 (depending on season) per night.

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