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Syke Farm, Buttermere, Cumbria
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Syke Farm, Buttermere, CumbriaAnyone who played King of the Castle as a child is going to love Syke Farm. While the pitches on the banks of Mill Beck are exquisite, there's something extra special about bagging a bit of space on the summit of one of the tiny hillocks. Wherever you camp, though, you're guaranteed a view of High Snockrigg, the hill that rises steeply above the site like a doting maiden aunt over a pram.

In one corner of the site there's a huddle of stone-built loos and showers, and a separate Stone hut called Charlie's Shelter, which contains a table and benches, a sink for washing-up, and another loo and shower. Priority is given to Duke of Edinburgh Award parties (though surely they're meant to be out in the wilds being all self-reliant?) so remember to bring along a disguise that will make you look both 15 and constantly on the verge of being irredeemably lost. For a bit of gentle exercise, campers can either walk along Mill Beck to Crummock Water or mosey through the tiny village of Buttermere -with its two excellent hotel bars and brace of tea rooms — to its namesake lake. This luscious body of water was Alfred Wunwnght's favourite, and it's easy to see why. One of the smaller lakes, it's girded by wooded hills. A stroll all the way around takes 90 minutes or so, depending on whether you're a forced-march sort of walker or someone dedicated to putting the 'amble' into 'ramble'. And should any King of the Castle games have produced some dirty rascals, you can always wash them off in the lake.

COOL FACTOR Wild camping... but with creature comforts...

WHO'S IN? Tents, dogs - yes. Campervans, caravans, groups (except Duke of Edinburgh) - no.

ON SITE A variable number of pitches (this is not one of your manicured car park-like sites). A small, stone, rather cheerless hut housing 2 loos (1W, 1M) and 2 showers (1W, 1M; 50p for 6 minutes), with another nicer shower/loo in Charlie's Shelter. The car park, although on the other side of the river, is still a bit of an eyesore. No campfires.

OFF SITE Once you've walked around Buttermere Lake and conquered Scafell Pike, Pillar, and Haystacks, try Honister Slate Mine's Via Ferrata (01768 777714; see www.honister-slate-mine.co.uk) - a route once used by miners up a rock face, on which the climber is safely attached to a cable.

FOOD AND DRINK The Fish Inn (01768 770253) and the Bridge Hotel (01768 770252) have public bars and beer gardens, and are both a 2-minute walk away. Buttermere's 2 tea rooms are Croft House Cafe and - famed for its ice creams - Syke Farm Tea Room (despite its name, not run by this site).

GETTING THERE Take the B5289 from Keswick over the Honister Pass (or, if cycling, the back-road Newlands Pass - still a bit of a lung-buster) and past the church into Buttermere village. Turn left for Syke Farm (check in first at the farmhouse, then follow signs to the car park to reach the campsite).

PUBLIC TRANSPORT There's a bus service called the Honister Rambler that runs from Keswick bus station to Buttermere between April and October.

OPEN All year.

THE DAMAGE £7 per person, per night (£1 discount for anyone arriving without a motorised vehicle).




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