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Tarn Foot Farm, Loughrigg, Ambleside, Cumbria
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Tarn Foot Farm, Loughrigg, Ambleside, CumbriaA tarn, as anyone schooled in the niceties of topography will tell you, is a lake or pool formed by a glacier. Cumbrians, however, play fast and loose with this definition and are wont to call almost any pond found in the hills a tarn. It's a relief, then, to discover that Loughrigg Tarn -'Diana's Looking Glass' according to Wordsworth - is a proper glaciated lake, albeit a small one.

So quiet it's hard to believe it's just a short hop away from busy Ambleside.Tarn Foot is an old-fashioned camping gem. Perched on a hill, most of the farm is home to cattle and sheep (bring your spotter's guide — there are Herdwicks, Swaledales, and Cheviots here, among others). Pass along a short track from the ancient-looking farmyard, however, and you'll find one large bumpy field given over to tents (and the occasional campervan).

There are views of fields and woods all around, and space for children to run about and fly kites (quite successfully too, at this height), but the main attraction here is just out of sight. Cross a stile by an old oak tree and tumble down the field beyond and you'll reach the farm's eponymous tarn.The water is chilly, even in summer - so bring along a sense of adventure as well as your swimming gear - but very refreshing, and popular not only with bathers but canoeists and kayakers too.

The facilities are minimal - two loos and an outdoor sink - but campers seem to like it that way.The only downside is that it's a 'families- and couples-only' site, so lone backpackers and groups must seek their tarn-based pleasures elsewhere.

COOL FACTOR Crab those swimming togs.

WHO'S IN? Tents, campervans, dogs - yes. Caravans, groups, lone campers - no.

ON SITE There are 40 pitches, 2 rustic loos in lean-tos by the farmhouse, an outdoor washing-up sink, but no showers. Fishing licences for the tarn (which does sometimes suffer from being a bit algaefied) can be purchased from the owners. No campfires.

OFF SITE Ramblers, Sunday cyclists, and mountain bikers will want to head for Grizedale Forest (see www.forestry. gov.uk) with its many walking routes (and one suitable for wheelchairs), cycle paths to suit all abilities, and forest sculptures. Bikes can be hired locally (01229 860369; www.grizedalemountainbikes.co.uk). Ambleside runs to 2 excellent restaurant-cinemas (www.fellinisambleside.com and www.zeffirellis.com), while Lake Windermere plays host to all sorts of aquatic activities.

FOOD AND DRINK The Drunken Duck Inn (01539 436347; www.drunkenduckinn.co.uk), at tiny Barngates, has its own microbrewery and posh-nosh restaurant (eat first and just go for a drink if you're economising). Lucy's of Ambleside (01539 432288; www.lucysofambleside.co.uk) has a cafe/restaurant and deli that stocks regional foods.

GETTING THERE From Ambleside, head west on theA593, taking the first right after Clappersgate. After'/, mile, take the narrow, sharply rising road on your right. The entrance to Tarn Foot Farm is almost immediately on the left.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT Train to Windermere or Lancaster and bus no. 555 to Ambleside. Then take no. 516 to Skelwith Bridge and walk up the steep hill for V4 mile to the campsite.

OPEN All year.

THE DAMAGE £3 per person, per night; £1 per car.


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