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Grizedale Camping Site, Bowkerstead Farm, Satterthwaite, Ulverston, Cumbria
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Grizedale Camping Site, Bowkerstead Farm, Satterthwaite, Ulverston, CumbriaIf ever a campsite precisely fitted the criteria to be labelled as the perfect Cool Camping site, then this is it. Well we think it is, or at least might very well be... if there were actually precise criteria for a Cool Camping campsite. So how did we come to this illogical conclusion? A good question, and it involves unquantifiable notional nonsense like atmosphere, vibes, emotions, nags, Shrek, and a bit of hobbit-ness.Then there's the old chestnut of a cracking location, and this is perhaps that most important box to be ticked before any campsite gets a certificate of worth from Tent HQ.

Taking location first, and any campsite in the Lake District has a head start over the rest, with this area's unique combination of rugged natural scenery enclosing picture-postcard valleys. But oddly, Grizedale, the location of this textbook Cool Camping site, isn't like anywhere else in the Lake District, and is largely covered in trees; fairly boring-looking trees at that. But we'll get back up in the arboreal canopy later, after a better look at the campsite which, handily enough, is the only one in all of Grizedale.

The camping part of the site lies in a lovely open field with a soothing view of the wooded hills all around, bestowing upon the place a feeling of snug enclosure, as the protective treescapes shut out the rest of the world completely. And we do mean completely, which is good, as there's nothing remotely urban for miles in any direction.You can almost feel the tranquillity rippling right the way through your soul here, especially when you're sitting by an open fire on one of those balmy summer evenings we wish we had more often.

The section of the site devoted to a yurt and handful of timber pods is existentially opposite; they can be found hiding within the steep wooded hills at the back of the farm, where the atmosphere - though no less idyllic - has an intimate, odd, and almost Lord of the Rings sort of feel to it. If not The Lord of the Rings then maybe Shrek...or Men in Tights perhaps... but basically, that of a mystical forest.

Grizedale Camping Site, Bowkerstead Farm, Satterthwaite, Ulverston, Cumbria

The more you see of Grizedale campsite the less average it becomes, and it probably won't come as a total surprise that should you not wish to part company with your nag during your camping holiday, why, you can bring him or her along with you, as a nice comfy bed and daily supply of fodder will be theirs for the entirety of your sojourn here. (Obviously the nag we refer to is of the equine varietyjust in case there are any family misunderstandings.)

There's a pub nearby, and besides plenty of bridleways for your favourite horsey friend to clip-clop along, there are miles and miles of paths in the woods where the imagination can be let loose completely. Bizarre timber sculptures are dotted about nearby Grizedale Forest and could easily have been carved by С. But these are all just sideshows in the forest, for the real action is either way-up in the tree canopy as part of the Go Ape high wire course, or getting down and very dirty cycling along the purpose-built ATB tracks on the forest floor.

So there you have it Grizedale makes the perfect Cool Camping site for active folk who like a good dose of adrenaline served alongside their camping. Or those who'd just prefer to sit back in the glorious, soothing, and slightly mystical surroundings, and think about being active, or ponder on which film set the site most resembles. What's certain is that it has Baggins of appeal.

Grizedale Camping Site, Bowkerstead Farm, Satterthwaite, Ulverston, Cumbria

COOL FACTOR A quirky hideaway near all that outdoor action in Grizedale Forest.

WHO'S IN Tents, small campervans, horses, dogs - yes. Large human groups - no.

ON SITE Campfires are allowed and encouraged (as long as you purchase the wood from the farm and don't go scavenging in the forest). There are 50 tent pitches on the lower field. The facilities are housed in a barn at the farm, and are decent enough, but a fair hike from the main camping field, though much closer to the yurt and the camping pods. Four free showers in all (2W, 2M), with baby-changing in the ladies' half of the block, and a washing-up sink available to all genders. The 'horse holiday' available is purely a facility to stable a camper's own horse at the farm.

OFF SITE There aren't a lot of tourist attractions near this back-of-beyond campsite, but those that are here are stunningly different and very exciting. There is obviously the usual kind of Lake District walking available straight from the site, though it's a deal woodier than elsewhere in these parts, but as mentioned Go Ape's (www.goape.co.uk) high wires criss-cross the forest canopy, and an extreme mountain biking course called the North Face Trail (01229 860373; see www.forestry.gov.uk) zips along the woodland floor. Both adventures are designed for those with nerves (and muscles) of steel. If you aren't quite ready for the nerve-jangling, death-defying ATB course, there are miles and miles of forest tracks to cycle along, with gradients to suit all tastes and legs. All the other more traditional attractions of South Lakeland are also accessible by bike, with the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway (01539 531594; www.lakesiderailway. co.uk), Windermere Lake Cruises (01539 443360; www. windermere-lakecruises.co.uk), and the Lakes Aquarium (01539 530153; www.lakesaquarium.co.uk) all a pleasant stress- and precipice-free 7-mile pedal away. And another mile (or quick ferry ride across the lake) brings Fell Foot Park (01539 531273) in range, where you can sip tea by the lake or hire a traditional rowing boat.

Grizedale Camping Site, Bowkerstead Farm, Satterthwaite, Ulverston, Cumbria

FOOD AND DRINK The roads into Grizedale are, in a vehicle, nearly as scary as the high wires or extreme biking trails, so many folk won't be going far in the car once settled here. If the stove packs up, the fire goes out, or the camp chef goes on strike, the local pub in Satterthwaite, the Eagles Head (01229 860237; www.eagleshead.co.uk) can cater to just about every taste. The beers (Eagles Head Ale and Grized Ale) are exclusive, and there are regular changes of guest beers from local microbreweries. Should you decide to risk the road, the Kings Arms (01539 436372) in Hawkshead does simple food very well.

GETTING THERE From junction 36 off the M6 follow the A590 towards Barrow-in-Furness for 15 miles. Soon after passing the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway you turn right into a lane to Rusland and Satterthwaite, then follow signs for Grizedale Forest. The site is on the right.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT The nearest bus stop is on the A590, 7 miles from site, so you're better off using local taxis for getting around in the vicinity - or even your bikes. The nicest way by public transport is to take the train to Windermere, bus (or walk) to Bowness, steamer to Lakeside, then either walk, bike, or get a taxi from there. An expeditionary holiday.

OPEN Alt year.

THE DAMAGE Adult £7 per night; child £3.Yurt (sleeping up to 8) £50-£55 per night (depending on weeknight/ weekend) and camping pods (sleeping up to 4; minimum 2-night stay) £25 per night - advance booking necessary.

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