“ Small campsite on the shore of Ullswater. Address: Patterdale, Penrith, Cumbria CA11 0NL. Tel: 017684 82337 „
Camping comes in many different shapes and sizes - from the manicured plot at a busy holiday park to a lumpy patch of ground in the middle of the mountains. Side Farm Campsite is targeted more at those used to the latter. It is a bumpy little patch of Lakeland landscape, with the lake at your feet and the sky on your shoulders. For a certain group of people, this is a campsite made in heaven.
What and where is Side Farm?
Side Farm Campsite is a relatively small campsite, situated in fields attached to the farm of the same name on the gorgeous southern shore of Ullswater, in the Lake District National Park. You reach the campsite by driving along the lake shore road through the villages of Patterdale and Glenridding, before taking a smaller road to the left up to the farm house. Having checked in, it's then on to a bumpy track between the drystone wall and the mountain side, going through two gates before reaching the campsite itself.
Before assessing the facilities, I should stress that Side Farm is NOT a holiday park. It is a pretty basic sort of wild country campsite aimed at outdoor loving folks, rather than a sort of organised activities Butlins type thing. Therefore you will not find a swimming pool, games room or any such luxurious trappings. However, the most important facilities (toilets and showers) were well laid out and clean, even sporting a couple of swallow's nest in the eaves. There were drinking water taps and litter disposal points. Supplemented by visits to the shops in Glenridding (about ten minutes walk away), this was quite enough for a happy week.
Where the facilities do fall down a little is the ground itself - not something that can really be helped! You have to pick your spot carefully to make sure it has any relation to flatness, otherwise you will spend the night either squashing your tentmate or being squashed by them. This bumpy terrain, combined with the rough access track, means that Side Farm is only suitable for tents and motorhomes, not towed caravans.
The price for adults is £6.00 per person per night, and for children £3.00. Cars are charged at £2.00 and motorbikes at between £1.00 and £2.00. There is no advance booking - everything is done on a first come first basis, unless it is for large groups arranged in advance.
A real plus point of Side Farm is their sensible attitude to groups of young people. Many campsites now reject groups of young people on principle, because a minority have given us all a bad name, so myself and four friends had all sorts of issues even when we just wanted to go on a hiking holiday. Instead of writing us off, Side Farm asked for a quiet deposit (I think this was between £10 and £15 per person) returnable on leaving dependent on our good behaviour. We owe Side Farm a big thanks for dealing with the problem more sensibly.
Things to do in the area
Obviously the main attraction of the Lake District is the outdoors, and all of the activities you can do there. There is plenty of hiking, both for experienced walkers and families, straight out of Side Farm, or you can hire a boat and get yourself out on to the lake. For those of a less energetic bent there are plenty of attractions in the Lakeland area - stately homes, Wordsworth's old house, or just a nice picnic on the lake shore (weather dependent, of course!). With a bit of research and imagination, you definitely won't get bored.
One of the major good points of Side Farm is the isolation - it is beautifully quiet and peaceful, as long as your fellow campers are considerate. You have the Lake District literally on your doorstep, the view from the tent flap is utterly stunning and the facilities, although perhaps limited, are better than the average.
For many people, isolation will be ranked under the bad points. You do have a little trip, although only a tiny one, to the shops and pubs that you will need, and the track can be a bit of a bone rattler. You also probably wouldn't want to take a new car along that track. Then there is the lumpy ground, which can make sleep a challenge. The final glitch for some will be the exclusion of caravans. Still, these are comparatively small bad points when judged with the whole Side Farm experience.
I would recommend Side Farm as a place to visit, dependent on the type of holiday maker that you are. If you don't mind a relatively basic site, open to all the wind and weather, and where you have to provide all of your own entertainment, then you will adore this site. There are not many places where you can flip the tent flap open in the morning, here blackbirds rather than traffic noise and take a long look out at the morning mountains. Therefore, bearing in mind the site's limitations, I would give Side Farm Campsite four lovely Dooyoo stars.
A few odds and ends
Contact: 017684 82337 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Open Easter to end October
Thanks for reading :)