“ Address: Old Coalpit Lane / Chelmorton / Buxton / Derbyshire / SK17 9SG / „
Looking for a cheap and cheerful holiday my other half and I thought we would get the tent out and head to the Peak District for a few days. Unless you go for one of the all singing and all dancing campsites, i.e. those that have bars, restaurants, nightlife, entertainment, swimming pools etc, all other campsites are pretty much similar, in my experience.
Our requirements were simple with the only things needed being a toilet block and showers (pretty standard stuff), a fishing lake (there's nothing more relaxing than a day by the water side) and located in the heart of the Peak District.
With such few requirements you'd thought we'd be spoilt for choice but funding a campsite with a fishing lake in the Peak District provide more problematic than I had first anticipated. A search on the internet highlighted three and we chose the one that appeared to be in the best location.
The campsite selected was Shallow Grange Farm based in the heart of the Peak District two miles from the village of Chelmorton and a short drive away from Bakewell.
****Location and getting there****
From Buxton you follow signs for the A515 southbound, signposted Ashbourne. At Brierlow Bar, turn left onto the A5270 (Old Coalpit Lane). The farm is on the left hand side approx 500m from the turning. It is easily identifiable due to the large sign outside.
From Chesterfield/Bakewell: Approximately ½ mile after the dual carriageway section of the A6 around Taddington, turn left onto the A5270, which is clearly signed. Follow the A5270 for around 1 mile. After the turnings for Chelmorton you will see Shallow Grange on the right hand side.
When I spoke to the owners I was warned about putting using a satnav as the large rural postcode will (according to the owners) direct me straight in to the village of Chelmorton. Jane, my Tomtom, has never failed me before, and I thought the owners were talking rubbish so I decided to follow Jane. Sure enough I ended up in the village, some 2 miles away! Luckily I printed out the directions from Chelmorton so didn't have to suffer the embarrassment of calling the owners for directions. So if you are intending on staying at Shallow Grange then I would strongly recommend you also take printed directions.
****Inside the gate****
Entering the property the car rattled over a cattle grid making it clear that Shallow Grange is a fully working farm that has diversified and turned some of its surplus land in to a campsite. Driving up the driveway the farmhouse and 'reception' are directly in front of you. To the left there is a grazing field for the farms herd of sheep (I was so happy that there were no cattle as I have a massive phobia with cattle after an incident involving a bull as a child) and immediately behind that was the tent field. A large stonewall separates the tent field and the grazing land so there is no risk of any of the sheep getting in to your tent in the middle of the night. To the right is the fishing lake (more on that later) and another grazing field.
Upon arrival we went to the farmhouse to see where we were meant to pitch up. We were greeted by the owner and informed where to go, where not to go, the site rules etc. etc. The owner was welcoming but not overfriendly and distanced herself from us. I have been to campsites where the owners are "too nice" which I find quite obtrusive and false since I don't like it when a complete stranger tries to become my best friend, so I found the owner's behaviour a refreshing change, although I appreciate that some campers may not feel the same way. We were given a site plan, a list of the rules, a leaflet for a local pub and the code for the barrier.
Getting to the tent field is a matter of continuing up the drive to the left of the property, through a barrier (this is one secure site), through the bottom section of the caravan site, through the electric hook up field and in to the tent field. There is a hard based drive way all the way through which is great especially in the wet.
The tent field is exactly what it says on the tin, a grass field. There is a single water tap so you don't have to go too far to get fresh water, which is good. The pitching places are neatly organised around the perimeter of the field and there are 32 pitches available. You are not allowed to pitch a tent in the middle of the field, despite there being plenty of room although I would think that this 'rule' is broken during the peak season since I have never been to a campsite where tents have been turned away. You will always get squeezed in somewhere.
The land slopes downwards and there are only a handful of 'flat' pitches although even these slope a little bit. We were lucky since there were only 2 other tents in the field but in peak times you may find yourself in one of the pitches on the slope. We did have a walk around the field to see the state of the other pitches (just in case we returned later in the year and it was a bit busier) and there is no way I would be happy in some of them. This is something that should be considered if you are thinking of staying at this campsite.
Being at the edge of the site the tent field has the best views of the whole site, and they are fantastic. Being in a valley you are surrounded by the rolling hills and mountains of the Peak District, the stonewalls, the stone barns, lush greenery and everything else that is associated with this fantastic part of the country. It really is breathtakingly beautiful...... in the sun. We were very lucky with the weather since there was bright sunshine throughout our stay, although we did experience the morning mist, where the Peaks lose their appeal somewhat. I would not like to stay in the Peaks during poor weather and rain as I think I would lose all love for the place.
****Electric hook up field****
The electric hook up field is like the tent field but every pitch has a power supply. This field is used for trailer tents, motor homes and those tent owners that want a power supply. It can also be used by caravans when the caravan site is full.
I did notice that the electric hook up field is much flatter than the tent field and all pitches are level. I did ask if we could stay in the electric hook up field and was strictly denied the opportunity, unless I paid the extra for the power, as all pitches were reserved for those that wanted electricity only. During peak times I wouldn't have asked but since this field was totally empty and we were only staying three nights I thought it was a bit harsh, but there you go.
Unlike the caravan site the electric hook up field doesn't have any hard standings so it would only be used as a last resort for caravan owners.
Whilst I did not have a proper look around the caravan site (well it would have been a bit intrusive since I do not own a caravan) I did have to walk through a small part of it to get to the facilities block. Whilst washing up I was looking out of the window (as you do) and noticed that the caravan site was actually quite attractive. There were areas of trees, shrubs and flowers and the grounds looked landscaped, which is more than can be said for the tent field. The area looked clean, well cared for and pleasant.
I have heard my father moaning many times about having to fight for pitches with hard standings or having to pay a premium many times but he would have no such problems here since all caravan pitches have hard standings making them ideal for all weathers.
This campsite has limited facilities and we knew this before we booked. The website clearly states that there is only toilets, showers, waste disposal and a washing up area. Campers can use a washing machine, located in a locked room in the toilet block, by asking the owners.
We did not use the washing machine so I cannot comment on how much it cost but considering the machine is kept in a locked room it enables you to put your washing in, lock the door and go back to your tent/caravan/motor home in the knowledge that your laundry will still be there when you get back, which is a good thing since you don't have to hang around and wait for it.
The male toilet block had one shower, which was a bit of a pain, although there were two others in a mobile unit, which was actually closer to the tent field than the shower block. A bonus? Unfortunately not.
The showers in the mobile unit were tiny and other than a small ledge that was just big enough to rest my toiletry bag on the rest of the cubicle was a shower tray. There were three hooks on the door to hang up your clothes and towel but where was I meant to put my shoes to stop them getting wet? Luckily the shower only dribbled out so there was no chance of your clothes and towel getting sprayed, but if it were a bit more powerful it would have been a different story. Showering in the mobile was useless and it was impossible to dry your feet as there was no standing room out of the shower tray in the cubicle. What idiot designed this? The only way around this was to get dressed in the main room of the mobile, which contained the urinals and wash basins. This is absolutely disgusting and not acceptable. Who wants to get dry standing near urinals where there was pools of pee?
The shower in the main block was much more spacious and there was plenty of standing room. In fact, the main toilet block is so large that there could be four or five additional showers, each with adequate drying room. I can't understand why the owners don't do this. Luckily, we stayed mid week when it was quiet so I didn't have to wait any longer than half an hour for a shower, however I would hate to think how long the wait could be in busy periods.
The toilets and facilities block weren't dirty but during our stay I never once saw the toilet block cleaned, which I think is a bit disgusting. I appreciate that it was quiet, and I can only guess that it is cleaned a bit more regularly during busy times but to leave it for more than four days is a bit poor, in my opinion.
On a positive note I should mention that there was always a large supply of good quality toilet roll. There is nothing worse than sitting on the porcelain godess only to realise that there is only sandpaper available, or worse still the kind of material that is going to leave splinters, so I was quite relieved. It wasn't the perfumed stuff covered in balm but it was more than adequate.
There are more showers in the ladies block but I can't comment on the condition of them. My other half said they were adequate although, just like the men's side, they were not cleaned at all during our four day stay at the site.
The washing up room was very good. Many campsites have a large trough like sink where you face the wall and wash up. This site has a separate room with two nice sinks and a window overlooking the site which gives you something to look at.
One of the main reasons for booking this site was the fact that it had a fishing lake, something that appears to be a bit of a rarity in the Peaks, and now I have visited I can see why. At the entrance to the site, on the right hand side is a small pond that looks like it was historically used for irrigation purposes. It is clear someone has spent a lot of time tidying the area around the pond, planting trees and shrubs and landscaping it, and I must applaud whoever did this since they have done a fantastic job. It is just such a shame that this oasis of niceness is in a field caked in sheep muck.
On closer inspection, I noticed there was a small platform that went from the bank in to the pond, which was clearly a fishing platform. My heart sunk since it was then I realised I was looking at the fishing lake and not an irrigation pond at all. Shallow Grange's website describes the pond as a lake, and it looked huge on the website so to confronting little more than a puddle was very disappointing. Damn I hate modern day photography sometimes. My thoughts of a quiet day fishing, away from other anglers, soon disappeared especially since there was really only enough room for a handful of anglers at any one time and even then you'd all be in very close proximity to each other.
Despite its small size the fishing pond appears to hold a good quantity of fish. The owners believe there to be two species of carp, eels, perch, tench and roach. There is not a great variety of fish, by any stretch of the imagination, but I guess it doesn't matter that much. Unfortunately, my fishing tackle is too heavy for such a small pond (those anglers amongst you will know what I mean) therefore I did not bother fishing. I did, however, spend an hour or so soaking up the sun and watching the other anglers who were only catching small stuff. Being nosy/inquisitive, I asked one of the anglers what the average size was and the reply was a disappointing 4 ounces - 8 ounces, but given the size of the pond I was not surprised by this.
If you are a keen angler or someone that likes to catch larger fish then this is definitely not the venue for you.
i) Easy to get to and find
ii) Attractive site on a working farm that is clean, well looked after and idealic
iii) A security barrier provides piece of mind, especially for caravan and trailer tent owners
iv) A small and friendly site with few pitches
v) The owners appear to take pride in the site and it was clean
vi) Sensible rules which are enforced
vii) There is a fresh water supply on the tent field
viii) Relatively cheap, but not much more than other similar sites
ix) The scenery is breath taking and the tent field has the best view
x) There are many walks from the site and laminated maps are available from the farmhouse
xi) There is loads to do in the surrounding area, although you are going to need a car to fully exploit this
i) The tent field is the furthest away from the facilities block
ii) Only a few pitches on the tent field are on the flat, and if unlucky, you will be on the slope
iii) The fishing lake is actually a pond, which was very disappointing
iv) The nearest pub/eatery is a 2 mile uphill hike along a stretch of busy road
i) You have to face the trail of sheep mess getting from the tent field to the facilities block. This is not too bad in the daylight but in the dark it is another story
ii) The facilities block wasn't cleaned during our four-day visit
iii) The additional men's mobile shower/toilet block wasn't cleaned during our four-day visit
Shallow Grange Farm is a nice campsite and I had an enjoyable stay, so I would recommend it. That said, would I recommend it over and above any other campsite in the Peak District? This is a difficult one as there are just so many of them that offer the same thing for the same price in the same area, and it is for this reason I cannot rate Shallow Grange Farm higher than other sites.
Being in the heart of the Peaks, and close to Matlock (being a biker it is a mecca for me) and Bakewell (a lovely town in which to chill out and casually stroll around) the location is good, but not ideal since the nearest pub/eatery around is a two mile uphill hike in the village of Chelmorton.
The site promotes itself as a quiet family friendly site although I am confused what the owners are getting at here. Do they mean that it is family friendly in that it welcomes families, or do they mean that it is a family run business? After my short stay at Shallow Grange Farm I am thinking the latter since there is nothing for children to do, and whilst this suits me down to the ground at present, I appreciate that this would be a disadvantage for many potential campers. The website clearly states the lack of facilities so we were under no illusions but I do fear some campers may miss this fact and book regardless, and I think these people are likely to be very disappointed.
If you are in a couple (of any age) and like to go walking, hiking or out for drives in stunning scenery before settling down for an early (and quiet) night then I would recommend considering this site, although make sure you do your homework first and ensure that you can book a pitch on the flat. I would not just turn up and hope for the best, unless you are going during the week at low season. If you do not fit in to the above niche then I fear you are going to be very disappointed and would suggest going elsewhere.
Telephone: 01298 23578
(From abroad: +441298 23578)
Shallow Grange Farm
Old Coalpit Lane
Chelmorton, Nr Buxton
It should be noted that Shallow Grange Farm is unable to accept credit/debit cards or online payments.
(This review has been posted on other review sites under the name of Yackers1)
A traditional working farm.