Camping in the UK - England

Article submitted by Marika Bingham

While you are roughing it as a student at Cumbria Institute of the Arts, you may as well rough it somewhere other than Carlisle, so why not go on a camping trip. Join Marika Bingham as she gives you the guide to some of the best sites in the UK at the cheapest of prices.

This article was taken from

As students we all know the value of money and in between saving up for that elusive week in the sun after all the work it is time we reward ourselves with at least one night away.

Where to go

  • Castlerigg Farm Camping and Caravan Site
    01768 772479
  • Castlerigg Hall Caravan and Camping Site
    01768 774499

Castlerigg Farm and Castlerigg Hall Caravan and Camping Park are situated in Keswick, just a mile and a half from its town centre. They are just 50m away from each other but cater for different lifestyles and seasons.

Castlerigg Farm is the cheapest of the two, priced at £3.80 per person per night for a tent. This site has the best view from on top of a large hill, which is the camping area. There is a small shop, a laundry and washing up facility and a shower and toilet area. Showers cost 50p for three and a half minutes. All the features of this site appear to be designed for simplicity; it has all the basics you need but if the weather is bad and you do not have a car, you will probably end up staying in the tent for your whole trip. During summer this is the place to be, it looks amazing in the sunshine and the landscapes will make you want to explore the different trails. Whatever the weather, this is a popular site for hikers as some of the major trails, such as the Castlerigg Stone Circle, run right off the site.

Castlerigg Hall costs £4 per person per night. This has a different but equally beautiful view and is the best campsite if you do not like 'roughing it' or are taking the trip during the cold months. It has a good shop which sells fresh bread each morning and local produce as well as all the necessities. Even if you do not feel up to cooking there is always the Hungry Hiker which is a café situated next to the reception area and offers hot meals at breakfast time at reasonable prices but be warned, it could get very expensive if you go every day. To keep even the biggest kids happy there is a games room which has air hockey, snooker, an arcade machine and table football. A cooking area has free use of kettles and toasters, while hobs and microwaves can be used for 50p for 20 minutes, so cooking is not a problem. The same room also hosts a TV and sitting area and close by there is a great bathroom area where showers are free and hot. Jigsaws, games and books can be borrowed from the lounge area and overall, even if it rains, there is always something to do.

Getting there

  • Get the Carlisle to Keswick bus 555 from the station, at stand one. The journey takes approximately 70 minutes and the buses run twice a day at 10:10 and 12:10.

Other services do exist and times are subject to change so ask at the bus station or pick up a timetable from the Tourist Information office, located in the city centre.

  • Once at Keswick you can get to the campsites by bus, taxi or simply walking.


Depending on which direction the bus is coming from, you will need the 555 from Windemere and need to ask the driver to let you off at Castlerigg Campsite road end. Make sure you can see a large camping sign as you get off the bus, if not, then you are at the wrong stop. The 555 from Penrith means you have to ask the driver to drop you off at The Hawthorns. If you do this you will have to watch where the bus turns right, you need to turn left and come up the hill till you see a large camping and caravanning sign on the right.

If you decide to take the bus to Keswick and fancy flashing your cash, you could always save the trip and get a taxi from the town centre.

What to do when you get there

If you're in Keswick you have to visit Good Taste delicatessen and café - it has the most scrumptious hot chocolate you will ever taste and if a cup of chocolate is not your thing try the caramel latte and the sandwiches are superb.

The café is situated on the second floor and features chocolate brown leather sofas scattered around the room with little tables to balance your cups on. The place is filled with books, and with art hanging off the walls, it is just the place to chill out with friends over coffee and a cake.

Can a pencil be interesting? It can when Cumberland Pencil Museum is the only attraction in the world entirely devoted to the history of the pencil. The site also hosts the world's largest coloured pencil, standing at over 25 feet. Producing millions each week, the museum charts the history of pencil making.

Test your brain at The Puzzle Place in Museum Square. It costs £3 per adult and is open seven day a week, 10am - 6pm. And now for the good news: there is a free section where you can try your hand at the puzzles and staff are there to help, if you get stressed like I did at the tricky brain-teasers. You can even buy the games in the reasonably priced shop. Of course, if you do not pay to enter the main area you will miss the Hologram Gallery, the Anti-Gravity room and all the rest, but then again you can buy a cocktail with the money you saved after a thoroughly entertaining hour - not too much drinking time wasted then!

Casa Bella Italian restaurant is a favourite among students because of its great food, great wine and great prices. With my Italian blood, my favourite food is pasta. The service was second to none and the food was rich and flavoursome while still being at a bargain price, said Journalism student Jane Bruccoleri.

Bar 21 appears to be the hangout for students and young professionals, so we CIA students should feel quite at home. Again, there are lots of comfortable sofas scattered alongside impossibly high bar stools and a drinks menu that will take all week to work through. The cocktails are highly recommended.

And if you don't feel like heading into town. just a short walk from both campsites is The Crag Bar; a small but cosy pub which serves well cooked local produce. It is quite a bit over the student budget but the meals are worth it. If not, you can always pop in for a pint and a plate of chips.

The Interview

Year 2 MMDADA student John Bayly recently took a camping trip in Keswick and was rewarded with stunning views and the best traditional ale the region had to offer.

I went in April which probably wasn't the best time to go - it was cold, especially at night and pitching up on top of a hill wasn't the wisest of decisions. It rained quite a lot and I had to force myself to get out of the sleeping bag.

The walks and the views are one thing to go for; another reason is the beer. The real ales they had were stunning and the pubs they had were nice as well. Bar 21 was really nice; quite European-ish, if you have ever been it Italy. Where to go really depends on what you feel like, there's something to everyone's taste for pub goers - I'm not so sure about club goers though.

The best thing about camping is that it's so much cheaper than a hotel or B&B and the money you save you can spend on a good night out.

Where to go

  • Park Foot Caravan and Camping Park

If you want to tour the Lakes and Eden Valley, then Park Foot is ideal. There are three fields allocated for tents within the main park area. The costs include a car so even if you do not have one, you will be charged but £10 per night (during low season) for two adults which is quite reasonable. During high season the price rises to £13 and a deposit is required when booking.

Take a swim in the lake or launch a boat from the beach by the Lakeside, walk the fells, fish or go pony trekking - there is a hell of a lot to do here. And even if you are not the adventurous type, sit with mates chatting in the light of a BBQ while paddling in the Aikback River that runs through one of the fields.

Of course, there are bonuses to staying here such as free membership to the Country Club House and Lakeside car parking - see for further details. Its licensed bar and restaurant means that you will never have to go without and if you do not fancy eating in just pick up a take-away from the Club House. For those of us lucky enough to go camping in the summer, there is even a beer garden where you can sip a cool Chardonnay in the mid-day sun but regardless of the weather the videogames room, table tennis and pool tables, a big screen TV make it just the place to chill out. During the summer months there are discos and live music especially for students like us.

Then there are the obvious: showers, toilets, shop and laundry room.
For the sporty ones there are even pony trekking, on-site tennis courts, mountain bike hire and if it's empty, two children's adventure playgrounds - just don't let them catch you!

Getting there

A Stagecoach in Cumbria Explorer Tickets, for just £7 per day, allows you unlimited travel on Stagecoach busses in Cumbria. Times differ so for more details ask at your local bus station.

What to do when you get there

Ullswater is the second largest lake in the Lake District. It travels across nearly eight miles of mountain scenery and although popular with tourists, it remains unspoilt.
The name is believed to derive from an early Viking settler but enough of the history lesson, lets get onto the important stuff -

As Ullswater is surrounded by scenery so the only sensible thing to do is take advantage of it and breathe in that clean air.

The Glenridding Sailing School offers courses in sailing, canoeing, kayaking and windsurfing and within one hour you could be a pro in no time. Most water vessels can be hired and it is open seven days a week. For more information call Malcolm or Pete on: 01768 482541.

If you want to feel the wind in your face, hire a bike and head on down to one of the many trails. My favourite has to be the Ullswater Loop. It takes around three hours or a little more if, like me, you are out of practice. A good site for bike trails is: It lists the best trails around Cumbria and more importantly, it gives details of the journey so there is no chance of getting lost.

Or if you want the wind in your face with a lot less effort, there is always the Ullswater Steamers - three steamers take you around Glenridding, Howtown or Pooley Bridge. It is a great way to travel and see the area without the effort but it does come at a price. A return ticket costs between £7-£10 so just think - thighs of steel or sitting in the sun with no pint to cool you off - the choice is yours. For enquiries regarding the Ullswater steamers call 01768 482229.