Tour route 3

The Lake District

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, until I got to the pub 🙂

Eskdale National Trust Campsite. Image / National Trust website.

1st leg

Darlington to Eskdale National Trust Campsite, Boot, CA19 1TH

111 miles/2hr 30 mins

Hit the A66 with the windows wound down, Go West playing on the VW’s rather nice infotainment system and leave your troubles behind as you climb over Bowes Moor doing exactly as the Pet Shop Boys instruct. Take the A685 which you follow through Kirkby Stephen until you join the M6 southbound at Tebay (unfortunately you’ll miss the best motorway services in the country, Tebay northbound, but even their many charms can’t compete with the wonders of The Lakes).

Trundle south to Junction 36 where you take the A590. You’ll follow this road, skirting Newby Bridge at the bottom of Windermere. Stay on A590 to a roundabout that points you to the A5092 Workington, Whitehaven and Western Lake District. Eventually you’ll pick up a minor road sign to the right to Ulpha and Seathwaite.

This route will take you on a lovely moorland road across a dramatic landscape. At the King George IV pub take a right turn to Boot following the River Esk on your right and the heritage Eskdale railway on your left – give the train passengers a cheery wave. The entrance to the campsite is around 100m after The Brook House Inn.

Ravensglass & Eskdale Railway. Image / Visit Lake District.

So far we’ve only driven past the site and looked on with envious eyes. We’re rectifying that, as it’s our first post-lockdown trip. If it’s anything like the other National Trust campsites it will be a delight. We particularly enjoyed nearby Boot Inn on a previous trip from Ravensglass on the Eskdale railway.

This scenic trip, in open carriages, from nearby Dalegarth to the coast is a must even for those with no interest in oversized train sets. There’s an alternative site at the other end of the line, the Ravensglass Camping and Caravanning Club Site (where you’ll get discounted rates as part of our Privilege Membership Scheme). If you prefer coastal walks rather hills this is a great option.

Also there’s good pub grub and a sublime pint of Coniston Bluebird to be had at the Ratty Arms on the station in Ravensglass. If you hadn’t noticed that’s a pretty heart-felt recommendation 🙂

2nd leg

Boot to The Quiet Site, Ullswater, CA11 0LS

55mls/1hr 35mins

I’d strongly suggest heading back down the Esk Valley towards Gosforth, Calder Bridge and beyond towards Cockermouth and Keswick. The latter two places are both well worth a stop for a whole variety of touristy opportunities. Taking the alternative route over the Hardknott Pass is not for the fainthearted. I quote “”, “Hardknott Pass is known as one of Britain’s most challenging roads, it’s a heart-stopping series of sharp and narrow hairpin bends. It’s said to be the steepest road in England with a gradient of 1 in 3 (about 33%). Many a clutch has perished on this route!” If you’ve enjoyed the suggested route via Keswick, you’ll turn right of the A66 into Troutbeck and a pleasant 15-minute drive to the fabulous, award-winning haven that is The Quiet Site.

Nothing I can write here is likely to properly do it justice, so visit and see for yourself. One thing I must say though is the site probably has the finest on-site pub/bar (which sometimes features live music) – well worth staying there for this alone.

The pitches have great elevated views over Ullswater and it’s a brilliant base for many challenging walks. However, some may prefer to stay by the lake and both Pooley Bridge and Glenridding offer alternative sites in a village setting.

Home leg

The Quiet Site to Up North Campervans, Darlington

65 miles/1hr 20mins

Enjoy final waterside views of Ullswater as you leave the shore to pick up the A66 at the Rheged Centre (a sort of posh, eco-friendly motorway service area with a cinema, shopping and the probably best artisan scotch eggs and sausage rolls anywhere – also worth considering as a breakfast stop).

This “route 66” is normally a leisurely run back to Darlington, but listen out for traffic reports…