Long sunny days, alfresco eating, endless hours of fresh air, the sound of nighttime rainfall on canvas, paddling in the lake, laughter – so much laughter and a totally unrivalled, unspoilt view of the beautiful Lake District. If I had to, then that’s how I would begin to sum up our recent camping trip but it still feels as though that doesn’t do it justice. It was just one of those holidays that leaves you feeling so full and upbeat afterwards.
I’ve been coming to the Lake District for my whole life and yet each time I visit there is something new to see or do, a hidden picnic spot to dine at and a fresh perspective on what is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places on earth. It’s my lifelong dream to one day own a little cottage here, nestled into the hills with maybe (if I win the lottery) a small mooring and a little boat docked to it. Wouldn’t that just be so gorgeous? A girl can dream anyway.
So many of you over on my Insta-stories have been asking about where we stayed, how we managed camping with three children (one of whom is only two years old) and recommendations for a smooth-sailing trip under canvas, so I wanted to write it all up whilst the freckles and memories are fresh.
Our home for the week…
We stayed at Low Wray campsite, a lovely National Trust campsite tucked into the western shore of Lake Windermere. And what a place it is. A holiday here was for us, simply unforgettable despite our reservations about the lack of electric hook up pitches. We needn’t have worried though as I genuinely didn’t notice any inconvenience. The pitches are spread out over a large area with fields, forest and lake side pitches to choose from. As we were travelling with thirteen people (hello big family!) and five tents we had a lovely flat field spot where we could all lay our tents next to each other. It was this kind of flexibility that made this campsite extra special.
Despite this being high season and the whole place being fully booked, this campsite felt very laid back and family orientated, which immediately made us feel at home. The staff here are so lovely, so accommodating and a complete wealth of knowledge on all things from camping right through from recommendations for the local area of things to see, do and places to shop and eat. The shop onsite is well stocked with all the basics for food, drink (no alcohol is sold onsite FYI), toiletries and a range of National Trust items and the cosiest blankets ever.
The possibilities for anything from kayaking, swimming, paddling, skimming stones and fishing are endless when your base kisses the tips of a lake this beautiful but this campsite is also happily situated nearer some of the best trails, paths and sight-seeing activities that the Lake District has to offer.
What we ate…
I am such a foodie and it was the first thing I started to dream of when we booked this trip. I knew that there would be no electricity, which means shopping ahead and keeping things cold wasn’t much of an option. This might sound a bit daunting but actually it worked out brilliantly.
I was able to get up early each morning and visit the campsite shop to collect any chilled items that we may want for the morning (they sold soya milk if you want to know) and we ate simple but filling foods like pasta, rice, and even good old beans on toast. On the night we arrived, we also took full advantage of the wood fired pizza oven on site and it was very good, albeit pricey.
Out and about on our day trips we found a few little places to feed the whole thirteen of us that we absolutely loved. The restaurant at the Brockhole visitor attraction was by far and away the best and although there wasn’t anything vegan on the menu, the rest of the family were well catered for with reasonable prices and the most beautiful views.
We also found their little cafe down by the boat docks was really great and bonus, there were lots of dairy free milks available for a hot coffee if veganism is your thing.
Where we played…
Wherever you are in the Lake District, you are going to be spoiled for choice and this trip was no exception. One of the days we visited Grizedale visitors centre, a Mecca for mountain bike enthusiasts and home to one of the most daring of the Go Ape tree top courses. Our lovely lot were happy enough in the adventure playground and scrambling up and down the embankments that run along the river but I’d like to go back and fly through those zip wires another time.
On our main day out we decided to take a boat cruise on lake Windermere and we boarded the Princess of the Lake at Wray Castle. Being out on the water on such a beautiful day was absolutely gorgeous and for the children, ever so exciting!
Brockhole on Windermere was our first stop and I just cannot say enough good things about this place. Set in the most stunning lakeside position, this place really had something for everyone. We opted for lunch with a view as I wrote about earlier and then the older children jumped straight on to the Treetop Nets course – basically like a massive trampoline / assault course for kids but suspended high up in the trees! It’s pricey at £20 per child for two hours but man did those kids love it!
For the little ones there’s a lovely adventure playground, endless space to play, run and jump and even ponies to ride or visit. We also spent a very happy hour down by the lakeside skimming stones, feeding the ducks and eating ice creams of course. Would it even be a holiday without one?!
After our adventures at Brockhole, we jumped about Princess of the Lake once more and sailed across to the lakeside village of Ambleside. It’s a busy and more touristy spot on the lake but full of charms nonetheless. There’s some great places to eat and lots of lovely walks start from the car park here. Worth a trip for the blueberry scones alone I’d say.
Before I went camping, so many people told me that I’d hate it, that the reality of muddy restrooms and cold nights would be far less appealing once I was in the midst of it and that camping with a toddler would be at best difficult. But for those of you who are waiting to take the plunge I want to assure you that it is none of those things. Or for us it wasn’t anyway.
I have a few tips if you don’t mind me sharing? I’d say that it pays to be as prepared for the weather changes as you can be and also to plan out a few basic meals – we loved buying hot croissants and coffee from the onsite shop at breakfast, eating out at lunch and then cooking up a hot tea back at the campsite. This worked really well for us but we also took oats for porridge and lots of snack food to take out on day trips. Cocoa powder for hot drinks and smores were a bit of a necessity too!
The bathroom facilities at Low Wray campsite were really good, clean and well looked after so this makes the whole staying clean part of the trip a bit nicer!
If you are thinking of going camping, my biggest tip is to relax, throw rules and bedtimes out of the window, go with the flow and slow right down. Camping and exploring is about being out in nature, enjoying each others company and leaving the hustle and bustle of the daily grind behind. It’s about a simpler life so keep it simple.
I absolutely loved our Lake District adventures and capturing our memories on camera has been just one of the many highlights of a wonderful time.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our little trip and that it might inspire you to take the plunge too.