The south west tip of Ullswater is certainly one of my favourite places in the Lake District. There are lots of high level walks (Hevellyn via Striding Edge, Catsycam (my favourite peak), Place Fell, High Street…I could go on), low level wanders through mixed woodland and secret tarns (Lanty's and Angle Tarn amongst the best). It's served by the 508 to Windermere and Penrith and has a decent set of shops. I could live here (in a shack, I wouldn't be able to afford much else) quite easily. I stayed 3 nights here and enjoyed three great walks which I'll detail in my next view posts. So onto my review of Gillside Farm.
Situated in Glenridding, 5 minutes walk from the shops (2!) and pubs through a locally woodland path (there is a separate entrance for vehicles), it's off the main thoroughfare. Glenridding Beck passes by the lower fields, which you can hear from your tent. You don't need to use your car once you arrive. There are walks from the doorstep to Hevellyn and it's associated fells. You can get the bus anywhere between Windermere and Penrith or take the Steamer to the opposite side of the lake. There are two shops which open until 6pm and have all the essentials, and a cash machine (not free to use), so you have amenities should you fail to prepare (or just fancy a newspaper and a hot drink). There is a visitor information centre in the car park, 4 pubs, and numerous cafes, within easy walking and a children's play area.
A pay before you pitch policy. I didn't book, I did email beforehand but she said there was no need to book if it was just one tent (mid August). The lady was very pleasant and told me about the campsite and showed me various places I could pitch – anywhere basically. Whilst I was there a few cars got stuck in the mud. The farmer came and pulled them out.
I paid £12 per night and was charged for the dog and car. For the size of the campsite and its location I don't think you'd get anything less so I was happy to pay.
It's nicely laid out with three tiers of fields and grassy paths joining them together. The lower pitch was very busy (nearer the beck and bogs!) so I went on the top tier where the best views are, and where chavs are less likely to congregate. Pegs went in no problem and the ground was fairly flat. Some parts slope down but it's not uneven. Good for drainage! The views are beautiful, when I visited I opened my tent to stunning purple heather clad cliff tops (Sheffield Pike and Glenridding Dodd). The beck is crystal clear and Place Fell can be admired as you eat!
I didn't use the showers so I can't comment but they do charge 20p so remember to take some coins. The toilets were very clean every time I visited and at the time the campsite was full. There's no phone signal but a phone box is located by the farmhouse. Washing up is limited (3 sinks) but didn't bother me – the water was hot. In high season a little van opens in the morning serving hot drinks and food although I have no idea the quality – I didn't test it out! Plenty of bins dotted about and full recycling available. Fresh drinking water taps also laid out around the pitches. On the top tier there is a little swing for children.
The beck and the sheep. Bliss
The Lakes in August is a no go for me. Too busy. But this campsite for some reason didn't have that crammed in feeling. It was full on the Saturday (according to the sign) but they obviously go by the number of people and not by the space. There was room for more, so it's reassuring to know even at the busiest time of year the campsite won't be too noisy. There were quite a lot of children but not as many as I'd expected for the school holidays. I think the fact that if you aren't going walking there isn't a lot to do might put families with children off. I'm certainly going to return to this campsite, and probably this year. It trumps the other campsite in Patterdale (Side Farm, which I reviewed) because of its ease of access and pitch quality. Improvements? Divide the three tiers into zones, dog friendly, children friendly etc, then all are happy!
Top tip for a quiet walk? Glenridding Dodd via Stybarrow Oaks. It's not marked on the OS maps as a path so it's not widely known but Wainwright mentions it as the best ascent of Sheffield Pike. I can see why, and all the better for knowing it's a secret only geeks like me will find. Obviously I won't be telling you my other secret haunt. Only the dog is allowed to know that one.