A Holiday in the Lake District – Campfires and Fells

I am very pleased to introduce this post by Catherine Edwards – she’s a camping fiend, hiker and lover of the outdoors and wanted to share her experience of her and her family’s stay in a Shepherd’s Hut in the beautiful Lake District….

A Holiday in The Lake District had been Long Overdue!

The Lake District is one of my favourite places in the UK. For me it is all about mountains you just want to hug! Mostly covered in grass, bracken, rocks and sheep, they are fun and engaging to walk and scramble up. They have provided me with the most accessible and satisfying hiking throughout my childhood and into adulthood.

There is plenty of inspiration for your artistic side too. You can’t help but see how poems like Wordsworth’s daffodils, Ruskin’s paintings of gurgling mountain streams, Arthur Ransome’s adventurous Swallows and Amazons, and Beatrix Potter’s English woodland creatures drew hugely from these surroundings. A Holiday in the Lake District is truly awe inspiring. OK, the weather isn’t always great but as well as enjoying the outdoors, there are some great things to do in the Lake District when it rains

A Holiday in the Lake District

When I asked my three year old son Jacob, who loves a good indoor craft or lego, where he would like to go on holiday I was excited to hear him suggest “mountains.” Perhaps this isn’t so surprising as my husband is a keen hiker and has shared many photos from some impressive heights across the UK. Not to mention all the exciting clothes and equipment and the buzz of adventure. Clearly he was inspired, and so it was settled, we were off to the Lakes!

Canopy and Stars

As ever on a budget, and wanting our own space and independence, camping was very much at the top of the agenda, but then we stumbled across a lovely holiday website called Canopy and Stars it provides listings for more unusual accommodation for people who like their living semi out of doors. I must admit I was very taken with staying in a tree house, but where we ended up was truly brilliant, our own private campsite.

A Holiday in the Lake District

We had a little caravan for sleeping in the style of a traditional shepherds hut, our own campfire, a composting toilet (that you flush with a scoop of saw dust!), and a kitchen and bathroom hut. We also had a wooden deck with a picnic table and our very own wildlife pond. The whole set up was charming and well equipped with all the basics. With the exception of the toilet, we had wood burning stoves in all the living areas. Very cosy and very romantic.

A Holiday in the Lake District

Getting Toasty Round the Fire

We went prepared to get the most out of the outdoors, so we took jam jars for catching insects and pond dipping, sturdy boots and waterproofs, and the best thing of all, enough marshmallows to feed an army. We made very good use of our campsite, and it struck me that usually budget accommodation is often just a place to keep your stuff while out having the real holiday. But for us our campsite was just as much part of the adventure as all the hiking and exploring we did. We cooked chocolate cake in hollowed out oranges within the embers of the fire, toasted marshmallows and made smores. We threw things to see far they would go, we caught bugs and drew sheep!

A Holiday in the Lake District

Staying in a wood with a pond did have its draw backs. Our gorgeous little kitchen with its cosy, no nonsense wood burning stove was a haven for mosquitos and flies. We were warned about the mozzies and came prepared with great little repellent coils which you light like incense and send the little blighters into drunken oblivion. They only work in relatively confined spaces but meant we didn’t have to bother with those jungle sprays that make you all sticky.

Fighting the Flies

They didn’t work on the flies. The harmless house flies loved the warm chimney. When there was only a couple we didn’t really notice, we just kept all our food well covered. However a couple soon became a dozen, and then fifty at least. Something had to be done. Neither of us wanted an hour round trip drive to Keswick, so I searched our toiletries for anything that might have an effect.

A Holiday in the Lake District

The only aerosols we had were my husband’s deodorant and some athlete’s foot powder. Interestingly the deodorant did work at first, but the flies were canny and kept moving about. Once I had used half a can the whole placed smelled like boy and I switched to the foot powder. Some succumbed, but mostly they just turned white! Remember flies when planning your insect repellent!

A Holiday in the Lake District

Climbing Catbells

Away from the laid back domestic pleasures of camp we were out fully laden for every weather and pre-schooler eventuality. Our first mountain of the holiday and Jacob’s first mountain ever was my favourite. Catbells. We set off on this friendly walk from Hawse End and back again rather than doing the circular walk. This way we could make the most of the series of humps that give you some welcome down bits as well as up, combined with some truly exciting rock scrambles. With an uninterrupted view of Derwent Water we reached a satisfying, if extremely windy summit of 1480 feet in a few hours, and were down again in plenty of time tea!

A Holiday in the Lake District

Tips for Fell Walkers

Our holiday was a great, off the grid adventure for us all, with not a grumble of missing the telly all week. Instead we challenge ourselves to make the unusual setting a way of life, we could have stayed a lot longer. We did learn a lot too. Here are some tips we would recommend for fell walkers big and small alike:

  1. Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate! We stopped nearly every half an hour to refuel Jacob, the breaks and the distraction was welcome and we had plenty of energy to keep going. We had a good variety too, we loved bananas, chocolate and of course lots of water.
  2. New feet! Small shoes are not really designed for hours of hiking and they could get uncomfortable, Jacob changed his once and got a new surge of energy. As adults a change of socks feels almost as amazing as a change of feet!
  3. Say no to wind! Even on a sunny still day at ground level it’s windy up high. We used those light weight, stretchy fabric tubes that keep ears, head and neck snuggly warm without being too bulky. The wind can be really strong, cold and loud, even up the little mountains.
  4. Plasters rule! For adults they are best for protecting feet from blisters or rubbed patches. For pre-schoolers who see them as a badge of honour they are a great distraction from microscopic ‘ouches’. One even went on the outside of his shoe… but it kept him going so who am I to argue.
  5. Be a chatterbox! We met so many people who had either climbed Catbells when they were young, or had brought their (now grown up) children here years ago. They did a lot for Jacob’s motivation, he got a lot of praise and even a round of applause from a family at the top the same time as us. Everyone has a story and it only enhances the adventure.

A Holiday in the Lake District

If you are interested in staying in Blencathra Shepherd’s Hut, you can find out more at Canopy and Stars 🙂

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A Holiday in the Lake District

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31 Replies to “A Holiday in the Lake District – Campfires and Fells”

  1. Awww that looks like a fantastic holiday! So quaint and cosy! We love camping. Little Jacob is very brave! He must have slept well that night lol! The tree house option sounded fun too! How practical to take all those breaks and shoe and socks changes. And chocolate is the best refueler.

  2. Thanks for you comment, Jacob slept very well that whole holiday! No one should be worried about challenging children to be adventurous, they have huge capacity for it, and we were properly prepared (we didn’t even eat all the chocolate we packed!) The lakes are great for backpackers too, one day Louise will tell you all about our backpacking trip from Windermere to Kewsick when we were in our teens…

  3. This looks like it would be a blast! My son turns 3 in a just over a month and I could totally see him enjoying climbing! These are some great tips to keep in mind for our next adventure!

    1. I admire that the little one enjoys camping. Am kind of little fussy with camping, so I guess a glamping would be fit for me.

      1. Hi Blair, I am also fussy! It come from camping with the girl guides and being very well kitted out. My camping luxuries are definitely bring able to light a fire and being able to stand up in the dry while I cook! There are so many options now you can maximise the comfort while still being outdoors. Go for it!

  4. I want to go!!! I love that your son wanted to go. I hike around here with my kids but our hiking is not as serious as this. I wonder how mine would handle it. I think your camp was pretty cool minus the flies and mosquitoes! What a fun experience.

    1. Hi Rose, definitely minus the flies! un-sharing our space with the local insects was definitely a memorable part of the ‘experience’!

  5. This sounds like a wonderful adventure for people of all ages! I have a 2 and 4 year old, and I always have granola around when we’re out to help refuel when out on our adventures.

    1. Granola is a great refueler. For me though, Jacob won’t touch it yet! It’s so great when you find that selection of essentials that really works for you and your kids. It definitely gives me the confidence to be more adventurous!

  6. OMG that looks amazing. I’m surprised at how similar the Lakes District is to NZ. Kind of rugged and a little bit untamed and natural. Definitely a place where I’d be happy to share my holidays. Great tip about keeping the flies at bay too. Thanks for sharing. Cheers, Karen

  7. Wow! This looks like an amazing holiday…loved all the pics and I am going to Pin it. I loved the way your preschooler also enjoyed it and cooperated. Great post!

    1. Believe me there was plenty of complaining in classic preschooler fashion! But discovering all the little things that motivated him and kept him safe and happy really nailed it. I just need to figure out how apply this to everything else and we will sorted!

  8. I hate flies with a passion. Along with roaches. Your photos are amazing! I would love an experience like that. Well, without the flies that is 🙂

  9. Ugh! The Lake District!

    Ever since I watched pride and prejudice! I haven’t stopped wish and wanting to visit!

    This article is now just more reason for me to plan my visit. Whilst we still have the British summer.

  10. It does look very nice out in the woods out there. And the cabin looks very pretty as well. Although with you I would hate the mosquitos that came around all the time. That would be rough.

  11. It looks so pretty and serene! I love camping and would love to experience camping here. No matter where you camp and hike, it is always relaxing!

  12. Love it! Being from the Highlands of Scotland I’m slightly spoiled when it comes to mountains and scenery but you’re totally right in that the Lake District is a really stunning place in the UK.
    What I really love about it is the sheer number of walks and trails there are. It’s a place that you can never really get bored of going to.

  13. The Lake District sounds like a great place to vacation as a family. I love the idea of the little camp site with the canvas hut and other things. Thanks for sharing your amazing camping experience.

  14. I am so glad you are all feeling inspired! It is a wonderful place absolutely covered in trails to suit every kind of ability and interest. The flies were annoying but i guess, if you want Nature, you get Nature! All of it, the good and not so good bits. We are lucky to have very benign insects in the UK, if you are prepared you can get away with ignoring them. In the end de-fly-ing’ the kitchen cabin was pretty funny and a great memory.

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