London Getaway: Lounging in Lake District

If you want to leave London for the weekend and don’t want to bother with flights/passport/ids then there is one place I will always recommend in a heartbeat; Lake District. We went to Lake District for some winter camping and like most good plans, this one too was made on a drunken night out in Dalston.

“Are you crazy?” my housemate asked me, “You’re going camping in this weather?”

Yes, we were.

How To Get There:

My friend and I hired a car, chucked in a bunch of pillows, duvets, a tent, a cooking stove and we were off. It wasn’t easy finding a campsite that was open in December but the one we did find was perfect. It’s called Chapel Farm and it’s in Borrowdale. The farmer who runs it is lovely. When we reached the farm it was pouring big fat cows and he very kindly offered us the comfort of his barn to stay in. So there we were not even having to set up camp! The views from the Barn and from the campsite itself were of the surrounding hills, fields, valleys, and streams.

I *think* we were borderline Glamping because this is how we were eating breakfast:

Breakfast with a view in Borrowdale, Lake District. Definitely not how I roll every other day
A closer look at our breakfast, all cooked over a camping stove.

Views En Route

After breakfast, we decided to go where the road takes us and one moment in particular on our drive from Borrowdale towards Buttermere stands out. The views at one point were so breathtaking that we just pulled the car over, said nothing to each other and just ran out laughing with sheer joy. There were curious wild ponies around, postcard-worthy lakes and gurgling streams running along the road and sturdy stone bridges with rivulets gushing under them. I remember first seeing Lake District in the movie Miss. Potter and thinking “I am going to go there someday” and there I was many years later and the “real” Lake District was so much better.

A wild pony stops by near my car window to say hello

Impromptu Cooking:

Carrying a camping stove along with us turned out to be a great idea (if I may say so myself). At this point, I’d like to add that my travel buddy was a trained chef. Between the stove and him my belly was very happy. We’d find a picturesque spot and cook up a storm. If cooking is not your thing, then there are lots of cute little tea houses to keep you well fed.

Enroute coffee pit stops near Buttermere, Lake District

Weekend Activities:

On Saturday night we went into Keswick, the nearest town, to stock up on some supplies and decided to stop for a quick pint. We went into one of the pubs and a local musician happened to be performing. The quick pint stop soon became about a lot more pints, chatting to locals and listening to some seriously old school country music. Since we wanted to do a couple of hikes the next day we tried to get back to the barn as early as we could- which wasn’t very early at all.

There are plenty of hikes and walks around Chapel Farm. Then there are the walks around lakes themselves which even on the dullest of days sparkle like giant diamonds. I mean it’s not called Lake District on a whim, they really are the highlight of the area.

There were comparatively more people around Lake Windermere (it’s on the cover of most Lake District brochures) so we spent most of our time around the quieter lakes like  Buttermere, Derwentwater, and Ennerdale. The walk around Ennerdale is gorgeous (don’t try to go off the trail though or you’ll land up stuck knee deep in the mud like us). For a picturesque food pit stop, the National Trust car park by Derwentwater is great. There were no cars in December and the “Parking Lot” is basically just a bit of land right by the lake. If you have a National Trust membership (which if you’re a young person is cheap as chips at £28) you can park there for free. A map/GPS in Lake District is a must because there are so many misleading and confusing lanes that you would not want to get stuck in. Reversing in these narrow lanes for a mile would be a nightmare.

Little streams to splash around in. Take the time out to stop every now and then
Views en route around Borrowdale
At Ennerdale .. another gorgeous lake far away from the crowds and ideal for another coffee with a view

Lake District is one of the most beautiful places in England and it’s only a five and half hour drive from London which isn’t that bad really. Also if you’re a group of people or actually even if there is 2 of you, hiring a car is an affordable option. We drove late on Friday night so we didn’t really have to battle that much traffic either. Having a car is definitely the best way to see Lake District because there are so many nooks and crannies that public transportation just won’t take you to. They’re too much of a beautiful secret.

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