A Glamptastic Easter at Gillside Farm, Glenridding

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With four whole days off work for the bank holiday weekend the lions share inevitably went to glamping it up with our glawning.  Or ‘market research’ as we like to call it.
We chose the Lake District this time and it didn’t disappoint. The jackpot was well and truly hit with the weather and we found ourselves in the throes of a British heatwave with a shared sense of vitamin D-induced camaraderie that knew no bounds.
Gillside Farm camping and caravan site was where we spent all four nights – book well in advance for bank holidays if you want hook up (like, four months in advance) otherwise it’s first come first served on the camping field which is fine.  £8 per adult then the usual minimal charges for bringing vehicle/awning/tent/dog/unicorn.  The shower toilet block is baltic but they’re not wrong about those piping hot showers (20p and you get ages).  There’s even a breakfast van on weekends serving wonderful bacon and egg butties, amongst other things, and you just know these eggs have been freshly plopped by the free ranging farm hens that very morning.
The site lies very handily at the foot of Helvellyn, and is a mere five minute stroll alongside a stream into Glenridding with its pubs, cafes and touristy activities. Half an hours drive away are the fun filled mountain biking trails of Whinlatter Forest.
Numerous other attractions lie within easy reach if you don’t break down like our camper ‘Jemima’ did.  Our sincere thanks to Keswick Motor Company and Chambers Garage Ltd for their towing skills and super customer service…
The Ullswater Steamer up and down the lake is worth a jaunt.  You can pay an extra £1.50 to take your bike on board so we did and found a brilliant mountain bike ride from Howtown taking in Pooley Bridge and some perfect flowing single track.
There are some great pubs around, although the advent of the glawning has drastically changed our whole camping/pub relationship – pre-glawning we’d be in the nearest pub by 6pm every evening to keep warm and then back to the campervan only to sleep – this time we just about managed to force ourselves out of the cosy fireside luxury of our glam awning for two evenings and as a result can highly recommend the Travellers Rest and the Ratchers Tavern.  Friendly service and no frills mega portions await you. There was even live music at the Travellers Rest over the bank holiday period. On the other two nights we lit our Traveller Stove and settled in for the night to bask in its heat, drink our own booze and cook up a curry on the hot plate.
We climbed Helvellyn (almost) – don’t make the mistake of approaching it via Swirral or Striding Edge if you’re a) scared of heights or b) not equipped with cramp ons and ice picks for the snowy parts…you’ll end up having to turn back and choose an alternative route.  The Information Centre in Glenridding is good for checking conditions at the top before you go. James had mountain biked to the summit the day before via Sticks Pass as some kind of self-induced he-man stunt so at least one of us got there.
So, even though Jemima had to be towed home it was a fantastic mini break and felt great to be kick starting the camping season as we mean to go on – beer, bunting and balminess.
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