Getting Back to Nature in Beautiful Borrowdale

I love camping, there’s something very relaxing about sleeping under canvas and switching off from technology. Unusually for us, it’s been a whole year since we last camped, partly because we spent some time abroad last summer and we moved house, but also partly because winter didn’t end here until seemingly May day bank holiday a few weeks ago!!! But camping is what we did last weekend.

Hollows Farm Campsite is just gorgeous

We regularly stay on Hollows Farm near Grange, National Trust land where you don’t book but just turn up and pitch. Facilities are basic but do the job (it’s only £7 pppn) and the location close to the river is just gorgeous (I was overly ambitious about the weather and brought my water shoes!). My parents brought my brother and I to this campsite almost every year since we were very little. My husband and I have continued the tradition and it’s very rarely we go a year without visiting at least once with friends and/or family. Depending on the weather and the time of year the scenery is spectacular and varied.

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Looking towards Castle Crag last summer

From Hollows Farm there is easy access to lots of fells including High Spy, Dale Head, Cat Bells, and the most resplendent of almost mountains… Castle Cragg. Castle Cragg is diminutive at only 951.44 feet (290 metres) however it is included as one of Wainright’s fells and he described its position as “the loveliest square mile in Lakeland”. Lots of other hikes are also close by, including Great Gable and Scafell Pike. There’s a lovely walk around Derwent water to Keswick too.

Borrowdale Valley looking moody last weekend

I don’t do it as much as I probably should but I love hiking, especially if it ends in a pub, or several (PH to PH navigation as my dad calls it). As we only had one full day we decided to walk to Seatoller from Grange, up the path that forms much of the ascent to Castle Crag but skirts past the summit. Then we walked from Seatoller back to the campsite along the river stopping for a very chilly swim, a shandy in the YHA and some food and a few beers in the Riverside Bar at Rosthwaite. The walk is basically this one from Walking Britain but the opposite way around.

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The crystal clear river Derwent near Hollows Farm

Borrowdale is a relatively unique and beautiful landscape, one of the wettest areas of the UK and fairly heavily wooded. These woodlands are relics of Atlantic Oakwoods, effectively a mini temperate rainforest, abundant with wildlife and in some areas the ground flora is stunning, ferns, flowers, mosses and lichens are plentiful and some parts look like a lush green fairy-tale scene. The river and streams are crystal clear and (although cold) there are some lovely areas for wild swim (or kayak/inflatable). There are oak trees a plenty and ancient yew trees near Stonethwaite that are estimated to be up to 2000 years old!

Much of Borrowdale’s woodlands are minimally managed, one dead tree can provide for thousands of microorganisms

Borrowdale really is a gem, and last weekend much to our surprise was very quiet. Thunderstorms were forecast and while it did rain a little it was generally just super-humid and warm, it felt like we were actually in tropical rainforest! Research suggests that getting outdoors helps your mental health and approaching the end of a very busy college year, getting back to nature was exactly what the doctor ordered.

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