As evening wears on, all that can be heard from Highside Farm's campsite, on the lower reaches of Lune Moor, is the sporadic bleating of sheep far away across the valley. As the light fades into night, our woolly friends fall silent and the sense of tranquillity is complete.
There’s nothing rushed about Highside Farm. Many of the farm buildings date back to the 16th century or earlier, and while the owners, Richard and Stephanie, haven’t turned the clock back quite that far, they have become subsistence farmers on their 16-acre smallholding: growing vegetables and tending four breeds of sheep (including the rare Teeswater), some pigs, cattle and chickens. They also spin their own wool, balls of which are available for sale. Furthermore, if you order it the night before, they will serve you a breakfast packed with their own produce and locally sourced food.
An old stone shed has been transformed into two immaculate and homely loos, a shower and a washing-up room, while the campsite itself consists of one very small field with a static caravan just below it – perhaps the only visible concession to modernity – before the ground drops away rather dramatically, leaving nothing between you and the hills of the North Pennines to the south.
The Pennine Way, perhaps understandably, rises near here by a rather less precipitous route and heads around the back of the farm, passing just half a mile away.
Loos: 2 Unisex. Showers: 1 Unisex (free). Other facilities: Washing-up room. Buy Highside Farm-reared meat for the BBQ. Stuff for children: No. Recycling: Yes.
Dogs: On leads. Fires: No open fires; BBQs off ground (breeze-blocks available). Other: No visitors; departures before noon & no arrivals before 1pm.
NearbyHigh Force waterfall (9 miles by road or 5 miles by footpath); 01833 622209/640209. Or, for an even more spectacular waterfall, there’s Cauldron Snout, 3 miles from the Cow Green reservoir car park (11 miles) up the Widdybank Fell nature trail (look out for blue gentian and the Teesdale violet in the spring). Raby Castle, Staindrop (13 miles) – a medieval castle and deer park as well as the setting for the river pageant scene in the film Elizabeth; 01833 660202.
Food & DrinkIn addition to the seasonal offerings at Highside Farm, grab yourself some local Cotherstone cheese, named after a village in Teesdale. It’s available from the farmer’s market (the first Saturday of the month) or from Armitages (01833 690909) in Middleton-in-Teesdale. There are nearer pubs in Mickleton and Middleton-in-Teesdale, but it's worth your while going the extra mile or 2 to the Three Tuns (free house) at Eggleston (4½ miles); 01833 650289.
Room for 8 people (1 hard standing pitch) on a mainly sloping field, but pitches are level. 2 electric hook-ups.
No availability showing at Highside Farm.
Highside Farm, Bowbank, Middleton-in-Teesdale, County Durham DL12 0NT
Train station: Kirkby Stephen (16 miles) – Settle to Carlisle line. Bus no. 572, run by Classic Coaches (01539 623254), goes to Middleton-in-Teesdale once every Wed. Regular bus services from Darlington main line station 25 miles away via Barnard Castle to Middleton.
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