As evening wears on, all that can be heard from Highside Farm’s tiny 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 tranquility is complete.
There’s nothing rushed about Highside Farm. Many of the farm buildings date back to the 16th century or earlier, and while new owners, Mark and Helen Tully, haven’t turned the clock back quite that far, there’s a real sense that camping here is like something from times of old.
The main thing that makes Highside Farm so different is the quarter-of-an-acre size, which gives the sense you are lodging in a farmer’s garden rather than at an established camping site. The sloping meadow, without electrical hook ups and only one hardstanding, generally attracts tents over caravans and there are never more than nine or ten campers allowed here at any one time. It’s a campsite in miniature; something only accentuated by the way the edge of the meadow drops away rather dramatically, leaving nothing between you and the open hills of the North Pennines.
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. It can be followed west – taking in fine views as your approach Harter Fell – to Grassholme Reservoir where a waterside trail leads you back in the direction of the campsite
An old stone shed has been transformed into 2 immaculate and homely loos, a shower and a washing-up room. Recycling bins. No campfires but BBQs off the ground are okay (breeze-blocks available to borrow).
Tents, campervans, caravans, dogs (on a lead) – yes. Children under the age of 16 – no.
High Force waterfall (9 miles by road or 5 miles by footpath) is spectacular, though nowadays there’s gated acess that opens after 9am and you have to pay £1.50 (50p for children). For an even more spectacular waterfall, there’s Cauldron Snout, 3 miles from the Cow Green reservoir car park (11 miles from the campsite) up the Widdybank Fell nature trail. It is more a long cataract than a waterfall and, at 200 yards long, is generally considered to be the longest waterfall in England. Medieval Raby Castle (01833 660202) is 13 miles away (about 20 minutes’ drive). If it rains, you can also seek refuge in the keep at Barnard Castle (01833 638212) or in the nearby Bowes Museum (01833 690606).
Food & Drink
There are nearer pubs in Mickleton and Middleton-in-Teesdale, including the dog-friendly Crown (01833 640381), but it’s worth your while going the extra mile or so to Eggleston where the Moorcock Inn (01833 650102) and the the Three Tuns (01833 650289) vie for your attention.
Highside Farm, Bowbank, Middleton-in-Teesdale, County Durham DL12 0NT
The farm is two miles from Middleton-in-Teesdale on the B6276 Brough to Middleton-in-Teesdale road.
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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