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Perhaps the most scenically placed campsite in England with an unbeatable selection of walks

Side Farm, on the eastern side of the Lake District, might just be one of the most scenically situated campsites on the planet, sandwiched as it is between the steep slopes of Place Fell to the rear and the sylvan shores of Ullswater at its front. The view across the lake to the Helvellyn Fells is one of the most compelling and beautiful sights in England, and to be able to simply open the tent every morning onto this stunning scene is reason enough to stay a while at Side Farm.

For many, just to sit by the tent with a good book, soaking up the magnificence of the situation, may be sufficient. Others arrive with canoes, pending their time paddling the length and breadth of Ullswater, the second largest but most enchanting of the region’s lakes. The lake has a rigidly enforced 10 mph speed limit, making this a very safe and wellsuited environment for the less hectic forms of waterborne craft.

But if the boating opportunities are superb, and they are, the amazing variety of places to explore on foot from Side Farm is nothing short of astounding. The site lies immediately next to the lakeside path from Howtown to Patterdale, described by Wainwright, the legendary fell walker and guidebook writer, as ‘the most beautiful and rewarding in Lakeland’. This is probably the first place to direct your energies, and the most interesting way of completing the walk is said to be by boarding one of the old Ullswater steamers at Glenridding, sailing to Howtown, then strolling back to the site. Undoubtedly a great day out, the sailing out and walking back makes quite an appealing kind of expedition. Unfortunately, at weekends or in high summer, most of humanity seems to find this idea enticing. We may be exaggerating a little bit, but if you like wild and beautiful places to yourself then choose your time or season carefully.

In the end, however, after staring at the rocky giants across the lake for a few days, the mind will inevitably start to wander up the slopes of Helvellyn – quickly followed by the feet. There are several excellent routes up this most famous of fells from the campsite (enough to keep you busy for a full week on this monster alone) but the one that everybody should do at least once is the dance across the top of Striding Edge. Yes it’s popular, and yes it can get scary when the wind is howling around the rocky crest and yes the weather can change from summer to winter in an instant, but this walk is one of the most attention-grabbing and exhilarating in England.

The site itself has flat pitching and adequate facilities including toilets and showers, but luxurious they are not and can be somewhat overwhelmed when the site is full. But bring a pair of walking boots, or a canoe, and the idyllic location will more than compensate for any minor niggles.

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