Holme Open Farm
For a truly free-range camping experience, head to Holme Open Farm in the Lune Valley, cuddled between the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales national parks. While free-to-roam chickens are often to be found wandering through campsites, free-range pigs are not quite so common. But here, on this traditional Dales working farm, there are a couple to be found snufﬂe-shufﬂing around the farmyard and surrounding ﬁelds.
If you want to make friends with some of the other animals, owners David and Angela Metcalfe run bookable tours of their farm so you can meet the goats, ducks, pigs, kittens and pony, as well as hold and help feed lambs and chicks. The tour also includes playing in the indoor soft-play area and riding around on pedal tractors, but before you get too excited, this part is kids only – sorry. There are evening badger walks and a nature trail open to all, however, so campers young and old can discover a few members of the resident wildlife that form a part of the scenery on this 120-acre farm.
The campsite is a simple one: a large, ﬂat ﬁeld with glorious views over the dramatic greenery of the somersaulting Howgill Fells (which have been said to resemble a row of hippos’ bottoms). The River Rawthey runs right alongside the ﬁeld, with easy access from a picnic area for paddling and ﬁshing. And (hurrah!) campﬁres are allowed – bring your own wood or buy bags from the farm – so don’t forget to pack the marshmallows.
Tents and campervans pitch on a ﬂat, square camping ﬁeld with a picnic area by the river. Caravans are in a separate ﬁeld. There’s a basic ablutions block with a couple of showers, separate men’s and women’s toilets and a washing-up sink and drainer in a farm outbuilding, a short walk from the camping ﬁeld. The farm has a café (see Food & Drink), a children’s playground with swings and slides, and you can use the indoor play area. Join a farm tour, an evening badger walk or just follow the nature trail to ﬁnd out more about the farm and its wildlife. You can paddle and ﬁsh in the River Rawthey or picnic on its banks.
Tents, campervans, caravans (in separate ﬁeld), groups (but no loud music allowed), ﬁres – yes. Dogs – no.
There are lots of good spots for paddling and even (if you can brave the icy water) wild swimming in the River Rawthey around Sedbergh, with ﬂat, pebbled areas offering easy access to the water. Stonetrail Riding Centre (01539 623444), halfway between Sedbergh and Kirkby Stephen, has horse riding and pony trekking through the fells for the over-12s. They also hire out mountain bikes.
Food & Drink
The farm’s Ewe Tree Café has homemade and locally sourced light meals (sandwiches, jacket potatoes and soups) as well as afternoon teas (open 11am–4pm; closed on Tuesdays). Otherwise head into Sedbergh for the award-winning Sedbergh Café traditional tea room (01539 621389); 17th-century coaching inn, the Bull (01539 620264), which has an interesting menu and a large beer garden and play area; or stock up on Dales meats (and local cheeses) for the barbie at Steadmans Butchers (01539 620431).
The usual warnings about working farms and washing hands after touching animals apply; and there’s the river to be aware of.
The farm is well signposted and lies about 4 miles from the M6. From the north, leave the M6 at junction 37 and follow signs for the farm on the A684, turning right at the Black Horse pub. From the south, leave the M6 at junction 36 and follow signs to Kirkby Lonsdale/Ingleton on the A65. Turn left at the sign for Holme Farm, onto the A683, go through Barbon and stay on A683 until you reach another sign for Holme Farm and turn right to go down the lane.
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