Oh to be out on the hills, leaning against the full force of the North Yorkshire wind and squinting through the rain for a herd of lost sheep. This hardy image of the sheep farmer isn't exactly what springs to mind when we first imagine our holiday – more the rolling, sun soaked dales riddled with inviting looking footpaths – but it’s exactly this lifestyle in the great outdoors that inspires many campsites to be born in the north of the country.
Once a working farm, Hillcrest Park, is just such a spot, now fully committed to it’s new life as a campsite. Old outbuildings have been tastefully converted into holiday cottages and a large area of land has been set aside for campervans, all with electric hook-ups. The scene is one that still echoes its agricultural past – views across acres of farmland, mowed and turned for hay in early summer, and buildings converted out of old storage spaces. But at its heart, Hillcrest Park is now a warm and welcoming campsite, a seemingly natural step in the place’s evolution.
Perhaps most notably, or so we think, are the 10 timber glamping pods, which create the perfect getaway for those who want to experience the outdoors without having to worry about the weather. Well spaced-out and each fronted by a large wood-chipping area ideal for barbecues and meals in the sun, the pods are intended as a handy year-round replacement for the standard camper’s tent. Inside they are well insulated and come with an electric heater, double glazing and sockets. Otherwise it’s up to you to bring your sleeping bag and blankets along (inflatable mattresses can also be hired onsite).
The local area follows the trend of history combined with new, modern hospitality. Around seven miles away the picturesque market town of Barnard Castle – named after the castle it grew around – is home to the famous Bowes Museum, a grand gallery set inside a 19th-century French-style chateau. The museum houses the best collection of European fine and decorative art in North England, though it’s unclear what you’re meant to admire most, the artwork or the setting.
Elsewhere, the dog-friendly campsite is matched by miles of footpaths and endless space to explore, with nearby Hamsterley Forest riddled with family biking trails, just a short drive away. Or, of course, you could start from the site itself, taking in a section of the Teesdale Way that leads you to Fernaville’s Rest, a pet-friendly, Grade II listed pub around four miles away. Before you get there be sure to stop on Whorlton Suspension Bridge for a quick game of pooh sticks. It's the earliest such road bridge in the country and an ideal spot for enjoying the last of the river before you cocoon yourself away in the pub!
The campsite owner saysHillcrest Park is our rural, 6 acre, holiday park in Teesdale. Surrounded by farmland, it offers peace, tranquillity and beautiful views – yet is only 10mins from the A66. It is ideal for walkers, cyclists and dog owners and is close to Richmond, Barnard Castle, High Force Waterfall, Raby Castle and a host of other Dales attractions. We have a 2 acre field on site, ideal for exercising children and dogs!
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