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Campsites in the Lake District – Best campsites in Cumbria & the Lake District – Cool Camping

Campsites in the Lake District

The Lake District is a landscape quite unlike any other. The magnificent mountains, vast waters and rural villages combine to create scenes that have inspired artists for centuries. It is undoubtedly one of the finest camping locations in all of England and if you love the outdoors you’ll be in your element here. Whether it's scaling Scafell Pike, Helvellyn and the Old Man of Coniston, boating on Windermere or kicking back with a cup of tea and cake in Keswick, the Lake District is a holiday-must at some point during your life. And, if you're looking to go camping or glamping, let us introduce you to the very best places to pitch up at...
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The best campsites in The Lake District

One of the finest landscapes in the UK, the Lake District is home to some amazingly located campsites and there’s a wide range of camping options. Whether you’re backpacking through the hills with lightweight tents, looking for an electric hook-up for your campervan or want a luxury glamping pad as your base, there'll be a campsite in the Lake District to suit your needs. Amid this stunning national park, you’ll find luxury glamping in yurts and tipis, traditional family campsites settled in lush green valleys and more low-key camping destinations with few facilities and remote locations. To narrow things down, we've created a refined collection of the best Lake District camping and glamping sites to help you find a place to pitch, park or unpack.

Tent camping in the Lake District

It's not unusual to think of the Lake District as the spiritual home of camping in the UK. For centuries, the Lakes have been the destination of choice for campers and leisure seekers with a love of the great outdoors and long before new-fangled campervans were on the roads and people talked of "glamping", it was good-old fashioned canvas tents that were popping up in Cumbria. Today, when it comes to camping in the Lake District, for most people it is still about this traditional way of doing things. Hikers with light-weight gear can pitch their tent in one campsite before trekking to the next, while families with larger tents will often set-up base camp at one campsite for a long weekend and venture out from there. Whatever your preference, there are heaps of fantastic campsites for tent camping in the Lake District, many with tent-only policies. Here at Cool Camping, we always aim to avoid large holiday parks and big commercial campsites, so if you're looking for a small, independent, tent-friendly campsite you've come to the right place. Whether it's pitching an expedition tent in the shadow of a mighty mountain or erecting a tunnel tent on the shore of a lake, we're sure to know a campsite that will suit your needs.

Glamping in the Lake District

Don't own your own camping gear? Or simply fancy a little more luxury when you visit the Lake District? Along with our regular camping recommendations, there's also a fistful of glamping options in the Lake District, ranging from simple summer bell tents and tipis, to full family-sized safari tents and year-round glamping options such as shepherd's huts and insulated glamping pods. There are all sorts of accommodation types out there – you can even take a tour of the Lake District in a horse-drawn gypsy caravan, stopping off at a different camping location each night!

Family camping in the Lake District

The Lake District is a great place for a family camping holiday. First and foremost there’s the joy of camping itself – the adventure and excitement of it all almost always gets a thumbs up from kids. Campsite life usually means spending all day outdoors and the opportunity to meet new friends. The tent (shepherd’s hut, cabin or pod – if you’re glamping) is a ready-made den and outside there are streams to dip in, fields for football and acres of space to explore. Kids are often not remotely bothered by the (ahem) occasional wet weather that the Lakes are famous for – as long as they can don a pair of wellies and get involved with some puddle-jumping fun. And even if your spirits are dampened by a few raindrops here and there, there’s a whole raft of indoor activities within the Lake District National Park that can make for rainy-day fun; the World of Beatrix Potter, the Derwent Pencil Museum, the Lakes Aquarium and the Hawshead Chocolate Factory to name but a few. But, of course, it’s the great outdoors that people come for and whatever age your children are they will love the adventures on offer. There are plenty of companies offering outdoor activities for kids or you can go it alone and set out in a kayak or canoe, on traffic-free bike rides or for picnics at scenic spots in the fells. Older kids and teenagers can even join you to tackle the trek to the top of Scafell Pike. We’ve sought out the best family-friendly camping and glamping sites in the Lake District to feature in our collection, both online and in our latest Cool Camping Kids book to make it easy for you to find a campsite in the Lakes that’s a perfect fit for your family.

The Lake District National Park

A 900-square-mile area of Cumbria has been designated as the Lake District National Park since 1951. It’s one of 15 national parks in the UK and the largest in England: with England’s highest mountains, deepest and largest lakes within its boundaries. It’s a landscape of fells, dales, farmland and, as the name suggests, lots of water. There are 16 large lakes, many mountain tarns and countless becks, streams, rivers and waterfalls. All in all, it’s a spectacular landscape; carved by glaciers, shaped by human activity and celebrated by artists and conservationists. It was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017. It’s little wonder that it’s the most visited of the UK’s national parks and, of course, one of the best places to go camping in the UK. Even without the headline-grabbing, tourist hotspots, the Lake District National Park is perfect camping country – the bucolic scenery, the cosy pubs, quaint villages and babbling becks all add up to an idyllic backdrop to a camping holiday. Add the opportunity to tick a few things off your bucket list and it’s an irresistible destination for any outdoor lover. You can see or scale England’s highest mountain – the 978-metre Scafell Pike, cruise or canoe on England’s largest lake – Windermere, and perhaps even take a dip in England’s deepest lake – Wastwater.

Waterside camping in the Lake District

The Lake District National Park is a place awash with natural wonders and, while many flock here for the excellent hiking and challenging mountainous terrain, it is often the waterbodies that make for some of the most scenic camping settings. After a long day shlepping along the footpaths, nothing beats the tranquility of pitching your tent beside a lake, river or stream and enjoying the serenity and calm of the water. Unsurprisingly then, waterside campsites are hugely popular in the Lake District and farmers and campsites are often quick to set aside the best of their waterside meadows for lucky campers to enjoy. And that's where we at Cool Camping come in. We've been high and low in the Lake District visiting campsites and bringing all of our favourites together in one handy place. Whether you fancy lakeside lazing or riverside rambling, we'll know a campsite that's right for you.

Top places to go camping in the South Lakes area

Ambleside, Buttermere, Hawkshead… the evocative names of Lake District destinations alone are enough to make you want to visit some of its most popular destinations. There are, in fact, so many great places for camping in the Lake District that it would be a quicker exercise to try and compile a list of where not to camp in the national park. The place that suits you best, however, will very much depend on what you’re heading to this beautiful part of England for – and for how long. Kendal, on the south-eastern edge of the national park makes a great base for those on a flying visit to the lakes. It’s situated between the M6, which provides the gateway to the lakes for most people, and Windermere, England’s largest lake. It’s also a hub of outdoor shops and eateries so a great place to be near for stocking up on supplies. If you want to be closer to the sights, check out our campsites near Windermere, Ambleside, Hawkshead and Coniston. You can camp on or close to the shores of the south lakes at all of these destinations so you can easily take to the water or just drink in those views. This part of Lakeland was home to the writer Beatrix Potter and there are lots of sights and attractions associated with her, from World of Beatrix Potter at Bowness-on-Windermere to her former home and a gallery devoted to her artwork in Hawkshead. A little further north is Grasmere where you’ll find the former home of another writer who is eternally associated with the Lake District, William Wordsworth. Situated at the heart of the Lake District, with Windermere a few miles south and Ullswater a few miles north, Grasmere is a popular place to stay. It has direct and easy access to some popular fell walking, its own small lake, some great camping and glamping sites nearby and a legendary gingerbread shop – what more could you ask for?

Top places to go camping in the North Lakes area

Further north and east brings you to Ullswater, the Lake District’s second largest lake. Quieter and surrounded by higher peaks, there are good camping and glamping sites around Ullswater itself and the villages and market towns nearby. Penrith, just outside the bounds of the national park makes a good gateway to the Northern Lakes as it’s handily situated between the M6 and Ullswater. Keswick is a major hub within the Northern Lakes with shops to stock up at, eateries to call in at and the opportunity to get lakeside at nearby Derwentwater. The beautiful Borrowdale Valley and peaceful Buttermere are not far away and are great bases for walkers, climbers, runners and mountain bikers with high fells all around including the lofty heights of England’s tallest mountains. If tackling Scafell Pike is your aim, either as a standalone hike or part of the Three Peaks Challenge, you may want to look to the west side of the mountain. While Borrowdale offers two lovely routes up the eastern fells, Wasdale Head is the start point for the shortest route – a six-mile round trip. The west side of the Lake District National Park also tends to be a little quieter as, for most people, it’s harder to get to, being further from the motorway. The valley around the River Esk, Eskdale, is your best bet for camping and glamping sites here; places with the sound of babbling becks and views of high fells that are never too far from where the national park meets the sea at Ravenglass.

Top Things to Do When Camping in the Lake District

– Climb one of England's highest peaks.
– Catch the old steamer across Ullswater.
– Enjoy afternoon tea in a Cumbrian village, Beatrix Potter style.
– Rent a canoe or rowing boat and enjoy the lakes under your own steam.
– Visit Wordsworth's old house in Grasmere.
– Get inside the mountains at Honister Slate Mine.

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