Side Farm Campsite
Patterdale, Penrith, Cumbria CA11 0NP
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.
The Owner Says
Stunning campsite and friendly hosts
What a lovely place! We spent a whole week here despite planning to move elsewhere during our holiday as it was so nice! As other reviewers have said, there aren't that many flat spots but we moved pitch on the second day we were there (after all the weekend campers had packed up) and enjoyed a flat and stunningly scenic spot overlooking the lake for the rest of the week. There is a private shingle beach where you can watch the sun go down as well. The campsite is nicely out of the way, yes there is a rough track but my VW Polo managed it fine, and to be honest we only took the car out a couple of days. It's only half an hour's walk to Glenridding town, the watersports centre there offers a range of boats for hire and the staff are very friendly. It's also well situated for a walk up Helvellyn, or a more gentle lakeside walk to Howtown or Pooley Bridge (from where you can get the steamer boat back to Glenridding). The facilities are in good working order with toilets, hot showers and a washing up area, and we were able to freeze our cool box ice blocks overnight for a small donation to a local charity. Andrea was super friendly and helpful - thank you for a lovely stay, and we hope to visit again soon!
Such an incredible location. The field isn't flat in many places, so you have to get their early to bag the best spots. Easy to launch canoes and boats though, cheap (for the Lake District anyway) and super low-key. Will definately be returning.
Firstly I'd like to completely disagree with the last review. Side Farm is how Lake District campsites should be; discreet, out of the way and surrounded by the hills and agriculture. I visited in October 2015 for a weekend after Side Farm was recommended by my girlfriends father and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The track is rough but it is a working farmers track...drive slower and take in the views. I did not notice any signs which I would feel restricted my activity. The toilet facilities were clean and large. I had come to kayak and take photos from Ullswater but sadly, the fog was in. It didnt stop me however from putting in on one of the small beaches easily accessible from your site. I shall be returning as soon as you are back open!
Again, I'd like to reiterate, your camp site is excellent. I hope to see you soon!
Came here based on the glowing review, but left feeling disappointed, as it seemed to exaggerate somewhat. The location is poorly signed, and difficult to get to - the long rough road stalled many a car. The pitches are all on marked slopes, not flat as the description above states. My boyfriend and I had to constantly shuffle around as our beds fell down the tent each night. The vibe from the 'Do not blah blah blah' signs around the camp is one of a scolding schoolteacher, not a campsite that seems to welcome its guests. Sure the view is ok, although some trees have grown up to obscure it somewhat. I'd definitely give this one a miss next time.
Response from Campsite Owner:
Hi sorry you hadn't enjoyed your stay. With regards the road signage, we only have one sign for 'Side Farm' on the main road as there's only one campsite entrance, we will look into making it more noticeable (Satnavs do take drivers 1/2 mile too far). The track is an unmade one so a little less haste is required than normal Once booked in campers are free to pitch up where they choose, it's not flat so picking a level area does need some study at times..! As for on site signs NO FIRES is to prevent hot sparks/embers floating onto other tents, DOGS ON LEAD' is for the comfort of everyone and livestock nearby, the final sign is to indicate the edge of the camping area. As you said you won't be visiting us again but I'm disappointed you felt you couldn't speak to me in person, we may have been able to sort somethings out... that's the schoolmistress coming out..!
The best campsite ever
This is the best campsite I have ever stayed at. Not because it has the best facilities, They are very basic. Not because it is accessible, The dirt track to it is an adventure in itself. But because it is the most laid back facility with the most amazing views. It is not flat, It is not a Haven site with a club house and nicely cut grass. It is a farmers field right on the edge of the lake. But that is what is brilliant about the place. You have amazing walks all around you, Fishing right on the lake and plenty of beautiful coves to discover on the walkway around the shoreline. There is even an amazing cliff to jump into the freezing lake less than 600 metres around the lake from the camp site. They are not a site that turns groups away so you have people enjoying a drink around a fire next to the lake, Quite a few times I have been there has been a group with a guitar enjoying a bit of music. On a mild night with the stars out is an amazing experience. During the summer you also have the RAF fighter jets practice fights coming down the Kirkstone pass and flying no more than 100 metres above the lake. Awesome. I cant wait to get back there and I have been stopping at Side Farm for 30 years.
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We stayed for a weekend and were very impressed. Large clean facilities, walks from the door and 20 mis to patterdale. The best thing however were the views across the water. Only downsides were slightly slopey pitches but we didn't mind this too much, and cold showers brrrrrrr!
Doesn't give me any pleasure to write this review about a site in such a beautiful location but feel that they may be trading on that fact alone.
We used it as a stopover on our return journey from the western isles where we had found simple but clean, well maintained facilities. What a shock when we arrived to a litter strewn field where bins knocked over by foxes had been left to blow about and a lovely traditional toilet and shower block that we used only in desperation. It looked as though they had not been cleaned for quite some time. Don't want to be too graphic but disgusting would sum it up. I looked around for a brush/mop to do the job myself but could not find any.
We had planned to stay a couple of nights but moved on swiftly the next morning. The place just seemed really uncared for. I know it is sad that fellow campers (or walkers as the footpath runs next door) can leave facilities in such a state, but to not want to look after somewhere as lovely as this is so disappointing. We cleared up the fox playground again before our departure and couldn't help wondering why a better storage solution had not been sought.
Hopefully we caught them on a bad day and you will enjoy this picturesque spot.
This campsite has the most stunning view across the Lakes. Well worth a stay. A few tips for anyone wanting to stay here: look out for a small sign on the A592 saying 'Side Farm' in between St Patrick's Church and the Patterdale Hotel, its easy to miss; we checked in at 3pm on a Saturday and it was almost full so if you are visiting Ullswater check in before you have your day out. Most of the pitches are on a slope, but its well worth waking up in a ball at the end of your tent for the impressive backdrop. Please make sure you count your change when the owner gives you it, as we were shortchanged. But all that aside we would definitely stay here again.
What a lovely place to stay! Right on the shore of Ullswater, with a little pebbly beach just below the field and another rocky outcrop to sit and watch the sunset. Swimming in the lake surrounded by beautiful mountains was just lovely and there were several people using the beach to launch canoes. Beautiful lakeside and fell walks right from the campsite (and it's almost on the route of Wainwright's Coast to Coast). There were backpackers, couples and families using the site and everyone seemed to be enjoying it. The only downside really is that due to the wonderful location the site is not very flat - there are a few flat places to pitch but these were already taken when we arrived on a Thursday lunchtime (in July). It wasn't too slopey though and we managed to sleep without ending up in a heap at the bottom of the tent :) The toilets and showers were great too - very clean and with warm water - although quite busy at waking up time and going to sleep time. There are sinks for washing up as well as washing machines and tumble driers. There's also a tearoom at the farm, which we intended to visit but in the end we were too busy enjoying our beautiful surroundings. All in all I would highly recommend this site and hope to return soon.
Possibly the best campsite in UK!
Yes, it is not easy to find a flat pitch and access to the site is a little bit rough in wet conditions but who cares when you’re in location like this! If you really worry about not having phone reception and sleeping on a slight hill then maybe you should look elsewhere. Site has direct access to the lake so perfect for those with kayaks/canoes etc. Despite being very busy when we went there (mid July 14’) it was calm and quiet. Side Farm is just beautiful! Owners are very nice and polite. Showers are free and hot! Walking distance to the shop, boat hire and a pub is all you need. I camp around UK very often and never go back to the same campsite twice – apart from this one. Perfect location!
Beautiful location, good facilities
Lovely campsite in a stunning location, with direct access to and views over Ullswater.
It is possible to hire canoes (from elsewhere) and they are allowed through to deliver directly to your tent door, from where you can launch them yourself from the little beach.
Location is great - the walking path to Howdown is right behind the site and it's a 15 min walk from the actual site in the other direction to the very pleasant local pub & general store (which sells excellent bacon sandwiches and loads of other things). The campsite is an ~5 min walk from the farmhouse where you check in. The area felt safe. Several pitches on higher ground are sloping but if you pitch the right way for sleeping then you can just think of it as raked seating for the fabulous views over the lake!
Facilities are good and housed in a converted barn. Good hot strong showers (included in price) but don't expect fancy tiling - it's concrete and breezeblock but was always warm when coming in from the cold weather (we picked a rainy & cold week!). Everything is clean and functions well so I'd personally prefer them to spend their money on getting that right instead of on cosmetics and the removal of cobwebs several metres above heads! It is camping after all!
Would thoroughly recommend.
Most beautiful part of the Lake Distict from this friendly site we swam in the lake kyacked on the lake ate breakfast by the lake walked alongside the lake painted by the lake and went up Helvelyn above the lake!
We stayed here for two nights in June. It was glorious weather and we certainly made the most of it! It was my first time camping so I was a little apprehensive but I really need not have been. The campsite was lovely and it was such a laid back atmosphere. The views from the campsite of Ulswater are magnificent, we watched the sun set over the lake, very romantic! There is direct easy access to the water's lake edge from the campsite. We went swimming in the lake out to the island in the middle, it was so clean. Many people left there little yachts and canoes next to the water as well it was very safe.
The campsite is right next to many footpaths and is a walkers paradise. The views from the path directly behind the campsite were lovely. The facilities at the campsite were sufficient, the showers were hot and free. There was a queue in the morning but that is to be expected really. The toilet and shower blocks were made from concrete blocks and not plastered, so I imagine it would not be very nice in the colder months. There were also some friendly and large spiders knocking about in the toilet block but that's what you get with camping.
We had a lovely break but the only thing that spoiled it was our noisy drunken neighbours. The whole site was so quiet otherthan them! They woke me before 5.00am on the second night and I gave up trying to sleep and went and had a shower. Perhaps better enforcement of their strict rules particularly around noise would have helped. Suppose it was our own stupid fault for not saying something after the first night but heh, never mind.
Tip: make sure you get there early and pitch your tent on a flat bit of land, we made a rookie error and pitched on a slope, was like sleeping on a house roof! He he! Happy camping!
Side Farm Campsite
Fantastic location, enjoyed a few days here last year (despite the weather!). Perfect for serious fell walkers. Will definitely return!
Side Farm Campsite
I stayed here in my vw camper a couple of summers ago and mean to go back. I ended up extending my stay because it was so beautiful and well situated. The owners were really chilled and helpful without feeling like they were checking up on campers all the time. It's a site suitable for couples, groups, families and solo campers. You wake up to stunning views and recovering from helvellyn with a BBQ, drink and watching the sun set over the lake is wonderful.
Amazing Views......Just Perfect!
We spent a relaxing 5 nights at Side Farm, what a wonderful little find. Clean, simple facilties - hot water always running and FREE showers. Well equipped and dry washing up area, with washing machines and tumble dryers. The site undulates a little, but on our arrival there was plenty of flat areas for us to choose from. The site has a small pebbled beach on to Ullswater, which other families took the opportunity to launch boats from. No phone signal on TMobile/Orange..........but that’s one of the reason’s why we chose this site. One of the other campers was on Vodafone and had a signal. Lovely little tea room based at the farm about a five minute walk from the camp site. Highly recommend the ginger cake and luxurious hot chocolate. Just Perfect.