Tourist traffic jams can be a bit of a problem in beautiful places, especially when the place is as enchanting as the Lakes. Fortunately, there is some respite from this mayhem in the lake-free valley of Great Langdale, at the heart of which serene Baysbrown Farm nuzzles up against a steep fell on one side while the other overlooks three generously sized camping fields that gently slope down to the valley’s river.
The entire site lies beneath the humbling rocks of Crinkle Crags, Bowfell and the Langdale Pikes, which seem to swallow up your tent, the farmhouse, and distant Chapel Stile village, and give a sense of scale rarely found in the Lakes. Peering out each morning at the mist-shrouded peaks is worth the entrance money alone. You and your tent will be at the centre of an 800-acre farm. Baahs float over the lichen-drenched walls from the resident flock of sheep and chickens run amok around your guy ropes, much to the kids’ delight.
Life is so much simpler here – as is the camping style. The site doesn’t have any designated pitches; just rock up and find your corner of tranquillity.Then, when you’re done putting up your tent, just walk up to the farmhouse to announce your arrival through the ever-open kitchen door and hand over your fee. There’s no such thing as booking in advance here; it’s not that kind of place.
The bridle paths in the valley make for good, suspension-testing cycle routes, and many mountain bikers use the farm as a base. However you’ve worked up that salty brow by day end, nourishment and that wellearned pint can be found at Chapel Stiles’ sole watering hole – Wainwrights’ Inn. If all the valley’s frolicking lambs haven’t caused you to question your carnivorous cravings, then try their infamous, overly generous portion of lamb shoulder.
Despite Baysbrown being a working farm, there’s no produce available to throw onto the gas stove, although a short amble to the café in Chapel Stile can fill your larder with the basics. Come night-time Bruce, the farmer, likes to maintain the silence so there’s no-nonsense and no-noise after 10.30pm. And it’s almost like the rest of the valley heeds this imposed watershed, too, bar the odd hoot of an owl or baa from a sheep. If you’re after a quiet rural escape from a case of Lakes-induced hydrophobia, then the lake-free Langdale valley is where you’ll find it. In the seclusion of the farm grounds and the shelter of the dale, you’ll be twiddling reeds between your teeth without a care in no time.
And, just like all Lake District sites, Baysbrown won’t leave you short of things to do; grab a bike, put your boots on, or lie on the grass and stare at the peaks, thankful you’re not stuck in the traffic for the Lakes.
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Get yourself to Ambleside and take the ‘Langdale Rambler’ (bus 516) to Chapel Stile. Disembark at Brambles Caf?, the campsite is signposted on the right 1?4 mile further down the road.
Adult £5 per night; child £3, under-3s free; cars/campervans £2.50; dogs free. No credit cards.
Approximately 200 first-come, first-served pitches. Facilities: solar-heated showers (5W, 5M), and separate toilet block (9W, 8M). Battery charging at the farm. It’s a family- friendly place – no music, no noise or BBQs after 10.30pm. BBQs off the ground allowed. No campfires.
If you’re not into hardcore hiking or valley strolls, you’re probably staying in the wrong place – though even the resolutely unfit can manage the walk up the head of the valley to the Hiker’s Bar at the Old Dungeon Ghyll inn (01539 437272). Otherwise, Ambleside and its many tea rooms, shops and attractions are a 20-minute drive away.
Wainwrights’ Inn (01539 438088) serves up Real Jennings and home-brewed Wainwright Ale with healthy servings of decent food.
If it rains
Indulge the kids (or take a nostalgic trip back to childhood stories) at The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction (015394 88444) in Bowness-on-Windermere. Plus, Windermere and Ambleside with their hosts of tea rooms, shops, museums and other indoor pursuits are only a 20-minute drive away.
If it's full
The Drunken Duck Inn (01539 436 347) near Ambleside sets off salivary glands with its gastronomic menu and views out over tarns and craggy fells. Open fires and real ales at the Langdale Estate’s Wainwrights' Inn (01539 438088), under a mile from the site; or another half-mile down the valley, at pretty Elterwater, the Britannia Inn (01539 437210) is a classic Lakeland pub with good food and real ales.
Click here for more pubs, restaurants and places to eat & drink in the Lake District.
Blissful Lake District chilling, minus the lakes and the congested roads.
Tents, small motorhomes/campervans/ caravans (narrow site entrance with hump bridge so anything large or low won’t fit), dogs (always under control) – yes. Large, loud groups – no.