If you’re looking for a truly remote, wilderness camping experience, you’d find it hard to do much better than Turner Hall Farm in the Lake District’s lesser-visited Duddon Valley. The reality is, it’s not that far from civilisation, but it feels like the Middle of Nowhere, given the journey there.
The most spectacular way to arrive at Turner Hall Farm is to drive over the Wrynose Pass, a tortuous zigzag of a road, often single-track, frequently hairpinned and always threatening to throw your car down the steep sides of the hill with one wrong move. It’s an exhilarating drive that matches some of the best Lake District walks, view for view. If you’re a nervous driver, take the safer long, winding road via Broughton Mills. Even from here, you have to get out of the car to open and close gates, an action loaded with the symbolism of leaving civilisation behind.
Turner Hall Farm is a basic campsite for walkers and climbers, the attraction being its location and outlook rather than the facilities. But the surrounding fells provide an unforgettable backdrop that makes for a fine, inspiring vista. It’s a raw, boulderstrewn, with private corners for sheltered (and neatly trimmed) pitches in amongst the crags and drystone walls. Weathered and worn, beaten and torn, the site merges as one into the rugged fell landscape. It’s all pretty low-key for a campsite: just turn up and pitch your tent! There’s no reception or shop, but it’s a short walk to the pub, and a longer walk to the local post office and general stores.
Campers at Turner Hall Farm are invariably here to walk, with hikes to the lofty peaks of Scafell Pike and The Old Man of Coniston high on the list. These are challenging treks for energetic walkers, but you can warm up with one of the easier walks that crisscross these fells, taking in lower-altitude pikes, tarns, crags and waterfalls. Popular routes include hiking over the Dunnerdale Fells into the charming, untouched Lickle Valley, home of the age-old Blacksmiths Arms watering hole, or across Birker Fell and down into Eskdale where a steam railway and the historic, supposedly haunted Muncaster Castle provide some family attractions.
A short walk across the fields from the campsite lies the Walna Scar track, now popular with mountain bikers, happy to endure the tough, bike-carrying uphill sections for the adrenaline-pumping downhills. Off-road vehicles also ply some sections of this track, although erosion intermittently forces the National Trust to ban this activity.
Turner Hall Farm may be as off the beaten track as you can get, but thankfully you don’t need a 4x4 to get there. Just remember to shut the gates behind you as you leave civilisation.
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A secret is just that, something that should never be told. We are quite new to camping, but have found a site we would return to time, after time, after time. I've argued with myself 'til i'm blue in the face whether I should submit a review! The reason? The more people that know about this site, the less likely we will be to get a pitch. Set amongst scattered boulders from another time, the site is a wild campers dream. The nights are quiet and the days are an explosion on the eyes. No set pitches are given, yet the natural landscape ensures the site is never overcrowded. The surrounding hills offer access to a walkers dream, whilst twitchers will marvel at the birds of prey floating overhead. The facilities are immaculate, the showers warm and the toilets spotless.
Don't come here expecting pampered luxury, that defeats the object of this wonderful campsite. Turn up, pitch up and enjoy camping in a true, unspoiled campsite.
First-class owners, brilliant site. Can't wait to get back. The new shower block is superb.
Just returned from a long weekend at Turner Hall Farm. What a tremendous campsite. In a stunning location looking out to the fells. The campsite is divided into a number of small fields, which are on different levels and divided by streams and rocky outcrops - so you will generally only have a few other tents actually around you. Great hot showers, £1 for 4 minutes, and a warning beep before you get to the end. There are separate under cover sinks with hot water for doing your washing up. Toilets are fine and very clean and even though the site was busy there was no queue. The owners are relaxed about you having a fire pit or barbecue as long as it is off the ground and not marking the grass. Lots of spots in the stream for cooling beer and wine. Some great walks straight from the campsite. Excellent pub in walking distance. No mobile signal, wifi or 3G which is great if you want to really get away from it all. Extremely reasonable rates. Cannot praise this place highly enough. Will be going back soon!
Most campsites are easy to get to so as a sunny July weekend arrives, the world descends as everyone tries to get away from it all just like everyone else. A campsite that requires effort and dedication to get to tends to act as a filter - the people who want to really get away from it all tend to end up at this place.
Showers are hot but start from when you pop the money in (£1 for 4 mins but you can put more than £1 in at once) so get undressed first. Follow the signs for larger vehicles when you get to the site - going though the yard is tricky even in a mid sized car. No queues for anything except shower but most people only take 4 mins so moves quickly. Even portaloo in far field is immaculate. Pub is lovely, good basic menu, vegetarian happy, specials looked tempting, when they say homemade they mean it, lovely food.
Don't expect molly coddling, children's playgrounds, signs everywhere, to need earplugs or to struggle to find somewhere to pitch no matter when you turn up. Do expect stunning views, walks from the gate, places to wild swim if you keep your eyes open, friendliness, people observing the 11pm curfew and to be woken by children having fun in the morning. Oh and if you're lucky to fall asleep to the sound of owls and babbling streams.
1 of 1 readers found this review useful.
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We suggest you enjoy some car-free time and just walk, walk, walk – the Dunnerdale Round (park near the old bridge in Ulpha) is a half-day circuit of the lesser-trodden local peaks. If you don’t mind braving the zigzag Hardknott Pass, drive over towards Eskdale and visit the always-open Hardknott Roman Fort for some spectacular views and a bracing picnic site. Treat yourself to some car-free time and walk, walk, walk; just make sure you come with all your supplies.
If it rains
Food & Drink
March–November, weather permitting.
Adult £6 per night; Duke of Edinburgh students £5; child £2; car £1; £1 tent; and dog £1.