The Lake District is lovely, of course, but just over the other side of the M6 is the Eden Valley – less dramatic maybe, but less visited too. It’s also where we found what’s now one of our favourite UK campsites – Mains Farm.
Robert and Julie Pickthall have farmed at The Mains for 60 years, but now concentrate on making campers feel welcome. There’s acres of space, separate fields for campervans and motorhomes, for tents and for the camping pods, and all set in lush green countryside with woods behind and the River Eden a stroll down the field.
The perfectly clean and well-kept toilets, showers, kitchens and bunk bedrooms are housed in converted stables and barns. No missing toilet seats here…there are even freshly laundered hand towels, a washing machine and hairdryer (free to use) and all the cooking equipment you need. There are recycling facilities, wifi (though patchy), local information and a pick-up service for the coast-to-coast cyclists.
Pitches are kept as far apart as possible and, although there isn’t the privacy of trees or hedges, the fact that caravan and tent fields are separate makes it feel a comfortable place to stay. We were here on a Friday evening in mid-May, but it does get busier in holidays and over summer weekends.
It’s a (one mile) walk to the village of Kirkoswald, where there’s a village shop and two OK pubs, with reasonable food. It’s 20 minutes to Penrith if you prefer something a bit classier for your pub food – the almost-excellent Dockray Hall has good food and a nice atmosphere (though prices there have risen and portions shrunk severely!).
Across the pretty bridge is the village of Lazonby, which is on the Settle to Carlisle railway and has a heated outdoor swimming pool. There’s a small campsite next to the pool too. And the area is brimming with opportunities for walks, cycle rides, heritage and exploring. Of course, you’re only a stone’s throw from the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District too.
We’ll certainly be back to discover more and to see how Robert and Julie’s first music festival has gone!
An aside: we were pitched a fair walk from the toilets, so it was an excellent opportunity to test some of the portable loo options we’d been sent to try out. Have a look at our camping toilet feature and let us know what you think!