For our longest camping trip of the year we ventured West into Cumbria and the Lake District to Sykeside Camp Site. The site itself is hidden away in a dip and situated behind the Brotherswater Inn pub off the A592. The drive to the site takes you over a high pass with great views but your passengers may spend a lot of the journey with their eyes tightly closed as there are some steep drops just off to the side of the road in parts. In fact, we pulled over in a small car park just before the road descends down to the campsite for a quick photo opportunity to take in the views down the valley to the body of water that is Brotherswater.
The location of the site is pretty remote (no mobile signal whatsoever) and with very little light pollution offers a fantastic view of the stars at night. You have to drive through the Brotherswater Inn carpark to get to the campsite and the pub is worth a visit for its range of local beer and selection of food. It also has WiFi if you need that sort of thing. On arrival we checked-in at the site office which also houses a small shop selling the main food staples and camping essentials.
All of the campsite facilities are housed in what looks like a converted brick-built stable block with both the male and female showers and toilets being well maintained (they close for a short period each afternoon for cleaning), and they were always well heated. Use of the showers is free. The lights are on an energy saving sensor that turns them off a short period after movement is detected – although I’m told that the ladies’ was set to a slightly too short delay and had a habit of turning off the lights while the showers were still occupied, requiring someone to make a dash across the room to wave at the sensor! It’s worth mentioning that there were signs to say that the showers are fed from water straight off the hills so water may run short at busy times during peak season.
The pitches are neatly laid out around the perimeter of a gravel track with campervans and caravans taking the hard-standing around the outer edges, and tents in the centre. We took a hard-standing pitch with electric hook-up and had plenty of grass space alongside the pitch to throw up our awning which was a welcome addition on this trip as it provided somewhere to sit in the evenings when the temperature started to drop without us being cramped up inside the van.
On the day of our arrival we took a walk over to Brotherswater which is no more than a 5 to 10 minute stroll along a path that leads from the entrance of the site and runs parallel with the main road. The next day we jumped back in the van and drove around 5 minutes down the road to a small car park in the village of Hartsop and from there took a circular walk of around 10km (6miles) around Hayeswater where we were lucky enough to see some red deer grazing on the hills above us (and that we would have missed had we not encountered another walker who pointed them out to us).
There’s little else within walking distance of the campsite so on each day we used the van to drive to a different lake and take in the sights. Ullswater is close by and from there we also walked to the Aira Force waterfall. On another day we went for a stroll around Bowness and hired a motor boat on Windermere. Considering the time of year, we were extremely fortunate with the weather – this trip was the latest in the year that I’ve ever been camping in the van and I had feared that it might get too cold, but an extra layer or two and a heavy blanket over the sleeping bags at night ensured that we stayed nice and warm and convinced me that we should try to extend our camping season in future!
We had a really enjoyable few days in the Lake District using Sykeside Camp Site as our base. It’s in a beautifully unspoilt location, with well kept facilities and some fantastic walks all within a short drive of the site.