For our first trip of 2014 we chose Lathkill Dale Campsite in the Peak District. At just under two hours from home it was far enough to give the van its first run out after it had been parked up over winter but close enough for a weekend trip after work on Friday night. We also got to try out our new, slightly smaller awning. What we hadn’t planned on was driving a route that skirted the edge of the Peak District over steep climbs, narrow lanes and tight bends. In heavy rain… and dense fog.
Lathkill Dale Campsite is just a few miles outside Bakewell. We arrived just before dusk and were shown to our pitch. It had been raining for a couple of days so the ground was soft and a little muddy but we just about managed to put up our awning before dark. The site is divided to separate the hard-standing caravan pitches at one end of the site from the grass pitches at the other. There’s also an area set aside for Duke of Edinburgh groups. We had one of the grass pitches with electric. When we first arrived we thought that the site was almost empty except for a large group at the pitch next to us with 3 or 4 tents, but the next day as we wandered across the site in daylight we realised that it was busier than we first thought. The really nice thing about this site is that most of the pitches are set back into clearings in the trees and bushes making each one secluded so that even when the site is busy it doesn’t really feel it. Each pitch also has its own picnic bench (unfortunately it was never dry or warm enough for us to use it during our short stay).
There are two main amenity blocks both in modern wooden barn-style buildings. One houses the showers (two push button operated cubicles with plenty of hot water, but the cubicles would benefit from extra hooks or shelves or a shower curtain to prevent your clothes from getting sprayed from the shower) and the washing-up area. The other has 3 toilet cubicles which are modern and clean. When we stayed in late April 2014 work was underway to complete a third building. Strangely, we didn’t manage to find cold water taps to brush our teeth. There is also a separate set of showers and toilets slightly further away from where we pitched, these looked like the original facilities and were much older than the main block.
Saturday was another grey and wet day. We walked down the road the check out the village of Monyash and had lunch in the pub (The Bull’s Head) which is a lovely traditional pub with large beer garden at the rear. The beer garden joins the local kids play area which is very well equipped with a zip wire and all manner of swings and roundabouts. I may have had one (or maybe two) goes on the zip wire. The food at the Bull’s Head was very good, and the portions generous. For such a small village the pub was very busy with a steady stream of lots of serious walkers. Next door to the pub there’s also a small café. We had a lazy Saturday wandering around the village, through the churchyard, sitting by the village pond, and standing at a dry stone wall watching the sheep in a field with their newborn lambs before returning back to the campsite.
Sunday morning was the first time we’d caught a glimpse of the sun all weekend. We packed up our awning and made our way into Bakewell which is a nice place to spend a few hours meandering through the park, spotting the huge fish in the river, and popping in and out of the shops.
We then left Bakewell and headed for Monsal Head which is one of my favourite places in the Peak District. We sat on a bench outside the Monsal Head Hotel and marvelled at the spectacular view before walking down to the old railway viaduct and taking a walk through the Headstone Tunnel which was re-opened in 2011 to form part of the Monsal Trail. A very enjoyable day.
Our first trip of the year was a successful relaxing weekend, despite the poor weather for most of our trip. The location of the campsite would make a good base to travel from for making day trips out to explore the Peak District. Other than the village of Monyash which has little other than the pub and café, there’s little within walking distance of the site, but if you’re prepared to take a short drive, some of the best bits of the Peak District are within easy reach. The location and position of the campsite means that it doesn’t have great views, but it is nicely secluded and makes you feel like it’s much more remote than it really is. This is definitely a site I would go back to in better weather!