Kestrel Lodge campsite
Tel: 017687 76752
Kestrel Lodge started out life as High Close Farm, a working 18th century farm. Since then it has had many transformations. It’s been a clubhouse, a bunkhouse, a youth hostel, a retreat for local school children, an outward bounds centre, and now a family home and campsite.
As campers themselves, the owners many sites becoming full of caravans and lodges. They wanted somewhere visitors would be able to camp, walk, and enjoy the natural area.
The ethos is simple; small, quiet, friendly, traditional, but with nice hot showers, and somewhere to clean your boots and dogs. A covered area for rainy days, and a large space for camp fires. A campsite where campfires are allowed and where you can walk or cycle for days without needing to get in your car. A campsite where you can easily walk to a pub that offers good food, traditional ale, and a warm welcome.
Camping & Mongolian Yurts
- Modern shower block
- Dog walking area
- Children’s play area
- Limited pitches for electric hook-up (may need booked)
- Free-range eggs available
- Drinking water
- Fire pits (wood must be bought at shop)
- Undercover area for socialising, BBQ’s etc
Kestrel Lodge Campsite is situated about 8 miles north of Keswick in the lake district. The A66 road, which basically runs East to West across the north of England, passes close to the campsite. Via Keswick or Cockermouth. From either direction, you will then get to Bassenthwaite Lake turn (B5291). Stay on the road passing Armathwaite Hall, until you get to a ‘T’ junction at the Castle Inn Hotel. Turn right onto the A591, and then take the 2nd left towards Bassenthwaite. Keep going straight along this road for approximately 1 and ½ miles (you’ll go past the bridge at the back of the Sun Inn and carry on along Park Wood), until you see a sign on the right for ‘Kestrel Lodge Camping,’ take the unadopted road for about ½ a mile until you arrive.
From Carlisle; take the A595 towards Cockermouth until you get to Bothel. At Bothel take a left turn on the A591 towards Bassenthwaite and Keswick. About 5 miles down this road you’ll see the Castle Inn on your right-hand side. Take the 2nd left-hand turn after the Castle Inn and keep going straight along this road for approximately 1 and ½ miles (you’ll go past the bridge at the back of the Sun Inn and carry on along Park Wood), until you see a sign on the right for ‘Kestrel Lodge Camping,’ take the unadopted road for about ½ a mile until you arrive.
The local village of Bassenthwaite is a pleasant 1-mile stroll from the campsite, combining a forest path and quiet single track road. The Sun Inn is well named as it is perfectly situated to take full advantage of the summer sun, with plenty of outside seating and good food.
Bassenthwaite Lake is about 2.5 miles away and is one of the largest water bodies in the English Lake District. It is long and narrow, approximately 4 miles long and ³⁄₄-mile wide, but is also extremely shallow, with a maximum depth of about 70 ft. There is a shore path which runs the length of the west shore, but there is no access to the east side except at Mirehouse.
Skiddaw is 931m to the summit and is the sixth-highest in England. It is within easy walking distance from the campsite, about 6 miles. There are various routes but we take a reasonably straightforward route – We followed the single-track road that loops around passed High Close Holiday Home Park, adjacent to Kestrel lodge and once at Trafford turn left onto a well-marked path that takes you around the side of Skiddaw. This path eventually takes you to Skiddaw House youth hostel. This is where we stopped for lunch, before continuing to the summit, following the path that winds upwards in a horse shoe direction. Please feel free to read more about our walk, in the section below.
Lake District Wildlife Park is 2.7 miles away, with over 100 species of exotic animals live at this 25-acre park with an on-site cafe and a play area.
The Lakes Distillery is 3.4 miles away and opened in December 2014 on its idyllic rural site near Bassenthwaite, with a Visitor Centre, artisan bar and bistro, and a shop selling distillery products as well as locally produced goods.
Keswick is 8 miles away and is a must visit, with lots to see and do –
- Catbells lakeland walk is an iconic peak – believed to be a distortion of ‘Cat Bields’, meaning ‘the home of the wild cat’ with panoramic views of the Lake District from its summit.
- Derwentwater at 3 miles long, 1 mile wide and 72 feet deep, is just a short stroll from Keswick town along well-maintained footpaths.
- Castlerigg Stone Circle is atmospheric and dramatically sited, with panoramic views and the mountains of Helvellyn and High Seat as a backdrop. It is also among the earliest British circles, raised in about 3000 BC during the Neolithic period.
- The Puzzling Place is a mind-boggling experience, full of oddness that leaves you questioning your reality.
If you are willing to travel further afield, which we were, then you should head to Kendal. The town is most famous export must be Kendal Mint Cake. Joseph Wiper came up with the original recipe for the Everest conquering energy bars.
We decided to cycle from Kendal to Lake Windermere and you can read about this in our section below. Here are some highlights of what Kendal has to offer –
- Sizergh Castle. The Strickland family has lived at Sizergh for more than 750 years, and it remains their home today. Set in large, beautifully landscaped gardens and based on an impressive 14th Century solar tower, Sizergh was extended in Tudor times.
- Kendal Castle, probably late 12th Century, is now a ruin, but worth exploring. From here you can get brilliant views over the town.
- Kentmere Horseshoe, with a total ascent of more than 1,000 metres and a distance of 12.8 miles, which will take around six hours to complete.
- Lakeland Maze Farm Park is open during spring and summer, and has alpacas, sheep, pygmy goats, pigs, ponies, donkeys and guinea pigs that kids can feed and touch, both outside and in the pet barn.
- The maize maze is open from July to September, while there’s also a mini-maze for younger children to solve, along with tractor rides, go-karts and spacious indoor zones like a soft play area and a sand pit in case of bad weather.
We were desperate to get our new ‘short stay’ tent pitched up and hopefully, Kestrel Lodge would be the perfect place to do just that.
Kestrel lodge was still a work in progress when we visited it in May 2017. The access road was very uneven and the facilities were basic but there was an air of ambition from a family-owned campsite that clearly understands the meaning of camping. There was a communal central area with BBQ and seating, perfect for that campsite get together. There was a fairy trail loop through the adjacent wooded area, perfect for young children. There was walkable access to a local pub, perfect for the adults. Logs are available for sale, perfect for that campfire. We also had the campsite to ourselves, for the first day. The only company we had was a friendly pony in the field next to our tent
It was a perfect campsite and a great base to go exploring from.
Our trip to Cockermouth was a mixture of being in that tourist realm of carefree enjoyment and taking in the surrounding & atmosphere but our visit was also a reality check as we walked by a sign that indicated how high the floodwaters from the river Cocker reached in 2009 had reached. Standing next to this sign put things into perspective and we left this town a feeling of respect for how it has recovered.
Our visit to Kendal would be a full day as we planned to cycle from Kendal to Lake Windermere a distance of 27miles return, so well within our capabilities. A word of warning, though, the descent from the cycle path adjacent to the A501 is long and steep, appearing to take forever as you cycle through the town of Windermere before eventually reaching the great Lake. To be honest, it’s more about the return journey, especially after lunch, coffee, and cakes!
It was the middle of May; the sun was shining and Lake Windermere was mobbed. Too busy for us but we cycled on to a quieter spot and stopped to take in the beauty of the place. It had been a perfect day for a cycle, the journey had been relaxing and Lake Windermere was worth the effort of having to cycle back up that long steep hill.
One of the advantages of staying at Kestral Lodge is the various walks and routes to bag Wainwrights, these are two multi-hill routes that can be done from the campsite. The campsite is close to Skiddaw, a mountain 931metres to the summit is the 6th highest in England and this was our chosen walk. So off we set with directions from the campsite owner, which involved walking through waymarks. Although we have walked in England many times, coming from Scotland where access rights are yours to enjoy – as long as you do so responsibly, waymarks can take a bit of getting used to and they are not always easily found. As a result of our lack of clear route, we zig-zagged around for a mile or two before we finally found the path we were looking for.
From then on, it was straight forward. Taking us passed Skiddaw House youth hostel the highest hostel in Britain, where we stopped outside for our lunch and took in the breath-taking views. Then it was onward to Skiddaw summit.
I had noticed, on the way up, that we had reached Skiddaw House we changed direction, more or less walked in a horseshoe route and now that we were heading back down, I came up with the great idea of taking a short cut. Rather than going back via Skiddaw house, why didn’t we just cut out the long bend by taking a direct straight line and pick up the path again? I persuaded Aileen to trust my judgment and off we set.
I remained confident that we were going in the correct direction but the terrain became increasingly rough underfoot and there were regular stops to reassess where we were and review our next few steps to ensure we didn’t end up in a bog, broken ankle or reach a point where it was obvious that this shortcut was now impossible. By this point, nerves were beginning to fray and Aileen was clearly reaching the end of her tether with me. Why the f##k do I listen to him? I was also a bit concerned. I could see the path we wanted to join in the distance, although doubt would creep in when Aileen responded to my reassurance with” That’s not the path, we’re f##cking lost!”.
My main concern and a reason for why I’ll NEVER do that again was the chance that we could have injured ourselves. Stuck in the middle of nowhere with a broken bone. Luckily my stubbornness and a general feeling that we would be ok got us back to the safety of the path home but lesson learned.
Later, Aileen was able to describe how she had felt. She described being aware of the vastness and silence. Feeling completely lost in a place that was throwing up lots of challenges. Waves of panic and fear were becoming overpowering and there was me with that optimistic” we’re ok, just a bit further” persona. That must have pissed her off!
I still have the ability to get Aileen into dodgy situations, life would be boring otherwise 🙂