Eskdale Camping & Caravanning Club Site
Website - www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk
Open - March to January
Current fees - See website for details
There's really only one word to describe this site and its location - fantastic! Well, probably several words, but all in the same vein. Situated on a narrow country lane just outside the tiny village of Boot in a fairly remote part of the western Lake District it's surrounded by gorgeous scenery, and the area is a walker's paradise. There are two ways to get to it - if you're a confident and competant driver then you can take the route from Ambleside at the top of Lake Windermere, which takes you over Wrynose Pass and Hardknott Pass but certainly isn't for the faint-hearted. Only suitable for light vehicles it's a single track road with many hairpin bends and sharp drops - better than a roller coaster ride! - and with a gradient of 1 in 3 is one of the steepest roads in England. Or you can go 'the long way round' via the A roads, which is actually quite a pleasant drive, though it seems to take an age to get there. A word of advice here - don't rely on your satnav as it will direct you over the pass; if you don't want to risk it then use a map book instead.
The site itself is ideally placed for getting to Wasdale and Scafell Pike, and is owned and run by Martyn and his wife Sarah, a very friendly and helpful couple to which nothing seems too much trouble. It's mainly level, with the access road running from the entrance right up to reception and the facilities block. The grass pitches on either side of the road have hook-up points and are backed by tall trees; behind the trees on the right a small stream runs through the site and tent campers not needing electric can camp on the far side of it. Unfortunately, in times of very wet weather some of the pitches can become a bit waterlogged, though Martyn and his staff will do their best to find you an alternative. The site also has ten camping pods and just past the facilities block is a large fully equipped camping barn and a nice warm drying room for wet outdoor clothes and boots; there's also another camping area, a hard standing area for motorhomes and a children's play area. Within the facilities block there's indoor and outdoor washing up sinks, a laundry room, chemical disposal point and the showers and toilets, which are kept spotlessly clean all the time. Reception is within the licensed shop, which has a fairly good selection of basic provisions and leaflets and maps of the surrounding area, and there are several good walks right from the site.
Boot village is just a few minutes walk from the site down a footpath near the entrance, and consists of a couple of dozen cottages, a couple of pubs and a working water mill with a 'step back in time' shop which is well worth a visit. The Boot Inn has a very friendly landlord and serves real ales and great food at reasonable prices. It also has a beer garden with a very good children's play area, and dogs are welcome both inside and outside the pub. About five minutes walk along the lane from the site entrance is another pub which also does meals, and a quarter of a mile away is Dalegarth Station and the Ravenglass & Eskdale miniature steam railway. There's a lovely cafe and gift shop on the station platform and the seven mile ride from there to Ravenglass is very scenic. There's nothing much at Ravenglass itself, it's just a small coastal village on the main West Coast rail line, but there's a good pub/restaurant near the station - the Ratty Arms - and on a sunny day the return train ride is well worth doing.
Because of the very narrow and winding country lanes the site doesn't take caravans or larger motorhomes, and with the area being so remote there's no tv signal, no WiFi internet and no mobile phone signal. Perfect if you really want to get away from it all but not for anyone who can't live without various gadgets. There's a payphone near reception though if you really do need to keep in touch with someone. Also it's advisable to take as much food with you as you can or stock up on the way there, as there's no shop in the village and it's a very long drive to get to a decent one. Leaving aside those few minor niggles this is a fabulous site in a fabulous area with scenery to die for - if you've never been to that area of the Lake District before then try it, I don't think you'll be disappointed.