Enjoy a Cumbrian adventure in your camper

Back to the camperbug blog  April 06, 2020

Outdoor adventures in Cumbria! Image by Robert J Heath on Visual Hunt / CC BY

The next stop on our virtual road trip is Cumbria, a vast region in the North-west of England where raw, untainted beauty captures both the imagination and the soul.

Cumbria is a much-loved dwelling place and muse of the 19th century English poet William Wordsworth and extends over 3,000 sq miles of terrain, all of which is achingly beautiful. It encompasses the Lake District, the Eden Valley, the Furness Peninsula, as well as the North Pennines, which means you’re never far from spectacular views or exhilarating outdoor fun! Getting around will be so much more comfortable with a campervan or motorhome. We've picked out the best of Cumbria sights and attractions, so take a read for secluded wild camping locations and more!

Huddled in the heart of the Lake District, Windermere is a historic town containing the largest lake in England, and this where we begin our adventure! Lying just off the A592, the town and civil parish attract more holidaymakers than any other location within the Lake District. The stunning area is characterized by inspiring landscapes and a cheery town centre that sustains the townships commerce, and trade.

It's not impossible to find tranquillity in the town. Still, if you're searching for isolated landscapes and beautiful wild camping locations, we suggest you head into the national park to wander across rolling landscapes, set up camp by a gleaming river or summit into the craggy fells. The lively town centre is worth a visit and brims with locals and tourists alike. Stroll past quirky antique shops, step inside a trendy bar, dine at a stylish restaurant, or learn of local history and its famous authors like Beatrix Potter. Windermere is a delicate portal that offers the best of everything. Find a unique campervan hire from our extensive lists of private campervan and motorhome owners for a memorable vacation!

Where to stay in Windermere


It doesn't get better than this! Moss Side Farm Campsite. Image by meettedly on Instagram

Campsites are aplenty here, but we recommend Moss Side Farm Campsite Park. Moss Side is a working farm, tucked up in the hills with basic yet clean facilities. The family-friendly site looks out over the Lake District and is an excellent base for hikers, cyclists, horse riders and water sport enthusiasts. You're a smooth ten minutes from the nearest lake while Windermere is forty minutes from the site. The little adventurers will have much fun marvelling at the hens, ducks, sheep, cows, ponies, and working dogs around the grounds. Campers can drive or walk into the village of Broughton-in-Furness to stock up on bread, groceries, and meats, or enjoy a pint at one of three pubs in the village. Dogs should remain on a lead at all times, and campfires are permitted onsite.

Kick back and unwind. Moss Side Farm Campsite. Image by this_girl_loves_cornwall on Instagram

Wild camping

Hiking up to Codale Tarn. Image by cranleighscouts on Instagram

Wild camping at its finest! Image by martarms on Instagram

Codale Tarn is an ideal location for campervan and motorhome owners seeking seclusion and crowd-free wild camping. The hike to there is gruelling, and the area is remote: however, you're about to camp by one of the most picturesque tarns with beautiful vistas! You can reach the location via Great Langdale or through the Easedale Tarn path from the town. Take care when walking on the slippery rocks of Belles Knot waterfall. The terrain is boggy and wet in some places and includes some scrambling.

Views from the tent! Image by jpuntan on Instagram

Cumbria is mostly mountainous, and for anyone who enjoys a pleasant ramble, it is home to the captivating and challenging fells, including the mighty and mysterious Helvellyn, which is situated directly north of Windermere and requires a 45-minute drive up the A591. This beautiful mountain draws tourists effortlessly to its scenery and expanse. With an elevation of 950m, the views it offers along the climb are utterly breath-taking.

Wild camping on Helvellyn

Could you tackle Striding Edge? Image by monkeys_climb_mountains on Instagram

An apprehensive doggo looking out at Striding Edge. Image by andymccreath on Instagram

While Helvellyn is a fantastic hike, the third highest peak in Lake District is also a fabulous wild camping location. The towering mountain looms over Thirlmere reservoir, and the lake of Ullswater, and looks out over the small pond of Red Tarn plus the valleys of Glenridding, and Patterdale. The infamous Striding Edge is dangerous and the scene of accidents and deaths. If you are uneasy taking on the windy path, there are many other ways to summit the mountain: however, the climb via Striding Edge is the most spectacular.

Red Tarn - Lake District, England. Image by Giuseppe Milo (www.pixael.com) on Visualhunt.com / CC BY

Where to leave your van

If you haven't secured a campsite to leave your motorhome or campervan behind, consider overnight parking at the central car park in Glenridding. Don't use the ticket machine as it only dispenses tickets for the daytime parking. Visit the Tourist information block in the parking area to secure tickets for each day.

How to get there – for ardent climbers and outdoor enthusiasts only

Gorgeous Patterdale. Image by Joe Hayhurst on VisualHunt.com / CC BY

Take the first right near Patterdale Hall Outdoor Center. Stay on the trail which leads through a gate and becomes quite rocky. Follow this to Ruthwaite Lodge. The stunning valley of Grisedale is perfect for a hike and filled with the sounds of wildlife, birds, and farm animals. Stroll past grazing lambs and cows, and keeping to the river on your right, follow the stony path which begins a slow ascent through the valley floor. The further up you go the river turns from a smooth flow to a thundering waterfall cascading from the peaks above. Take in the best of the falls just outside Ruthwaite Lodge, and then turn off the main path and begin the main ascent. You can follow the waterfall up the left-hand side but keep in mind there is no path so you'll need to scramble up the side of the grassy bank. At the top of the waterfall, the terrain evens out, making it easy to cross the stream, and gather clean water. Keep the flow to your left as you proceed, or you'll end up on an entirely different route! If you'd like to camp for the night, head a few hundred meters to the north of the river and you'll come across Hard Tarn.

Wild camping by Hard Tarn

Wonderful misty mornings on Hard Tarn. Image by gandhi.lee on Instagram

You'll have the protection and shade of Nethermost Pike and have complete isolation as the tarn is out of the way and cannot be seen on the valley below or the mountains above. From here you'll need to scramble straight up while avoiding loose rocks, scree slopes and boulders. The scramble is grassy and slippery and not suited for those with poor health. The summit of Nethermost Pike is a flat plateau and a mere twenty-minute walk from Helvellyn.

Ruthwaite Lodge climbing hut, looking up at Nethermost Pike. Image by tomsillince on Instagram

Camping on top of nethermost pike. Image by chivt800on Instagram

It is a pretty straightforward mountain hike and a fantastic mountain climb. The summit of Helvellyn is quite exposed, so we recommend setting up camp at Hard Tarn.

Helvellyn Summit. Exposed to the elements yet camp-worthy. Image by positiveliving_jtca on Instagram

But Helvellyn is not alone; Cumbria is home to an array of mountains, including Catbells, Scafell Park, and the legendary Great Gable. For anyone more at home with less exhaustive walks, you can tackle one of its smaller hills, including Place Fell, and in your camper van, access is incredibly easy. The great thing about these climbs is that a pub is never far away. As you descend the mountain with a rumbling stomach and a growing appetite, you'll appreciate the whiffs of quality food as it drifts through the air, filling you with delight and anticipation at ending the day with nourishing sustenance, and a refreshing pint.

Pubs and Grub

The Golden Rule

Dogs by the fire in the Golden Rule pub, Ambleside. Image by Bods on Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA

Blending and mix of clientele, the Golden Rule Pub is relaxed yet lively. This pub provides the perfect settings to wind down with a pint and a chat. The traditional feel of the pub and the snug fireplace is ideal after nights of wild camping in severe environments.

Distance from Helvellyn – 15 minutes
Address - Smithy Brow, Ambleside, England, LA22 9AS, United Kingdom

Drunken Duck Inn

Views from the Drunken Duck Inn. Image by drunkenduckinn on Instagram

Resting above the town of Ambleside, the unusually named ** bar provides home-brewed beer (water for the beer comes from the enclosing area) and stunning views of the fells. The interior of the bar is filled with oak! Try the Tag Lager beer which won the Duck the bronze award for the Champion Beer of Britain.

Distance from Helvellyn – 25 minutes
Address - Barngates, Ambleside, England, LA22 0NG, United Kingdom

Old Dungeon Ghyll

Stop en route for a pint or two. Image by simon_mulderig on Instagram

Old Dungeon Ghyll (Ghyll is an ancient word for ravine) is popular with climbers and serves food, drink, plus a range of Scottish whiskies and ales. The pub welcomes all and provides live music and an ope-mic night on the first Wednesday of every month. The establishment also sells packed lunches – perfect for a countryside picnic!

Distance from Helvellyn – 40 minutes
Address - Great Langdale, Ambleside, England, LA22 9JY, United Kingdom

After an exhaustive day of walking, you might want to pitch up early in the evening. With this in mind, there are campsites spread right around the Lakes so that, whichever mountain you decide climb, you won't be short of options.

Where to stay near Helvellyn


Grisedale Beck. Image by Bods on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-SA

Grisedale Valley. Image by lakedistrictcumbria on Instagram

What a lovely spot at Side Farm Campsite! Image by sophiedavies2112 on Instagram

Side Farm Campsite rests in proximity to Helvellyn and spreads out over a working farm. Nestled between the falls of Place Fell and the wooded shores of Ullswater, this campsite provides campers with beautiful views across the Grisedale valley towards the Helvellyn range. Facilities are basic yet plentiful. Kick back and drink in the glorious setting or zip down to Ullswater with your canoes and wetsuits. Stroll along a beautiful lakeside path from Howtown to Patterdale or explore a variety of locations on foot. The site is just off the A592 and offers 70 pitches for tents, campervans and small motorhomes. White Lion, the nearest pub is fifteen-minutes away in Patterdale.

Castlerigg stone circle. Image by robinnoakphotography on Instagram

The rich history of Cumbria remains sprinkled across the region. View fortifications and settlements dating back to the Stone Age, or explore the timeworn stone circles of Castlerigg Stone Circle in Keswick. The stone circle is a haunting reminder of the life, times, and traditions of our ancient ancestors and in many ways resembles the well-known Stonehenge stone circle. The attraction is often touted as 'one of the most visually impressive prehistoric monuments in Britain and is a must-see if you are in the area. To view these unusual historical relics, head north from Helvellyn and follow the route along the A591 for thirteen minutes.

Cumbria brims some magnificent coasts- Perfect for kicking back and relaxing after your time in the mountains. Grange-over-Sands is a quiet seaside retreat that creates the idyllic conclusion to your wild camping adventure. Enjoy a relaxed stroll on the beach, as you embrace the coastal atmosphere. Set an hour's drive from Helvellyn, the charming resort boasts of a mild climate and Edwardian charm. To get there, rumble onto the A591 and travel south, passing Ambleside and Gryzdale Forest along the way. You can stop here, and spend some time exploring the town or wander into the woodland along a tranquil walking trail or cycling path.

Camperbug boasts of a selection of camper vans and motorhomes – ideal for wild adventures off the beaten path. If you are considering a campervan, a model is best suited for long journeys amid raw landscapes and meandering roads. It is powerful enough to negotiate the harsh terrain and provides the comfort of a home during the frosty nights and misty afternoons! Find a campervan rental with us and wander the width and breadth of the UK!

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