Plan A was, of course, to cycle the length of Japan. I should have arrived in the country today and be looking forward to cycling for around six weeks from north to south via Tokyo to take in the atmosphere of the Olympics. Next year? Perhaps… Time will tell. So it is on with Plan B which, until a few days ago, was a very vague “well, I’d like to go camping somewhere in the UK…“. The pesky Coronavirus has, of course, reached its tentacles into most aspects of our lives in recent months and ‘camping in the UK‘ is one of them. Although many campsites have now reopened, many remain closed or open with limited capacity and facilities or, bearing in mind all the staycationers this summer, have no availability.
I wrote about my head-scratching a few weeks ago in the following post:
The good news is that clarification has indeed been offered by many campsites and, from what I can see, it is generally positive. My cycle touring style is to get on my bicycle, cycle off somewhere and then worry about the accommodation situation later in the day. That’s probably a risky strategy in the summer of 2020 so I have resolved to plan 3-4 days ahead and have just spent a few hours doing just that. I have a Plan B, for four days at least…
I identified Tuesday 14th July as a good day to set off last week when the forecast was beginning to show some hints that an improvement in the weather may be around the corner. From my home in Pennine West Yorkshire, I will head north into the Dales and have booked a one-night stay near Bolton Abbey at Catgill Farm Campsite:
I will be shunning the ‘glamping’ of course and look forward to putting the new tent through its paces:
On Wednesday 15th I will continue north through the Dales in the direction of Hawes and to the Old Hall Cottage Campsite in a village called Hardraw. This looks like my kind of campsite:
The facilities at the Old Hall Cottage Campsite are limited to wash basins – I assume the Coronavirus has put the showers out of action – but for £8, that’s just fine by me.
On Thursday 16th I will be changing direction, slightly, and cycling towards the Lake District. As you might imagine, this seems to be where the rest of the British staycationers are also heading and it was in trying to book a campsite near Windermere that I encountered my first problems. Cool Camping recommends a site called BaysBrown Farm Campsite. Alas they are not opening until Monday 20th July but, should I be passing that way on my way home (whenever that might be), it might be worth a visit. They don’t take bookings – it’s first-come-first-accommodated – which is admirable and they should be given some kind of award for embracing such a laudable policy. The National Trust have a few campsites in the Lake District but all appear to be fully booked for the nights of the 16th and 17th. As for the YHA hostel near Windermere which normally allows camping… it’s only open for private hire. Mmm…
I then remembered that back in April 2017 I stayed with a friend at a campsite called Rydal Hall just to the north of Ambleside. We were on a quest to scale the nearby Red Scree Fell. It wasn’t really that manic but if you’re in search of a little video diversion, watch this:
The Rydal Hall Campsite is in the grounds of the hall which I think is owned by the church and frequented by the clergy who are in search of a spiritual retreat:
There are good facilities there and I have booked to stay for two nights. The location is a good one for heading off on a day ride somewhere to the west (UPDATE: in the comments below, Hardknott Pass has been suggested and it’s very tempting…) before continuing my journey on the 18th to… well, who knows? Dumfries & Galloway? The North Pennines AONB? Kielder Forest? And then to…? Suggestions welcome.
UPDATE: Tim Boden has been in contact via email and suggested this route from Ambleside…
As things go, that’s not a bad start to a good Plan B. If you see me en route, give me a wave!
UPDATE: Just decided to spend a third night at Rydal Hall as it seems so difficult to find anywhere else that night and then Sunday night at a small campsite called Bank House Farm near Penrith before continuing in the direction of Hadrian’s Wall and then over the border via Kielder Forest to Hawick. Two more campsites booked! (See list below)
Tuesday 14th: Catgill Farm Campsite near Bolton Abbey
Wednesday 15th: The Old Hall Cottage Campsite near Hawes
Thursday 16th / Friday 17th / Saturday 18th: Rydal Hall Campsite near Ambleside
Sunday 19th: Bank House Farm near Penrith
Monday 20th July: Winshields Campsite near Haltwhistle
Tuesday 21st July: Ruberslaw Wild Woods Camping near Hawick (Scotland)
Wednesday 22nd July: Edinburgh!
Watch this space for updates!
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Rydal Hall is a grand spot Andrew. Normally there’s a lovely cafe which is usually manged by the international visitors who come on retreat or work as voluntees at the Hall which is owned by the Diosese of Carlisle. All lovely people.
There are also some shepherds huts and yurts there but I suspect all booked up.
A client of mine who runs a campsite at Austwick is booked solid at weekends until September and most of weekdays as well.
Take your midge repellant if heading to Kielder or Scotland.
Thanks John. Yes, I remember the café from my 2017 visit. Interesting comment regarding your friend’s campsite… I will have repellant packed!
Thanks Brenda. Any plans of your own?
hopefully the Outer Hebrides in September with Jill Wright but we will see how things go. maybe a few days before then though
Is It a requirement to book ahead when going cycle camping ? Ie if your stopped at any point regarding your journey (police)
I haven’t heard that that’s the case. (If you have, please tell me more.) The biggest hurdles will be – as mentioned in the post – some campsites not being open, having limited facilities or capacity and other campers having taken all the spaces. In normal circumstances, few campsites would turn away a lone cyclist, but this summer…? Hence the forward planning. Do you have your own plans?
How about seeing if Wanda’s gears are low enough for Hardnott Pass!
Now there’s an idea… 🙂