You could be forgiven for thinking this is rapidly becoming a camping blog, and I do appreciate the irony of spending all this time, money and effort renovating our house, only to spend at least one month of the year sleeping on the ground under canvas. But camping is just so lovely, and equally it really makes you appreciate the comfort of your house when you return. This time we headed up to the very popular National Trust site Low Wray, on the Windermere shore, and managed to bag the only weekend of the whole year where the Lake District gets some sunshine, how lucky is that?
Low Wray is a magical place - you park up and approach the main reception on foot via a little wooden path that wends its way over the stream that divides the site in two. As well as a little National Trust shop selling all the usual National Trust type things, along with ice creams, bacon, ice, milk and so on, there’s a pizza oven surrounded by festoon lighting, and various picnic tables for communal dining. Everyone who was checking in at the same time as us had big smiles on their faces at how lovely the general set-up was.
You can choose to pitch on the grass overlooking a gorgeous wild flower meadow with the hills in the background, or in a woodland glade, or right on the lake shore. They also have various safari tents, hobbit pods, suspended orbs floating amid the trees, hammocks, and lots of great spots for camper vans tucked into various nooks around the site.
We had pre-selected pitch 203, a large woodland pitch in a sunny clearing surrounded by ancient oak and beech trees, with the lake shore a stone’s throw away. You never know if your pitch requests will be met, but on this occasion we were directed straight to it.
Our friends were on pitch 204, a medium woodland pitch a bit further down the path.
We hung out on our pitch on Friday night, eating chilli and delicious homemade Nepalese daal that we’d brought from home, and drinking hot chocolate and tins of gin.
In the morning, we hired mountain bikes for the whole family, including a chariot for Elodie to ride in, and headed out on a tour of the lake shore. We had to get off and push the bikes over quite a few tree roots, so progress was slow, which is probably a good thing, as I was cycling along gingerly with three dogs loping along beside me on their leads.
We made it as far as the little beach belonging to Wray Castle, and stopped for a picnic.
After lazing around in the sun for a bit, we wended our way back to the site. Someone was tired at this stage and joined Elodie in the chariot.
We then spent a happy few hours whizzing round and round the site - it took about 15 minutes to get all the way round, which is a perfect distance for small people. “Look, Mummy, that lady has all those dogs! How many are there… one, two, three, lots of dogs!”, exclaimed a small child. “How is that lady bicycling with all those dogs?”, enquired another small child of his parent. “Jolly carefully!”, I replied over my shoulder.
Back at the pitch, we fired up the braai and cooked sausages, pork steaks and tandoori chicken for the kids and boys. I channelled the skills of our Italian friend Jess, who cooked such amazing food for us at Aberafon the week before, and served up courgette and cherry tomatoes, cooked in olive oil, lemon and garlic. Meanwhile, our friend Holly made a delicious salad with sweetcorn, tomatoes and olives, and cooked a couple of beetroot bean burgers. We were both tired of living on carbs and meat every time we camp, so decided to switch things up! It was all delicious.
The next day we packed up the tents, parked the cars in one of the little parking areas near the lake shore, and hired a variety of boats - a Canadian canoe, a three-person kayak, and a single kayak that they very kindly threw in for free. I never like to drive back home straight away on Sunday morning after camping, so this was a great way to extend the holiday.
It turns out kayaking is jolly hard work - I kept going round in circles. Eventually I got the hang of how to move with the water rather than against it - just in time to hand the boats back in again.
It started to rain at about 2pm, Lake District back on form, so we squeezed back into the car and headed home to Manchester.
What a lovely holiday. Low Wray, we will be back next year!