15 January 2018
There's a reason why the Lake District is one of the most famous and celebrated of Britain's wild areas. This stunning national park tucked up in the north west of England draws over 15 million visitors every year, who come to enjoy some of the country's most dramatic and varied landscapes.
For an area of such untamed natural beauty, the park is also incredibly visitor friendly, with a vast array of accommodation and dining options, and good public transport links.
Glamping in the Lakes has fast become the perfect alternative for those looking to experience the Great Outdoors while also enjoying some creature comforts. This is glamorous camping and it offers the best of both worlds at a surprisingly affordable price, with plenty of unique sleeping options to make your trip even more memorable.
A deciding factor for many people is the UK's unpredictable weather, meaning even in mid-summer there's a risk of downpours and drizzle. There is no better feeling than being able to retreat to a cosy, warm space at the end of a day of hiking in the hills and having room to get changed and relax. Never underestimate the pleasure of being able to dry out those wet socks and boots.
There are also options to suit every taste, including yurts, safari tents, pods, wigwams, tree houses and shepherd's huts, you really are spoilt for choice. Enjoy the breath-taking views, starry skies and sounds of nature, while snuggling under fluffy blankets on a soft mattress, with a wood-burner crackling at the side.
Facilities vary, but all will have nearby shared hot showers and toilets and usually some form of heating. Some sites include electricity and cooking facilities but some are more basic, meaning you might have to enjoy an evening of candlelight and cooking over an open fire. En-suite bathrooms are becoming more common at the luxury end of the market.
The extra space that glamping offers gives you the freedom to bring as little or as much as you like. If you're coming by car, there's no limit on the luxurious home comforts you can pack - think plush pillows, your own duvet, real plates and crockery and even your bathrobe.
Once you've seen a site that takes your fancy, carefully check what's included with the accommodation, such as blankets, sheets, towels and cooking utensils, as sometimes you need to bring your own or a sleeping bag. Other camping essentials still apply, such as a torch, washing up liquid, matches, a first aid kit and extra toilet roll.
A lot also depends on what kind of activities you intend to do and the time of year, although good wet weather gear is always important up here with layers of synthetic fabric being the best way to keep warm and dry.
Whatever the season, the Lake District is fabulously beautiful, and the moody skies create a very special light that plays over the landscape. If you're feeling creative, you can join the countless poets and artists that have been inspired here by bringing a good camera, sketchbook or writing pad.
One of the best things about glamping is that it allows visitors to enjoy their holiday whatever the season, and although the weather can always be unpredictable, in the winter months tent camping is just not feasible for most. Yurts and wigwams stay surprisingly warm, and all the glamping options are very well insulated against the elements.
The summer months bring the best weather, but also the crowds, meaning accommodation can get very busy and it's best to book in advance. Spring and Autumn can both be good options, with the landscape changing colour and wildflowers in bloom, although you might have to contend with some serious rain. Even in winter there can be clear, crisp days and the mountains look particularly dramatic with a dusting of snow on the top.
There are so many options for glamping breaks in the Lake District that the decision can be daunting, and although you're spoilt for choice when it comes to stunning scenery too, it's best to choose an area first and take things from there.
Accommodation can take a surprising number of forms, so there's something to suit all needs. Some of the tiny shepherd's huts are perfect for couples looking for a romantic getaway, whereas many of the yurts can sleep up to six people and have communal fire pits for a night meeting people round the campfire.
At the cheaper end of the market, camping pods are basically just a wooden, insulated tent with padded mats on the floor, but offer a great value, more comfortable, alternative to camping. While glamping pods are some of the most luxurious outdoorsy accommodation available.
Bell tents offer a more spacious option for families in the summer, while still avoiding the hassle of putting up a large tent yourself.
Most places charge per unit, regardless of the number of people in your group, but all the prices listed here are for two people sharing per night unless stated otherwise. Many sites stay open over the winter, taking advantage of the cosy nature of the accommodation, but just as many close over low season from November to March. Some also have a minimum stay of two or three nights.
More and more sites now pride themselves on their environmentally friendly features, such as using solar power and compost loos, which makes this another great reason to go glamping in the UK.
The long expanse of Lake Windermere is the largest, and probably most famous, body of water in England. The wooded slopes and hidden bays form the quintessential image of Lake District beauty, and a boat trip across the placid waters never fails to impress. It can get mighty busy during the summer, but the crowds are easily left behind on one of the many good hiking trails or by basing yourself on the south western side of the lake.
Long Valley Yurts has three separate locations, but the Moss Howe Farm site is a convenient yet secluded option located at the foot of the wonderful Winster Valley. There are four beautifully furnished yurts with wood-burners that sleep up to six people, starting at £50 a night. What makes this place extra tempting is the possibility of booking your stay with hot tub included, Scandinavian style, plus a multitude of bushcraft courses and adventure activities. It's a good all round site for small groups, families and couples that's also dog friendly.
Have you ever dreamed of cruising quaint country lanes in a traditional horse drawn gypsy caravan? Wanderlusts, an off-grid campsite in Low Wray are the only place to offer this unique experience in the Lake District and Cumbria. Two are horse drawn, which include a cosy wagon with one double bed and extra mats for kids, and the possibility to park up at one of several secluded private areas to cook around an open fire. The other wagons are static with wood-burning stoves and provide a separate tent with a gas cooker and kitchen equipment.
Also in Low Wray is Wild in Style, set in a magical oak woodland one minute from the beach, they offer a bit of everything. They have eight units in varying sizes, from cosy two person yurts to a Moroccan tent that sleeps six, plus two gypsy caravans and a geodome. All include wood-burners and gas cooking facilities, plus outdoor fire-pits for roasting some marshmallows under the stars. They offer bushcraft courses, adventure activities and the interesting art of willow weaving.
Coniston Water, Hawkshead and the South
Five mile long Coniston Water sits in the shadow of towering mountains, and is a quieter alternative to Windermere, although still extremely popular in summer. As well as fine scenery this area is full of cultural sites, such as the home of Beatrix Potter and 'Wild Cat Island' made famous in Swallows and Amazons.
Abbotts Reading Farm, surrounded by mountains and stunning scenery in the Rusland Valley, is a friendly site which also rears herds of local cattle. The six wooden glamping cabins sleep three to five people, and come with all mod cons such as fridge, microwave and flat screen TV, plus memory foam mattresses for resting weary bones. Each unit has its own decked balcony for relaxing and fine dining, plus a BBQ area to the side.
National Trust owned Hoathwaite Campsite is more of a back to basics set up, but has tipis available, each on its own wooden platform, bedecked with fairy lights and made extra cosy inside with sheepskins and wood-burning stoves. They enjoy uninterrupted views of the Bowfell and Langdale Pikes, and are handy for popping to the popular Old Dungeon Ghyll pub.
Grasmere and the Central Fells
Heading into the park's more remote interior, you're met with a windswept landscape of bleak mountain passes and plunging green valleys. Grasmere is most famous for being the hometown of Wordsworth, and it was this area that inspired him and several other literary greats. There are plenty of hiking routes to explore the rugged beauty of the central fells, such as around the breathtaking Great and Little Langdale Valleys.
Herdy Huts is located in a beautiful location with views across the valleys, and opposite the historical home of Wordsworth. There are three traditional shepherd's huts that have been relocated from remote locations, and all include a wood burning stove, cooking facilities and are kitted out with cosy interiors. Just a short walk from Rydal and Grasmere Lake, the site houses a tearoom and sculpted gardens with waterfall. They also have fire pits and are dog friendly.
Derwent Water, Keswick and the North
The area around Keswick is a little more off the beaten track and draws visitors looking to explore the dramatic surroundings on some serious hikes. Even if you don't stay here it is worth making the journey over to explore the beautiful meandering valleys of Barrowdale, Buttermere and Newlands. Scafell Pike and its surrounding peaks can also be accessed from this side.
If you want to explore the stunning Barrowdale valley, then head to Inside Out yurts, who offer a bell tent and three yurts on the regular campsite and two closer to the big hills at Seatoller. All sleep up to four people and are luxuriously decorated with Moroccan rugs, fairy lights, wood burners and solar power.
Wast Water and the West
The Western Fells and valleys form some of the most diverse landscapes in the national park, with Great Gable and the Scafells rising formidably from the gentler land near the coast. The awe-inspiring Wast Water is the country's deepest lake, presided over by England's highest peak, Scafell Pike. There are plenty of daunting and remote hiking routes to be explored for those on the hunt for adventure.
The National Trust campsite between Wast Water and Wasdale head, is set amid incredibly dramatic scenery and provides immediate access to some of the highest fells in the Lake District. As well as tent camping, they offer seven heated camping pods and two Nordic tipis with wood-burning stove and electrical hook-up.
For those looking for a step up in luxury, Wasdale Yurt holiday has two 18ft yurts as fancy as any hotel room. They come complete with private bathrooms and showers, constant hot water for tea and coffee, wood burners, outdoor decking and fully carpeted and exotically decorated interiors.
This narrow, eight mile long lake, snakes it's way through the valley, creating some of the most beautiful and varied scenery anywhere in the park. There are some excellent walks from Glenridding including the nine mile route up Hellvelyn, England's third highest mountain, and the further east you head the quieter things become. Taking a ride on one of the 19th century steamer services on the lake is a wonderful way to soak up the atmosphere.
One of the best Ullswater glamping spots is the Quiet Site, an award winning and family run campsite in a secluded position overlooking the lake. There are 14 cosy camping pods, that have been specially designed to be cool in summer and warm in winter, and several bell tents that offer the feel of camping without the stress. For Lord of the Rings fans there's also a quaint hobbit hole built into the hillside, with panoramic views from its private decking.
To get the most out of your trip there are tons of online resources, as well as tourist information centres in Windermere, Keswick and Ullswater. There are also plenty of online glamping sites that allow you to filter your search according to requirements, which can really help when trawling through the options. Wherever you decide to stay, UK glamping is likely to be so enjoyable and the accommodation so cosy, you might just want to move in permanently.
Helping you find the best campsites in the UK at Campsites.co.uk