CATBELLS CAMPING BARN was to be our group’s luxury accommodation after two days of wild camping in Borrowdale which had involved some tough hiking and a good 2000m of ascent (including the summit of Scafell Pike for the third time in a month for me!). We had picked this place from a map of Lakeland camping barns due to its proximity to a pub where we could consume a meal which was not re-hydrated cous cous with chorizo again and the fact that it had a hot shower!
Overlooked by the summit of Catbells
The camping barn is attached to a pretty farmhouse, overlooked by the summit of Catbells, in the middle of one of the smallest villages I have ever come across. We received a friendly greeting from the owner and were pleasantly surprised to find we were provided with good mattresses to use on the sleeping platform so we could keep our flimsy camping mats packed away. Co-incidentally we happened to be sharing the camping barn with two other walkers we had previously met at the top of Dale Head earlier that day and we exchanged information on the routes we had all taken.
Catbells Camping barn has a separate kitchen/dining area which seemed to be equipped with crockery and a kettle so you will need to bring your own cooker if you plan to eat there. There is also a seating area outside which would make a nice BBQ area on a hot summer’s evening. Although it was not a warm evening it was not really cold enough to justify lighting the wood burner which would be very comforting after a walk in winter.
After a well-earned hot shower (£1 for a very generous amount of time in a spotlessly clean shower) we walked to the nearest village of Swinside approximately 1 mile away to grab some food. We had overlooked the fact that it was a bank holiday and our rumbling bellies were somewhat concerned when we were asked if we had a table reservation but thankfully they managed to squeeze us in. After a hearty meal and a few drinks we headed back to the barn for some well-earned rest.
Millican Daltons cave
The following morning we stood outside and admired the view of Catbells from the garden area before packing up and driving to the nearby village of Grange. This was somewhere new to all of us and had two very inviting tea-rooms but before we could sample these we set off to Castle Crag to find the infamous Millican Daltons cave.
This exact location of this is not listed anywhere but with some searching on the internet and following the general direction of other hikers it is easy to find. Considering someone lived here every summer for 50 years it did not look too appealing but with some imagination we all decided you could make it quite a nice space!
We headed back to Grange, stopping for coffee and cake in one of the tea-rooms. Grange also seemed to be a popular place for kayaking, being a good get-out point after an easy paddle from Keswick. However, we could not stop and relax here for too long as we had plans to explore the outdoor shops in Keswick.
Keswick is a very pretty market town, popular with tourists and plenty of places to buy amazing ice-cream, cake and outdoor kit! After spending a few hours looking at lightweight backpacks, chunky boots and admiring down booties we set off for the drive back to Leeds.
I have spent more time in the Lake District this year than ever before and am thoroughly fond of it despite its notoriety for being wet and gloomy. It does not often rain for an entire day and this often makes for very dramatic scenery. There is so much to do for the outdoor enthusiast and many affordable accommodation options for the budget conscious traveller as shown on the map of bunkhouses and camping barns in the Lake District. I am hoping that I can spend some time up here in the New Year during winter and maybe stay at Catbells camping barn again (keen to get that fire going!), but next time I will hopefully have the time to explore the summit of Catbells too.