So you fancy spending some time up north, well where better to head than the Lake District National Park. Maybe you fancy a walk up Helvellyn, Coniston Old Man or Scafell Pike the highest mountain in the land, or perhaps you would prefer a gentler walk around the edge of Buttermere or along the Langdale or Borrowdale valleys. Maybe you want to travel through the countryside that inspired the likes of Wordsworth, Ruskin and Coleridge or maybe you'd like to find out more about Beatrix Potter. Add to this the plentiful opportunities for climbing and watersports there really is something for everyone!
But where to stay and what will you need?
Our favourite recommendations for campsites tend to the more basic sites in the heart of it all, but unlike Snowdonia there is usually a good pub right on the doorstep.
For visitors to the Furness, Coniston, Duddon and Eskdale regions we recommend Turner Hall Campsite in Seathwaite, Dunnerdale which is just less than 1km from the superb sixteenth century Newfield Inn with its excellent beers and meaty feasts. £5 per person, plus £1 for car and £1 for tent per night (spring 2011). Seathwaite sits on the lower slopes of Dow Crag part of the Coniston Old Man range - hallowed ground for walkers and climbers alike. For a more family friendly day why not try the Lal Ratty miniature railway in Eskdale.
Wasdale is the base for ascents of Great Gable, Scafell and Pillar amongst others and is where rock climbing began. Whilst there is not much in the way of habitation at Wasdale Head everything that is there is a joy from the Wasdale Head Inn with its mass of climbing memorabilia to St Olaf's - the smallest church in England. So even though The Barn Door Campsite here is small and basic it is an absolute must stay at £2.50 per person (spring 2011).
Great Langdale is a favourite and the campsite at the valley head the largest sized campsite of our recommendations. But it's not the campsite that is the winner here it's the location right in front of the Langdale Pikes, Bowfell and Crinkle Crags and masses of classic rock climbing and scrambling on Pavey Ark and Gimmer Crag amongst others and to top it all most days out finish by walking straight past one of three superb pubs back to the campsite. The Old Dungeon Ghyll is the traditional and most favoured haunt but is really for the drinkers amongst us whilst anyone after food would do well to try the Stickle Barn or New Dungeon Ghyll. We actually recommend a daily post mountain pubcrawl if the wallet and stamina can take it. There are also plenty of low level walks and buggy friendly walking around Elterwater.
Keswick is the gateway to the Northern Lakes, but we recommend passing through the bustling market town into the major Borrowdale valley with Derwent Water as its lake, or over the Whinlatter, Newlands or Honister Pass to the tranquil Buttermere and Crummock Water. For the Buttermere and Crummock Water option we recommend the Dalegarth Campsite (£6 per person, spring 2011) on the northeast shore of Buttermere if you are prepared to drive or walk along the side of the mere for your days out. If you want to be near a pub and have access straight onto the Red Pike - High Crag ridge, Crag Hill - Grassmoor range and the Hindscarth - Robinson group then within Buttermere Village is Syke Farm Camping Site (£7 per person, spring 2011).
Borrowdale has upper and lower portions separated by the Jaws of Borrowdale. To the north is Derwent Water and Grange in Borrowdale, to the south Rosthwaite, Stonethwaite and Seatoller. All areas of the valley are covered in excellent walking and climbing grounds, but unless regular trips to town are important we recommend heading south as thats where the access to the higher fells and pubs is to be found. Campsites abound and theres not much to choose between them so go and have a look its a great place.
The valleys containing Ullswater, Thirlmere, Haweswater and Kentmere harbour a number of high quality climbing venues like Castle Rock of Triermain, Eagle Crag and Dove Crag, but it is the wealth of classic and less well trodden fell walking that stands out. Take your pick from Helvellyn, Fairfield, High Street, Ill Bell, Harter Fell and many more. The main bases are St. Johns in the Vale, Patterdale and Glenridding none of them very substantial but all worthy of a visit. Alternatively you could stay around the major centres of Grasmere and Ambleside.
: There are loads of options available but the key thing to remember is that you want your tent to still be upright in the morning. Heavy rain and wind are a staple of Lakeland life at all times of the year and many campsites regularly witness tents flattened. We tend to recommend lighter tents so you can get away from it all and disapear into the hills for a real sense of freedom and free camping. Our recommendations that won't break the bank are the Vango Tempest 200 for only £99.99, this 2 person tent is sturdy yet lightweight and can be used for backpacking trips when the camping bug really hits home. Vangos Halo 200 and 300 offer even more ruggedness and more space but loose out on weight, but if you don't want to walk to far away from the road they are very good choices as well.
: Easter night time temperatures usually sit around the 5 to 8 degrees C in the valleys and about 2 degrees cooler at 300m. But be aware that sleeping bag ratings are notoriously unreliable. How warm you will feel also depends on you as a person (are you a cold or warm person) and also on how well you have fed and rested and how dry the clothes you may be sleeping in are. For most people we recommend the Sprayway Challenger 350 for only £34.40 as a bag giving a realistic comfortable nights sleep down to 3 degrees. When you lie on your sleeping bag you crush the fill beneath you so it doesn't trap any air to keep you warm so you need a mat to protect you from the cold ground and make things a bit more comfortable. The simplest and cheapest option is the Beacons Leisure Discovery closed cell foam mat at £11.98 but for extra warmth and comfort without breaking the bank the Trek Mates Contour Mummy self inflating mat at £38.75 is a great option.
: If you don't want to just eat sandwiches or spend all your cash in a pub you'll need a stove. Something simple and fairly sturdy will do the job and we like the Camping Gaz Twister Plus PZ for £16.54 which runs on Camping Gaz CV270 Butane/Propane Resealable Cartridges. Pans wise if you own pans that you don't mind using outdoors and that are suited to gas thats fine but a camping pan will be lighter and something like the Hi-Gear Leisure Non-stick Saucepan will cost only £8.21. If you want to do more than make a brew, rehydrate some food or heat a tin of beans then Vango cooksets offer very good value, e.g. Vango 2 person cookset for £19.32. Plastic plates and mugs save upsets with your best crockery and we have cutlery sets too.
: You will need a torch for pitching your tent when you arrive late, nipping to the loo in the night, walking to and from the pub on unlit roads and as a safety feature for hill use. All of these tasks are easier when your hands are free, so we recommend a headtorch like the Petzl Tikkina (£17.88) every time over a hand held alternative, although a special offer maglite for £9 might be a good idea for the kids or as a back up.
So as a bulk purchase you could be looking at as little as £172 for 1 person to go away camping as many times as you like and only £236.17 for a couple.
We hope you find this helpful.
Have fun and happy camping.