Hidden down a wooded lane not far from Ambleside, we found Low Wray Campsite.
The campsite winds its way beside a stream that feeds into lake Windermere, with a series of clearings for camping branching off the main drive that leads eventually down to the lakeside.
We passed tents of every size and shape, from tiny one man tents with boots poking out the end, to enormous family sized constructions with awnings sticking out in every direction. For a moment I was a little sad we had left Tylda at home. But then we turned into our clearing and in my excitement I forgot all about Tylda, because for the first time we would be staying in a Tipi!
The 4 Winds Tipis stand proud on a slight mound, towering over a set of yurts that line the edge of the clearing. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but they were much bigger than I had imagined, and despite the Lake District drizzle they still managed to look inviting.
We stayed in the smallest, Curly Bear, but despite being the smaller sibling of the tipis, there was plenty of space for the three of us. The tipis are already equipped with mattresses, a mini kitchen complete with gas burners, and even a wood burning stove. We brought our own bedding and travel cot, but I was glad we didn’t have to bring lots of camping equipment. We still don’t have a roof box so packing the ‘essentials’ for two adults and a toddler for a week is a bit like playing a game of car tetris- you only win if you have packed everything and can still see out the rear view mirror.
The one thing I wished I had packed was my chairs. Inside the tipi the only place to sit was on the mattresses on the ground, and outside on a wooden picnic table. That’s fine for a while, but I missed my comfy chairs, and lounging by the fire in the evening would have been just that bit nicer.
But on the whole I could tell that someone had put some serious thought into making us comfortable. There were wheelbarrows for lugging the luggage to and from the car, a barrel of logs and kindling for the fire, and a cool box ready to be turned into a makeshift fridge.
The Low Wray campsite is a little more luxurious than I am used to, alongside the usual showerblock there were drying rooms, a freezer for refreshing your ice blocks and even a pizza takeaway!
The on site shop provided the toddler with much entertainment, especially when she found the basket of footballs that were nearly as big as she was, one of which she carried around like a giant beer belly. We were slightly less amused by the £3 price tag on the small packet of tea bags, although that’s the price you pay for convenience.
It’s a short drive from the campsite to Ambleside, but it always seemed to take longer than it should. Living in Cornwall we are used to narrow twisty roads, but most other visitors drove as though they were edging their cars over a tightrope. This led to many impromptu drive-past blackberry picking opportunities while we waited for two cars ahead to inch their way past each other.
There were some roads we did inch over- the ‘struggle’ leading from Ambleside up to Kirkstone Pass and Hardknott Pass were the most vertigo inducing roads I have ever been on. It was well worth the slightly sweaty palms to see the most extraordinary views. We were viewing the mountains the lazy way by car- I pitied the Roman soldiers who were stationed on the fort at Hardknott Pass, it must have been a very bleak existence with a very long, dangerous walk back down to civilisation when the mountain was frozen in winter. At least they got some things right- amongst the very well preserved ruins there was a bath house complete with sauna. That must have helped on those coldest months!
We are back in Cornwall now, where the thought of much ice and snow even in winter seems somewhat far fetched, but I would still like a sauna, please. And I had to give Tylda a little pat, and reassure her that how ever much fun sleeping in the tipi was, I can’t wait to go camping with her again.