Good-value break in the Lake District

by Richard Wheatstone

All you need for a romantic short break with your special someone is a car, camping equipment and £50 in cash. The Lake District will take care of the rest


We decided on the Low Wray campsite due to its pledge of a natural environment and lakeside location, and importantly, the relatively low price of £15 per tent per night. The campsite also provides pre-constructed tents and chalets for those looking to travel lightly.

The facilities on the site are basic but adequate for a clean and hassle-free stay, although a lack of lighting after hours could make toilet trips potentially hazardous. The site lies on the northwest tip of Lake Windermere, occupying a stunning view across to Waterhead.

With the site keen to strip the camping experience back to basics there was a refreshing air of escapism around the site, with a small wooden play area enough to keep the kids happy. The camp is also deceptively small, leaving plenty of room for exploration to find a perfect pitch.

The nearest pub can be found a 15-minute walk away down a public footpath with a greater selection of shops and eateries available a five minute drive away in Hawkshead.


On a strict budget the pricey restaurants around the tourist hotspots of Ambleside and Windermere can prove a fatal blow to the purse strings, but if you look a little further out there are many hidden treasures to be found.

The Badger Bar near Rydal is a 17th-century coaching inn with romantic links to Wordsworth and the place still exudes a warm, poetic glow. The traditional home-cooked food, excellent service and friendly locals make you feel at home and delightfully looked after. Despite it being a busy evening, we were never made to feel rushed.

Having spent just £20 each on a delicious two-course meal and four rounds of drinks, at 10.30pm we were informed by the landlord, “the badgers are out”. We quietly made our way over to a grass verge with the other guests to be greeted by four stunning badgers tucking into some vegetables provided by the kitchen, a fascinating way end to a delightful evening.


With our one full day dedicated to sampling all Lake Windermere had to offer, we circled the lake by road, a tour made possible by some very reasonably priced pay and display car parks. A must for any sports fan is The Homes of Football in Ambleside, a strange location maybe (Carlisle United are the nearest Football League team some 40 miles away) but this photography exhibition is captivating none the less.

The gallery is the brainchild of photographer Stuart Clarke and catalogues the remarkable change in the beautiful game over the course of the last twenty years. Stuart, in his own words, can usually be found hovering around his Ambleside base and was more than happy to chat about his work, and the fortunes of his boyhood heroes Watford FC

As well as photographs the display includes the oldest surviving football turnstile and vintage shirts which will send any self-respecting football fan on a trip down memory lane. Admission can be gained via a donation, or the purchase of a souvenir postcard for 25p, given that after an hour I had to be dragged away by my better half, I’d say it’s definitely money well spent.

With the sun out in full force we parked up at the Lake District Visitor Centre near Windermere and enjoyed a relaxing lakeside walk along the centre’s public footpath. The trail was a little short but full of little nooks and crannies to get lost in while gazing over the serenity of the lake, perfect for those low on cash but long on time.

We completed our whistle-stop tour at Bowness, the more reasonably priced of the Lake Windermere resorts, and with some livelier pubs and bars to please the younger visitor, The Royal Oak in particular seemed popular among younger couples and was well-stocked with a variety of ales and lagers at prices which saw our end-of-trip shrapnel go a long way.