Nestled in the beautiful countryside of Ambleside in the Lake District, it’s clear why Skelwith Fold has been voted one of the best caravan parks in Britain
If caravanning is camping-lite, then staying in a two-bedroom, top-of-the-range static model, complete with luxury bathroom and wooden decking, must be in a different league altogether.
The accommodation at Skelwith Fold Caravan Park, in Ambleside in the Lake District, with its 130 acres of lush woodland, is as comfortable as that you’d find in a hotel. But instead of emerging bleary-eyed from your room into an empty corridor, you step straight out into some of the most beautiful countryside in the UK. Swap air conditioning for fresh air and room service for the ultimate in al fresco dining – in the company of birds, red squirrels, deer and rabbits.
Skelwith Fold has won several awards, including VisitBritain’s top award in the holiday parks category. As soon as you pull into the park, it is easy to see why it is considered so special. The track runs through thick carpets of grass scattered with bluebells and azaleas, and sunlight dapples the ground through the towering evergreens It is breathtakingly beautiful and stunningly peaceful. Each caravan – the park has 300 static homes and 150 touring pitches – has plenty of space and its own slice of countryside to enjoy. There is no sense of being cramped or overlooked.
If you thought staying in a caravan meant being elbow-to-elbow with your neighbours, slumped in a deckchair drinking lager until the rain drives you inside for Scrabble, think again. Although that is always an option if you fancy it. With a five-acre recreation area, a kids’ adventure playground and nature trails that could take you close up to badgers, bats and owls, it is possible to spend a few days simply filling your lungs with the fragrant country air. You can hire bikes onsite or explore on foot.
Exploring the Lakes
But while Skelwith Fold proves there is more to the Lake District than, well, the lakes, a trip to some of that famous water is always worth it. And probably the best way to enjoy water is on the water. We hired a canoe from the shores of Ullswater – the longest lake at seven miles, and perhaps the prettiest. The oars chopped through the water with a soothing splash and, as we drew further into the lake, we felt like the only people for miles around.
Back on land, we headed to the charming village of Grasmere – famous for being the home of William Wordsworth and for producing the best gingerbread around. In fact, there were more people queuing outside the Grasmere Gingerbread store than standing around Wordsworth’s grave.
Suitably relaxed, we headed back towards Ambleside up the twisty-turny and slightly hairy Kirkstone Pass, stopping at the pub of the same name – the highest drinking hole in the Lake District and the third highest in the UK. From here you can enjoy your pint with one of the best views in the Lake District as your backdrop. It’s no wonder that, when snow is forecast, people hole up here, hoping for a three-day lock in. The road, lined by stone walls, winds down through hilly fields, rocks and streams and then continues around the glassy surface of Windermere. No wonder the place is crawling with amateur photographers.
Afterwards we shunned the usual route back to the caravan park in favour of a so-called road signposted ‘The Struggle’. That strange masochistic urge dissipated into sheer terror as soon as I realised my tiny Micra could barely fit on the dirt path. How would a Chelsea tractor or – worse – a real tractor fare? Every bend seems to bring you that little bit closer to death – or, in our case, to a pack of Hell’s Angels who clearly did not share my fears. It was a relief – and a small miracle – when we arrived back at Skelwith Fold. There was only one option when it came to the last night of our holiday: stock up on booze and get out the playing cards. Some caravanning traditions should not be broken.
To stay at Skelwith Fold Caravan Park you can take your own caravan or motor home from £14.50 per night. Static caravans are available to buy from £25,000.