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Rydal Campsite: Perfect for 'Nearly' Wild Camping in The Lake District

Updated: 37 minutes ago

The Lake District is the perfect spot for wild camping with its breathtaking scenery, but it can be a daunting prospect for the first time alone. I've been asked many times if I get scared when I go solo wild camping, and the answer is no, but I've been camping for years now and even camped in the middle of the Serengeti. So I have always suggested to people who want to go out alone to try it on a campsite first to see if they like it, especially if they have never camped before. And now I have finally found the Campsite to recommend for this purpose - Rydal Campsite.

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A view of the The Lake District from Rydal Campsite

Rydal Campsite is set on the side of a hill with spread-out plots so you can camp alone. The site has beautiful facilities and is set in the heart of The Lake District - what more could you want from your 'nearly' wild camping spot? This review will tell you everything you need to know about Rydal Campsite.

The Campsite Location

The Lake District National Park is one of England's most beautiful parks and is now a world heritage site. The Campsite is just outside Ambleside and not too far from Grasmere. What I love most about Rydal Campsite is its position; it is set within woodlands on the side of a hill with the plots spread out. So, you can camp alone and enjoy being in nature, just like when you are wild camping. The Campsite is within 30 acres of Rydal Hall, a 30-bedroom hotel. Furthermore, one of the most Instagrammed spots on the grounds is The Grot. The Grot is a small building designed by Sir Daniel Fleming to sit inside and admire the waterfall behind, known as Low Falls.

View from The Grot

Along with everything it offers on-site, the Campsite is surrounded by great places to visit, such as Rydal Caves, Loughrigg Terrace, and all the water-type activities in Ambleside. Not to mention the hundreds of hiking routes, including The Fairfield Horseshoe, which is right on the doorstep.

Rydal Cave in The Lake District

The Pitches

On arrival, Laura - the lovely campsite manager, showed me all the plots the Campsite had to offer, giving me a perfect feel for the place. I loved that they were so spread out, with only nine plots that can hold up to thirty-two tents, plus there are three eco pods, too. So, if you were going with family and friends, you would be able to get all your tents on one plot, giving you the ultimate family camping experience. The pitches on the hillside still give you a flat pitch, and there are some in the woodlands near the open field, which is often frequented by the early morning mist; what a stunning place to wake up! I would be taking plot number four, a small plot ideal for a one or two-man tent, and could handle a couple of them.

Pitch 4 on Rydal Campsite

The plot came with a picnic table and stone slab, so you can get your little bush box/fire out without damaging the ground. Even though the plot overlooks the site, you are not overlooking anyone. Whilst you could see the hall in the background, what catches your eye are the fells and the valley below, a perfect place to watch the sun go down. Once it got dark, there were no campsite lights, except on the toilet block, due to The Lakes being in a Dark Skies zone, so make sure you take your head torch. This meant that on a clear night, as I had, you could star gaze until your heart was content.

Base Camp Foods Logo

Rydal Campsite at Night

The Campsite Facilities

The site provides clean, well-maintained, and comfortable facilities. They have modern toilet blocks with both flush toilets and hot running showers. The water on site is fresh mountain water from Rydal Beck that flows from The Fairfield Horseshoe. The hydro turbine and solar panels heat the water and provide electricity on-site. There are four sinks for washing up, too, and bins are provided near the tea rooms, but due to the shortage of landfills in The Lake District, they would appreciate it if you would take your rubbish home. The Leave No Trace principle is as relevant here as in the fells! A tea room on the grounds serves beautiful homemade cakes and the best hot chocolate I've ever tasted, particularly after a 10-mile hike. There is also a quaint little bar open in the evening. Even though there are many on-site facilities, you can still get that 'wild camping' feeling as they don't seem to get in the way.

The view from my tent on Rydal Campsite

Why Camp on a Campsite First?

You will be able to test the kit you have for your wild camp. If your sleeping bag needs to be warmer, you can grab another blanket from the car, which is not something you can do once you are up in the hills. It will allow you to see how sleeping in your tent feels and how your equipment holds up. You know you are safe, and there are facilities if needed. Heading into the fells can be pretty daunting, and this is a great way to start.

Why is this Lake District Campsite Perfect for a 'Nearly' Wild Camp?

So, why am I recommending this as the site for your nearly wild camping experience? Well, it's simple; the site has stunning grounds, well-spaced plots, and good facilities. You can set up on plot 4, which includes a short walk up a little hill to prepare for the bigger falls, and you get views of the fells; if you're lucky, you will even get a sunset, hopefully followed by the moon and stars. Whilst you won't be completely alone on site, the way it is set out means you will get the privacy you crave with the added advantage of using a proper toilet.

Even though I love my solo wild camps, I will return to this site, particularly in the winter when there are fewer daylight hours, and I still want to spend the night in my tent.

Wooded area on Rydal Campsite

Conclusion for Camping in The Lake District

Combining the natural surroundings, decent facilities, and brilliantly placed plots in the Lake District, this is one of the best sites I have come across for the nearly wild experience. I am delighted to have found Rydal Campsite. I will be back on my own, and I will be taking friends and family too.

If you want to book, you can book on the website or call the hall at 01539 432050 if you would like a specific plot. If you have any particular questions about the site, then you can email the Campsite Manager at

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If you have any questions or comments on anything you have read, please get in touch with me here.

If you don't already use the Ordnance Survey App, you can download it here, enabling you to download GPX routes. I use this App to plan all my hikes, and as its OS, it mirrors the paper map you should always use in conjunction.

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