We spent May bank holiday weekend in our motorhome in Windermere, at Braithwaite Fold Camping and Caravanning Club site. The site itself is not particularly exceptional. It’s just off the main road heading into Bowness, it’s fairly small and feels quite crowded, and there are no views of Windermere from the site. There is no playground and it wasn’t the sort of site where the kids will spend hours cycling around (like they did at the much larger Windermere Camping and Caravanning site). However, the shores of Lake Windermere are a stone’s throw from the site and the location is pretty unbeatable for exploring the southern lakes (particularly if you don’t want to drive).
Situated on the south east shores of the lake, Braithwaite Fold is just a 5 minute walk from the pretty, bustling town of Bowness. Among its winding streets, Bowness boasts plenty of cafes, bars and restaurants and some lovely little shops and art galleries. There is a sailing club and watersports centre a couple of minutes from the site, and just before you reach Bowness town centre is Bowness Bay, with regular cruise boats going to the north end of Windermere at Ambleside and to the south end at Fell Foot. We always love Fell Foot for an afternoon of swimming or paddling in the lake, and the great kids’ adventure playground there. If you want to get round to the west side of the lake (for Hawkshead or National Trust’s Wray Castle, for example), you can take the passenger ferry to Far Sawrey instead of driving all the way round (although it quite often makes no difference in terms of time, especially if – as we always seem to – you arrive at the ferry just to see one leave).
There are plenty of walks starting from Bowness itself, without any need to drive (always a bonus for us not to have to drive the motorhome around too much, especially down narrow windy lanes in the Lakes!). We did a great walk up Brant Fell from the site, heading up into the hills surrounding Bowness and onto the Dales Way, a walking route of 80 miles or so, starting in Bowness and ending in Ilkely, Yorkshire (incidentally where my mum lives!). The walk to Brant Fell isn’t particularly hard and was only a couple of hours in total, so perfect for families with children. And of course there are some great views of Lake Windermere and the surrounding fells from the top.
The site is within easy reach of Grizedale Forest, with numerous walks and some good mountain biking routes for all levels. Ed, Charlie and Mimi did Go Ape in the forest, while Rosie and I watched with Baxter from terra firma and then walked one of the marked forest trails. Go Ape looked like great fun, although there was quite a bit of good natured complaining that Ed was holding up the kids and Baxter was quite freaked out by seeing half of his family 30 feet above him or flying over him on a zip wire! The hardcore Go Ape course took over 2 hours and looked fairly challenging (and very high). There is a lower one for younger kids and there are paths around the area for viewing. We had a picnic lunch outside the visitors’ centre and then headed off for another walk, following by what felt like hours playing on the brilliant wooden adventure playground. In fact, our game of hide and seek tig went on so long that we were the last people there!
Although Braithwaite Fold is not the best site we’ve stayed on in terms of the site itself, it’s in an amazing location and we’ll definitely be back.