Do Not Disturb: Coniston Park Coppice Caravan and Motorhome Club Site

Coniston Park Coppice, Caravan Club Site, Cumbria

Coniston Park Coppice, Caravan Club Site, Cumbria

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Join the pod squad

Maybe using our satnav to take a tiny dirt road, and in the process ignoring a big sign that said not to follow satnav to take said road, was an early indication we weren’t exactly at one with travelling to the great outdoors for our trip to Coniston Park Coppice Caravan and Motorhome Club Site.

Maybe using our satnav to take a tiny dirt road, and in the process ignoring a big sign that said not to follow satnav to take said road, was an early indication we weren’t exactly at one with travelling to the great outdoors for our trip to Coniston Park Coppice Caravan and Motorhome Club Site.

We ended up traversing a horribly stomach-tossing track known locally in the Lake District as “The Struggle”. By crikey, that was apposite when, two hours behind schedule, we started to struggle with a barbecue shortly after arriving at our destination, set in 63 acres of National Trust woodland. It was a disposable one that had been in our cupboard for years and it gave off all the heat of an ice-bucket.

Another indication we weren’t exactly naturals being out among nature. It was, though, forgetting the bedding we had been explicitly informed we would require for our sleeping arrangements – which meant I had to sleep covered in jackets and a Buzz Lightyear blanket you could spit peas through – that clinched the fact my family and I are real townies.

All that said, my weans of seven and ten, who have never spent a night under canvas, had a whale of a time in their little pod. Which isn’t under canvas, admittedly. Effectively a pod is a dinky wooden tent.

Budget or boutique?

Budget, at £45 per night for four, and it was a cosy step up from canvas.

Room service

Conditions meant spending a bit of time in the pods. Whenever night-time descended, I thanked the Lord for the electric radiator every pod has fitted. I could have kissed that thing whenever Buzz failed to offer me protection from the chill.

The pods have lighting, electric sockets, seating and sleeping for two adults and two small children, with a futon that converts into a double bed and two camp beds. You also have access to the toilet block and washing up facilities.

Worth getting out of bed for

Coniston Water is made for exploring. We did so in a glorious fashion, in a lovingly restored Steam Yacht Gondola. The National Trust-supported vessel lived up to all its claims of “recreating the charm and elegance of a bygone era” and providing “a most serene and nostalgic sailing experience”. You could imagine trussed-up Victorians puttering across the water as you sat on the red leather seats amid all manner of polished wooden and brass fittings. It was a thrill for my wee ones to be shown the engine room, with the jolly engineer stoking the open fire for extra delight.

Coniston Water has history on every stretch and beyond. It felt eerie to sail past the spot where Donald Campbell lost his life when attempting the water speed record in his Bluebird 50 years ago. Stopping off at the house of artist John Ruskin, which is surrounded by soothing gardens, and catching sight of some of the locations in Swallows And Amazons felt altogether less morbid.

Great views and leg-stretching routes are givens in an area that provides glorious mountain backdrops. Equally, there is no questioning the quaint nature of towns in the Lake District. Some, though, felt as if they were just trying too damn hard to be picture postcard perfect. In surrounding hamlets, meanwhile, on the Saturday evening we found more 
Gore-Tex than you can shake a walking pole at vying for the tables at the front of 
every pub.

The children were keen on sampling Tree Tops at the Lake District visitors centre. Essentially, this was a giant lattice network of trampolines suspended 30ft up among the trees. It was fun jumping around, and sliding down twine tunnels. For a bit. We didn’t last the two-hour time slot we acquired for £54 – £16 for children over five and £11 for adults accompanying them. It wasn’t just the tree tops that were on the steep side, then. Or, to offer up a one-liner from my wife, there was more than an element of money for old rope.

Wining and dining

There are various pubs and cafés in walking distance of the site in Coniston. We liked the Bluebird Café, which has a good selection of light snacks and cakes. For dinner there’s Sara’s Indian, which offers reasonably priced cuisine and BYOB.

Little extras

A supreme element was how spotless at all times proved the communal wash areas – even in the midst of a mud-creating rainy weekend – and hairdryers are a bonus.

Guestbook comments

It was the sort of place you could see become a regular spot to return to time and again across a lifetime.

Andrew Smith

A Camping Pod at Coniston Park Coppice Club Site, costs £45 per night. (19 March to 31 December). To book please contact The Caravan and Motorhome Club on 01342 326 944 or visit www.camc.com

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