It’s no secret from the title of this article that the weather in the Lake District this half term was less than desirable. We spent 5 nights wild camping in what has to be one of the most beautiful spots in England, a stone’s throw from famous Scafell Pike, we were nestled in amongst the trees alongside Buttermere. Buttermere is one of many lakes in Cumbria and is currently owned by the National Trust, which prohibits camping at all times – except, for one week of the year.
Every half term the National Trust allows the ‘Buttermere Free Flyers Festival’ to take place, allowing paragliders and speed-flyers to make the most of the incredible landscape and to stay alongside the lake. Apart from the presence of a few portaloos, this is a wild-camping experience and there are no real facilities. Although, there is a food van and coffee truck towards the latter of the week, but otherwise the local village of Buttermere has a pub serving hot food and a small convenience store, however limited in stock. The nearest town of Keswick is your best bet for any real supplies, with 1 large (but expensive) supermarket, a smaller Co-op store, and some high street shops with great outdoor gear for all your hiking and sporting needs. There’s also several book stores, a cinema and local swimming pool for when the bad weather is relentless.
The best thing about all of this (for some) is that you are totally off the grid. No internet. No signal. Nothing. Now, following a tough week where my car was stolen I needed to get away and welcomed the lack of communications. I switched off my phone and embraced the lack of Instagram by starting a new book – remember those? Made of paper, a couple hundred pages, sometimes have that musty smell?! It was heaven reading a book for the first time in a few years, and actually using my imagination for a change.
Despite the weather there was still so much to do and it didn’t take away from the stunning scenery. We were able to cycle around the entire lake, walk on one of the many paths out of the valley, kayak, paddle or canoe on the lake and of course the numerous air sports taking place when the weather permitted. The festival organisers were great at making sure the area was preserved, being an area of ‘special scientific interest’. There was a strict onsite ‘Bio-Security’ plan and all articles used on the lake needed to be cleaned and then inspected by on-site staff. Only items which had passed those procedures were then allowed on the lake and were identified with a ‘lake permit’ sticker.
For the mere sum of £40 you have your Festival pass, camping fees, access to the music tents and bar for the duration. If you choose to camp a few days early then it’s an extra £5 per night. This is a charity event where the majority of profits are going towards local charities that vary year on year. The important point is that you don’t need to be an avid free flyer to go to this event, if you enjoy the big outdoors in one of England’s most bewitching landscapes, good local bands and a few drinks – then this is the event for you! Watch out for The Buttermere Bash 2020 for dates and tickets coming soon.
Also check out our short video here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cK6aPZZd5c