12/06/2007
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Lakeland family values

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THE BECK, from which Black Beck gets its name, runs right through the park, which is in a glorious setting at Bouth, just a few miles from Windermere and from Grizedale Forest, two of the Lake District’s top attractions. With scenery like that, need I say more?

If you are already a Lake District aficionado, in fact, you won’t need any introduction – except that you may not have happened upon Black Beck Caravan Park itself. It is tucked away, waiting to be discovered. I have always liked the ‘other’ (west) side of Windermere, where there is a sense of history, without the masses having invaded. Ancient forests, too, speak of continuity.

Black Beck is family owned. The Kearsley family between them, and by marriage, have an interest in five parks. Having met father and son at the Hull holiday home show, I gathered that they were keeping family values in place in the running of the parks. I first visited Black Beck several years ago and liked the atmosphere, and on a return visit in August, the relaxed ethos had persisted.

It is helped by the natural setting. The holiday homes have been ‘planted’ in the forest, rather than the trees having been planted round the holiday homes. This means that what you are conscious of immediately is the natural setting, including many oak trees, rather than the holiday homes. Black Beck is a good example of a holiday park that blends well with the landscape and has grown into its superb surroundings.

A big decision
Black Beck is a mix of lodges and caravan-style holiday homes, usually in separate areas, but with the Lakeland hills all around. Both new and second hand models carry warranties. There are also pitches at Black Beck for tourers and motorhomes, if you want to pay a visit that way, before deciding if this is the park for you.

Choosing a park for a holiday home is a big decision. It is on a par with choosing where to live! Thinking about it, you wouldn’t rush into buying a house without knowing a bit about the neighbourhood, and the people around you, maybe. With a house purchase, the solicitor does relevant searches for you, so at least you know a motorway is not about to be built through the middle of your garden!

When it comes to holiday home buying, though, you tend to be on your own. Yet people are, in some cases, buying something at the kind of price you might pay for a small house in some areas. To be sure, though, you are on the right lines here with your choice of park. And at Black Beck you can try before you buy. There are a number of static caravans for hire (minimum stay three nights) at a cost of from £55 per night. I would strongly advise this where it is possible, as a way of being sure a park has the atmosphere you are looking for. How are your children welcomed and accepted, if you have any? Are there too many kids playing, if you are allergic to them?

Low key atmosphere
Black Beck’s facilities are low key. This is both deliberate and helps create the atmosphere you might want on your park. There is a children’s play area, a launderette, a new spa pool and sauna, a gym, and a wildlife pond.

There is, at Black Beck, a shop with convenience items and fresh food. Beyond that there are plenty of local shops within a few miles. I guess people who buy at Black Beck are there to enjoy the Lake District, rather than be part of a self-contained community on site, as some parks encourage.

The surrounding landscape, with craggy outcrops and areas of trees, lends itself to good arrangements of holiday homes, which are generally positioned in small groups rather than rows. Plots are quite spacious, relatively speaking – though some are neighbourly, and a few very spacious and private. Though there are new and upmarket holiday homes on the park, older ones are also in evidence, and are well maintained.

No summer rush
Peace and tranquility prevail on the park, which is how many people like it. When I visited in August there was no sense of the ‘summer rush’, though judging by the presence of cars by the holiday homes, there were plenty of people in residence.

For amusement, dining and activities of every imaginable kind, there is the whole of the Lake District to explore. In my experience, there is more to do in that National Park than any other I have visited, and it attracts visitors at every time of year. Black Beck is open from March to early November, and the Lake District is beautiful at any time during that period (and beyond). National Trust properties abound, and are also open for most of that period.

Nearby attractions include the steam railway from Haverthwaite to Lakeside, which connects with Lake Windermere Steamers, plying up and down all year. At Lakeside there is the Aquarium of the Lakes, which has an underwater tunnel where you can view fish and ducks diving. Or you can join them underwater in a small submarine that leaves from Lakeside!

Lake Windermere itself offers opportunities to sail or row, with the speed restrictions now in force on Windermere leaving the lake clear for those who want to ‘mess around in boats’ at a sedate speed. Grizedale Forest, with its amazing wooden sculpture trails, is on the doorstep. The information centre there houses a restaurant and seasonal theatre. Lake Coniston is not much further away, and gives the opportunity to try a silent electric boat, or the famous National Trust Gondola, a working museum.

No hard sell
Finding somewhere in the Lake District to have a holiday home is not as easy as you might expect. It is an enduringly popular place for walkers, boaters and sightseers. Some parks add a large pitch premium to the retail price of the holiday home. Some take the highest bidder for a pitch! There is none of that at Black Beck, where the scenery is as good as you will find on a holiday park, unless you must overlook a lake.

During my visit to Black Beck, a family came to reserve a holiday home they had seen earlier. They had returned to purchase, and were delighted it was still available. They were handled courteously, no hard sell here!

No hard sell needed, in fact, as they were obviously so glad to be in a position to buy, and just as impressed on their second visit as the first. The seating they had been unsure of on their first visit, in the holiday home they had set their hearts on, was going to be changed. I didn’t hear the end of the conversation, but I imagine there were continued smiling faces, as they found the plot they wanted on the park they preferred with a holiday home they would enjoy. When all three indicators are in line, go for it, I’d say!


BLACK BECK CARAVAN PARK
Bouth, Newby Bridge, Cumbria LA12 8JN
Tel: 01229 861274
Fax: 01229 861041
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.blackbeck.com

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