Hotel-quality bathrooms and minute attention-to-detail are probably not what you would expect from a campsite holiday, but it's what Neil Hunter discovers on a trip that took in County Durham, Morecambe Bay and the Lake District

Loving the outdoors, but being too old for camping, I took a caravan holiday at Easter and turned back the clock almost 40 years. Then, this summer, I was invited to try a motorhome holiday across the North with the children and all I (or we) can say is "wow".

The Swift 694 was like a home from home with two double beds, a fridge-freezer, oven and hob, microwave, and a bathroom with a shower. We wanted for nothing.

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Of course, there are the obvious benefits of having a caravan, in that you can take your car anywhere you'd like to after pitching up and settling in. The drawback of a motorhome is that you have to pack everything up before moving sites or visiting places of interest nearby - and there were plenty of them.

But for us - having experienced both - there seems to be no contest, and the motorhome wins hands down on almost every aspect.

Pitching up is simple, plugging into the electric is all you need to do, and you're good to go for the rest of your trip. Compare that to the hour-long job of levelling a caravan, filling a water tank and sorting out the waste receptor, which, if it's raining, can be a real pain in the bottom.

At the bottom of the A688 is a wonderful small site called the Barnard Castle Camping and Caravanning Club, and it was the perfect nearby stop-off for the first night after picking up the vehicle from Kimberley Caravans at Burtree Gate, on the outskirts of Darlington.

Unpretentious, it does exactly what it says on the tin, the biggest plus point being its glorious location. It promises "peace and tranquility in a rural location" and that's exactly what you get at the tree-lined 90-pitch site in the village of Lartington. It's also perfectly situated as a base to explore the best County Durham and North Yorkshire has to offer. It's a couple of scenic miles stroll to Barnard Castle from the park, and just a short journey to attractions such as High Force, England's highest unbroken waterfall.

On-site, there is a shop, play area, visiting fish and chip van, a facilities block offering showers, toilets, laundry, disabled access, a parent and child room and dishwashing area. There is also fishing at Balderhead and Hury reservoirs to the west of the site, and for days out there are the Bowes Museum, in 'Barney', Bolton Castle, the Wensleydale Creamery Visitor Centre and the Dales Countryside Museum.

Day two, and after an early start we headed to Silverdale - overlooking Morecambe Bay, right on the border between Lancashire and Cumbria, and in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Perhaps "beauty" is the best and only way to describe it, but I'll try a bit harder and elaborate.

The sprawling 100-acre park - operated by Holgates - is said to be the company's flagship site, which welcomes holidaymakers from far and wide. This was certainly the impression during our stay, with all sorts of accents and a number of foreign number-plates on caravans and motorhomes.

There's lots to do at Silverdale, with a pitch-and-putt golf course, ten-pin bowling alley, small amusement arcade, swimming pool, sauna, steam room, spa and gym, soft play area, two adventure playgrounds and a very reasonably-priced restaurant and bar which are open all day.

And all of that's before you even get off the site, where nearby there's plenty to do - a walk along the coast, picnic spots galore, and within an hours' drive, the Yorkshire Dales, the Forest of Bowland and the Lake District.

Onto location number three in the Lakes and another stunning site, Skelwith Fold, at the north end of Windermere. You can find this gem a few miles (ten minutes, or thereabouts, along the winding roads in the motorhome) away from the busy tourist spot of Ambleside. Situated among the lower fells, the expansive site for many years encircled one of Cumbria's finest houses, and access was limited to the privileged few - William Wordsworth, to name but one.

As with Silverdale, we didn't need to venture very far. All we needed was on site, and despite the allure of things nearby, there enough on the doorstep to keep us busy. There was a well-stocked shop and a beautiful play area (should you be able to navigate through the woodland to find it) and testimonies describe it as "the best site I've ever stayed on" and "the location is beautiful". It's difficult to disagree. From heated shower blocks that really wouldn't go amiss in a hotel, to the chatty, friendly and always helpful staff, this place ticks every box. Crikey, it even has a library!

There are lots of walks from the site – we did many, including Skelwith Falls – and there's a bus stop right outside the site entrance.

Ambleside, at the head of England's largest water, is one of the major centres for climbing and walking in the Lake District. We visited twice, not to walk or climb the fells - but to enjoy the hugely popular park and an hour-long cruise before packing our bags for the trip home.

Before we left, however, there was just enough time to look around Bridge House - one of the most photographed buildings in the National Park - and pop into the Armitt Museum, to see an exhibition of the work of Lake District resident Beatrix Potter. And in the words of the great writer, illustrator, natural scientist and conservationist: "Thank God I have a seeing eye."

Kimberley Caravans & Motorhomes were the winners of the first annual Swift Awards – Motorhome Dealer of the Year. The company started in 1986, is family-owned and run, and is one of the country's leading caravan and motorhome dealerships. It deals in brands such as Coachman, Compass, Swift, Xplore, Bailey, Bessacarr and Hymer and has three exclusive ranges of caravans.

There are two branches - the Nottingham one is just a few minutes from junction 26 off the M1, and the Darlington one located at Burtree Gate at the A68, just off junction 58, of the A1. The sprawling site at Burtree Gate has an indoor showroom, cafe, accessories and awning shop, is a Calor Gas dealer, and has industry-approved secure storage facilities.

  • Burtree Gate, Darlington, DL2 2XZ. T: 01325-383333; W:; F:


Swift Group, based in Hull, is the UK’s leading motorhome and touring caravan manufacturer –

Silverdale Holiday Park was Cumbria Park of the Year in 2015 (Cumbria Tourism Awards). Touring caravan, motorhome and camping pitches. It is £36 per night (for two people). Visit

Skelwith Fold has touring pitches with electricity from £22.90 a night. Hideaway glamping pods sleep two people. Midweek three-night stays from £255. Visit

Barnard Castle Camping and Caravanning Club site has touring pitches with electricity from £19.85 in low season based on two adults sharing. visit

For hiring motorhomes, has a good list of companies throughout the UK and hints and tips to get you started.