Nothing encapsulates the rivalry between Lancashire and Yorkshire better than the World Black Pudding Throwing Championships, held in the Lancs town of Ramsbottom at the end of every summer. Throwing their black puddings, contestants in the street try to knock Yorkshire puddings from their pride of place on a 20ft perch. Legend has it that the tradition stems from a day during the War of the Roses, when the armies of Lancaster and York ran out of ammunition and threw food at each other instead. Today it’s just one of a number of vibrant festivals that bring this quirky yet understated town to life.
A 15-minute walk from the centre of town – with Ramsbottom’s church spires and old mill chimneys visible against the green hills – The Paddock is an aptly named campsite just outside of town. Accessible (it’s only a mile to the start of the M66) yet simple, this is a classic campsite of old; a flat, grassy meadow set just beyond a series of farm buildings with acres of space, old dry stone walls and a cluster of mature ash and oak trees just beyond the far fence. At night, jam jars with tea lights inside magically illuminate pathways between the ten tent pitches, while bunting adds a colourful splash to the field entrance.
It’s not just tent camping here, though. A couple of bell tents host yet more bunting, while there are also three glamorous yurts (think proper beds, a wood-burner and a private kitchen) and a special glamping pod with roll-up sides so you can enjoy the stars on a clear night. The farm also runs a B&B in their ancient cottage (it dates back beyond the doomsday book) and, of course, remains a working rural enterprise with sheep, cattle and a handful of nosey free-range chicken that will come clucking to your tent door if you leave crumbs around.
During spring the farm is perhaps at its busiest. On a notice board by the shower block you’ll sometimes find a timetable displaying feeding times for any lambs that need bottled help and the surrounding landscape is always at its most green and verdant. There are endless walks to be had. It’s a pleasant hike up Holcombe Hill to 40-metre tall Peel Tower, on the skyline above Ramsbottom, built in honour of the two-time Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel and with good views of the town below and campsite in the distance. There are plenty of traditional markets to visit and cafés to dive into as well. And that’s just in Ramsbottom alone. Hop on the famous East Lancashire Railway or get back into your car and you’ll find the world is your oyster. Or Lancashire is at least. Don’t cross the border into Yorkshire. It’s nowhere near as good there... Apparently.
For an easy local wander, try the Irwell Sculpture trail, which you can join at the bottom of the lane – a nice walk with huge sculptures along the way. Ramsbottom is the main attraction, though, just a 15-minute walk by footpath and home to glut of excellent pubs, cafés and independent shops. Leaflets and maps are provided in the glamping accommodation. Ramsbottom is also home to the famous East Lancashire Railway (0161 764 7790), where train driving experiences are available as well as simply hopping in a carriage. The town hosts many festivals each year; there's the Chocolate Festival in April, a 1940’s war weekend in May, a mountain biking festival in July, the Head for The Hills music festival and the town Rum Festival in September and, of course, the renowned World Black Pudding Throwing championships also in September. There is also a farmers market once a month and a small town market every Saturday. If you do take the East Lancs Railway, hop off at Rossendale (3 miles) for shops, microbreweries, a museum and also the Rossendale Ski Slope (01706 226457) – children can enjoy an hours tubing there for £7, so really worth a visit. Elsewhere, it's 3½ miles to the town of Bury (and the renowned Bury Market), while Manchester is also within easy day-tripping reach.
The Paddock offers "breakfast and BBQ” packs that will be ready in your cool box on arrival – sourced locally nearby. If you're heading elsewhere, the Duckworth Arms (01706 823336) is located at the top of the lane and within easy strolling distance. It's dog friendly, has phone charging available and serves general pub food with a beer garden (great Sunday roast too). For something finer head into Ramsbottom (15 minute walk via the footpaths) where Levanter Tapas (01706 551530) should be high on your list!