Diversifying is nothing new to the Lamb family at Burns Farm nestling in the idyllic valley St John’s In The Vale in the Lake District. 

Their venture into adding new income streams began back in 1936.  Arthur and wife Annie Lamb, who having bought the farm, began by taking walkers who wanted to camp in their hay-barn for a night as they passed through the Lakes. 

This then gave the couple the idea to start a campsite – now one of the oldest working farm campsites in the Lake District. 

They began by using one of the farm fields and built a small amenity block with a single toilet and cold water to shower – a far cry from what the family offer today. 

After Arthur passed away the farm was handed down to his son, John, who with his wife Linda, continued to run and grow the farm and camping businesses for the next 40 years. 

Then foot-and-mouth struck in 2001 and although Burns Farm didn’t get the disease they were in close contact with farms that did and they watched as their stock were taken away to be destroyed. 

“It was heartwrenching but we restocked, and it made farmers acutely aware of how fragile this way of life is,” says Linda Lamb. 

In 2002, and with the help of a government grant, John and Linda built a new shower block and in 2016 invested in a sustainable Biomass Boiler for hot water and heating for the farm accommodation and campsite amenities. 

After John and Linda retired in 2018, the fourth generation of Lambs, David and wife, Linda, and their four children have taken on the running of the family businesses. 

Travelling to Burns Farm it is easy to see why it has all the right ingredients for a successful tourism venture – magnificent mountain views and Lakeland walks, a working farm on the doorstep and abundant wildlife. 

But with the Lakes even more popular than ever and for a traditional farm campsite to survive and keep up with demand, David and Linda set out on a five-year plan to invest heavily to improve all the fields by adding new drainage, planting native hedging and trees, building a new sustainable eco-friendly amenity block and providing more on-site services like a shop, on-site reception and a laundry room. 

They also embarked on erecting eco-friendly canvas bell tent accommodation with solar lighting, and in the winter of 2018 made improvements to the caravan pitches by making them all hardstanding and fully serviced, including WiFi. 

“The next winter/spring we converted one of the agricultural buildings into an eco-friendly modern underfloor heated shower block with two two Radar locked disabled wet-rooms and five private shower and bathrooms for the luxury canvas Bell Tents,” says Linda. 

During all this work the family have continued with their sheep farming business with flocks of Herdwicks, Swaledales and Bluefaced Leicesters, selling to local marts. 

“We are still farmers at heart, but if we relied purely on farming this land, to put it simply, we probably would not have survived,” says Linda. 

But their expansion plans didn’t end there. In 2021 the family received planning permission to add 20 holiday glamping cabins to the business – offering a complete bespoke staycation experience. 

Every cabin looks out onto breathtakingly beautiful Lakeland scenery; some with copper baths and rain-making showers, making it the ultimate, tranquil glamping retreat. 

Their desire to see everything finished to a high-quality and using local products and manpower led them to engage Andrew Tiffin, a joiner and farmer’s son from Calthwaite, near Penrith. 

“Andrew has been our joiner and project manager since we started the work in 2019.We could not have produced the quality of work without him, and an amazing team of local tradesmen. Their hard work, dedication and loyalty have helped us to achieve something very special,” says Linda. 

“We have nine cabins completed and one nearly, and we hope to have four larger cabins to add to our portfolio by Easter. We had another local guy make the frames and Andrew built the rest from scratch using local products,” she says. 

Old sheep pens and cattle buildings have been converted into the reception area and another lovely touch is serving wood-fired pizzas from their converted 1967 Citroen HY van. 

The businesses are a family affair with Siobhan, 28, a teacher, who does the social media; Nadia, 27, a teacher, who helps out at weekends and holidays with admin; Clodagh, 25,who is in Australia and Ryan, 19, who works full-time mostly on the caravan site. Nadia’s boyfriend, Tom Nelson, also helps out. 

“The camping side of our business has a short lifespan, so adding the cabins means we can be open all year round, and we can pay our family a wage,” says Linda. 

“It also means that we have achieved the final piece of the jigsaw. We are also opening a shop which will be available also for the local community, who are extremely supportive of our venture, and will stock with local products,” she added. 

“It is a big investment into our business, but we feel it will pay off. The cabins are outstanding and we are extremely proud of them.” 

Last year the family won the Cumbria Farmer Awards Farming Family Business of the Year.  “That was a proud moment for us. We honestly didn’t believe we would win as there were some extremely good finalists,” says Linda. 

Burns Farm is also the ‘perfect’ caravan and camping site in the Lake District having been crowned the winners of the Channel Four TV show – The Perfect Pitch in 2021.They also picked up the Loo of the Year Awards 2021. 

Looking around Burns Farm it’s easy to see just how much hard work and love has gone into making it a place where anyone would want to take off their boots and relax.