Keswick Mountain Festival

I love camping at festivals, so last month I jumped at an invitation from Land Rover to join a team of other journalists – Team #Outspiration – on a dedicated greenfield campsite at the Keswick Mountain Festival.

The new Defender Roof Tent

Land Rover announced a new partnership with the Festival, which is now in its 14th year, in 2020. It’s normally held in May or June, but was pushed back this year because of Covid so felt like the ideal way to bring the curtain down on the festival season.

The festival village is sited on the National Trust’s Crow Park, on the beautiful shore of Derwentwater at the edge of Keswick in the heart of the Lake District – it really is the most jaw-dropping location for any festival I’ve ever been to.

We were invited to help support Land Rover’s admirable #Outspiration campaign, which aims to encourage the British public to get outdoors to improve mental health and wellbeing. What’s more, the event also represented the UK launch of the Defender Roof Tent, made by Autohome.

There's ample room for two

My son Joe, now 12, and I set off on a Friday afternoon in a Land Rover Defender 110 for a weekend of camping on the roof of the vehicle. For spec fans, it was the 3.0 D300 SE 110 5dr Auto 4wd version, a full seven seater. Having driven one of the original-style Defenders, I was impressed by how it cossetted us as we ate up the motorway miles on the journey up.

On site, the fibreglass roof tent went up by flipping its catch open and giving it a push on gas struts. An aluminium ladder clips to the side for climbing aboard. It was plenty big enough for Joe and I – and could easily accommodate two full-grown adults – with a static roofload of 300kg.

Rob and Joe complete the 5k raceIt’s equipped with a one-piece mattress, pillows, an interior LED and cargo nets for storage. The fabric sides to the roof tent have outer and inner skins, the latter doubles as a flyscreen, and both can be unzipped and rolled back if preferred.

It mounts to the Expedition roof rack, which fitted costs £1252, while the roof tent itself costs £3081. Not cheap, but effective.

During our stay, Joe and I explored the festival village, and we had a go at plenty of taster activities – from a climbing wall to slacklining (a kind of tightrope walking), orienteering to Segway riding, you name it, we did it. It really is a fun park for outdoors enthusiasts.

Joes tries slacklining, one of the many activities on offer

When the skies clouded over, we dipped in to enjoy one or two of the fascinating short films and tent talks that were also part of the offering, and came away hugely enthused and motivated to take more outdoor adventures.

We took part in one of the many sporting events that start and finish in the festival village – the 5km run along the edge of Derwentwater with the Land Rover team. It turns out I’m not as fit and young as I once was, but although Joe and I didn’t break any records, we did enjoy the run in such scenic surrounds. And yes, Joe beat me.

As the sun dipped and the shadows from Catbells loomed, the entertainment line-up took to the stage. Star acts over the weekend included Bad Manners with frontman Buster Bloodvessel, 90’s chart toppers from Liverpool Space, and dance act Republica – and we had great fun bopping along.

The entertainment line-up took to the festival stage as the sun went down

Of all the festivals I’ve been to down the years, it’s without doubt the most scenic and health-focused, and I reckon Joe and I will be regulars there in the years to come.
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Rob Ganley Rob is the Club’s Editor-in-Chief. A former group editor of Practical Caravan and Practical Motorhome magazines, he joined The Camping and Caravanning Club in 2014. Rob has been lucky enough to explore the world on fly-drive motorhome holidays, including US Route 66 in an RV, and New Zealand in a campervan. More recently he tours with his wife and children, 12 & 9, and together they’ve camped in France, Italy and Spain in caravans and motorhomes. Read other posts by this author