Eskdale Dubfest 2018

Eskdale Dubfest 2018


This was our 5th Eskdale Dubfest (we missed the 2015 event because we both had flu and, guess what? Yep, the weather was glorious). We drove up on Thursday (a day before the official start) but, as Alison had a meeting in the morning, we didn’t arrive until 5pm. We’d have been a bit earlier but we remembered, as we were driving up the M6, that we’d forgotten Boris’ lead. A quick check on Google found us an Equestrian and Pet shop in Ulverston, so at least we’ve now got a spare to keep in Absinthe.

We were soon set up and before Dinner at the Brook House Inn I flew my drone to get some footage of the site before everyone arrived. I’m still getting used to flying it, as you’ll see from the very ropey video below. Dinner was great (with the world’s chattiest barmaid on duty) as were the beers – a great start to the weekend.

Dubfest is held at the Eskdale Campsite in Boot, in the beautiful Eskdale valley in Cumbria and is organised by the site’s owner, Martyn Merkel and his hard working team. It’s a small festival but is the perfect way to get the season underway. As usual it was sold out with 100 vans booked in and, for once, the ground was relatively hard underfoot. Thursday was a bright, sunny day at home and stayed that way until we got to within 3 miles of the site. As we crossed Birker Fell the cloud descended, leaving a cool grey day, which didn’t foretell the sunshine to come.

On Friday, our friends Darren & Claire and Ian & Margaret arrived in their Brazilian vans to complete our line up. Just as importantly, the sun arrived too…

Alison and I packed a small picnic and headed towards the stepping stones over the River Esk and then onwards towards Stanley Ghyll. The area is brilliant if you like walking, with something to suit everyone. We usually do a long walk on the Friday but Boz isn’t up to lots of miles any more, so a gentle ramble was just what the Doctor ordered.

Once back at the site, which had now filled up, we chilled before heading to the Woolpack Inn for Dinner with our friends. They lay on a minibus to the pub from the site, which is great, but not quite as much fun as the Army Truck which they used to use.

Image result for woolpack boot

We managed to get a lift back, too, so were soon back at the vans, where, after a quick walk with Boris, we settled down for the night. The site was incredibly quiet, not at all like last year, when one van seemed to be playing loud music all night.

Saturday was bright sunshine again and the temperature had increased by several degrees. The plan for me and Alison was to take the train to Ravenglass with Boz. The Ravenglass and Eskdale Steam Railway runs on a narrow gauge line from Dalegarth to the Roman seaside village of Ravenglass and is very popular in the summer. It’s known locally as La’al Ratty and the Welcome pack at Dubfest includes a voucher for a discount on the fares. We only just made it to the train in time and squeezed into an open top carriage with a teenage boy. He wasn’t happy and left to join his friends in the one behind us.

They were typical teenage boys; surly and bored, with a bit of bad language to boot. As I say, typical teenage boys. There’s not a lot to do when you get to Ravenglass, so I don’t think they’d be thrilled when they got there. The younger ones photobombed my selfie, but I got my own back later, as you’ll see further below.

We walked to the beach in the village then on to look at the Roman Baths, before grabbing a sandwich at the station and heading back to Dalegarth.

For the past few years a very talented young artist and crafter has attended the show, taking orders for bespoke pictures. We bought one a few years ago and ordered another one this time too. You’ll find her here: Els Doodles

After Boz had finished his tea we took him across the site and over the field to Boot Mill where we spotted the surly ones enjoying themselves in the river – finally, they looked happy.

It was good to see a few Glawnings at the show – don’t forget you can get a 7% discount by using our code Absinthe7 on the Glawning website – take a look here for more info: Glawning Discount

I don’t normally covert other people’s vans but I really liked the look of this red crewcab.

On Saturday night it was back to the Brook House for food and drink. Unfortunately, the weather broke whilst we were all in there, with a torrential hailstorm accompanied by thunder and lightning. It had eased by the time we walked back, but it certainly curtailed our drinks at the van afterwards.

Sunday started wet too, but it did nothing to dampen our spirits, although instead of our planned trip to the Langdales for lunch, we ended up at Yew Tree Barn in Newton. On the way we took a wrong turn and headed over a single track road with sheer drops on both sides. Things weren’t helped by thick mist – it was so thick you couldn’t tell whether the road was going to go uphill or down and we were glad when we dropped back down on to the main A595.

As I mentioned above, I flew the drone for a while whilst we were there. It’s not a great video but it’s here, nonetheless.

There’s a full set of photos here: FLICKR

Things we’ve Learned:

Boris looks like he might be ok to take with us this season after all. He did lots of barking but slept through all 3 nights – phew!

The Cumbrian Eskdale Valley is one of the most beautiful parts of England

Headlights on a T2c aren’t much use in thick mist

I need more drone flying practice


  1. Simon

    Really enjoyed reading your blog, I’ve stayed at Eskdale a few times now but never made it to dubfest, I must correct this soon as it’s lovely campsite and bth the nearby pubs are really nice.


  2. Martin Bellamy

    It’s a great start to the season, Simon. Enjoy your travels..


  3. Joe

    A great blog, and it was a great weekend. We look forward to next year!


  4. Martin Bellamy

    Thanks for the kind words, Joe. Next year, pop over and say hello.


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