A RURAL South Lakes church is set to open its doors to campers from all over the world.
St Mary’s Parish Church in Longsleddale has become the first in the county to sign up to a new hospitality venture known as ‘champing’.
It allows people to book and stay overnight in a church. 

Under the scheme, visitors can book a church of their choice online, for the desired number of nights, with children and pets welcome. St Mary’s will be available for bookings from April until September. 

Jayne Potts, development officer for the Churches Trust for Cumbria (CTfC), said: “I had heard of champing and thought it could be an opportunity to bring a new perspective to Cumbria’s churches, encourage greater use and raise funds.” 


A meeting with the Churches Conservation Trust confirmed the county would be a great location for champing – and a meeting with Canon Nigel Davies, team rector for the Beacon Team Ministry which cares for Longsleddale church, raised the possibility of using St Mary’s as a pilot for Cumbria.

Mr Davies, who welcomes the opportunity to attract more visitors to the valley as well as income for the village’s community hall, said champing was not just for Christians or people with a spiritual outlook.

“This is an exciting opportunity for people to stay in a beautiful part of the Lake District in a very tranquil place.”

Even though St Mary’s has just been added to the website, it has already received bookings.

The CTfC was formed in 2008 as a charitable trust to help secure a sustainable future for Cumbria’s churches. 

It supports and helps keep local churches alive by providing advice on their care, conservation and development.

“I think we all see champing as an exciting opportunity to raise awareness of our heritage, encourage visitors, and support the use and sustainability of these important buildings,” said Ms Potts.   
For more information, see www.champing.co.uk