You might think that someone regularly called a camping enthusiast (by kind people) and ‘bonkers-about-tents’ (by others) would be snobbish about what constitutes ‘proper’ camping. Pfffft. My first ever trip was so-called ‘proper’ camping – on a very cold mountain in Ireland one summer – and while I was immediately bitten by the camping bug as well as the midges, I’ve developed no evangelical fervour for the term’s supposed meaning.
‘Proper’ camping, say the zealots, is tent-only, away from everywhere, burying your own poo and cooking over a campfire. Perhaps not in that order. Woe betide those who become weak with hunger in the rain and hike five miles to the nearest chippy. Nonsense to that, I say. Proper camping is sleeping anywhere outdoors where you can see the stars. I love my tent, but give me glamping (glamorous camping) in a heated Mongolian yurt, a cosy camping pod, a tall tipi, give me all of that. Anywhere I can be snuggly will do. I’m not fussy.
I’ve now been glamping all over Britain and am as converted as a glamping-ready Romany caravan. Which is where I’ll be staying next, purely for research purposes of course.
Of the many glamping sites at which I’ve lain my hat, these are five of the best:
Magical Camping, Norfolk: Anywhere with ‘magical’ in its name was going to get my glamping vote, and the fact that the friendly staff provided fire bowls was another magical touch. Three friends and I rolled up here in April for a three night stay in the luxury tipi – picked because we’d taken the train and didn’t want to bring loads of stuff with us. The tipi was fully equipped with furniture, bedding, and a cooker, and, as we’re stubborn, we made dinner on the barbecue outside each night despite the plummeting evening temperatures. We had a fire bowl to keep us warm, so we couldn’t complain.
Wootton Park, Warwickshire: One of the best things about glamping is being able to camp in the depths of winter with walls more substantial than canvas to keep you warm. This was a last-minute break booked at the end of January, as soon as the pay-cheque hit my account. Picked mainly for its Shakespearely location as well as its fully equipped camping pods, the continental breakfast served in the 500 year old farmhouse definitely had something to do with it too. Despite worrisome noises from my lesser half that we might be mad sleeping in a camping pod in winter, there were no problems – it was cosy, warm and even better once I got most of the duvet.
Loch Tay Highland Lodges, Perthshire: Ten days in Scotland! We had ten whole days for Perthshire and the Highlands (the Hebrides are booked in for next summer), and we stayed in a wigwam at Loch Tay for four nights, in a wooded area with views overlooking the loch. I picked Loch Tay after seeing the state of shock my Scottish friend fell into when I confessed I’d never been fishing. We hired a fishing boat to take out on the loch to land a couple of trout and fried them up in the campers’ kitchen later, then went out the next day to do the same. I’m hooked.
Caalm Camp, Dorset: This was glamorous even for glamping. There are six traditional Mongolian yurts on this Shaftesbury farm, all with their own private heated bathroom and kitchen space in The Old Hay Barn. We booked a weekend in June and quickly got to know the two other couples staying here. Much merriment was had in the evenings in the Hay Barn’s communal room: there may even have been an anti-rain dance at one point.
Holly Farm Holidays, Somerset: A train. We stayed in a train. Well, a restored railway carriage called Big Red, with a wood-burner, dining table and chairs, and possibly the comfiest sofa I have ever sat on, anywhere. My lesser half made train noises all weekend to try and annoy me, but for once it didn’t work – I just pushed him off the sofa, threw the carriage doors wide open and daydreamed at the views with my book in hand. It was a wet weekend, but this also failed to annoy us, thanks to the two pubs one scenic mile’s walk away…
For the next glamping trip I’m tossing a coin between taking the newly acquired fishing rod to Cefn Mably Lakes in Glamorgan or building a campfire outside a pod on the Yorkshire Dales. Or I’ll just do both.
This is a guest post by Laura Canning, Chief Editor at Pitchup.com