Dorset glamping in yurts, shepherd's huts, airstreams and camper vans
PUBLISHED: 12:14 02 September 2013 | UPDATED: 12:14 02 September 2013
Stargazing pods, safari tents, yurts, tipis, shepherd’s huts, bell tents, Airstream trailers and VW Campers - there are plenty of stylish ways to camp in Dorset
Crafty Camping: Glamping in a woodland glade
Set in its own private woodland near Holditch, on the Dorset/ Devon border, Crafty Camping is the unique creation of Guy Mallinson. The wood is home to Guy’s Woodland Workshop, where he holds green woodwork courses, but after repeated requests from clients wishing to camp, Guy has created an upmarket adults-only luxury ‘glamping’ site.
There are two yurts (Poppet and Coracle), a tipi with log burner (Hoppus), three bell tents (Twybil, Bodkin and Fipple) and a traditional shepherd’s hut (Bodger). Each is set in its own secluded spot, all have a king-size bed, linen and towels and a barbecue and outdoor eating and chilling out area. The yurts, tipi and shepherd’s hut each have their own private toilet (flushing) and shower. While the three bells tents share a woven willow shower room, you’ll be showering with piping hot water under the trees, and a grass-topped toilet (flushing) block.
Communal facilities includes a well-equipped ‘Out of Africa’ style field kitchen with gas rings, oven, hot water and wi-fi; a wood fired pizza oven; a ‘sauna-in-a-yurt’ and a central communal yurt, with sofas, a fire and a range of games. The on-site shop has Bridport Gourmet Pies in the freezer, and Dorset Cereal and Clipper tea, coffee and chocolate is provided free. Nearby is a good pub, farm shop and the River Cottage Canteen at Axminster.
The site is reached via a 5 minute down hill walk through the woods. “We have a lot of honeymooners and couples coming here for a romantic escape,” says Guy, “so it is a child-free site. We do offer families the opportunity to block book the whole site (14 adults and up to 13 children) but in our experience couples are seeking some peace so we keep the two aspects separate.”
Prices (depending on season and type of accommodation):
Per night from £70 – £125
Weekday (min 2 nights) from £140 – £250
Weekend (3 nights) from £210 – to £375
More details: mallinson.co.uk or call 01460 221102
Angel Hut: Eco-glamping in a modern shepherd’s hut
This shepherds’ hut, with a modern eco twist, is set on the edge of private woods at the foot of Melbury Down near to Shaftesbury. The stylish off-grid hut was designed by Jonathan, who runs the small family farm where the hut is based. He has taken the concept of the traditional shepherds’ hut and adapted it to provide contemporary spacious glamping-style accommodation.
Inside is a double bed with country-style linens and cushions, a log-burning stove for cooking, plumbed sink and a comfy seating area which can be turned into a second bed. Outside is a raised decked area with fabulous far reaching views and a fire pit. Behind the hut is a small purpose built hut housing the shower room (with solar powered hot water) and eco-friendly compost loo. The complimentary breakfast hamper includes local sausages and bacon, homemade baguettes or sourdough bread; tea, coffee, sugar and olive oil are all provided. Depending on the season, cider (homemade), lamb, pork and chicken can be bought direct from the farm.
Price for 2 nights (depending on season and time of week): Ranges from £171 - £197
More details: qualityunearthed.co.uk or call 01348 830922
Happy Days Retro Vacations: Kitsch Camping in an Airstream
The Airstream dream for Happy Days Retro Vacations owners Jenni and Kevin Armstrong began in 2005 when they saw one outside a friend’s house. In 2010 they packed in their city life and moved, with their two children, to the Dorset coast where Jenni had grown-up. The couple then shipped over from the States – Mystery lady - Peggy (1973), Appalachian mountain gal - Betsy (1971), Southern belle - Dee Dee (1959) and California beach babe - Gloria (1961). These gorgeous chrome homes, now residing at Meadow View Campsite in Wigbeth, have been thoughtfully refurbished by Jenni using bright prints evocative of the era. The four American beauties have been joined by Elsie, an early Seventies Cheltenham Sable, in pistachio green that wouldn’t look amiss in Carry on Camping.
There is a heated shower and toilet block an easy walk from your Airstream though there are basic toilets on board. Each caravan has cooking facilities, DVD, radio, fridge, awnings, outdoor table and chairs.
Kevin, who prefers to call what they offer “cosy camping rather than glamping,” describes their cliental as ranging from couples through to families. “We also get people turning up in Cadillac’s with their quiffs, pony tails and bobby sox.”
Prices (depending on size of Airstream and when you stay): Week £460 - £690; Weekends/4 day midweek £270 - £400
More details: happydaysrv.co.uk or call 01202 567606 or 07824 999115
Honeybells: Bell tent glamping at Eweleaze Farm, Home Farm and beyond
Honeybells Tent Hire provides luxury bell tent accommodation for events, weddings, private parties, festivals and at selected camp sites. Sam set up the company with her partner Ross after he commented that he wished he could pay someone to set up their own tent!
The couple started with one tent three years ago and now have 80, each with its own glamping accoutrements which can be hired along with the tent. “Lily Allen used our tents for her wedding,” says Sam proudly. Though you can hire tents from this Dorset-based company to go anywhere in the country one of their regular bookings is at Eweleaze Farm near Osmington. “It’s a bit of a hidden gem,” says Sam, “it’s often voted the number one campsite in the UK.” The organic farm opens its gates for just a few weeks in the summer, and Honeybells set up 40 of their tents on the campsite - which also features a private beach, solar-powered showers, a compost toilet, on-site pizzeria and a Turkish/ Dorset bath house.
Honeybells also offer camping at Home Farm at Tarrant Gunville. The farm, which has a tea rooms and an award-winning farm shop, offers breakfast and barbecue hampers, hirable chicken coops so you can collect eggs from next to your tent every morning.
The tents come in two sizes (4m & 5m), and can be hired in several formats. Standard:gets you the tent put up and ground sheet. Classic: adds a full carpet, rug, cushions, bunting, tables, fairy lights, solar lights and lantern. Luxury: adds a double mattress or 2 single air beds plus bedding. They also offer a communal Moroccan-themed chill-out tent and for bridal parties a honeymoon/wedding tent. Prices depend on length of time, size of tent, where it pitched and facilities required.
Camping at Ewelaze (eleaze.co.uk)
Prices for Eweleaze (Min hire 2 nights)
Standard £145 to £175 (additional nights £25); Classic £220- 240 (additional nights £40); Luxury £280 - £340 (additional £80)
More details: honeybells.co.uk or call Sam 07817 672502 or Ross 07876 506017
Dorset Country Holidays: The glamping pioneer with lot to offer
Dorset Country Holidays Glamping, based at Blackmore Vale Caravan Park near Shaftesbury, is a real pioneer of the glamping movement having started glamping back in 2006. The family-run business offers the most diverse range of glamping in the UK.
Set over two fields with wonderful views of Shaftesbury, there 13 glamping units comprising: 4 yurts, 2 bell tents, a stargazer pod, a safari pod, shepherd’s hut, a tipi, a VW camper van tent and vintage caravan glamping including a tab caravan and Airstream trailer. Two luxury heated toilet and shower blocks are nearby. There is also a health club on site.
Their stargazer pod was specially created for them and has a clear Perspex roof so you can stargaze at night. It also comes with a double bed, stove, fridge and TV/DVD. New for this year, is the safari pod. The back half is a bespoke solid wooden construction with bedroom area, from this a canvas area is stretched over the front to create a Savannah-like feel with pith helmet, mosquito nets, there’s even a faux tiger skin on the bed!
Prices: Glamping starts from as little as £16.25 per person per night
More details: dorsetcountryholidaysandevents.co.uk or call 01225 290924
Canvas Retreats: Palatial tents with all the trimmings
These palatial canvas tents (6m x 4m), come with plenty of head room, a fully equipped with kitchenette with 2 ring gas cooker, comfy oak-framed bed with Egyptian cotton linen and feather duvets, a super funky lounge area with beanbag sofas, carpet and rugs throughout and rechargeable lighting. Outside there is a double hammock, al fresco dining table and chairs, a gas barbecue and optional fire pit. Canvas Retreats have picked a selection of the best campsites around Dorset. Simply choose from this selection or suggest a Dorset campsite of your own, they then set up your tent with all the trimmings at the site.
The basic difference here is that the super luxury aspect comes as standard and they offer a flat rate all year round. Their tents, which have a Persian-theme, can comfortably house 2 adults or 2 adults and 2 children or 4 adults if a second double bed is set up. Optional extras include luxury local food hampers and local wine.
Prices: Weekend £295 (Fri- Mon); Mid Week (Mon- Fri) £485; Full week (Fri- Fri) £700; Extended week ( Fri – following Sun) £900
More details: canvasretreats.co.uk or call 07772 814716
Canopy and Stars: A romantic retreat by the sea and a shepherd’s hut in a vineyard
This company offers a beautiful and quirky selection of glamping options across the UK, France, Spain and Portugal. They have a number of lovely Dorset glamping opportunities including two delightful romantic retreats for two - The Hide, a shepherd’s hut in Portesham Vineyard and The Summerhouse, a Victorian flint summerhouse, at Lyme Regis. The Hide has a wood-burner, and double bed and the summer house next door is your living room, with a gas camping stove and space for dining under the star with a glass of extremely local wine. Prices from £95 per night (min 2 night stay). The Summerhouse on the Rousden Estate near Lyme has been lovingly restored by Gill Meller, River Cottage Head Chef and his wife Alice. Built into the hillside, facing south, out to sea, The Summerhouse looks over the wooded undercliff with a private beach below. Surrounded by an orchard and mature woodland, the Summerhouse features a wood burning Esse stove, a big oak bed with white cotton sheets and a bathroom. In the evening, light the gas lamps (there’s no mains electricity here), snuggle down by the fire and toast marshmallows, and then drift off to the sound of the sea. Price from £145 per night (min 2 might stay).
More details: canopyandstars.co.uk or call 01275 395447
Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Living Van: A shepherd’s hut by a traditional meadow
Set in the picturesque location on Kingcombe Meadows nature reserve, near Toller Pocorum, Dorset Wildlife Trust has recently opened its newly restored shepherd’s hut, originally built in 1900s, for guests to get a taste of the ‘old days’ in a traditional Dorset landscape untouched by modern agriculture. The hut has a double bed, which can be made into two single bunks, a wood-burning stove, electricity and a stable door, so you can watch the sun rise from the comfort of your bed. Toilet and shower facilities are close-by and a cooked breakfast can be had at the nearby Kingcombe Café. Price £75 for 2 people per night, including breakfast.
More details: Call Nick Tomlinson on 01300 320684 or visit kingcombecentre.org
Caalm Camping: Mongolia comes to Stour Row
Set on a former dairy farm near Shaftesbury, Caalm Camping offers “the ultimate camping experience”. The six luxury Mongolian yurts, each boasting comfy beds and white linen sheets, are set behind the farm, overlooking rolling countryside. The yurts are sparkling white, with brightly painted exterior features and, inside there’s a double bed, two singles, a wood-burning stove and … electricity! Each yurt has a single ring hob for cuppas and a socket for your electronic gadgets. Outside, there are individual spaces with seating and a barbecue area.
Caalm is a family-run site, started by farm-owners Mark and Caryl Ralph in April 2012. Caalm comes from the first letter in the names of the couple and their three children. The site has been a great success, attracting a range of visitors from families to hen parties (which book the whole site, so no worries about noisy hens next door during your stay.)
In the Hay Barn, there is a double kitchen, where each yurt has its own fridge so that, as Caryl says: “You don’t get your Dorset Blue Vinny mixed up with someone else’s Dorset Knobs.” Each yurt also has its own lockable wet-room in the Hay Barn, so you don’t have to bring your towel and shower gel over every time. After a day of exploring Dorset’s beautiful countryside and golden beaches you can stoke up the fire and gaze at the stars through the Perspex canopy in your yurt.
Prices (depending on season): Weekend 3 nights £250-445; Midweek 4 nights £250-475; 7 nights £400-695
More details: dorsetyurtcampsite.co.uk or call 01747 838565
Dorset Dubbers: Glamping with Californian Supermodels
Nellie, Mo, Terence, Bam Bam, Walle and Sierra are gorgeous Californian supermodels, whose catwalk is the campsite. When you take them on the road everyone looks at you, you’ll even see them hanging out backstage at top rock festivals. These beauties are VW camper vans, from the Christchurch-based Dorset Dubbers stable. Most of the vans are from between 1961 and 1978 and each is unique: pop tops, rock’n’roll beds, bay window or split screen, different engines and much more. These people know their VWs; John and Claire Whitlock of Dorset Dubbers began by restoring vans and still restore, store and sell VWs and parts. The non-Californian stablemates – Sunny, Junior, Lily and Elm – add different features, such as right hand drive and automatic gearbox.
The vans have TV/DVD, sink, cooker, and fridge or coolbox. Most are left-hand drive; John says: “This is not really an issue because you won’t be doing a whole load of overtaking – campers are not that fast and are designed to cruise. Rest assured, we’ll give you all the instruction you need, including a brief test drive if you want to practise before hitting the open road.” Named drivers can be added free of charge and one pet can travel with you. You can park your car free for the duration of your hire. In the event of any mechanical problems, UK recovery service is provided and a spare van is available if yours isn’t immediately repairable. Dorset Dubbers also has a voucher scheme, offering vouchers to give as gifts from £5, payable via PayPal.
There is a dedicated van for weddings - Lily - and there is also a ‘photo booth’ service, with dressing-up props, for any of the vans, with unlimited printing during the three-hour hire. Wedding and photo booth packages can be combines.
As for rock festivals, most of their vans were at Glastonbury this year. “The band Dark Moon had one,” says John. Look no further for the best place to store your straw Stetson, spotty wellies and access-all-areas pass for next June.
Prices (depending on season)
Short break (Fri to Mon or Mon to Fri) £325-£450; Week £425-750 (extra days available).
More details: dorsetdubbers.co.uk or call 07771 561594
Veedub Camper-Hire: A classic road tripper
Blandford-based company Veedub Camper-Hire was started by Emma and Stuart Campbell in 2011. Emma says: “We bought a van for our holidays and realised, when we were out camping in it, that there would be a market for hire, so we now do holiday hires, as well as weddings, proms and anything we can accommodate.” The company offers one ‘classic’ (T2) camper, Tilly, and stablemates Doris and Rosie, which are roomier and more powerful T25s. Tilly is only seven years old, one of the last air-cooled campers to be made, so offers the best of the authentic Dub experience and is the only van with a DVD player. All vans have pop-tops and come with awnings, free sat nav, stereo with iPod connection and a generous hospitality pack that includes bread, butter and eggs as well as the usual tea/coffee supplies. Up to three drivers can be named for no additional charge.
Prices (depending on season)
Week £399-650; Fri 6pm - Mon 6pm £253-408; mid-week day rate: £63-102. 25% discount for bookings of two weeks or more
More details: vwcamperhiredorset.co.uk 07793 612982 / 07721 560955