In the midnight blue disc above my head I can see the rain pour down. Landing and splashing and shooting away like fine silver bullets sent down by the moon. In the stove, the peach glow of embers flicker with the speed of sleep. I pull the duvet over my shoulders; it is warm, comforting, soft. In the morning, I’ll pull back the canvas and see nothing but trees: fresh woodland glistening like a stage set for birdsong.
I’ll read books on the sofa by the fire or write in notebooks on the crooked wooden desk. I’ll shower in open air and make tea overlooking the water, framed with ferns and clusters of tree stumps.
This, in short, is a glamorous way of camping. And the industry people have already coined a name for it.
They call it glamping.
Hidden in Dorset’s forests, Guy Mallinson’s Crafty Camping is clearly a project of passion. It began as a woodland workshop where novices and aficionados alike could meet and carve wood beneath the sky. Since some visitors travelled great distances, they began to ask if they could put up a tent in the field. Then to ask for water. Showers. Toilets. And finally, these two aspects combined as the team used their wood cratfting skills to build a luxury outdoor camping site.
Mallinson still has plans to expand (there’s talk of building a tree house later this year… or maybe next) but the options on offer at the moment are already sweetly delicious.
There’s a shepherds hut, a yurt or two, some tents and a central communal area stocked with books on the area, puzzles and creaky but consistent enough wifi.
There’s a communal kitchen tent with fridges, hobs and freezers and an honesty box for tea, chunky steak pies and locally sourced cider.
I stayed in the Coracle yurt at the furthest reach of the site (There’s a short 5-10 minute walk from the car park to the site and then another 5 minutes to the yurt over hand crafted wooden walkways.)
Even in England’s “refreshing” April, the yurt oozed warmth and cosiness thanks to the burning logs inside (with backup supplies supplied.) The outdoor shower (with a privacy screen) set my senses racing but it’s an exhilarating experience to sprint back to a yurt through dew-dropped spring morning trees.
Dorset as an area itself is one of the top places to visit in Britain, with dramatic coastal walks, fossil hunting excursions, postcard perfect towns and plenty of opportunities for adventure.
But the real draw for me on this visit was the chance to try a little wood carving myself. So, it took me four hours of hard graft to create a single, simple pencil pot but – hey – it’s my pencil pot! Created with my own bare hands!
All in all, if you love camping but those days of lying on the floor and huddling in the cold are mercifully behind you then give glamping a go.
And if your pencils lie in helter skelter imprecision across the surface of your home, then I also know the thing for you: a spot of crafty camping and a shrink pot of your own.
The Woodland Workshop
The outdoor shower. As a one off.
Wifi access if required
Care and attention – as shown by the stocked wood for the fire, the pies in the freezer, the directions sent prior to arrival
Dorset – a fantastic place to visit. I need to travel around there more
The solitude of the balcony by the yurt and yet the convivial atmosphere of the communal areas
The shower is outdoors…Glamping can only take you so fa
The sound of rain on the yurt could double as a backdrop for the apocalypse soundtrack
You need to be fit and able to carry your luggage to the campsite
Although staff live nearby there is no-one actually on site 24 hours a day
Full Specs: find all the info here
I paid a reduced rate to stay here for review purposes. As ever, as always I kept the right to write what I like, otherwise there’s just no point. Not all reviews are this positive, as you can see if you read through the collection here. Now enough with the small print – glamp on and enjoy!
Abigail King is an award-winning writer and author who swapped a successful career as a hospital doctor for a life on the road. With over 60 countries under her belt, she's worked for Lonely Planet, the BBC, National Geographic Traveller and more. She is passionate about sustainable tourism and was invited to speak on the subject at the EU-China High Level summit at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.Here she writes about food, travel and history and she invites you to pull up a chair and relax. Let's travel more and think more. Welcome!
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