Wednesday 22 February 2017

Camping: Ten starlit secrets

Alastair Sawday

Published 11/09/2010 | 05:00

Ekopod, Cornwall
Ekopod, Cornwall
The Old Forge, Dorset
Inshriach Yurt
The Hatch Cabin, Worcestershire

Upgrade your two-man tent to something more stylish with Alastair Sawday’s new ‘Canopy and Stars’ collection of quirky British hideaways. We select the pick of the best.

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Ekopod, Cornwall

This cool, contemporary living space is a posh, low-carbon retreat that brings the best of modern life to the countryside. Enjoy breakfast on the terrace before hiking across the moors, bathe in a wood-fired bath tub after a surfing lesson, or lounge in canvas chairs snacking on local produce from the honesty shop, all with minimal environmental impact. It's amazing that something so white can be so green.

Inshriach Yurt, Cairngorms

This cosy Scottish pad is set on a secluded hillside above the river Spey. The owners say they're a bit like The Wombles, and when you see their yurt, sitting on recycled decking,, furnished with a grand Victorian double bed, a tapestry tub chair and an old mahogany writing table, you can really believe it.

Nothing is ever thrown away if it might be useful, as the truck-wheel barbecue shows. The wood-burning oven is state-of-the-art though, and the shower and bathroom, although 200 hundred yards away at the farmhouse, are for the exclusive use of guests. You're perfectly set up for forays into the Cairngorms, safe in the knowledge that comfort is yours to come back to.

Yarlington yurt, Somerset

The Yarlington Yurt is an unusual two-pod arrangement, with two single beds in a connected bedroom accessed through a main yurt, which houses its own king-sized double. It's magnificently eccentric and somehow seems to fit it perfectly in the grounds of a grand house.

Count and Countess Charles de Salis have had a lot of fun with the décor and there can't be many yurts whose interior can be best described as 'late-18th century with French influence'. It even has a gramophone.

Rugs, lamps, paintings and beautiful fabrics that used to adorn the main house now proudly fill the yurt. The fairy lights set into the canopy create an enchanting sense of sleeping under the stars, and the wood-burner keeps things cosy all year round. It all adds up to a rather posh camping experience.

Newhouse Farm, Cornwall

Fancy the romance of life on the road with a dash of glamour? Then Newhouse farm and its Eco-Gypsy Caravan could be just the place for you. Just a mile away from a beautiful beach, at the heart of a lush organic smallholding, it's certainly an altogether greener experience. The old-fashioned bow-top caravan has a wood-burning stove, pull-out bed, colourful curtains and freshly painted woodwork.

It's all slightly eccentric, and the Morris Minor campervan, which hasn't always been the natural companion of a Gypsy caravan, only adds to the overall experience.

Millstream Camp, Shropshire

Millstream Camp at Lower Buckton consists of two very different spaces that go together to make a lovely self-contained escape. The shepherd's hut, beautifully decorated with vintage items from the house, serves as the main living space, and the tipi is great as a day tent, or a second/kids' bedroom. As well as these two, you also have the hammock and an outdoor seating area by the stream, which is dammed whenever the weather is hot to create a natural swimming pool. The owner Carolyn runs 'slow food' cooking courses, and you can use the wood-burner or the campfire to hone the skills learnt that day.

Bouncers Farm, Essex

Set among rosy apple trees with the coast and lovely beaches just a few miles away, Bouncers Farm is a wonderful escape. There are two snug bow-top wagons with day beds and wood burners. The camp as a whole is let as a single private space, and is ideal for families of four or couples. From the cute pigs living on the other side of the orchard to the masses of delicious local produce, everything at Bouncers Farm seems full of life. Better yet, central London is just half an hour away.

The Old Forge, Dorset

This quirky B&B wallows in its age and nowhere is this more evident than in its two sleeping spaces: an immaculately restored Gypsy caravan called Rosie, and Sam, the beautiful shepherd's hut. The whole place has a magical feeling of tranquillity and timelessness: hens strut under retro enamel signs; donkeys bray, and butterflies flutter in fields of rare wildflowers and grasses.

Shaftesbury and Blandford, Dorset market towns, are to the north and south, and excellent walks are all around, while Lucy's delicious breakfasts, sometimes delivered by 'Scrumpy Jack' -- undoubtedly the suavest donkey in Dorset -- are a labour of love, like everything at the Old Forge.

The Old Forge, Dorset

This quirky B&B wallows in its age and nowhere is this more evident than in its two sleeping spaces: an immaculately restored Gypsy caravan called Rosie, and Sam, the beautiful shepherd's hut. The whole place has a magical feeling of tranquillity and timelessness: hens strut under retro enamel signs; donkeys bray, and butterflies flutter in fields of rare wildflowers and grasses.

Shaftesbury and Blandford, Dorset market towns, are to the north and south, and excellent walks are all around, while Lucy's delicious breakfasts, sometimes delivered by 'Scrumpy Jack' -- undoubtedly the suavest donkey in Dorset -- are a labour of love, like everything at the Old Forge.

The Hatch Cabin, Worcestershire

Creatively and colourfully decorated by Ben and Nada with art, quirky objects, fabrics, rugs, big comfy bean bags and cushions for lounging, the Hatch Cabin is a cosy, romantic space. The views from its little garden in the meadow are lovely. You'll see tiny marsh tits in the morning, woodpeckers almost every day and owls in the evening.

Outside there's a big, covered veranda designed for late- afternoon reclining or a sunset barbecue. On your doorstep are 35 acres of rolling hills, ancient woodland, orchards, gardens and lake.

The Wood Life, Devon

The Wood Life is family camping perfected. A well-equipped safari-style tent, on its own private eight-acre woodland, it's a combination of Matt and Amanda Bate's love of the outdoors and their imaginative approach to the challenges of holidaying with kids.

Children can spend the day exploring the woods and climbing up the treehouse, while those in search of relaxation can stretch out on the broad veranda.

The surrounding area is rural Devon at its finest.

To book a Canopy & Stars holiday and see the full collection, visit canopyandstars.co.uk. Prices start at €70 a night.

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