Written & Curated by Melissa Stewart
Let’s face it, sometimes we all just want to escape the stresses of everyday life and go off-grid for a while. No phone signal, no email access, a place where we can go completely back to nature… Well, perhaps not quite completely.
While camping in a tent does have its charms, for many of us it comes with its own set of stresses. Missing tent pegs, inflatable mattresses, sweaty sleeping bags and don’t get me started on smelly shower blocks. For a country that enjoys its camping, us Brits, unlike the French, have yet to master the art of high-quality campsites.
Glamping, on the other hand, we can do. If you don’t already know, ‘glamping’ is camping in style. There’s none of the stresses of looking for tent poles in the rain, because your accommodation is already in place for you – think spacious yurts with animal skin rugs, shepherd’s huts with ditzy Cath Kidston interiors, and log cabins with ready-stacked wood burners. Essentially it’s a way of getting back to nature, without actually having to live in it.
For the past 10 years, the glamping trend has really exploded in the UK, with sites popping up all over the country. What’s nice about it, as opposed to going to a traditional campsite, is that the sites are often more secluded and you have more privacy. There are also often some nice added extras, like food hampers, outdoor dining areas and, did someone say hot tub?!
Here is my personal pick of the best glamping spots in North Devon…
Tucked away in a glorious green valley near the village of Combe Martin, Longlands offers luxury safari tents with all your home comforts. With five tents in total, they may not look very exciting from the outside, but inside they are spacious, snug and exceptionally cosy. Each lodge sleeps up to six people and two dogs. As well as having all the trappings of a normal home inside – comfy sofa, dining table, beds and cooking facilities – there’s also a wood-burning stove, a games cupboard, and access to a Larder shop, stocked with locally sourced goodies. If you can’t be bothered to cook, you can even order breakfasts, picnics and evening meals to be collected when you need them. For larger groups, who’ve hired more than one lodge, there’s also a ‘party barn’ – where you can cook together, listen to music and celebrate an anniversary or birthday. With a boating lake and hot tub on-site, this is a great destination for families or for groups of friends looking to get away from it all. Short breaks are available from £645.
Wild Pear Shepherd’s Hut
Not too far from Longlands, just outside the village of Berrynarbor, is this cute little hut, which I’ve chosen because of its incredible sea view. You can even lie in bed and look out at the waves on the horizon! The shepherd’s hut is cosy and decorated in a classic country style with painted wooden beams, banquette seating and a woodburning stove for those chillier nights. I also like that there’s no getting up in the night to go to an outdoor loo. There’s a shower and toilet facilities inside, with a plentiful supply of hot running water. The hut is on a farmstead with a few other glamping properties, but it feels completely private and enclosed. This is the ideal spot for couples hoping to hike some of the South West Coast path or to enjoy the splendours of North Devon’s many beaches. Short breaks are available from £391.
A cabin in the woods with its own hot tub? Now you’re talking. Situated just outside the old market town of South Molton, George Cabin is a proper romantic, rustic retreat. The beauty of it is that it’s really spacious inside and reminds me of an Alaskan cabin in the woods, with exposed wooden beams and furniture. If you like your home comforts, you’ll enjoy the fully-equipped kitchen and ensuite bathroom, complete with walk-in shower and hot water. At night, you can sit out on the wooden balcony and listen to the sounds of nature while sipping on a G&T, before jumping in the hot tub under the stars. Although near South Molton, you do feel completely cut off from the rest of the world, as the cabin is enveloped by woodland and has spectacular views. From £420 for seven nights.
If your idea of glamping is spending a starry night under canvas, then Deer’s Leap on Exmoor is just the ticket. With five beautiful bell tents, containing comfy beds, cosy patchwork quilts, feather pillows and wood-burning stoves, this really is old-fashioned camping but in luxurious comfort. There’s a separate shower/toilet unit and a BBQ for outdoor cooking. Children will enjoy the freedom of rolling across the hills in summer and fishing in the lake. There’s also an on-site tennis court and games room for rainy days. What I love best about it is its location. It’s on the tip of Exmoor National Park in West Antsey, ideal for hiking and wildlife spotting – look out for stags and Exmoor ponies. It’s also just a short drive from the village of Bampton, home to The Swan and The Ginger Peanut – both fantastic eateries. From £490 for seven nights.
There’s something truly romantic about a gypsy caravan, don’t you think? Perhaps it’s the Peaky Blinders effect, but the thought of being whisked away in a gypsy caravan fills me with goosebumps of the best kind. If the idea of a weekend in a painted wagon floats your boat too, then you’ll adore Fisherton Farm. Situated in Umberleigh which is between Barnstaple and South Molton, Fisherton Farm offers the ultimate off-grid farm stay experience. You can choose to stay in one of three gypsy caravans, all with their own unique style, or there’s also a converted farm trailer to sleep in. The ethos here is very much on sustainable living, with an outdoor living room, open fire, a fully-equipped camp-style kitchen and a hot outdoor shower with spectacular views across the valley. But, don’t worry, if it rains, there’s plenty of indoor spaces too, including a games room with table tennis and darts – allowing you to unleash your competitive side. If you’re feeling active, you can go for a wild swim in the River Taw or why not book a yoga session in the woods with a qualified instructor? The ultimate way to unwind on your weekend away. From £260 per night.