Camping in November? Are you guys crazy? Ahh - but this isn't your usual camping - this is glamping in Mongolian yurts on a former dairy farm in deepest Dorset. Caalm Camp is a fabulous little gem of a find and I feel serenity has been restored after staying there this weekend. Plus it's open all year round and I can't recommend it enough.
The camp is based in Shaftesbury in Dorset very close to the borders of Wiltshire in the South West of England. The site has six traditional Mongolian yurts all named after wildflowers- each can sleep up to six people.
Mark, the owner, greeted us when we arrived and showed us around the site and took us to our yurt - the car park is very close by and there is a hot pink wheelbarrow to help transport any bags.
The yurts are beautifully hand painted inside - we were in Snowdrop which had a gorgeous royal blue door. The wooden lattice work inside is tied with plaited horse hair and I couldn't stop staring at the magnificent ceiling.
Each yurt has a wood burner inside - you would not believe how much heat this kicks out, we didn't feel cold once, I even ended up sleeping on top of the quilt.
Logs for the fire are free - you just have to go and help yourself but if you want coal you can buy a bucketful for £3 - there is also a fireguard around the wood burner to keep everyone safe.
The yurts are on a raised concrete platform and have coconut matting and rag rugs. We had a very comfortable double bed with fresh white linen and fur blankets - there were two day beds with a drawer underneath for storing clothes, two wicker chairs and bedside cabinets. What's more there is electricity inside too - so we had two Moroccan lanterns and two large lamps. My daughter absolutely loved the dolphin mirror. We'd recommend wearing slippers inside so you don't tread mud or damp shoes over the matting.
There is also a kitchenette area with a kettle and an induction hob and you'll have plates, cups and utensils to use. Outside is a tap for drinking water, a picnic table a stone barbecue and a fire pit. The kids have there own wooden play area with swings, a slide and climbing frame and a trampoline.
So, what puts a lot of people off glamping is not have a flushing toilet. Most sites offer compost toilets or portaloos. Not here. You have your own private wet room in the the Old Haybarn. Honestly it was much nicer than our bathroom at home with a hot shower, sink and toilet, fluffy white towels and a heated towel rail.
We arrived on a very rainy morning - rain can put a dampener on things if there isn't much to do. In the Old Haybarn there is a communal living area with two baskets full of toys, a small play table, games, books, a TV, DVDs and sofas.
Mark led us through another door where we were greeted by two goats in a pen - in this barn there was a pool table and a table tennis table. Pretty surreal having goats watch you play ping pong but this kept the kids entertained for a while.
Cooking in the great outdoors is fun but if it rains you have use of a modern kitchen, inside you have your own fridge and cupboard and there is also use of two ovens, a microwave, a toaster and a kettle. Plus there are plenty of dining tables in the living area.
During our stay we took a little walk about and said hello to the sheep. We used the BBQ and had burgers outdoors in the crisp fresh air and then went for a hot shower. We stared up through the dome in our ceiling and listened to the rain and we made friends with three lovely families who were also staying for the weekend. We ate with them in the Old Haybarn and watched a film together.
The fire burner was kept stoked with wood and kept the yurt toasty throughout the night so we toasted some marshmallows. I got up before everyone else to watch the sunrise and had a nice cuppa. We cooked breakfast in the kitchen on Sunday morning and ate in the dining area.
The children played on the swings and the trampoline, above is a communal fire pit and seating area.
The whole place had a very relaxed vibe. Mark and Caryl are available when needed and will pop into the barn every now and then to check if everyone is OK.
When leaving all they ask is that you strip your beds and make sure all utensils are clean and put back where they belong and that everything is tidy. You can leave your key in the little phone box in the reception area.
If we'd have stayed longer we would have visited some attractions, Stone Henge is not far away, Longleat and Stourhead National Trust are also a short drive away.
Would I glamp again in the winter? Absolutely. We were comfortable and warm, the yurt was beautiful, the owner was very helpful and there was plenty to do. The site was immaculate - they even have WiFi.
Cheers Caalm Camp - we hope to visit you again.
Goods Farm, Stour Row,
Telephone: 01747 838565
or mobiles 07702 835246 (Mark)
or 07769 577514 (Caryl)