Now, we know what you’re thinking – camping in December, are you MAD!?
Well, maybe, but hear us out….
We jumped in our hire car at lunchtime and after five hours battling the city’s traffic (!!) we arrived at Caalm Camp, a luxury glamping site in the heart of the Dorset countryside, and our home away from home for the weekend. As we pulled up, two cute white rabbits ran in front of our car – so far, so idyllic (don’t worry, we didn’t hit them). Thankfully our host Mark was also there to show us the ropes – we grabbed a wheelbarrow, loaded up our belongings and got acquainted with our lodgings.
There are six traditional Mongolian yurts in total, each one beautifully hand painted and named after wildflowers. Step inside the tiny hobbit door and you’ll find a double bed, made up with the crispest of white sheets (better than some hotels we’ve stayed at in fact!) and the softest throw. There were also two large single day beds (perfect for kids) – apparently each yurt can sleep up to six but we’d say a comfortable four. Of course, each yurt revolves around a central wood burner which keeps everything super toasty. Mark had kindly got this going for us so we had the warmest of welcomes. Oh and there’s also electricity! Because as nice as it is to ‘get away from it all’ we have an Instagram addiction and we do need our morning cuppa brought to us in bed before we can fully function.
Attached via pathways, the yurts feel perfectly separate (we barely heard our neighbours) but if you’re in a group there’s a Glastonbury style ‘stone circle’ for you to gather around. Not in a group and don’t fancy socialising? No worries, each yurt has its own outdoor fire and BBQ area, complete with wooden table and seating. It’s well worth getting the outside fire going (yes, even in the deepest darkest depths of winter) for a relaxing spot of star watching & marshmallow toasting before hitting the hay. With no light pollution, you really can see a whole galaxy out there. Something that’s easy to forget when you live in London.
Snug as a bug in a rug, we drifted off to the sound of owls hooting and foxes barking.
The main house, the Old Hay Barn, is open 24 hours a day and that’s where you’ll find your bathroom, fully equipped communal kitchen & lounge. Each yurt gets it’s very own fridge, cupboard and pots & pans – so there’s nothing to fight over. Whilst we were there everyone was very respectful of clearing up after themselves and we never found a mess. In fact we loved how easy it was to rustle up a bacon sarnie when we didn’t have the time or inclination to prepare the BBQ. Meanwhile each individual bathroom is lockable so you can leave all your toiletries there for the duration of your stay. It was fairly basic but spotlessly clean and even had underfloor heating.
So aside from doing a Theresa and running through fields of hay, what exactly is there to do all day?
In-yurt Massage – Becky will come to your yurt and help you relax with a Swedish Massage, Indian Head Massage or Deep Tissue Massage – bliss.
Ping Pong & Table Tennis – you’ll have to share the space with the family goats, but we found them pretty friendly.
Pretending you live in a stately home – we happened upon Stourhead, a beautiful Palladian house with gorgeous grounds. We swerved the entrance fee and headed to their on-site pub & Christmas market, natch.
Farm shopping – we have an addiction to farm shops. Stock up on local cheese, meat and booze and take it back to your yurt for a luxury spread.
Coastal Walks on The Jurassic Coast – we particularly loved visiting the beautiful Durdle Door, a rock formation and England’s first natural World Heritage Site. The colours were unreal and provided the inspo for our new living room scheme.
Pub Lunches – located right on the river, The Old Granary in nearby Wareham is the perfect spot for watching the early sunset. We warmed up with locally caught fresh fish on buttery greens.
A pint down the local – the nearest town to Caalm Camp is Shaftsbury, a market town (famous for featuring in an old Hovis ad). Our top recommendation goes to The Grosvenor Arms, a hotel, restaurant and bar with a great buzz. We sat in the bar, drank wine and ate wood fired pizza.
Of course one of the best things you can do is just enjoy your yurt, we read our books in total peace, drank plenty of wine and had many a game of scrabble. ‘Back to basics’ in some ways but without the bad back, cold toes and faff of ‘proper’ camping.
– A fully stocked kitchen (cutlery, pots, pans, wine glasses – they had it all).
– Towels (but only one each, you might want to grab a spare).
– One loo roll (we were only there for two nights so perhaps they’d restock but the website does say to bring your own, but equally you won’t be caught out on arrival).
– Firelighters (again, they do ask you to bring your own but they do provide them at 20p a pop if you’re as bad at lighting fires are we are).
– Games (we’d actually bought our own scrabble so can’t confirm what was on offer!)
Things you should bring:
– A hairdryer – we forgot ours and had to make do sticking our head under the hairdryer – and there’s nothing glam about that.
– Food – including those all-important tea bags.
In short, we’d highly recommend Caalm Camp for couples, families, well behaved hen & stag do’s and milestone birthdays. The camp is also perfectly accessible for disabled campers too.
We’re currently plotting our return with some of our favourite pals, new babies and yes, we would go back in the winter months.