Glamping: like camping but more glamorous.

Camping: noun. The activity of spending a holiday living in a tent.

That’s how the Oxford Dictionary describes “camping”. But when I describe camping and what it means to me, I get nostalgic and sentimental. When I think about camping I’m momentarily transported back to 1998, to a typically British wet summer’s day in July, to a small clearing in a woodland not far from my parents’ home, to a Cub Scout camp with my “pack” and our Leader.

I have (for the most part, fond) memories of trying to put up a heavy, fusty smelling Greenlander tent in the drizzle, hammering waterlogged wooden pegs into the mud with a heavy mallet, then attempting to secure the chunky guy ropes around them, proudly demonstrating to our Leader that we’d remembered those “useful” knots he taught us.

Then come memories of me and my tent mates rolling our floor mats and sleeping bags out onto the tent ground sheet (which by now is already dirty, thanks to a couple of us thoughtlessly running with mud-caked boots through the temporary accommodation during a game of “It”), lying down and then realising that we’d chosen the stoniest, most uneven part of the clearing to put the tent up on, as sharp rocks press into our little 11-year-old backs.

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Though I’ve been camping a handful of times in my adult life (mostly at festivals), my memories of camping are all from my time in the Scouts. I associate camping with soggy weekends spent collecting sticks and twigs to make a fire (which would never catch alight because they were too damp). I associate camping with eggy bread and greasy fry ups, muddy wide games and building bivouacs. I associate camping with hair that hasn’t been washed in three days and stinks of last night’s bonfire (we’d given up on the damp wood and resorted to shop-bought seasoned logs, firelighters and someone’s can of Lynx Africa).

I don’t recall anything about camping being particularly “glamorous”. So when I got a message from my friend Danika asking if I’d like to go glamping in the Lake District I wasn’t really sure what to expect…

Glamping at Rainors Farm in Wasdale.

Like other portmanteau words such as “Brangelina”, “chillax” and “Brexit”, the term “glamping” has come from two words being fused together: glamorous and camping. I’m not sure exactly when “glamping” suddenly became popular, but it isn’t a new concept. It’s basically the idea of camping without slumming it; all the thrills of sleeping in a tent under the stars, without the uncomfortable rocks in the back, the stinky portacabin loo and the mud.

I’d camped plenty of times, but I’d never glamped – so as always, was excited about trying something new. The only thing putting me off was the prospect of a six hour drive to get there; but having driven to East Yorkshire and back every weekend for a couple of months before I moved up north last August, I didn’t think it would be that bad…

How wrong I was. After a hellish seven-and-a-half hour drive in pouring rain, I finally arrived at Rainors Farm around 5pm, feeling irritable and in need of a wee, some food and a large drink. My friends were in another car and stuck in traffic about an hour away, so Danika told me to park up, “check in” and make myself at home.

As I got out the car I was greeted by the lovely Debbie, owner and host at Rainors. Her warm and friendly welcome had my resentment at the long drive subsiding, and I couldn’t help but smile as she animatedly chatted away. She gave me the grand tour of the farm, showing me the wet room, the utility room and the farmhouse breakfast room, before taking me down to the yurt we’d be sleeping in.

As she pushed the little door open and I followed her in, every ounce of irritation I’d felt previously was instantly gone, and I knew then the drive had been worth it.

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What is a yurt?

Yurt is the Russian word for “dwelling”. Yurts have been lived in for thousands of years, by tribes from East and Central Asia, from as far as Turkey and Iran to Mongolia and Nepal. They’re a sort of Asian “tipi” if you like, a nomadic shelter – but as you can see, infinitely more comfortable and practical. Traditionally they were covered in felt sections, though felt alone is only suitable in dry climates, i.e, not the wet and windy Lake District. Hence most modern Yurts have canvas covers with felt being used for insulating layers, sandwiched between a wooden trellis that holds up the structure.

There are two yurts at Rainors Farm: the “Yurt in the meadow” and the “Yurt by the stream”. We stayed in the latter, which was tucked away in a secluded corner of the wild garden, among oak and hazel trees. Just over little bridge across a gentle babbling stream, it has amazing views of Scafell Pike and the surrounding landscape.

Inside there was one huge king-size bed in the middle of the room, and three single futons on the floor around the edge (originally there were going to be five of us, but we ended up as a foursome). The beds were all made-up with fresh white cotton bed linen and coloured throws – the only thing we had bring were our own towels and toiletries. I didn’t sleep on the bed, so can’t comment on its comfortability, but the futon I slept on was fine. The mattress was soft and duvet was warm enough – even a little too warm when we had the log burner going at night.

Yep, that’s right: there is a log burner inside the tent:

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Making a “glamp-fire”.

Being an ex-Scout and having lived up in Yorkshire, where it was cold enough to light the log burner even in July evenings, building fires is something I pride myself in. It is one skill my Leader taught me that has served me well (especially on a trip to Finland in 2015 when I was the only one in a party of 12 who could actually get a fire going in their log cabin).

Therefore, as soon as there was even the slightest chill in the air in Wasdale on the Saturday night, I was straight there, piling kindling and scrunching newspaper. Rainors kindly provide each yurt with plenty of chopped, seasoned firewood, a box of firelighters and a box of matches. Once I’d got it lit, we busted out the marshmallows and skewers, and got smoreing.

We had fresh running water from a tap outside, and a kettle and mugs were provided in the yurt. So it really was like being at home, with cups of tea and coffee made by Danika each morning (and Pot Noodles for dinner on our last night).

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The yurt has soft, cosy, traditional-style furnishings, hanging lanterns, bolsters to lounge on, and is insulated with lovely organic, Welsh felt. The clear roof crown was a natural alarm clock in the morning, and allowed us to gaze up at the moon and stars at night – something you can rarely do where we live down south, due to all the light pollution.

For me (much like when I stayed in an Airbnb in Berlin) it was all the little details that made it so special: the fresh flowers in a mason jar, the Moroccan tea service, the ethnic decorations, even the handcrafted fob for the door key. Clearly Debbie and her husband had put a lot of thought and effort into styling the yurts, making it a proper glamping experience.

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It wasn’t just the interior decor of the yurt that had been considered though. Directly outside was a storage trunk (with a felted roof, meaning it was waterproof so dry inside) filled with more firewood, a washing up bowl and scourer, and all the cooking utensils and crockery you’d ever need on a camping holiday.

And there were beautiful wild flowers growing all around the yurt, offering little splashes of colour on an otherwise grey day.

Unfortunately it rained all day Friday, most of Saturday and on-and-off all day Sunday while we were in Wasdale. But ironically, on the Monday as we started the epic journey back down south, the sun came out and stayed out. I guess it wouldn’t be the British countryside without some rain though, right? My wellies came in handy, that’s for sure.

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Exploring the rest of the farm, there was the main farmhouse and a couple of stone outbuildings, one of which had our wet room and utility room in. There was also a herd of calves in the paddock, which Debbie explained belonged to the farm below her in the valley.

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Unlike my previous camping experiences with Scouts, these were the real luxuries though: a proper flushing toilet and a hot shower.

There was no having to dig a latrine pit and put a tent over it, then being told to squat on the edge when you wanted a wee. Instead we had our own private wet room, which was heated and decorated with terracotta tiles and pine paneling. It was not shared by any other guests at the farm, so no queues for showers or the toilet like you get when camping at a festival.

There was also a utility room with boot-rack, clothes airer, huge American larder-style fridge and a washing machine (in case things get really muddy).

The fridge was particularly handy as we brought a mountain of food with us for picnics and BBQs, not to mention the copious amounts of beer, wine and cider. So once I’d unloaded the car and taken a million and one pictures of Rainors Farm and its beautiful yurt, I cracked open a beer and waited for my friends to arrive, so we could start our weekend together.

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I had a fantastic weekend up in the Lake District, and there’s nothing I can fault about our stay; I’d recommend Rainors Farm to anyone.

After my glamping initiation, I’m on the look out for other glamping experiences in the UK and abroad. I think glamping yurt holidays are great for all ages, for families and groups of friends like us. And with its romantic ambiance, it would especially suit couples, honeymooners and anyone in need of some fresh air, countryside and “yurt therapy”.

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72 thoughts on “Glamping: like camping but more glamorous.

  1. This is so incredible. I have never done glamping and this really makes me want to try it. I will be visiting the UK in December, I’d love to try it then, if possible. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oooh it might be a bit wet and windy in the UK in December to try glamping – but it’d definitely be cheaper, so who knows! I look forward to hearing about your UK adventures though x

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  2. The concept of ‘glamping’ is totally new to me Becca but it sounds like something I’d really love to do! I’ve never been in a yurt before but it’s got to be better than my little tent! xx Those marshmallows look delicious too! Fab post! x
    Marina xx

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  3. I’ve always wanted to camp as a little girl, I’ve often watched people in movies camping and it was super exciting. Especially when they sat by the bonfire. I’m so jealous of the memories you made back when you were in the Scouts. Glamping on the other hand sounds more attractive to me as I am adult now, and Rainors farm seems like a ideal place for it.

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    1. You’re so right – camping is definitely a novelty when you’re a child – and I made so many great memories from my time in the scout association. But glamping is so much cleaner and more comfortable 🙂 x

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  4. We’ve never done glamping but I would love, love to try it, even just once, because admittedly I think I prefer camping (although I really don’t have much comparison, don’t i? 🙂 This looks so much fun. Must get around to doing it and do more research about glamping before the summer is over 😉

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  5. This looks incredible – I love glamping (thought haven’t been in years!) and your post has inspired me to brave it with children and go again. It’s such a fun adventure and I love the look of the little touches here 🙂

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  6. glamping – that would be a form of camping i’d like to try! i tried the normal form of camping twice but it wasn’t for me. too uncomfortable and too many insects wanting to get into my tent ouahhh :/

    x
    dahi tamara

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  7. Wow! You’re so lucky that you were able to make it! I’ve got plans to visit the North, but don’t seem to figure out when they will work! Would love to go for glamping.

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  8. Your club scout experience sounds very much like my own and I hated it, but looking at your glamping photos can change my mind and I would most certainly enjoy a stay in such luxury.

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    1. It’s a shame you hated your scouting experience – I used to love mine (weekends away from my parents and two brothers were always fun!). But glamping definitely is much more luxurious! x

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    1. Thanks so much Cassandra – it was a really beautiful spot in the Lake District, and even though the weather was far from perfect, it was nice to just spend some time away from the city in the fresh air x

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  9. I love camping, we often spend most weekends during the winter camping on the beach – it’s far too hot in the summer! I’ve always wanted to go glamping but a part of me feels like it would be cheating on camping properly…although this renews my desires!

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    1. I know what you mean Kim – I’m a big fan of “proper” camping, the bonfires and the sleeping bags and the little tents that you can’t even stand up in haha! But glamping is a nice alternative uf you’re with people who don’t like to rough it x

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  10. This is soo nice.. in glamping we will be save for so many mess that might happen again during a camping. hahaha for me.. probably because when a person get aged though we want adventure we also look for comfort and style.

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  11. The idea of camping sends a shudder down my spine lol! Probably not helped by the fact the only 1 time I have been it rained and out tent leaked so the following morning I abandoned the tent and drove home lol! However glamping looks like something I could go for! My son currently attends Beaver scouts and he on the other hand loves going camping with his little troup and their leaders! x

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  12. Rainors Farm looks incredible, and it’s so surreal to see a yurt in England! I’m much more a glamper than a camper, so I’d certainly book this if ever I visit!

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  13. Damn this is so luxurious! The last time I went camping we didn’t have the foresight to bring a blow up mattress and so ended up sleeping on the hard ground in our sleeping bags. Definitely made for a really sore back, so this looks like a huge step up!

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  14. The ‘yurt’ looks so cozy and amazing, the perfect combination of camping experience minus all the inconveniences like toilets, showers etc. I’ve gone glamping a few times and I totally recommend it to anyone who loves camping yet is happier with some luxury 😀

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  15. Glamping would be so much fun with friends especially late night story sharing, board games, dress ups and some other fun stuff girly stuff like toenail art on each other for girls the tent seem to fit a couple of people so I think it will be great.

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  16. I hate camping so avoid it at all costs (other than the necessary festival camping) I had no idea glamping was so luxurious though. It looks gorgeous and I love the clear roof to see the sky. You’ve definitely made me think glamping might be worth trying.

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  17. Haha I have the same kinda memories of camping in England, wet and smelly just in the field close to home But Glamping seems like a different world! I have to say it’s only been recently that I even heard Glamping exists but seems like a much cosier option. So reading this I’ve learnt a new word ‘Yurt’ and also I have to put Glamping in the lake district onto my list of things to do in England before I leave again 😀

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