Top 5 Dark Sky locations in Great Britain
Glamping or camping? Charlie Adams gives us his verdict on his first glamping experience in North Cornwall.
Last weekend I had my first glamping experience!
I really enjoy getting outside, having been camping quite a few times over the years in the UK and around Europe. But I’ve got a young family now so the idea of going camping without having to put up the tent (or worse, take it down and pack it away again) seems too good to be true, so I thought I’d see what this glamping fuss was all about.
Higher Culloden Farm is set in North Cornwall, just 10 minutes from some of the best beaches in Cornwall, in an Area of Outstanding Beauty, as well as being in a designated Dark Skies area!
Locations for getting outside in the UK don’t get much better than this!
We were lucky enough to be invited to stay in one of the pods by Vanessa and Mark (the owners) to help test them out before they opened for business. Last year Vanessa and Mark gave up their standard 9-5 office jobs and moved out to Cornwall for the ‘good life’. They set up a glamping business on the farm from scratch and this will be their first summer with paying guests!
Driving up the long narrow driveway the trees opened up to show a picturesque old stone farm building with cute wooden signs telling us where to go. The chicken coup was lined with bunting and Vanessa was there to great us as we drove between the barns into the car park.
In a perfectly manicured grass field sit 4 wooden bespoke glamping pods. Winding up to each pod is a mown pathway, lined with solar lanterns (really handy to find your way back to your pod in the middle of the night!)
Each pod is the perfect size to fit a family of four (or a couple very comfortably), with 2 single and one double bed. There are French doors opening out to your own little bit of decking to keep your wellies on. We found there was ample room for our family in the pod, including our suitcases, toys, shoes etc.
Not that we got to spend much time in the pod, once we were awake each morning the kids were up and out into the field to explore!
As you’d expect from a good campsite, there’s a toilet, shower and kitchen block. Each pod also gets its own private shower and w/c, which you get a key for. There’s no sharing showers at this glampsite!
After a 4 hour drive we needed to stretch our legs and the children really needed to run it off, so a casual walk around the farm gave some welcome fresh air. We found the children’s play park first, right next to the pod field; with a slide, swings and a sandpit to keep the children busy (although once my son found the football that was all he needed).
Vanessa and Mark made us feel really welcome, showing us around the farm to find our bearings. Higher Culloden Farm is a working farm, so we jumped at the chance to go with Venessa and Mark the next day on their morning rounds to tend to the animals.
We helped to let the chickens out into their run. We fed them and found a couple of fresh eggs!
The sheep were really friendly, allowing the children to pet them (whilst being well supervised by the grown-ups), and we all learnt how to look after the sheep and lambs as we fed them. Pigs are on the way next year!
It’s not all about the animals. The views across the valley are beautiful, occasionally you have to take a breath and look around to take it all in.
If you take a short walk down into the valley, you’ll find the farms private stream (how many campsites can boast that!). In a secluded opening there is a perfect picnic spot with a stony stream just deep enough for the kids to paddle and catch some tadpoles (if you get your feet wet and cross the stream you’ll find the rope swing on the farms’ private island, affectionately called ‘Cow Island’).
On the walk back up from the stream we spotted one of the resident deer (yes, they even have deer that wander their land).
Higher Culloden Farm is in a designated Dark Skies area, which means once the sun eventually goes down the sky lights up. There’s no better way to spend the evenings than sat around a campfire with friends, eating from the BBQ under a sky full of stars.
Ok, so we didn’t go off the farm very often, but we did walk into Camelford to treat ourselves to fish and chips on the first night (nobody wants to cook after a long drive). Maybe it was the Cornish air, maybe it was the holiday feeling, maybe it was the long drive… but the fish and chips from Peckish Fish and Chips in Camelford were amazing!! We could see why they were an award winning Fish and Chip shop.
There’s also a Co-op and Spar to stock up on provisions and a pub at the end of the farm lane.
What we hadn’t realised, until we got back to OS, was that Camelford is one of the gateways onto Bodmin Moor and is a hot spot for walkers. The famous Camel Trail which runs all the way to Padstow is also close by and really popular with cyclists.
With a quick look at OS Explorers 109 and 111 we found that some of North Cornwalls best and most beautiful beaches are just a short drive away from the Farm too. Polzeath, Summerleaze, Widemouth, Rock, Trebarwith Strand….the list goes on. With local towns of Boscastle and Tintagel (of King Arthur fame) just around the corner. On our next visit we’re definitely going to venture off the farm more.
Will I go camping again? Yes. I love camping with the family. Camping is a great experience and you get to really keep in touch with nature, getting away from mod cons; plus the kids (and you) learn and practice some valuable life skills.
However, on the day we left the farm it was raining, everyone was tired after a couple of very full days in the countryside. The last thing anyone wanted to do was pack up a wet tent in the pouring rain. But we were glamping, so we didn’t have to! We just chucked everything in the car, including the kids, and hit the road.
Will I go glamping again? Absolutely.
The added comfort and convenience is worth it, and you still stay as close to nature as when camping. I’m definitely going to book the occasional glamping break as a treat. In fact we’ve already booked up all four glamping pods at Higher Culloden Farm with our friends for a 2019 getaway!
Visit the Higher Culloden Farm website to find out more about their glamping pods - you can simply book online or contact Vanessa or Mark to plan your next adventure!
As the Customer Service Manager for OS, Charlie has a keen eye for great customer experiences and sets his expectations high.
Charlie takes advantage of being able to mix his passion for the outdoors with his day job, as soon as one adventure is over he is planning where he’ll take the family next!