Go Yurts - Glamping in the Lake District

Hamish and Michelle Foulerton with Georgia and Frankie

Hamish and Michelle Foulerton with Georgia and Frankie - Credit: Archant

You don’t have to rough it when you go camping thanks to a couple from Kendal. Eileen Jones reports

Interior as viewed from the wet room

Interior as viewed from the wet room - Credit: Archant

There are pots of flowers on the front steps as you walk into Michelle and Hamish Foulerton’s light and airy living room. To one side, a comforting wood-burning stove. Luxurious sheepskin rugs on the floor. Vases of flowers on the table, a huge circular sofa-bed, pretty cushions and curtains made especially.

The pastel-patterned crockery hanging on trellis hooks by the cooker is from the designer Gisella Graham whose company motto is the William Morris principle: ‘Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.’ It seems most appropriate here.

And then it will all be packed away and folded up and moved on, for this most stylish of amazing spaces is not a permanent home but the most unusual and distinctive trailer tent, a Mongolian-style yurt designed by Hamish himself to bring mobility to the concept of glamping, or glamorous camping. ‘You can move from site to site. That’s what camping is all about,’ says Hamish.

He and Michelle don’t actually live in the yurt, but in a house in Kendal with their two daughters Georgia, who is eight, and four-year-old Frankie. Hamish is a gardener and tree-surgeon by profession, and Michelle runs a florist business in Windermere. But through this summer they have been living in their glamping ‘show home’, built as a prototype for their first customer and used to show to campers the joys of a Go Yurt.

Michelle in the kitchen

Michelle in the kitchen - Credit: Archant

Not that it’s restricted to summer holidays. Because of its double insulated shell, the warm-air heating and the wood-burning stove, the Go Yurt can be used all year round, as long as there’s a camp site open with hook-up facilities.

Hamish and Michelle have done a lot of camping themselves, in Britain and Europe and across India. They’ve camped in big tents and small tents but Michelle says: ‘After this, I wouldn’t camp in anything else now. I’m completely spoiled.’ It was while Hamish was on a trip to Mongolia with a friend (who was playing polo over there) that the yurt-inspiration came to him.

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A yurt is a portable, bent dwelling structure traditionally used by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia. It is usually covered by layers of fabric and sheep’s wool felt for insulation and weatherproofing. It’s designed to be dismantled and the parts carried compactly on camels or yaks to be rebuilt on another site.

‘Yurts provide really stable and well-insulated camping accommodation, but until now they have only been available in-situ on certain camp sites,’ he said. ‘The whole point about camping is that you have the freedom to go where you want.’

Hamish and Michelle Foulerton with Georgia and Frankie

Hamish and Michelle Foulerton with Georgia and Frankie - Credit: Archant

So, inspired by George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces TV show, Hamish developed the prototype mobile yurt and is now offering a bespoke made-to-order service. The Go Yurt is a luxurious and eco-friendly tent with its own shower and toilet wet-room and fitted kitchen, so like any trailer tent or caravan it can be hooked up to water and electricity. It can be towed by a regular large estate car and the trailer is very stable and slimmer than the towing vehicle, so it is easy to navigate along narrow roads and restricted spaces. Once on site, it opens out to a 14ft diameter space with a wooden trellis frame.

The trellis provides hanging space inside for coats and kitchen utensils. The cooker and fridge are surprisingly roomy. The especially-designed bed was made by a joiner in Windermere, and other furnishings came from John Lewis and Next. The dining table folds up, and there are director chairs and seating pods around the room.

LED lights illuminate the floor and ceiling, and the wood-burner stove can be fitted in the centre or at the side. And aware of the weather’s impact on camping holidays, there’s an air-dry heating system so that the yurt can be packed away wet – and then plugged in back at home to dry out.

On site, the Go Yurt can be set up by one person within an hour, or four people in 20 minutes. The basic version can sleep up to eight, but Hamish can make larger sizes. Storage space under the yurt means that bikes and canoes can be stowed away overnight.

‘This is an ideal solution for the family who loves camping,’ said Hamish. ‘Whether you enjoy getting back-to-basics, or the full-on glamping experience, this offers the perfect blend of personal and portable.’ It also offers the perfect answer for those who love camping in England, with its (to be polite) variable seasonal weather.

‘We’ve had our fair share of camping holiday disasters, having to deal with waterlogged tents and muddy groundsheets,’ said Michelle. ‘We know what it’s like, and that’s why the Go Yurt is such a revelation, dry in all weather, and high enough from the ground to avoid any flooding.’

Hamish also has ideas for other uses for the Go Yurt such as festivals, county shows, race days, outdoor hospitality or entertaining. The Go Yurt is being considered for a feature slot on George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces. What’s certain is that it will be featuring on our camp sites over the next few seasons.

Technical details:

The trailer is very compact and the contents can be stored inside when packed up.

None of the furniture is fixed so it can be moved and changed to suit your needs.

You can choose exactly what furnishings you have, just like you would in your own home.

Being trailer based and requiring no planning permission, your Go Yurt could also be used as an extra room at home.

The Go Yurt 14’ can sleep up to 8 people and the 18’ version can sleep up to 12 people.

Go Yurts can also be made accessible by wheelchair and are suitable for any standard campsite pitch.

Campers interested in trying the Go Yurt can book a trial weekend at the Windermere Camping and Caravanning Club site.

See www.goyurts.co.uk for details. The basic price is from around £18,000.