Why you should consider glamping when visiting the Peak District
- Credit: The Gathering
A look at the growing glamping scene in Derbyshire and the Peak District
Imagine the scene. You are taking it easy with your loved one, friends or family in a beautiful corner of the countryside, perhaps a field with long, lingering views or a riverside meadow, backed by a golden sunset.
There is a bottle of wine and/or other suitably delicious liquid refreshments open and maybe you are sitting round a campfire, the smell of wood smoke hanging sweetly in the air.
Later you might be toasting marshmallows over the embers by the light of a glowing lantern, accompanied perhaps by the soft strumming of a guitar, fire-side stories or just wide-eyed star-gazing, before retiring under cover and falling asleep to the sound of an occasional owl hoot.
Welcome to the world of glamping. Glamping is hardly new anymore but it is now thriving due to current circumstances and positioning itself as the preferred choice of staycation for many.
What started as a search for the simpler, purer things in life has developed into a race for space with people seeking the safety and reassurance of a stand-alone rural setting for a holiday with everything close at hand around them.
And, not least, somewhere that can be reached without the need to get on a plane.
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So, what can you expect if you choose this sort of holiday, perhaps this Easter, over the summer or even a New Year treat?
Glamping all started as something a bit like camping but without the twin inconvenience of having to put up a tent and waking up to a stiff back in the morning.
It was also a bit like staying in a holiday cottage, only one that had been stripped of the clutter of modern living.
It is said glamping took its inspiration from the extravagant safaris conducted by wealthy explorers in the 19th century, in which porters had to shoulder all sorts of items not strictly necessary for survival.
Glamping comes by throwing everything, including quite literally the kitchen sink, at the whole experience of outdoors living.
Over the past few years glamping in the UK has evolved, however. It was originally just bell tents, tipis and yurts but its world has now expanded to include lodge tents, shepherd’s huts, gypsy caravans, log cabins, hobbit huts, treehouses, Iron Age-style roundhouses, upcycled shipping containers, converted double decker buses and aircraft, and a lot more besides.
And standards of accommodation have risen dramatically with growing uptake of full electricity, ensuite facilities, wi-fi, hot tubs, and even televisions, the latter perhaps once seen as the definitive line in the sand drawn between holiday cottage and glamp unit.
Today there is incredible variety of glamping options available to suit almost any budget. You can still find a more basic, Boy Scout-style experience or you can go total top drawer for the ultimate luxury.
And here’s the clincher. you no longer need to head to obvious, albeit beautiful, places like Devon or Cornwall – you can go glamping pretty much anywhere now, not least here in stunning Derbyshire.
And let’s face it, there are an abundance of places in our county’s countryside that are absolutely perfect for a Derbyshire getaway, or ‘staycation’.
One popular site in our county is The Gathering at Edale, an area known for its stunning natural beauty.
The location, just at the fringes of the open moorland of Kinder Scout, the Peak District’s highest peak, is hard to beat and owner Tom Noel owns a large slice of the moors himself, offering private access routes for glampers in an area extremely popular with tourists.
Lesley Betts-Dawson, operations manager at The Gathering, explains how the site came about.
‘The idea came from Tom after working hard on the farm for three years keeping sheep and making a loss like many other farmers,’ she explains.
‘He had to diversify. Tom used to work in Africa with Flying Doctors and often admired the safari tents he saw. And now here we are with four of them.’
The Gathering’s safari tents sleep six – so perfect for families or get togethers with friends.
There is an open plan kitchen/diner/lounge area centred around a wood burning stove, a roll-top bath next door and outside a fire cauldron and gas barbecue.
‘We have guests from every walk of life,’ says Lesley.
‘Each person takes away something different from their stay with us but everyone enjoys the peace and tranquillity, the tremendous beauty of the countryside and accessibility to spectacular walking or even running and wild swimming.’
Down the road towards Hope, another area of our county renowned for its beauty, is Oaker Farm with Haddy’s Hut.
This shepherd’s hut aims to provide everything two people need for a get-away-from-it-all experience.
It has a wood-burning stove (but there is also underfloor heating), a fully equipped kitchen, an ensuite bathroom with fluffy towels, a double bed and a TV/DVD player, while outside are a firepit and patio furniture.
‘Glamping is popular because it offers a unique experience, a relaxed alternative from, say, a hotel stay,’ suggests owner Julie Hadfield.
‘There is total freedom. We offer a quality, custom hand-made shepherd’s hut with unsurpassed, stunning views.’
Different again is gypsy caravan Rose Hip at Hoe Grange Holidays near Brassington, an attractive village surrounded by countryside and close to Carsington Reservoir.
An authentic 100-year-old Romany caravan, it has been fully renovated and painted in traditional burgundy red to provide a couple’s bolthole.
Inside is a pull-out double bed and welcome pack and outside are bean bag seats and a firepit with full equipment for alfresco cooking. Across the farmyard is a shower room and kitchenette. Optional add-ons available include pizza oven nights, hot tub and electric bike hire.
‘We believe glamping is a trend set to continue because it enables people to immerse themselves in nature without compromising on comfort and warmth,’ says owner Felicity Brown.
‘Rose Hip is quaint and quirky, appealing to those looking for an unusual and authentic experience.’
Meanwhile, at Scaldersitch Farm, near the beautiful Peak District village of Hartington, there are three tipis and two yurts to choose between, sleeping up to five each.
A wood burner keeps you warm or you can enjoy the view from your private wood-fired hot tub. Each unit comes with a private washroom and there is access to a shared kitchen.
‘Many guests return year after year and often mentioned in the reviews is the attention to detail that we pride ourselves on,’ says Catherine Hine, who runs the site.
‘Every guest selects a welcome hamper when booking and we even have our own blend of coffee roasted here in Derbyshire. The guest toiletries are all handmade locally and we include bath robes for all.’
Glamping is probably more popular than it has ever been but is there not a potential cloud in the sky for glampers in the form of the Great British weather, that notorious spoiler of so much out in the open? Not a bit of it.
‘The only thing we can’t control is the weather!’, jokes Lesley at The Gathering.
'However, our guests don’t seem to mind when it rains. They just put on waterproof jackets!’
Alternatively, just retreat into your inner sanctum and get comfy in some of the most picturesque surroundings Derbyshire has to offer - with the help of that bottle of wine, of course.
Not all glamping sites offer all the facilities commonly associated with glamping. Before booking, be sure to check what is offered to see if your needs are met. Check too for any extras you might need to take yourself.
Other Derbyshire sites worth considering:
Safari lodge tent at Denby Common Farm near Ripley
Shepherd’s huts at New Hanson Grange near Milldale
Yurts and shepherd’s hut at Peak Yurts at Combs Valley near Chapel-en-le-Frith
Ecopods at Knockerdown Inn near Carsington Water
Bell tents at Newfold Farm at Edale
Yurts at Spire View Yurts at Northedge near Ashover
Pods at Park Hall Pods at Mapperley near Ilkeston
Yurt at Upper Hurst Farm near Hartington