Pull on your posh wellies and go 'glamping'
There was a time when camping trips in England almost inevitably involved sleeping under soggy canvas and stumbling over tent pegs. But it needn't be so: thanks to the upsurge in popularity of "glamping" (glamorous camping), the accommodation options for enjoying the great outdoors have become ever more imaginative. Now levels of creature comfort vary from the simple to the stylish. Here's where to head (Cath Kidston wellies optional).
In Cumbria, neatly designed camping pods have been introduced at three sites run by the National Trust (ntlakescampsites.org.uk). These carpeted, wooden half-cylinders are cleverly insulated with wool to retain heat in cool weather; a layer of foil above keeps indoor temperatures down on hot days. Each pod also has its own veranda.
You simply rent the space and bring your own camping equipment. There are currently pods at Wasdale (01946 726220) and Great Langdale (01539 437668), and there are two pods on trial at the stunning Low Wray (01539 432810) on the shores of Lake Windermere. Each pod is suitable for two adults, with space for one child. Mid-season rates are £35 per pod per night, rising to £40 in July, including parking nearby.
In Northumberland, you can sleep in a wooden wigwam. But don't be put off by the name: Pot-a-Doodle-do Village (01289 307107; northumbrianwigwams.com) is set in wonderful landscape on a farm three miles from Berwick-Upon-Tweed, within easy reach of the coast.
It has 12 cosy chalet-like wigwams that sleep up to five people and have heating, electricity and comfortable mattresses. You wash in a shower block and cook in a well-equipped communal kitchen. There's a shop on site, a TV lounge and a licensed café. Pods cost £18.50 per night per adult and £10 per child (minimum occupancy: two adults). In addition the "village" offers accommodation in four tipis and three yurts.
Or you could go retro-chic on the Isle of Wight. Vintage Vacations (07802 758113; vintagevacations.co.uk) has 10 beautifully refurbished Airstream trailers, dating from the Forties, Fifties and Sixties. Looking, below, like shiny chrome capsules, they sport interiors with wood panelling, fixed and pull-out beds, showers and period-style kitchens. Each is equipped with bed linen, towels and deck-chairs. The trailers sleep four people (with one providing beds for six) and are parked at several rural sites around the island, each of which has a separate loo. Prices in June and July start at £175 for two nights mid-week.
There's another wacky take on caravan traditions up on the North York Moors. Eight miles from Whitby, La Rosa (01947 606981; larosa.co.uk) is a splendidly funky outfit spread over a 20-acre site. It has eight caravans and a converted truck, all with bright, kitsch decor and comfortable beds with cotton sheets and eiderdowns.
This is a charmingly quirky place with a boho spirit and a low-impact approach to the environment: there's no electricity (you're supplied with nightlights) and you even get a discount if you arrive by bike or public transport – not as easy as it might sound, given that the campsite has a very rustic setting down a long track. Facilities include showers (with hot water!) in an old cow barn lit by candles, and a roll-top bath in an orchard. Compost loos are situated in a former shepherd's hut. Sleeping two, the caravans cost from £56 per night.
Located about five minutes' drive from Port Isaac and 10 minutes from Rock, Cornish Tipi Holidays (01208 880781; cornishtipiholidays.co.uk) shares this environmental ethos. The 40 tipis here are elegantly spacious, 18ft structures, covered in cotton canvas, and sleeping up to 12 people. They are dotted around Tregildrans Quarry, a pretty area of woodland and field that also comprises a lake stocked with rainbow trout for which visitors are welcome to fish, with rowing boats available at no extra charge. The tipis are furnished with Turkish rugs and equipped with a cool-box and camp stove. There is no electricity, so you are supplied with lanterns on poles and are encouraged to cook at designated camp fires. Short breaks and weekly holidays cost from £275 to £850.
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