As much as I love being in the outdoors, camping has never really appealed to me. I think it’s partly because I didn’t do it as a child (when most people get their fond memories) but also because of the various camping disaster stories I’ve heard. Needing a loo in the night and having to traipse across a muddy field to get there didn’t appeal. Getting wet and having to put up and down a wet tent, plus the risk of it leaking, sounds like a weekend nightmare to me. And that’s without even thinking about things like mice, the challenges of cooking on a camping stove and much more. Whilst I love being outdoors, I also like being warm, dry and having a proper night’s sleep.
Recently we booked to stay at Wasdale National Trust campsite and whilst we’d originally planned to take our tent, the weather forecast put us off and we also don’t have a lot of the equipment needed for camping. So I was very excited to see tipi’s being an option – a good alternative and an introduction to camping with lots of creature comforts. Whilst I don’t actually like the term glamping, I can see why it’s been adopted. I know arriving at a tipi that’s already been put up, which contains a proper bed and a wood burning stove isn’t what some people would class as camping. But you still had to cook outside and cross the site to the loo in all weathers so to me it counts. And when it was absolutely pouring down when we arrived later than intended, I felt incredibly smug knowing we now didn’t need to put up a tent.
Whilst we’d been provided with an inventory so had a rough idea of what was being provided, there was actually much more than I expected. Washing up liquid, a battery powered lantern and blankets were just some of the things we’d brought ourselves to find that they were already there so it was nice to see how much had been thought of. We also had access to a proper double bed, a table and chairs in the tipi plus a picnic bench outside and a wood burning stove. From what was provided, the tipi was clearly designed for people who had very little camping experience or just to take the hassle out completely, which was exactly what it did.
The campsite itself had no phone signal or WiFi which we were actually thrilled about – it was really nice being off-grid for a bit, although it did make checking the weather forecast carefully a bit more challenging. Everyone we met on the campsite and the staff were all very friendly. Due to its rural location it was clearly the sort of place that attracted walkers, cyclists and fell runners, and people who were either not bothered by or used to dealing with the weather. The toilets and showers were very clean and the showers were actually pretty hot (we were told the campsite was running off a generator when we got there so weren’t sure how that would affect various things). There were also laundry facilities, a drying room and plenty of sinks for doing your washing up. The shop was well stocked and we made the most of the opportunity to buy additional fire packs for the wood burning stove we had in our tipi – as although it did get warm in the day, it was colder at night. Staying in a tipi, we were also able to switch out the ice packs for our cool box.
If you weren’t keen on cooking, there was a decent pub which was a 15 minute walk away. If, like us, you were there for hiking, the trailhead for Scafell Pike was accessible right from the campsite. There were also a number of other walks in the area and it was possible to buy a mini map of those particular walks, rather than having to buy a full OS map. As a result, we walked up to a tarn one day, and then did Scafell Pike on the other. Once we had arrived we didn’t use the car, although I imagine if we’d stayed for longer we’d have been more likely to venture out in the car to explore further afield.
Do you get a better night’s sleep in a tipi? If you’re used to camping then I imagine yes as being under canvas and all the various noises won’t bother you, but you’ve got the advantage of having a proper bed. If you’re not used to camping then you can still expect to have a disrupted sleep, and I’d bring an eye mask as it never really seemed to get properly dark. Whilst it was nicer being on a bed than sleeping on the ground, I was still happy to return back to my own bed at home.
Is a tipi worth it? If you don’t mind paying a bit more for a more luxurious experience, don’t have any camping equipment but want a camping experience, or simply want to do something a little different then it’s well worth it. If not, the extra cost might not work out for you as it was more expensive than a tent pitch. It’s certainly converted me to glamping, and since I’ve been back I’ve been researching other places we could go. Whilst the other National Trust campsites don’t seem to have tipis, bell tents and wooden pods are an option, and I know there are plenty of other places out there we could try.
Have you been glamping? Where would you recommend?