[Originally published by On:Yorkshire Magazine: http://www.on-magazine.co.uk/travel/uk-reviews/feather-down-farms-dolphinholme/]
The word ‘camping’ evokes a ‘Marmite’ reaction – people either absolutely love spending a few nights in a tent under the stars or they couldn’t think of a holiday they’d like to go on less. ‘Glamping’, however, does have something more universally appealing, with a hint of some of our beloved home comforts to take the edge off sleeping al fresco.
Feather Down Farm in Dolphinholme, Lancashire offers the perfect mix of back-to-basics camping with added extras that offer a little luxury to elevate your camping holiday to something more out of the ordinary.
The Canvas Frills Lodge that I stayed in with my mum, sister and 20-month old nephew was very impressive and as far away from a flimsy canvas tent as you can get, boasting a solid wood floor, proper furniture, a wood burning stove and even a flushing loo.
On the more traditional side we had a wood burning stove in the main kitchen/living room area for our heating, hot water and cooking and an oil lamp and tea light candelabras instead of electric lights. As we were staying in one of the Frills lodges we got a lovely welcome surprise of a bottle of prosecco and a breakfast hamper of local bread, jam, tea, coffee and butter – a great touch.
The lodges themselves are surprisingly spacious with a big living area comprising of kitchen, dining room and living room areas with the three bedrooms all at one end. When I say ‘bedrooms’ there were actually only two, with one of the double beds situated in a cupboard (although my mum assured me that it was, in fact, very cosy!). The rooms themselves don’t have doors, only long white curtains, so this did entail a lot of whispering and tip-toeing after my nephew went to bed.
I have to admit, the prospect of having to start a fire to make a cuppa in the morning, along with an absence of internet and very limited mobile signal did initially fill us all with modern day dread, but within half an hour we had forgotten all about it and got well into the swing of our stay.
We wheel-barrowed all of our bags over from the car park – little touches like this really added to the ‘down on the farm’ experience – then settled in for an evening of playing cards in front of the stove. It’s easy to forget how much we rely on our electronic devices and how little we talk to each other until the options are removed – but the difference was remarkable and made a wonderful change.
Two of the features that made us pick the Frills Lodge were the private gas-heated shower and wood-fired hot tub for the ultimate touch of luxury and relaxation. You do have to earn your relaxation time, however, as the hot tub takes an hour to fill from a hose then three hours to heat up after lighting and continuously stoking the fire. It was definitely worth it though, as we (finally!) enjoyed a glass of cider in the glorious hot tub under the stars, with only the sound of a neighbouring pheasant to disturb the serene silence of the farm.
Dolphinholme is on the edge of the Forest of Bowland, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the farm itself is so peaceful and has some wonderful views of the surrounding hills. There are lots to do without having to leave the site – you can meet the herd of 1500 milking goats on an informative farm tour, collect the freshest eggs you will even eat, right from the chickens’ coop and paddle (or swim if you are brave enough!) in the River Wyre – a two-minute walk from the lodges.
One night during your stay the outdoor wood burning oven is fired up for you to make some delicious homemade bread or pizzas using ingredients from the on-site shop. There is also a fantastic Treasure Hunt you can do that takes around two and a half hours to complete and follows a two-mile circular route, starting at the farm, and provides a fun way to explore the area.
Thanks to the location of the farm, day trips are possible to The Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, Blackpool, Morecambe and Lancaster, so pretty much any leisure activity you want to do is just a short drive away. We visited Williamson Park in Lancaster which has a little butterfly house along with mini-beast and bird enclosures that allow you to get up close to the animals. We found a great pub in Bashall Eaves on the way back called The Red Pump Inn that served really tasty homemade dishes and the staff were really friendly.
A Feather Down Farm holiday makes you disconnect from modern day technology and reconnect with your family in pleasant back-to-basics lodges in beautiful, secluded spots across the UK.
Feather Down Farms have 33 locations in the UK. Prices start at £219 for a midweek in a Canvas Lodge and sites are open from early April (Easter) until late October