A couple of weeks ago, we took the boy south to Dumfries & Galloway for a long weekend away. My goal (as a self-confessed boot-wearing outdoorsie), was to introduce my wife (who’s a heel-wearing shivering townie) to the pleasures of camping, without actually having to stay in a tent. Thereby avoiding the less romantic aspects of camping (such as the bluebottle-infested chemical toilet, for example).
It turned out that our friends would be joining us too, one of whom (John) had never been camping. Not even in the back garden.
This would be a challenge.
So I booked a Wigwam, and our friends booked a wooden tent. Have a look at just a couple of the pics I took. The misty photos were taken while trail running high up in the 7 Stanes mountain bike trail, and the silvery mudflats were snapped from the cliff above Sandyhills beach. Read on to find out how we got on…
To ensure maximum cleanliness and comfort, I booked a weekend that was outside of peak season. And I did my homework and made sure we were not going to end up in an episode of Hi-De-Hi. We had a look on wigwamholidays.com which is a good place to start but we couldn’t find on that website exactly what we wanted. Which was…
- No caravan parks, or sprawling camp sites
- Must have beaches close-by & plenty of wildlife
- Must not be too remote
- Must have access to ice cream
- Must have things to see/places to visit if the weather turns bad
- Must have good trails for walking/running
Gorsebank is a very small site with just a few wigwams on a working farm, with horses, dogs, hens and geese all around. So lots of nature, literally on your doorstep. The farm is also on the trail head for 7 Stanes mountain bike trail, and just 10 mins from the nearest beaches (Sandyhills beach is great, and you can find some secret coves, beaches and caves. We liked the vibe of Rockcliffe even better).
A weekend away camping means multiple changes of socks and footwear, but you can get by (almost) with the clothes you are standing in. Providing of course, that you pack waterproofs and don’t have any major accidents. Theoretically that means one small bag per person, plus food, toiletries, and three towels. Which leaves plenty of space for essential home comforts such as beer and wine.
A good wigwam can easily accommodate all of that, plus sleep up to six people. With electric lighting and heating, plus a microwave, fridge and kettle, you can get along quite comfortably, sipping a chilled Pinot Grigio while your I-phone charges. However, the wooden tent our friends had booked was, by comparison, far too small for a family of three, and not fun in bad weather. Which is how the holiday started…
Friday was a wash out – rain and wind and more rain, plus some mud! In bad weather you need a good common room or kitchen so you don’t feel cooped up. You also need to have clean toilets, hot showers and a very good drying room. Thankfully Gorsebank had these facilities in good supply.
But decent on-site facilities can’t mitigate against a bad night’s sleep! And John, towering at over 6ft 4″, had had a rough night upon a punctured airbed inside a 3ft-high wooden tent. The next morning he looked like he was suffering from a mixture of sea sickness and cabin fever.
Saturday and Sunday provided better prospects, courtesy of some sunshine. Holiday + sunshine + kids = beach. So that’s where we spent most of our time, searching for interesting shells, observing and tickling wet dogs, and not quite flying the kite. The kids occasionally joined in too.
Now that we are back home I reckon John will never set knee inside a wooden tent again. And for my wife, only Wigwams with multiple plug points will pass muster – she’s the type that packs a hair dryer no matter what. For me, the only thing I can think of for taking a hairdryer on an outdoors holiday, is that maybe it’d be quite useful for getting the blood to clot.
I suppose we’re all different, and the words “comfort” and “holiday” mean different things to each of us.
In conclusion, a wigwam holiday is a great camping compromise for families made up of outdoorsies and townies. And at £32 per night for a family of three, it proved to be a very inexpensive and enjoyable experiment.