Carry on Camping!

Rachel Haddy

I have never been, nor shall I ever be, a camper.

My aversion to camping was born in 2011, when at the tender age of 14, I embarked on a Duke of Edinburgh expedition. I love the outdoors and hiking, but always rest safe in the knowledge that I’ll be able to return home at the end of the day, use my own shower and snuggle up on the sofa with a hot chocolate (I’m aware this description makes me sound at least 72, but by the time you get to third year you will understand). On the day of our hike the weather was appalling and we traipsed the coastal paths of South Cornwall with faces like Ross Poldark upon discovering a bad pilchard in his Cottage Pie. My breaking point came in the evening, when I abandoned the sanctuary of an over populated tent to run to the toilet block. I carried my pyjamas in one hand, and as my half-dead Trago torch blinked its last throes of luminary existence onto the abandoned campsite, I dropped my fluffy socks into a puddle. Marinated in muddy filth, my last icon of homely comfort had been stolen away and I vowed then and there that I would never go camping again. My rant was not dissimilar from King Lear’s storm-set outburst on the Heath, but with fewer appeals to “smite flat the thick rotundity o’ the world,” and probably a bit more swearing.

Given my ardent dislike of the torturous canvas based activity known as camping, you can imagine my puzzlement when earlier this year my mother suggested a trip to Dartmoor to stay in a yurt.

“A yurt?” I repeated, my mind swimming with visions of long haired men sat around a campfire playing freshly carved ukuleles.

“A yurt,” she replied with a mildly sardonic smile. “It will be an adventure!”

On arrival to Dartmoor, we were greeted by the site owners whose aged Border Collie walked with us through the woodland to our yurt. I couldn’t believe my eyes when our home for the next 5 days was finally revealed to us. Spacious, charming and intricately patterned, the yurt was positioned by a private lake and backed onto a patch of woodland which resembled a fairy glade. There was no human habitation for miles and we were provided with a small dingy for use on the lake and a sizeable kitchen area. My mum, sister and I hiked during the day and returned to our abode in the evenings to cook on the fire pit and play cards under lamplight, enjoying a few glasses of Buckfast wine which had been sourced from a local Abbey. Yes, our “fridge” was a stream and we had to make a fire to heat the shower, but these factors only heightened our fondness for the simplicity of yurt life.

I would recommend a stay in a yurt for anyone who appreciates both the natural world and the privilege of a comfortable bed in equal measures. It is also a much cheaper alternative to a break abroad and one which provides just as much exoticism and escapism.