We’ve just got back from a weekend glamping at New Barn Farm, a luxury Feather Down campsite that’s 20 minutes down the road from us in Carlton, Bedfordshire. We fell in love with the place and I’ve written a full review of our stay for Mini Travellers (I’ll link it when it’s live), so do pop over and have a read.
There are absolutely loads of things we loved about it, from the huge safari tents (take a look at the Canvas Lodges) to the ridiculously fluffy guinea pig we borrowed for the weekend (we miss you, Mr Fluffy). Although we’ve camped with the kids before (the eldest was 9 months old when we took him to a music festival), we’ve never done glamping – and after this experience, I for one am officially sold.
Here are 15 reasons why you should visit, and why we’ll be going back…
15 reasons to visit New Barn Farm – glamping in Carlton
1. You don’t have to take loads of camping stuff.
I know I’m a bit late to the party, but this glamping thing is absolutely genius. We left all the usual camping gear at home because the huge safari tents (they’re officially called Canvas Lodges) are fully equipped with everything you need – from cooking utensils to toilet roll. We still managed to fill the car with stuff, so I was grateful to be picked up in a 4×4 buggy by Hannah, the owner, who whisked us off to our tent (it’s a fair walk, especially with bags). There are wheelbarrows for extra trips.
2. There’s an actual loo in the tent.
…which means no midnight trudge to the toilets with small, cold children. And if you’d also like to bypass the communal showers, you can upgrade to a Canvas Frills Lodge and get a private one in your tent.
3. There are actual beds, with actual mattresses, and actual duvets.
Can you tell how happy this made me? I’d rather sleep on one of those biscuit-thin camping mats than a lumpy airbed, so to be faced with a selection of proper beds in separate sleeping areas made my day. The kids especially loved the bunk beds and the little cubby-hole bed – just make sure you bring night-lights for the kids as it’s (obviously) pitch-black in the tent once the oil lanterns are out.
4. The honesty shop is brilliant.
Stocked with everything from sweets and s’mores ingredients to posh meat, cheese and wine, the honesty shop is excellent – you just write down everything you’ve taken over your stay, tot it all up at the end then pay when you leave. Potentially dangerous for the wallet, but ridiculously handy.
5. There are freshly-baked pastries for breakfast.
…but you might have to fend off the chickens. There’s a board in the honesty shop where you can pre-book freshly-baked pastries and bread for the following morning, then just pick it up the next day. You can also order full breakfast boxes and there are things like fresh milk and eggs.
6. There’s a wood-burning stove in the tent…
Coming in summer? Use it to cook on and boil hot water. Coming in winter? Warm up or dry off on chilly nights next to a toasty stove. Did I mention I love glamping?
7. …and a Weber BBQ and fire pit outside it.
We bought charcoal from the shop to use with the BBQ, and brought some wood from home for the log burner and fire pit – you get a couple of crates provided, and you can buy more if you need to top up.
8. You can rent a guinea pig.
My kids have been begging for a pet for a while, so they were delighted to arrive and find Mr Fluffy the hirsute guinea pig waiting for them outside the tent (in a hutch, obviously). They helped with feeding him and loved petting him, and it was well worth the £12.50 we paid. You can also pet and feed the horses for £10 and get a little certificate at the end.
9. Saturday evening is pizza night.
Choose how many pizzas you want, sign up on the board in the shop, then head down to the wood-fired pizza oven in the field (it was right opposite our tent – Muntjac) for a pizza party with the other campers. Hannah and her husband Will were the perfect hosts and we got chatting to some of the other families who explained they’d come straight after work from London – it’s only an hour’s drive, so perfect for a weekend away.
10. There are loads of ways to get involved.
Feed the pigs, build dens, collect fresh eggs, stroke the bunnies… this is a hands-on stay that kids will love, and as this is a 400-acre farm, there’s lots of space for them to explore. There’s a rope-swing in the woods behind the tents, some carts to drive around, and a little sand pit for smaller guests.
11. There’s running water.
…which means no traipsing backwards and forwards to a shared tap, filling up bottles and faffing around. It’s cold water only in the Canvas Lodge, or warm running water in the Frills version.
12. You can get food delivered to your tent.
Everything from BBQ boxes of meat to freshly-cooked stews can be delivered if you don’t want to cook. And if you want something in-between, you can get all the ingredients for a farmer’s stew delivered instead so you can cook it on the stove yourself.
13. You can cook a decent meal.
Speaking of which, there are pans big enough to cook family meals, lots of utensils and a massive kettle so you can boil water for washing up. There’s a proper dining table to eat your feast on, too – no camping chairs necessary.
14. There’s plenty of space in the tent.
It’s full-height so you’re not stooping the whole time, bedrooms are in separate areas so daytime naps are a possibility if you’ve got little people, and there’s lots of space in the main living area if you get rain and end up staying in. Bring some games – there’s no electric hook-up (although you can charge your phone in the honesty shop).
15. There’s lots to do in the area.
We only stayed for a weekend so there was plenty to do on-site. If you’re staying longer or just want to get out and see the local area, you can walk or cycle to Harrold Country Park – 1.5 miles away – or drive to Grafham Water. There are lots of maps with walking and cycling routes in the honesty shop, and The Royal Oak pub in Carlton is within easy walking distance and serves food. In all honesty though, if you’re anything like us you won’t want to leave.