Get away from it all – the city, your job, that strange dog that follows you around – by trekking into the darkest depths of Dorset, a place so remote that sometimes you can’t even load tweets. The word “glamping” might evoke a mental image of Kate Moss standing in a ditch trying to light a barbecue, but it’s really just upmarket camping in a decent tent with a soft bed that won’t blow away in the night.
Where? Deerland Safari near Beaminster, which is a place I’d never heard of either. The chalet-sized, multi-room tent sits at the top of a meadow in the middle of a 75 acre farm teeming with wildlife and surrounded by woodland. Sprawling views of the stunning Dorset countryside greet you each morning, and a cosmic carpet of twinkling stars tuck you in each night. It’s also the sort of scenery that makes you come out with poetic nonsense.
The stay: The tent has two bedrooms, one a double and another with two bunks, making it ideal for couples with little ones. A front room features a dining area and a well-stocked kitchen. There’s no electricity, because you’re in the wilderness, but heating and hot water is provided by gas cannisters. There’s an outdoor shower just behind the main tent too, which is great fun on cold mornings.
The food: You could rustle up a sausage or two on the tent’s gas hob, but just a ten minute drive away you’ll find The Fox Inn Corscombe, an authentic West Country boozer that serves lunch, dinner and classic Sunday roasts. You can drive the car right up to the tent at Deerland too, so don’t worry about schlepping through fields to get anywhere.
Is there anywhere nearby to hunt for ancient fossils? Yes there is. You’re staying near to the Jurassic Coast, so if you’ve never had the pleasure of fossil hunting in Lyme Regis, this is your chance. As you well know, this is where a 12-year-old Mary Anning discovered the first complete ichthyosaur to be found in England, back in 1811. I found two low quality geodes, but even if you come away empty handed it’s marvellous fun simply smashing up rocks in the rain.
What if I don’t like fossils? I’m not sure I understand the question, but nearby Weymouth is one of the south coast’s loveliest seaside towns. Throughout the summer you’ll find regular weekend seafood and ale fairs happening along the quays. Spend a lazy couple of hours strolling along the market stalls that line the dock, and when you get as far as the sea, hop in a tiny wooden boat and have a nice gentleman row you back to the city centre. It only costs a pound.
Any rude horses? Several horses reside in the field adjacent to the lodge, chief among whom is Treacle, the naughtiest horse in Dorset. He’ll march right on through the electric fence to hang out in the field you’re staying in, inciting his horse-friends – who must repeatedly bear witness to his insolence – to gallop around in a blind, equine panic.