Lockdown is over and escaping to the wilds of Wiltshire for a spot of glamping is turning out to be a hoot – not least because there’s an owl near my tent joining in with the nighttime chorus.
A variety of other birds are chirping away as I snuggle under the duvet in my double bed, and the field of sheep and lambs next door are in good voice, too. I’m finding this nocturnal soundtrack a wonderfully refreshing change to the sirens, drunken yelling and moped-revving that often fill the night air where I live in London (and it’s reassuring to know that I could always pop outside and count the sheep should slumber evade me).
Being serenaded by the resident creatures is one of the many joys of a stay at Campwell Farm, which offers a family friendly off-grid glamping experience that strikes a pleasing balance between wild and luxurious in a glorious location – just five miles from Bath and in close proximity to picture-perfect villages, meandering lanes laced with wild garlic, scenic canals and ancient woodlands.
Campwell Farm offers a family friendly glamping experience that strikes a pleasing balance between wild and luxurious in a glorious location, Ted concludes
Hygge factor: Campwell Farm’s bell tents come with rugs made from Church Farm’s sheep, double and single beds, plus duvets, pillows and towels
I arrive with my partner and three-year-old daughter by train from London Paddington via Bath and a local service from there that winds through a beautiful valley to the chocolate-box town of Bradford-on-Avon.
Here we have our first post-lockdown restaurant meal, outside at a boutique-y riverside eatery called Timbrell’s Yard. The service is slow, but we don’t care (and we suspect they’re finding their feet after a few months off). The location is wonderful, the waiting staff super-friendly, and my mackerel and chips (when it eventually turns up) is delicious.
After a pleasant saunter around the town’s lanes and alleyways, past delightful olde-worlde houses and cottages, we hop in a taxi outside the station (the driver’s business card says, League of Gentlemen-style, ‘a local service for local people’, but rest assured, they welcome strangers) to our tented home for the next two nights.
Here, matters get delightfully bucolic.
Ted’s slice of Wiltshire for two nights is a section of Campwell Farm called Fry’s Wood, pictured beyond this field of sheep
Campwell Farm is the glamping arm of Church Farm in the village of Winsley and getting to the check-in hut involves driving along tracks around the edges of two fields beyond the Church Farm entrance.
Our driver is game for the adventure.
At the hut, we meet Campwell Farm’s friendly founder, Tim. His family has been running Church Farm for five generations, but he’s branched out and made a success of the glamping business.
He introduces us to the Campwell luggage delivery system – two wheelbarrows – and leaves us to settle in to our little slice of Wiltshire for the next two nights.
In the middle of the Fry’s Wood hamlet are communal kitchens a sizeable firepit encircled by several wooden seats – perfect
The communal kitchens have everything you need to self-cater – gas hobs, a fridge and plates and cutlery (and the all-important corkscrew)
My three-year-old goes bananas for the place the moment the wheelbarrows are unveiled and the excitement for her never really subsides.
We adults are bewitched, too.
Our canvas abode is in an enchanting section of the camp called Fry’s Wood, which consists of five large bell tents spread out amid tall grass and small trees, with a thicker bluebell wood to one side and sheep-festooned fields all around.
Our tent – called Ispecso – has a double bed and two singles, with duvets and pillows and towels provided.
Keeping it clean: One of the Campwell Farm hot-water rain showers
A small heated indoor pool (pictured) can be found amid the main Church Farm site
On the left is the Campwell Farm DIY luggage delivery system. Pictured right is Ted holding an adorable lamb during farmer Becky’s lamb tour
Ted’s tent comes equipped with a rustic wood-burning stove (above), which proves vital when temperatures dipped below freezing
The cosiness factor is boosted further by the tree branch wrapped in fairy lights that forms the central pole, a vintage trunk, a sheep-skin rug (from the farm’s own sheep) and a rustic wood-burning stove linked to a metal chimney.
This will prove vital when the temperature drops to –2C on the first night.
Outside we have two wooden seats, a little metal firepit, a picnic table, a compost loo and a sink.
It’s our own little haven, with the nearest tent 30 yards away, facing the opposite direction.
In the middle of the wee tent hamlet are communal kitchens with everything you need to self-cater – chunky gas hobs, a fridge and plates and cutlery (plus the all-important corkscrew and a USB socket), while outside is a sizeable firepit encircled by several wooden seats.
This area also contains hot-water rain showers and more loos.
The main farm building, meanwhile, houses a heated indoor pool.
In the evenings, we ensconce ourselves around firepit flames with another family. Marshmallows are roasted, pinot noir sipped and parenting tips exchanged as our respective offspring cavort around with frisbees and footballs.
On both mornings, we walk half a mile to the stupendous Hartley Farm kitchen and shop (owned by Tim’s uncle).
A mile-and-a-bit-long saunter along lost lanes and across meadows from the glampsite to the Dundas Aqueduct, pictured, proves to be one of the trip highlights
Ted and his brood stop off on the way to Campwell Farm at Bradford-on-Avon, pictured, for a spot of lunch
Bradford-on-Avon is full of olde-worlde houses, like the one above, which is home to The Bridge Tea Rooms
A 5.30am snap Ted takes of the field by his tent, with mist gently rolling across the meadows
It’s a little farming wonderland, with a kitchen in a barn that serves excellent coffee, top-notch breakfast burritos and marvellous mini boxed fry-ups for toddlers.
There’s also a shop selling homewares, gourmet groceries and wine and beer. And outside, there’s a playground with rabbit and duck pens.
We spend hours there on each visit.
A mile-and-a-bit-long saunter along lost lanes and across meadows to the Dundas Aqueduct, which enables boats on the Kennet and Avon Canal to cross the River Avon, also proves highly enjoyable. But the top-tier activity is the ‘lambing tour’ run by Tim’s farmer sister, Becky.
She introduces us to some of the farm’s adorable lamb orphans and lets us bottle-feed them milk – and even hold them.
So yes, this is one cute and cosy campsite, but in really cold weather you’ll need to bring sleeping bags, hot water bottles and thick jumpers to keep it that way, as we discover. Possibly even some ski gear.
We’re told the first night is the coldest April night on the farm in eight years.
However, I find the frigid temperature mildly thrilling and enjoy the challenge of building a fire in the stove that’ll burn all night using our basket of logs and the charcoal briquettes that Tim supplies.
Once I get it going, the crackling logs complete our nighttime soundtrack.
I drift off, vowing to return for a summer encore.