Alastair Sawday is the go-to guide for characterful places to stay and Canopy & Stars is his carefully chosen collection of luxury camping spaces. They’ve just launched The 2012 Great British Adventure competition, which will send two lucky winners on a 1,270 mile trip through three countries in 10 days this summer. Naturally, there’ll be a fair few eclectic beds to sleep in along the way.
To celebrate, Sawday has compiled this list of unusual and imaginative places to stay, so we can all wave ta-ta to our desks and set off, Hunters in hand, to off-the-wall accommodations in England’s less-trumpeted corners.
Best for true Gypsy camp experience: Wanderlusts, Cumbria (Part of The 2012 Great British Adventure!)
The rumble of the wheels, the jingle of the harnesses and the breathy snorts of the horses carry you back to a slower time. They carry you there slowly too, as the Wanderlusts tour drifts from camp to camp down country lanes before settling in for the night and getting the fire going for the cookpot. There’s no power, no distraction except those you make for yourself and no better way to get a taste of the Gypsy lifestyle. (Sleeps 2, from £200/night including accommodation and driver.)
Best for inspiration: Crafty Camping, Dorset
You’ll find it hard to stay idle at Crafty Camping for long. Whether an enthusiastic beginner or an experienced craftsperson, Woodland Workshop is the ideal place to grow your skills. Try your hand at green woodworking, spoon carving and even axe throwing with Guy and the team then return fired with creativity to your own little camp. There’s a Kelly kettle for making cups of tea after a hard day of crafting, and all sorts of other little essentials, such as a wood burner to keep you cosy after dark. And the Woodland Kitchen’s local charcoal fuelled clay pizza oven can’t be beaten. (Sleeps 2 from £70 a night.)
Best for eccentricity and period charm: Yarlington Yurt, Somerset
Forget the rest of the world in this peaceful and secluded yurt that offers luxurious camping with charm. The bedroom is a work of art, best described as ‘late 18th century with French influence’ dotted with antiques borrowed from Yarlington House. The grounds are full of wonders and guests can roam large parts of the peaceful gardens and possibly take a dip in the family swimming pool. (Sleeps 4 from £99/night.)
Best for seclusion: The Lodge, Cumbria
Out here, it’s just you, the wilderness and a private river that sweeps around The Lodge providing some of the best salmon and trout fishing in the country. In the morning you might be lucky enough to see deer wading through. (Sleeps 2 to 4, from £165/night; Part of The 2012 Great British Adventure!)
Best for family gatherings: The Hatch, Worcestershire
With room for 6, (or 12 if you rent both cabins) The Hatch is the perfect place for a family getaway. The beautiful interiors with the bunk-style beds are lots of fun and there is plenty of outdoor space to run around in too. There is a telescope to stargaze from, blank notepads for drawing, and the best bit is a recording studio and performance space in the main house that can be hired out. (Sleeps 6 from £90/night; Part of The 2012 Great British Adventure!)
Best for luxury: The Treehouse at Harptree Court, Somerset
In the grounds of the grade 2 listed Harptree Court, the magical, grown-up Treehouse at Harptree Court awaits to welcome you across its boughs. This is high class camping at its most luxurious – a spectacular hotel suite in the treetops. High above the rest of the world, soak in style in the copper bath big enough for two, or sip a cocktail on the veranda toasting the fate that brought you together. (Sleeps 2 from £245/night; Part of The 2012 Great British Adventure!)
Best for quirkiest stay: The Lovestruck at Pennard House
The clue’s in the name as to why a stay in this converted horse truck, (newly positioned in Somerset for the summer of 2012, and a brief August stint in Oxfordshire for The Wilderness Festival), is perfect for a quirky getaway. Within your private orchard, little can equal the romance of the surrounding apple blossoms and private lake. Of course you can simply relax in the quirky Lovestruck, snuggled in the warmth provided by the wood burner. (Sleeps 2 from £85/night.)
For more details on The 2012 Great British Adventure, visit www.canopyandstars.co.uk/adventure or get in touch on 01275 395447. To enter, tell Canopy & Stars about your favourite holiday memory, along with a photo and the travelling tune that brings it all back. Entry closes 15 July.