I don’t think there are many mums who woke up on Mother’s Day in a yurt, but I was one of them as we had a weekend away in Dorset last week. There is a lovely peaceful atmosphere at Caalm Camp, a campsite with six large circular yurts, all built in a traditional Mongolian style, and I should say ‘glampsite’ rather than campsite as this is much, much more special than a traditional campsite. Wooden beans radiate from a central circular skylight, with two supporting uprights – all hand painted in a gorgeous glossy colours. We stayed in the Cowslip yurt, and we were amazed to see painting on every piece of wood work including the door!
Inside all the furniture is cosy and functional; beds with proper sprung mattress, fresh cotton linen and plump pillows. There are wicker tub chairs for relaxing in and plenty of storage drawers underneath the bed. There is a small stove top with a whistling kettle so you can boil water to make hot drinks inside your yurt and outside there is a barbecue and fire pit as well as the inside log burner which keeps your yurt toasty and warm. Logs are free for the duration of your stay, and you can purchase a bucket of coal for three pounds to keep the stove going overnight, unless you wanted to get up to stoke the fire in the night time! Logs for the fire pit are also free, though they’re a different type of wood. Sam and I spent a lovely hour or so on our last night with the fire pit keeping us toasty, sat round the wooden picnic table scoffing marshmallows and G&Ts whilst the kids snoozed safely inside the yurt.
Each yurt is constructed exactly as a traditional Mongolian yurt would be, with lattice work to form the walls, and a large circular skylight. The wooden lattice sections are tied together with horse hair (As it doesn’t rot or disintegrate) and outsides are covered with a thick material to help insulate the yurts. The sound of the rain on the yurt was just so relaxing, and despite our visit being in winter and during a really wet season there was no damp inside the yurt at all – oh and no insects either!
In ‘The Old Haybarn’ is a large communal kitchen and separate chill out area. It has a television area with comfy sofas, a DVD player and books and board games. There are also lots of kids toys with a small kids table and chairs. There is a dining tables for each yurt in the room too, but still feels cosy and not at all canteen-like. In the kitchen you have your own fridge & cupboard to keep your food in, as well as a cupboard full of crockery and glasses to use during their stay. There are two hobs, two cookers, kettles & toasters plus a microwave to use- along with pots, pans trays & mixing bowls – basically everything you might need! We prepared basic meals (as sadly our kids have basic tastes!) but there was a family occupying a few yurts during our stay who did a steak dinner and all the trimmings on one night!
Now the part of traditional camping I dislike most is queuing in a damp field waiting to use a dirty shower, one that has been used by several people before me. Add two small children to the equation and it is not the pleasant experience, now imagine doing it in winter… However at calm camp each yurt has its own private shower room! Inside is a sink with a large counter area and cupboards to store all your toiletries in so you don’t need to schlep across fields with clean clothes, towels and a toiletry bag! You get a large fluffy white towel each and a heated towel rail need to leave your soggy towels on overnight. There is a large walk-in shower which keeps all the water where it should be so no soggy feet, and plenty of room to change in. Even with all four of us in the bathroom there was room to move around and change in, and the added touch of a step-stool for kids so that they can reach the toilet and sink. The bathroom locks with a key so you can rest assured that everything is safe for the duration of your stay.
Caalm Camp is located less than 15 minutes by car from Shaftesbury, down a little lane and surrounded by fields. We had geese fly over during our stay, a lovely chorus of birdsong in the mornings and saw rabbits hopping about the place. In the warmer months there are sheep in the adjacent fields but all year round there is Ruby the goat who lives in the barn, and who loves leftovers! She’s really friendly and Arlo especially loved her, squealing in delight every time we got to go and feed her! She’s having two little goat friends join her later this year too! Also in the barn is a ping pong table and a pool table for all guests to use, which is a lovely idea. Outside there is a communal fir pit surrounded by logs, which would be perfect for making new friends or spending time with loved ones. We’d love to come back with friends and their kids, the area is so picturesque and there is so much more to do in Dorset than I thought too!
I’ve put a little video together to show you the yurt and some of the things we got up to, so you can really get a feel for it…
What’s Included at Caalm Camp
All bed linen and towels, wood for your stove and fire pit, hand soap and a loo roll. In the kitchen there are plenty of utensils, and pots and pans. You get a kettle and some crockery in your yurt too.
What’s do you need to bring to Caalm Camp
Food, a tea towel and a hair drier if you use one. If you’re a bit fancy then you might want to bring proper glasses but we managed find with the mugs and plastic beakers that were in the kitchen already. If you want to barbecue whilst you’re there then you’ll need to bring charcoal or a disposable BBQ as there is a concrete BBQ stand at each yurt. You might want to bring thick socks or slippers too for inside the yurt as the floor covering is quite rough on bare feet. Maybe an eye mask if you don’t want to be woken up as the sun rises (though if you have kids they’ll do this for you anyway!) Don’t forget the Marshmallows!
What could be improved
I’ll be honest here and say actually not a lot, but I always try and come up with some constructive criticism when I visit somewhere, as nowhere is perfect…. but honestly? It took both Sam and I about five minutes for us to come up with these two points… The hob (well, the one that we used – there are two) took an age to heat up. It’s an older style electric hob and we cooked pasta for the kids the first night that took about 3 times longer than it should have. No major issue but a bit inconvenient. The other issue is something that I’m not really sure Caalm camp could improve themselves as it was incredibly wet for the days before and a little during our stay, plus it had of course snowed heavily at the start of the week. All this extra water meant that the kids play area was pretty boggy, though it didn’t stop my kids putting their wellies on and having a bounce and a slide! It just meant they got really wet – but within half an hour their clothes were dry as we’d hung them around the wood stove, so really no big deal!
To find out more and to book a stay at Caalm Camp visit their website or follow them on Facebook.