I never thought camping was my thing but recent experiences have taught me otherwise.
Despite my love of the city buzz, I know in my heart that I could never live too far away from the countryside. There’s something indescribably peaceful about listening to nothing but the birds singing and walking barefoot in the grass – even if it is somewhat dry and crispy this year thanks to the gloriously (and unusually) warm summer. But when it comes to truly roughing it, I’m not easily persuaded to relinquish the home comforts of a hot shower and snuggling into a cosy bed each night. In that sense glamping is the perfect compromise, especially when your surroundings look like this…
I was lucky enough to have an incredible experience of glamping in New Zealand (check out the post for photos!) when a last minute itinerary change left us sleeping in a cosy bell tent in the South Island’s Dark Sky Reserve. I knew this was something I wanted to try again when we returned to the UK so I’m proud to have collaborated with Wild Wellingtons and Campsites.co.uk on this post – it really is the perfect fit!
Their glamping site is small but perfectly formed: located about ten minutes drive from the mid-Wales coast and so fresh from a 15-month building project that Jamie and I were their first ever visitors! Despite a stressful few minutes lost down the narrow, winding country lanes, we pulled up to Wild Wellingtons in excitement and our first impressions were pretty magical. We were greeted by our hosts, Tom and Sinead, a lovely couple who escaped city life a few years ago, along with their two adorable and super friendly boys. They took us on a little tour and as we wandered across the meadow, the sight of the sun streaming through the trees onto the long grass made my shoulders instantly relax.
From their two domes, we opted to stay in the larger Cromen Ddôl – Meadow Dome – which contained a double bed, two singles, a little dining table and a sofa looking out onto the incredible views across the Welsh hills. Thanks to its location at the far end of the meadow, it was the more private of the two domes but still just a minute or so from the beautiful kitchen and shower facilities.
Honestly, I couldn’t believe how big the dome was. It’s tricky to get pictures to do it justice but when we lay in bed that night, the roof looked higher than the one in my bedroom at home! It’s seriously impressive but in all honesty, it was the little touches that had me smiling to myself as we settled in. From the slippers laid out for us on the shoe rack to the tiny carved hedgehog in the corner, it was instantly obvious how much effort had gone into creating a homely environment.
One thing that particularly drew me to Wild Wellingtons was their sustainable ethos and I wanted to see how this could be done while still keeping that luxurious glamping feeling. After chatting to Tom, we found out that the incredible kitchen pictured above was built from leftover wooden pallets with kitsh, sustainably sourced utensils. And would you guess that the stylish bathroom uses solar energy to power and warm the water? I was also pleased to see that all the cleaning products in the kitchen and bathrooms are eco-friendly Method – although as a quick disclaimer, they have been bought out by a parent company who test on animals so I’m not sure whether their famously ethical stance will be subject to change in the future. Let’s hope not!
Another benefit of staying in Cromen Ddôl was Tŷ Bach: Welsh for small house (or toilet!), this is a hand built eco-friendly ‘tree bog’ that basically separates the waste to create compost while feeding the willow and other plant life. I was a bit nervous about the prospect but actually, it’s super clean and saves you doing a scared dash for the main toilets in the pitch black if you’re a wimp like me. Even their toilet paper is recycled (but super soft), doesn’t use inks or dyes and 50% of the company profits go towards building toilets – find them at Who Gives a Crap. Who expected a toilet paper recommendation from this review? I feel like we’ve reached a new level here.
We settled in for the night with ease. This adorable welcome pack filled with locally sourced products was waiting for us on the picnic bench outside our dome so Jamie went straight off to the kitchen to make a cup of tea. In the meantime, I was investigating the cupboards to find glasses for the mini bottle of Prosecco that I’d impulsively packed at the last minute, envisaging myself as some kind of glamorous figure prancing through the grass in a floaty dress. Of course, that didn’t happen but to be honest, it was just as delicious when drunk in a jumper and pyjamas bottoms. Juuust keeping it real.
Our original plan was to cook ourselves veggie sausage butties over the fireput but when someone forgot to pack the crucial ingredient (guilty…too busy with the Prosecco apparently), we stopped en route for a classic seaside dinner of chips and gravy. Instead, we decided to roast marshmallows over a tealight while playing the travel-themed trivia game we found in the kitchen. Playing games just reminds me of my childhood holidays at the seaside in Anglesey so I do have a soft spot for putting electronics aside and getting stuck into a good round of go fish. Wild Wellingtons did a great job of capturing that traditional holiday feeling while giving you those extra touches of comfort and luxury. I won the game, of course. Insert that sassy girl emoji here.
I felt considerably less sassy when I remembered just how terribly unphotogenic I am – we tried to snap a decent shot for so long that it went dark before we succeeded. The area has such little light pollution that the darkness encompasses the dome with velvety blackness, pierced only by a cacophany of animal sounds from a nearby farm and the most beautiful starry sky I’ve seen since glamping in New Zealand. I tried (and failed) to persuade Jamie to get out of bed and take a look but if you’re lucky enough to stay there, don’t forget to look upwards if you wake up for a nighttime wee!
One thing I always associate with camping is the rapid temperature changes and the domes definitely don’t shield you from that: once the sun had gone down, the chill set in and we donned our jumpers to hop into bed for the night – even with the cosy duvet provided. You could combat this by lighting the woodburner but in all honestly, we didn’t trust ourselves to burn the place down and after all the hard work Tom and Sinead put in, we thought it was best that the domes lasted more than one night. By the time morning comes, the domes have really heated up so you’ll almost certainly find yourself throwing off the covers at some point.
We chose to leave the curtains open to make the most of those panoramic windows and the view that awaited us the next morning was phenomenal. The soft glow at 7.30am woke me up gently and without even leaving the bed, I rubbed my bleary eyes, grabbed my camera from the bedside table and snapped this photo immediately. There’s no main electricity on the site so in the winter, this wake up call will be considerably later but for all you Instagram addicts, the solar lighting box does have two USB outlets for you to charge your phones.
Be warned: it’s really hard to say goodbye to Wild Wellingtons. There’s so much to explore in the area that we’d have been happy staying for three nights or more and if you’re travelling as a family, this is definitely what we’d recommend. From travelling a lot with kids themselves, Tom and Sinead have worked really hard to create a family-friendly environment and I can imagine how it would work really well for a group getaway.
We packed up at an achingly slow rate, not wanting to relinquish the gorgeous views across the hills, but with a long drive home calling we were forced to leave at around midday – although we did stop at a nearby beach town for brunch at one of their recommended restaurants too. Sinead is a veggie too and so within their welcome folder, there are some great options if you want to get out and about for some of your meals. We were so lucky to be the first guests at Wild Wellingtons and I sincerely hope that the business is a success for our lovely host family: from our experience, we left feeling sure that it would be.