Sometimes modern life can wear away at your nerves to the point that you feel a strong urge to get away from it all – to live a simpler existence. I’m sure most people have fantasised about going off grid permanently, at some time in their life, only to have this dream quashed by their responsibilities. Maybe we can’t run away to that little cottage in the middle of nowhere, but there’s nothing stopping us from having a taste of a simpler way of living. This is how my husband and I found a little bit of heaven, fittingly in the Eden Valley, called Drybeck Farm.
Drybeck Farm, located between Penrith and Carlisle, is a small glamping site aimed particularly at couples wanting a relaxing break and to get back to nature without giving up on comfort and style.
Located alongside the beautiful River Eden, it provides quirky and comfortable accommodation in a peaceful setting. We’ve just spent a relaxing two nights staying in a traditional Mongolian Yurt, but last year we spent a few nights in a renovated gypsy caravan, one of two located at Drybeck. To say the caravan was cosy is an understatement, but don’t let that put you off. What it lacks in size is more than made up for in charm, style and comfort. The bed alone was unbelievably comfortable and the feather duvet was so snuggly. Each caravan and the yurt come with a private cookhouse nextdoor. This is a wooden structure, open on one side, which contains a sink, running water, worktops, electric oven with hob, fridge and all the utensils and crockery you need to cook and eat simple meals. There is also a table and chairs, electric lights and enough candles, holders and lamps to provide a romantic dining area overlooking the river. Each cookhouse is furnished with interesting restored pieces which again adds to the charm.
As much as I loved gypsy caravan living I’m very much now a convert to yurting. With its wood flooring, double bed, with feather duvet and plenty of spare blankets, wood burning stove, futon, scatter cushions, rugs, candles and minimal electric lighting the yurt was so comfortable I experienced two of the best night’s sleeps I’ve had in a very long time. Considering there was a strong wind and torrential rain, the first night, it’s even more surprising that I slept so deeply.
Of course it must not be forgotten that this is glamping so some roughing is to be expected and you can forget about en-suite facilities. There are two electric showers in a nearby wooden building, with eco-friendly shower gel, shampoo and conditioner provided, whilst another wooden construction, amusingly called a Thunderbox, provides the toilet facilities. The Thunderbox is not for the faint of heart as, in keeping with the environmentally friendly nature of the site, it is a compost toilet, which is a bit of a shock to the senses if you’ve never used one before. Oddly enough we soon got used to it and my husband’s suggestion of spraying the provided air freshener before lifting the lid was a genius tactic – it’s a pity that he kept this to himself until just before we left.
Over in the far corner of the site, on the banks of the river, is a hot-tub which is available for hire, by the hour. This replaces the original wood fired tub that was sadly swept away in the devastating flood that hit Drybeck, and much of Cumbria, in December 2015. Other casualties of that flood were a vintage caravan, another yurt and the large cookhouse that was shared by the yurts. That they managed to rebuild the site in time for the new season is a credit to the owners. Chatting to Steve, on arrival, we heard about how bad it had been with him pointing out clumps of grass in the bushes and trees lining the river, which showed just how high the water had gotten. It was a sobering sight.
All in all I cannot recommend Drybeck Farm glamping highly enough. From watching kingfishers, cormorants, crows and numerous other birds during the day, to listening to the owls in the evening, it’s a wonderful way to connect with nature. It’s close to the village of Armathwaite which boasts two public houses, village shop, riverside walks and a station on the Settle – Carlisle railway line, widely regarded as one of the most attractive rail journeys the U.K. has to offer. I for one cannot wait to get back for our next visit.
Find out more at http://www.drybeckfarm.co.uk/
Feature and Images By Sarah Carolan