For many a childhood holiday, I went camping but glamping however, is new to me. As a child, I must admit I did miss the luxuries of electricity and not having an escape from the weather on those not so sunny evenings, so I was keen to see what glamping was all about.
I was invited by award-winning South Lytchett Manor Camping and Caravanning Park to try out one of their glamping pods.
Located in Lytchett Minster, just a short distance from Poole in Dorset, the site is set in land that once belonged to South Lytchett Manor House.
As you approach the campsite from the road, you drive through some very impressive and grand-looking gates – a relic from the campsite’s days as part of the manor. In fact, these gates formed the formal entrance to the manor and the long driveway now is lined with pitches for touring caravans and tents.
Four of us (two adults, one 11-year-old and one 2-year-old) were to stay in Laurel, one of the park’s glamping pods.
Laurel was conveniently located near to the play park – something that was a big hit with the two girls from the moment we arrived! Within this area of the park there are some other pods (all with tree-related names) and a couple of shepherd huts.
If you don’t fancy being situated by the play area then there is an area with more brightly coloured shepherd huts or some beautifully painted Romany caravans to try.
Within our pod, we had all that we needed. A double bed, a sofa (which pulls out to two separate single beds), a small kitchenette with two hobs, a fridge, a coffee machine and kettle. There are power points and the all-important thing for an 11-year-old – WiFi!
There’s a fold out table with two chairs within the pod and a picnic bench outside so you can enjoy alfresco meals if you prefer.
There are several amenity blocks on the site and the one closest to us was just a short stroll away. The facilities are very clean and there’s the added bonus of family shower rooms which are really handy when you are trying to shower a strong willed 2-year-old!
Within the park’s reception, there is a shop selling your every-day essentials as well as local produce such as Moors Biscuits and local beer.
There’s also a café where you can grab takeaway drinks or freshly baked croissants and bread. Or, you can do like we did and take a seat and eat them there.
The site has regular catering vans visit, and we saved the stress of cooking the first night and made use of the fish and chip van.
If you want to bring your dog, then some of the glamping pods and other glamping units are dog-friendly (including Laurel). There’s a large dog-walking field and added touches like free dog biscuits in reception.
You can also hire bikes from the park, or bring your own as there are lots of cycling routes nearby.
What we did when staying at South Lytchett Manor
On our first full day there, we decided to head to some of the coastline that’s not to far away. Our first stop was Swanage – a place that I know pretty well from Geography field trips from days gone by!
It was pretty blustery on the day we visited so rather than making sand castles on the beach, which was the original plan, we headed in land to see the departure of one of the Swanage Railway steam trains.
If you get the chance to hop aboard, it does look amazing and the journey stops at Corfe Castle and onto Wareham.
After grabbing a bite to eat, we then went to a seaside tradition – the arcades before having a brisk walk along the sand and a few games of skimming stones.
After Swanage, we travelled further west along the Jurassic coastline to Kimmeridge Bay.
Park up at the headland car park (charge applies) and take the short walk down into the bay. It’s best to do this at low tide and like us, you can walk out across the wave cut platforms.
Kimmeridge is famous for its fossils and here you can see enormous ammonites and other fossils in the exposed sea bed. Amazing!
There are some fantastic walks you can do from here too, including (so long as MOD activity doesn’t prevent it) a walk to Lulworth Cove and Tyneham, Dorset’s ‘ghost’ village, which was evacuated in WWII.
At one end of Kimmeridge Bay, Dorset Wildlife Trust has a Wild Seas Centre, where you can learn more about the marine creatures that inhabit this area. It’s free to visit although donations to Dorset Wildlife Trust are welcomed.
After a few hours of looking in rock pools, fossil spotting and clambering over rocks, we headed back to the car park for an all-important ice cream!
Farmer Palmer’s farm park
On our second day, the children spent the first part of the morning playing in the campsite’s play area again before we sadly had to depart from our pod.
We drove to a nearby farm park, Farmer Palmer’s, where there was a large soft play, outdoor play areas, opportunities to see lots of different farm animals and for a small charge, hop aboard a tractor/trailer ride to go and feed the farm’s deer.
Our glamping experience
We loved our first-time glamping. The girls said they had lots of fun and when I asked our 2-year-old whether she liked it she replied “again”!
If you like the great outdoors but feel you’d miss your home comforts, then glamping makes a great option. It’s definitely something I’d do again. Plus, South Lytchett Manor is conveniently located to lots of the south coast’s leading attractions including the Jurassic coastline, Bournemouth, Poole and historic towns such as Wimborne Minster and Wareham.
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