I confess I was one of the very many who made the most of the lockdowns by getting the dog that I had always wanted – a miniature dachshund named Jareth. But when it came to going away on holiday, leaving my little lockdown pet behind would be just barking mad.
With staycations more popular than ever, thanks to Covid, a glamping trip seemed the perfect solution; no “ruffing it” for my pup – or me.
That’s why I found myself and Jareth, along with two friends, and my friend’s Chihuahua in tow, heading to the Feather Down glamping site on East Shilvinghampton Farm, set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, near the Dorset village of Portesham.
Raring to start the nature-filled big city detox we were craving, we were welcomed with open arms at the working farm, run by Martin, his wife Joby and family.
And our accommodation really was something else. Calling it a tent is a bit of an insult really, as we had our own bathroom with a flushing toilet and hot shower, a kitchen with all the essentials including a makeshift fridge complete with ice packs, and two bedrooms plus a cute cubby-hole containing a cabin bed. A sofa, dining table, wood stove with barbecue, picnic table and deck chairs were additional nice touches.
However, on the first night I admit we did get a bit of a shock over how dark it got once the sun went down. There’s no flicking on the big light when you’re in the middle of a field but candles and oil lamps created a cosy atmosphere.
Next morning we dived into our welcome hamper, packed with a loaf of bread, sausages, bacon, eggs, jam, tea, coffee and more, to rustle up a hearty breakfast. There’s plenty to do in and around the farm and my inquisitive puppy couldn’t wait to start meeting and greeting the residents, even reaching through the fence to give a goat a little kiss.
Then there was the very friendly horse who trotted over to say hello as we walked past, while the herd of alpacas, who seemed just as inquisitive as Jareth, delighted in watching our every move.
Covid restrictions meant alpaca walks were off the agenda the week we were there which was a shame as I’d have loved to have met them properly. Never mind, it was a good excuse to come back. The farm’s honesty shop has a selection of grocery essentials as well as treats from ice cream and beers to alpaca socks. We could also stock up at a supermarket just a few minutes drive away.
At the chicken coop we can collect our own eggs and we discovered a pizza oven which is fired up one night a week so we could turn out custom-made pizzas to eat around the campfire lit up in the evenings.
For Jareth, a city canine who doesn’t even flinch at the sound of sirens, the sound of mooing cows roused much more interest. Life on the farm was so exciting that one night he sneaked out like a rebellious teenager to go exploring, forcing me to chase him barefoot with only the torch on my phone to light the way.
On a gorgeous day we drove to Weymouth Beach, five miles away, where I even managed to entice Jareth into the water for a doggy paddle. While our four-legged friends were not allowed on the main portion of the beach, there was a big stretch where our little ones could happily go digging in the sand. And The Kings Arms pub in the historic village of Portesham got the bark of approval from Jareth – as well as a thumbs-up from the humans, for its scrumptious fish and chips.
On our last night, we upped the ante on our relaxation game by renting the farm’s hot tub, set in a secluded area scented by surrounding purple lavender, it was a blissful end to our glamping break. If you’re looking for an escape with your pooch from your hectic life at home, this is paws-itively the perfect place.
With two little dogs in tow, we were pleased to discover how dog-friendly Dorset is. For more info go to visit-dorset.com/ideas-inspiration/dog-friendly.
If you’re going to venture from the farm on foot, ask for directions first rather than relying on your phone.
What should have been a safe, enjoyable 45-minute walk to Portesham (if we had spoken to farmer Martin) ended up a scramble along the grass verge of a busy major road thanks to Google Maps.
What to take
- A pocket torch with extra batteries.
- Swimwear for beach and hot tub.
- Wellington boots for walks around the farm.
- A spare pair of trainers.
Book the holiday
Feather Down offer a three-night, self-catering stay in a canvas hideaway with ensuite toilet facilities and shower for a maximum of six guests (up to five adults) at East Shilvinghampton Farm near Weymouth, Dorset, from £450 based on May 3 arrival. Find out more at featherdown.co.uk.
You can also get more information at visit-dorset.com.
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