For me, there’s something magical about camping; sleeping under the stars, getting involved with the natural world around you, digital detoxing and enjoying quality time with friends and family around a campfire.
I especially love glamping as, let’s face it, staying in a luxury tipi or yurt complete with fire pit and barbecue is a lot lovelier than slumming it in a tent you have to put up yourself!
For me, glamping is the best kind of staycation as there are so many fantastic locations around the UK. On my last trip I went to Larkhill Tipis and Yurts in Carmarthenshire for a weekend in Wales.
Glamping at Larkhill Tipis and Yurts, Carmarthenshire
Set in the rolling countryside a short drive from Carmarthen, Larkhill Tipis & Yurts is down a bit of a dirt track, and once you turn the sharp corner into the car park, you’re immediately greeted by owner Fran’s free range turkeys and lush woodland.
We received a lovely warm welcome from Fran herself when we arrived, and she happily showed us around. There was a communal cabin with a fire pit outside, plus gas cooker, dining table and sink inside, as well as a small shower block to the side with solar heated hot water.
After a quick tour, Fran showed us to our tipi and left us to explore the grounds. The tipi was just gorgeous! We had a stepping stone path around, a picnic bench and fire pit to cook on outside.
Then inside we had a gas stove, cups, plates and crockery.
One double and two single beds.
And a cast iron wood burning stove to keep us warm.
The tipi was surprisingly spacious inside with room to stand up and plenty of room for 3 of us to get comfy.
After dumping our bags and grabbing a much needed cuppa, we went off to explore the woodland around the site. Dotted throughout are hand-made wood carvings, bunting and secret clearings.
We had loads of fun trekking around the woods! It’s bigger than it first looks, and with so much to seek out and discover it’s perfect for big and small kids!
As dusk fell, fairy lights started to twinkle in the trees, making everything look magical, while having the practical purpose of lighting the way to the loos and communal areas.
We headed back to the tipi to get dinner going. The lads decided to be manly and start the fire, while I got the chilli con carne I’d prepared ready.
Chilli is the ultimate outdoor food for me, as it’s so easy to make and reheat, and the smokiness from cooking over fire really enhances it! Plus it’s really warming on chilly (see what I did there?) nights.
And of course, we couldn’t have a campfire without marshmallows.
Bellies full and fire dying, we headed inside to get the wood burner on, cue more manly behaviour!
Once the fire was burning strong, we got wrapped up in the blankets and settled in for a surprisingly comfortable night’s sleep.
Our tipi was an ideal place to stay, close enough to nature to have that wonderful feeling of getting away from it all, but with enough facilities to be comfortable, including good loos and showers with constant hot water, and in a great location with plenty of things to do and places to explore.
Things to do for Nature Lovers
Wales is famous for its rugged coastline. Cardigan Bay in particular is known for its wildlife, and there’s no better place to go looking for dolphins than perched atop a sea kayak out on the open water.
Cardigan Bay Watersports at New Quay have a whole range of watersports, but it was sea kayaking for us.
Setting out from the beach, we had a bit of a practice in the shallows before a group of us went out kayaking around the bay. Their sea kayaks are lightweight, and you sit perched on the top, rather than having your legs inside. This apparently gives them more stability on the waves, but it didn’t stop me ending up in the sea a couple of times!
We all had a David Attenborough moment as we managed to spot bottlenose dolphins swimming alongside us on the boat trip back to shore. They’re truly remarkable creatures, and such a beautiful thing to see.
While there’s no guarantee of dolphins, you can book all of the activities at Cardigan Bay Watersports in advance online
We also had a dolphin spotting boat trip booked with A Bay To Remember, but sadly the weather took a turn for the worst and got rained off.
If you’re not one for the beach, there are some really beautiful forest and river walks in the area surrounding Larkhill. Cenarth Falls is a beautiful set of waterfalls on the Teifi river, surrounded by lush forest and a quaint little village.
We went on a little trek alongside the river, where the trail is mostly flat. There’s also a large pool where we rediscovered our inner children by skimming stones and collecting pebbles!
There’s a little gift shop just beside the car park at Cenarth Falls that sells delicious Welsh cakes too. Ours didn’t make it out of the car park…
Near Cardigan, there’s also the National Botanic Garden of Wales which we didn’t make it to, but is on the list for next time.
Things to do for Foodies
Caws Cenarth Cheese
Not too far from Cenarth, there’s an award winning artisan cheesemaker Caws Cenarth in Boncath. Their Perl Las creamy blue cheese and Perl Wen brie style cheeses are famous, but they have a much bigger range available to taste and buy in the shop. You can even do a tour of the full cheese making process.
There’s nothing I love more than a really good cheese, so I went to town and bought a whole selection, presented in a beautiful gift box. It was a bit of a scary drive to get there, but so worth it! I can highly recommend the Golden Cenarth cheese, a gorgeous, creamy, soft cheese washed in cider, that you’ll love if you’re a Camembert fan.
Cardigan itself is a historic market town, with a large indoor market selling everything from wool to jewellery. There’s also some great spots to grab a bite to eat and shop for tasty souvenirs.
Food for Thought is a lovely cafe on the main high street, and it’s got the coveted #1 spot on Tripadvisor. We went in at lunchtime and despite it being absolutely heaving, they managed to accomodate us without a booking.
The menu is full of comfort food like burgers and paninis, but it was the cockles and laverbread that caught my eye, I couldn’t resist trying a Welsh classic.
Despite its appearance, this was actually really delicious. The saltiness of the bacon and seaweed was cut through by the cockles, and the rich sauce made this feel like a really hearty dish.
I struggled to eat my fish burger after such a rich starter, especially with such a generous portion! None the less, it was a good burger with crispy batter and tender fish.
Also on the main high street sits Queens Bakeries, a lovely bakery with fresh bread and cakes, and a selection of foodie souvenirs. As well as picking up a fresh loaf of beer and cheese bread (which was really delicious) I grabbed some Aberffraw biscuits, which are like the Welsh version of shortbread, as well as some sea herbs and a little tin of laverbread to take home!
Then, my favourite, Yum Yum Sweet Shop, a traditional old sweet shop, the walls lined with jars and jars of brightly coloured sweets and treats. I was drawn to these bars of Nom Nom Welsh Chocolate, and couldn’t resist picking up a couple. I went for the Salted Caramel which was lovely, but the best one was the Welsh Cake, with real fruit and bits of Welsh Cake in the chocolate. If you see it, buy some!
Cardigan also has the indoor Guildhall Market, with 2 floors of shops and traders, selling all sorts. I saw this Barra Brith tea towel hanging in one of the shops and had to grab it. Barra Brith is a traditional Welsh loaf cake, packed with dried fruit soaked in tea. The recipe on the towel worked really well when I tried it at home too.
We only spent a couple of days in Carmarthenshire, but I loved our tipi and would most definitely go back to explore more of the stunning Cardigan Bay coastline.
One for the road…
Naughtily, I decided to take a bit of a detour on our way home from Wales. I’d heard of Penderyn whisky from my lovely friend Vicky at the Birmingham Whisky Club, so when I realised I could stop off there if I took a different route home, I made a beeline for it.
Penderyn produces award winning single malt whisky at the distillery in the Brecon Beacons, with water from their own spring. It was a moody and atmospheric drive through fog covered moors, dotted with woolly sheep like clouds, but so worth it just for a trip to the distillery shop (sadly I missed out on a tour due to timings).
As well as getting a bottle of their gin a miniature gift set of their Celt, Myth and Legend whiskies, I picked up this beautiful gift set of their Madeira finish single malt with branded whisky glasses.
It’s a beautiful whisky, with a golden colour, a light flavour and a sweet finish from the Madeira. Well worth a trip off the beaten track to get it!
So if you’re planning on a staycation this year, do something different and try glamping in gorgeous Wales. With some of the most stunning landscapes in the country, fantastic food and some lovely eco retreats like Larkhill Tipis, I think you’ll love it.