I have wanted to visit Westwood Yurts ever since I noticed a poster advertising them back in 2012. Last summer provided the perfect opportunity when some of the mums from school organised a little get together to look forward to at the end of the holidays. We loved our trip so much that we have booked again for this year.
We stayed in a large Yurt (priced at £135 for 2 nights). This sleeps up to 6 and was very spacious - there were 2 double futons and 2 single futons. When they were folded up there was the most space we have ever experienced on a camping trip. It was great being able to stand up everywhere too and have your own wooded lockable door.
The Yurt's were so well equipped - each has their own little kitchen stand containing pots, pans, plates, bowls, cutlery, knives, BBQ tools....and you are given a basket of logs to help you get started. (More can be purchased at £3 per bag should you run out). Each Yurt has it's own BBQ and outdoor gas stove (in a self contained box) so you can cook anything you would normally cook on your own grill or hob at home. I also loved the HUGE ice boxes which could easily hold the entire contents of our fridge. These were packed with industrial sized ice blocks which really did keep everything cool. I don't think I have ever been able to enjoy a properly cooled beer camping before! Well here you can. Fresh ice packs can be collected from the communal dish washing room every morning.
The only things you need to remember to pack are your sleeping bags, food, charcoal, matches, towels/toiletries, a torch and tealights.
The Yurt's all have their own mini solar generators which are used to power two lights in the Yurts should you need to and you can plug your phone charger in if you really need to - although remember to unplug when not using as you will drain the power.
The Yurt's are so snug and cosy. They are all raised from the ground on a wooded floor and are kitted out with carpets and rugs. There is so much insulation that we only needed our stove on for a few hours in the evening and that was almost too warm. You definitely don't get that freezing cold feeling you get with conventional camping.
Every Yurt also has it's own boot box for muddy boots, water carrier, outdoor picnic table, clothes rack and detailed welcome pack and maps. They really have thought of everything!
Evening's in a Yurt
Evening's in the Yurt fields were lovely - there are only 6 Yurts spread across 2 fields so it did feel lovely and intimate. We started our evening's with a BBQ - there is a communal covered seating area in the bottom field so we could all enjoy our meal together.
Then we would change the children into their onesies and send them on a stick collecting mission in the woods.
Then as the sun was setting it was time to build a fire in the fire pit provided and toast our marshmallows.
Finally, we would put the kettle on and make everybody a warming hot chocolate before lighting the stove and snuggling down for the night.
We certainly aren't party animals. I think we were tucked up in bed by 9:30pm every evening, but this suited us fine.
The farm and surrounding areas
You have to remember that you are situated on the middle of a working farm. The surrounding fields are full of cows and sheep. We loved this and the cows in particular made us laugh quite a few times.
You need to navigate past some cows to get back to your car.
The Yurt fields are very well equipped - there are two toilets (you need a torch if visiting at night) and two hot showers. We always found the facilities nice and clean. There is also a washing up room where you can wash your dishes in HOT water - everything is provided so you don't need to remember the washing up.
One of the main benefits staying at Westwood Yurts is that you get free un-restricted access to Gibside which is a fantastic National Trust property. Entry is normally £19.80 per family per day so if you stay at the Yurts I urge you to make the most of your free access. I have blogged separately about our day exploring Gibside here - Summer at Gibside. The strawberry castle play area is about a 20 minute walk through the wood from the Yurts. You can visit everywhere when Gibside closes to the public and it would be amazing to have the play area to yourself.
In a nutshell, our group enjoyed the Strawberry castle play area complete with play castles and zip wires, we built dens and took part in a blindfolded obstacle course in the woods, we toasted marshmallows and walked around the beautiful grounds and some of us even took the free bus to the stable areas to enjoy the indoor play areas and discovery zones.
I really don't know how Alistair the farmer manages to provide such a fantastic facility and run a farm at the same time! He was very welcoming - you just need to ring him when you arrive and he pops over and explains everything you need to know and he is on call all of the time - if there is anything you need to ask he is just a phone call away. We were sad to hear some guests had stolen from and purposely damaged some of the Yurts. I just don't know what would possess somebody to do this! Westwood Yurts are the most wonderful retreat from everyday life and we can't wait to return.
Find out more about the Yurts and book here:- http://gibsideyurts.co.uk/
Find out more about what's on at Gibside here:- http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/gibside/