Glamping at Layer Marney Tower
We have all been enjoying the unseasonably warm February, not only are snowdrops and aconites out, but also daffodils, they are early. We are certainly not complaining.
As the weather improves and the grass dries out, we begin to think about our summer activities and one of the main ones that goes on here is Glamping. Glamping is posh camping, comfortable camping, camping with mod cons such as real beds and running water. We love glamping.
This is our tenth year so we know a bit about it. We work with Featherdown Farms, a Dutch company, this means if you are a Featherdown fan (and they have glamping not just in the UK but all over Europe, you know what to expect).
Our six encampments, appropriately named after the six wives of Henry VIII, are nestled in the trees down a track that goes past the church, in summer you can’t see them from the Tower, the leaves hide them, but they are actually very near by. Each encampment has a main tent with two bedrooms, one with a double bed (real bed, with sheets and duvet) bunk beds and then there is the cupboard bed, which is another double bed, enclosed, but equally as comfortable. There is a flushing loo and running water in the kitchen. A sofa, table and chairs and a woodburning stove for heat and to cook on. You need to remember to put the kettle on in good time as it is slow to boil, and…don’t forget you have to light the fire under it, not difficult, but it has to be lit, but this is all part of the experience. Instant it is not.
It is probably making your first cup of tea when you arrive that first alerts you to change of pace. No longer can you flick a switch and the kettle will boil in a few minutes, it sounds a simple thing but it is different, it is good as you beginning to move into slow time, a chance to chill, relax, take time to reflect and think.
Outside the tent there is another stove for cooking and in three of the encampments, a hot tub, heated by logs. The fire pit is very popular for marshmallow toasting and just sitting round and reminiscing, or chatting, or just being there. Each encampment has its own individual shower, housed in a little wooden sentry box type building, the water heated by gas and it comes out of a bucket with holes in it, sounds primitive, but it works. I speak from experience.
Cooking is simple. The wood burning stove is like the top of an Aga, no oven, but you can cook anything you might at home on the hob. There are plenty of saucepans and frying pans, mugs, glasses, knives and forks, whatever you could need, you don’t have to arrive with a car stacked with kitchen utensils.
Remember you will be pretty much off grid. Now there’s a novelty. A phone signal can be got with some phone providers, but it is patchy, although up the hill and you will hopefully discover a 4G signal. There is no electricity but lights running off batteries are soft and relaxing and plenty bright enough to read by in the evening, again I speak from experience.
Three of the encampments are right in the trees, three are more open, with a grassy area in front, good for ball games. Although the encampments are quite near to each other, they are carefully placed to be pretty private. There is a small shop and a barn building which can be use for group eating if you come with several families. That is a fun way to do the glamping thing.
A pizza oven is often lit for pizza making on Saturday nights, the owners come and fire it up for you and provide all the ingredients, that gets you talking to your neighbours!
A free pass in your tent gets you into Layer Marney Tower when it is open and you can enjoy the art exhibition, Crowns and Crests Exhibition and the huge dolls house, your children can enjoy the play equipment and climb to the top of the Tower, the church which is on your way to the Tower has Tudor tombs as well as a beautiful wall painting.
There is a lot to do locally with Mersea Island nearby with the famous Company Shed fish restaurant, Colchester with its castle isn’t far and Constable Country is just down the A12. But you might just find you arrive and you just sit and be still, listen to the birds and watch the deer in the nearby field come close to inspect you. You might find your children who you thought couldn’t last more than an hour without a screen, are so busy building dens that they don’t want or need to be entertained.
It’s relaxing and different this glamping, why not check it out and come and stay? We keep finding the same people are returning year after year, we must be doing something right. You would be so very welcome.