I’ll admit it was a gamble, but our decision to spend the summer holidays going no further than North Yorkshire paid off with weeks of glorious sunshine. We spent a huge amount of time outdoors and much of it under canvas, with the highlight being a weekend at Jollydays Glamping just outside Stamford Bridge. We may have only been a few short miles from home, but it felt as though we were a world away. Here’s why we loved it so much.
The tents are fantastic
Forget starting your weekend wrestling with dodgy tent poles or pondering divorce as you try to find a decent pitch. This is most definitely glamping rather than camping. Our home for the weekend was an enormous bespoke tent complete with a spacious terrace, well-equipped kitchen with hob and cool box (some have fridges) and even a bathroom with loo, free-standing claw-foot bath and piping hot shower. We slept in a pretty four-poster, two of the kids had a single bed each and the third was delighted to sleep away from the lot of us on a sofa bed in the living room. The living room itself was surprisingly spacious, with two sofa beds, dining table and the all-important log-burning stove for cooler evenings. The decor is Instagram pretty, with fairy lights and tea lights to add sparkle to the dark woodland nights (there are no traditional electric lights). Outside was our own picnic table and barbecue and lots of space to play.
The communal areas are lovely
Having stayed at North Star Club, the Jollydays sister site (read our review here), we were keen to recreate the happy memories of making our own pizzas. We went prepared with a stack of margheritas – we’re nothing if not adventurous – and made quick work of charring them in the communal wood-fired oven.
We did have to wait an hour for it to heat up though, so bear that in mind and take snacks for the kids while they wait! Pudding each night was the obligatory marshmallows, toasted on the communal fire. We listened to chilled-out tunes and nibbled our hot, sticky treats alongside other families who seemed to be having just as much fun (and throwing the same caution to wind about the impending massive sugar rush so close to bedtime).
We’d never been into the woods near Stamford Bridge and couldn’t quite believe our eyes. We were greeted by the sight of a massive hare and two pheasants before we’d even arrived at the sight. This is nature as nature intended, not a curated version with a huge domed swimming pool and scheduled activities for entertainment. Here you make your own fun – take books, games and your imaginations. Nature does, of course, make its way into the tent from time to time, so the family’s designated spider-catcher will be much employed.
Worried about being chilly at night? Borrow a hot water bottle from the utility shed. Panicked that you’ve forgotten to pack the prosecco (the horror!)? Just pick up a bottle from the honesty bar.
Fancy sharing a pot of tea instead of a cup? Borrow a teapot. Need a change of scene? Head to the Tea Tent for some peace and quiet (and to charge your phone!). The kids loved the little fairy houses dotted around the site, and we hear that there’s a fairy trail coming soon to Jollydays so watch this space for details.
The other families who stayed the same weekend as us seemed to spend all their time on site, doing the woodland walk and cycling through the woods too. Although we made the most of the site, making dens, playing games (nets, rackets, balls and more are dotted about for impromptu fun) and finding sticks and acorns, we couldn’t resist making the most of the location. One day we headed to Pickering for a ride on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway to Whitby, and the next we drove to Helmsley to visit the National Centre for Birds of Prey (both excellent; keep an eye out for our reviews). Dalby Forest and the coast are a short drive, too, as are the many attractions of York.
We might have been a stick’s throw from home, but we could have been a million miles away. Without a TV, iPad or the never-ending domestic to-do list looming over us, we could spend some really good time hanging out together as a family and enjoying each other without distractions. We can, and do, achieve that by camping as a family with our own tent but it can be hard work. There’s a lot to be said for the convenience and relative glamour of glamping like we did at Jollydays: uninterrupted family bonding in nature with the bonus of proper beds, fluffy duvets and a lovely bath – what more could you ask for?
Jollydays, Buttercrambe Rd, York YO41 1AN – Visit jollydaysglamping. co.uk
We were invited to stay at Jollydays for the purpose of this review. Our reviews are entirely honest and we will only ever recommend something that we have really enjoyed.