Yes, camping really can be romantic: How we spent our 15th wedding anniversary on a rural campsite

  • The writer spent her latest wedding milestone at Crafty Camping in Dorset
  • The site sits a few miles from Lyme Regis and Iron Age fort Pilsdon Pen 
  • It offers yurts, tipis and a ‘shepherd’s hut’ for camping with a difference 

Clare Hall



‘Things take time when you’re camping,’ my husband John says as we wait (and then wait some more) for a storm kettle to boil on our 15th wedding anniversary.

There had been a moment of doubt before we arrived at our woodland campsite in Dorset.

Would we manage without our usual anniversary props – hotel swishness, wall-to-wall wifi and late-night mojitos?

Yes we would, because Crafty Camping is rather special.

Camping, but not as you know it: Crafty Camping features a 'shepherd's hut' complete with wood stove

Camping, but not as you know it: Crafty Camping features a ‘shepherd’s hut’ complete with wood stove

Initially the site was home to cabinet maker Guy Mallinson’s green woodworking courses, but after repeated requests from people wanting to stay, he created a luxury, adults-only campsite.

There are five bell tents and yurts, a tipi, shepherd’s hut and a tree house with hot tub.

One of the best things about this place is that you are left entirely to your own devices.

No meet and greet, just a polite text from Guy.

‘There is no formal check-in so please make your way to your new home in the woods, settle in and relax.’

And what a new home this is.

As soon as we’d unzipped the tent flaps to our tipi and clocked the hand-carved four-poster, log-burner and fluffy reindeer skins on the floor, I knew I’d settle in beautifully.

The attention to detail is astonishing – pegs carved into the bedposts for hanging your clothes, heated towel rail, electric blanket, bedside lamps and overhead reading lights.

Each tent is set in its own clearing in the woods with a decked area for your barbecue and a double hammock slung between the trees.

It’s utterly private and, aside from the odd cooing pigeon or tooting owl, completely silent.

The boardwalks across the site are lit by sensor lamps.

Step outside and you immediately have a floodlit path to your barbecue area, tree shower, flushing loo and basin.

That it rained fairly incessantly on our first day was a plus – showering in piping hot water while the rain pours in through the open-air roof will be an enduring memory.

It reminded me somehow of Bali or Thailand; hard to believe we were in the midst of rural Dorset.

The real attraction to a break like this is the opportunity to cut off from daily life.

Lyme Regis is just a few miles away and, down the road, the Iron-Age fort Pilsdon Pen with views right across Dorset.

But we found it almost impossible to drag ourselves away from the woodland.

There is something about sleeping amid trees and being so close to the elements which makes time slow gloriously and, in the end, that was the best anniversary treat of all.

Travel Facts: Plan your own break at Crafty Camping 

Bell tents at Crafty Camping (01460 221 102, from £84 a night low season (Nov 1 – March 27, except Christmas and New Year).

Yurts, tipi and shepherd’s hut from £120 a night. The site is open throughout the winter.



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