Katie Gregory from There We Go went glamping with her family at New Barn Farm – a Feather Down campsite in Carlton, Bedfordshire. Here’s what they thought of their stay…
We’ve just got back from a weekend glamping at New Barn Farm, a luxury Feather Down campsite that’s an hour’s drive out of London. It’s only a 20-minute journey from our house in Bedford, but I had no idea it was there – the entrance in the sleepy village of Carlton is really well-hidden, and the farm itself is tucked away at the end of a mile-long track. Once you get there, you’re greeted with miles of unspoiled countryside and complete and utter peace and quiet – apart from a fair bit of bleating and clucking from the animals, of course.
We chose New Barn Farm because it was so close to home – we arrived straight after school on Friday and went home on Sunday with plenty of time to get ready for another crazy week. We’d received a welcome pack via email before our stay, which included a list of what we needed to bring. I’ve never been glamping, so I wasn’t sure if we’d need all the usual camping gear – bedding, plates, cool box etc – and fired off a load of questions to Hannah, who owns the farm, the night before. She was very helpful and explained we didn’t need any of it, which was a relief considering how much other stuff we’d already squeezed into the car.
Real beds and a proper loo – our Canvas Lodge
It all made sense once we arrived. Hannah helped us load all our bags onto a 4×4 buggy and drove us down to where we’d be staying – a huge safari tent kitted out with pretty much everything you can think of. We stayed in a Canvas Lodge, which has a proper toilet (no midnight wee trips!) and cold running water in the kitchen sink, but no shower (there’s a communal shower block). There’s also the option of upgrading to a Canvas Frills lodge, which has an en-suite bathroom and warm running water, plus a wooden terrace and extended canopy out the front.
Inside the tent, there are three individual bedroom areas – one with bunk beds, which the kids slept in, plus a cute cupboard bed for an adult or two kids, and another double bedroom. All beds have proper mattresses and duvets, and there was bedding provided. I had noticed a ‘reddy beddy service’ to have all the beds pre-made on arrival at £5 per person, but decided against the extra expense. I can honestly say I’d have been happy to pay double that once I was faffing around in the heat, trying to work out which sheets fitted which beds, and attempting to get them onto the bunks. I’d recommend splashing out if you’re not staying for long and would rather spend those 30 minutes flopped in a deck chair.
The kitchen and living area at New Barn Farm
The main living area was huge – plenty big enough to spread out in if you get bad weather and end up staying inside. The floors are wooden and there’s a proper dining table, cooking area, kitchen sink and a wood-fired stove with hot plates that we used to boil a kettle on and cook a fry-up on Saturday morning. Things like washing up liquid, tea towels and all crockery and cutlery are provided – including a cafetiere for a proper coffee.
A couple of crates of wood are provided for the stove and the fire pit outside, and we bought charcoal from the honesty shop to use with the Weber BBQ out the front. We pre-ordered a barbecue box with a selection of meats for £25, and picked it up from the fridge in the honesty shop when we arrived (more on the brilliant honesty shop in my post 15 reasons to visit New Barn Farm, over on my blog). There’s a huge cool chest in the tent, and you can borrow iced hot-water bottles to keep things cool inside it. There are oil lanterns and candles, but it’s worth bringing torches.
Extras at New Barn Farm – from hot meals to fresh pizzas
Other things we did need to bring were towels, blankets for when we sat outside, oil for cooking, some food, and condiments like salt and pepper. I also found it really handy to have two battery-powered night-lights with hooks for the kids, which we left hooked on their bunks all night for when they inevitably woke up and started wandering around in the dark like lost sheep.
There are absolutely loads of extras – you can have hot meals delivered to your tent if you don’t want to cook, we ordered freshly-baked pastries and bread for Sunday morning, and you can order breakfast boxes and home-made cakes. One thing we really loved was the pizza night on Saturday night – everyone gathered round the pizza oven with Hannah and her husband Will, who’d brought a load of fresh bases and toppings, and made their own pizzas to eat together at the picnic benches. Pizzas were £8.50 each and we just pre-booked the evening before.
Elsewhere on the farm there’s a little sandpit and seesaw for young children, carts to ride on, bikes to hire, animals to feed, and if you’re staying longer than a weekend there’s lots to do in the local area, which I’ve gone into more detail about over on my blog.
Last but not least at New Barn Farm – other things to know
It’s worth mentioning that we had some fairly noisy neighbours with teens who were up into the small hours of the morning, so it might be worth asking to be placed at one end of the site if you’ve got a baby or very young children (ours slept fine – it was me who could have done with an earlier night). The tents at the end closest to the showers seemed to get most peace when we stayed, while there was a large group of several families close to the rope-swing at the other end.
We stayed in Muntjac, which is right in the middle – opposite where the pizza party happens, and next to a communal seating area that didn’t get used while we were there. There’s a decent amount of space between the tents – it doesn’t feel cramped at all – and they all face straight onto a field of chickens and sheep, with a glorious view of the sunset.
No pets are allowed at this site, although the kids fed the pigs, stroked the rabbits and collected fresh chicken eggs from the coop (my tip: go early – we missed out to our egg-hungry neighbours on the first day). We also looked after a guinea pig for our stay for £12.50. The kids absolutely loved Mr Fluffy and were very sad to say goodbye.
New Barn Farm – would we go back?
The four of us came away saying we couldn’t wait to go back – and while I appreciate it’s a bit of a cliché, we definitely will be returning at some point. Things like the honesty shop and pizza night give this place a really relaxed, family feel, and there’s loads of space to spread out and just enjoy being in the countryside. Not being a massive fan of camping with kids, I had a feeling I’d enjoy glamping and I wasn’t wrong. New Barn Farm has everything you need to get back to nature without having to sacrifice on comfort, and for me that’s a massive win-win.
This stay was provided by Feather Down but all views and opinions are the writer’s own. New Barn Farm is in the Village of Carlton, Bedfordshire, MK43 7LX. It’s part of Feather Down, who operate luxury campsites all over the UK and abroad in a variety of farm and countryside settings. To find out more and book, visit www.featherdown.co.uk or call 01420 80804.
Why not PIN this post about glamping at New Barn Farm.