Glamping at Dundas Castle! Shock announcement – I think I quite love glamping, and I think it’s a great option for young children. Dundas Castle in South Queensferry, Edinburgh is known for its luxury accommodation, but it’s newly opened a small selection of lochside canvas cottages which offer style and attention to detail combined with fresh air and the great outdoors.
This was my very first experience of glamping, and it was Mr Baby’s first experience too – he’s only one! And clearly spoilt rotten. I didn’t know what to expect, or how easy it would be to ‘glamp’ with two toddlers in tow. This is what we discovered.
THE TENT – EXTERIOR – Outside your tent you have your own decking, with table and chairs, gas barbq, outdoor heater and mains tap (with drinking water). You also have a truly wonderful view down to the loch and its resident swan and ducks.
THE TENT – INTERIOR – If you equate camping with discomfort then time to revisit that. The inside of the tent is lush. It’s spacious with hardwood floors, solid furniture, a huge bed with quality bedding and a toddler campbed as requested. We had to bring our own travel cot but there was ample room for that too. There was a wood burning stove with logs provided – it powered out heat and made our tent as warm as our home. We got that lovely chill through the night once the fire went out, so it felt like real camping, then Mr Husband dutifully relit the fire at 6am to get the tent toasty for our toddlers when they woke. To me heat, more than anything, transforms camping to glamping. You can buy more logs as required but we had enough for our two night stay. I did worry Mr Baby (now walking) would veer towards the stove but he sensed that it was truly hot and kept well away.
The living space had solar powered lights, solar powered phone chargers, torches were provided, blankets were tucked in a trunk, candles sat in attractive glass holders (which we hid from the children), a vat of drinking water was provided, cutlery and cooking utensils were stored in wooden chests and a carbon monoxide alarm was also present to ensure our safety.
The shower room is another big sell. It’s a wood cabin annexed onto the tent so the room itself isn’t heated but the water from the shower is piping hot. Towels and toiletries were provided (just like a hotel) and having your own sink and toilet within the tent is a real luxury in the middle of the night (or when you have a potty trained child with you).
DINING – We arrived with our evening meals in cool bags. Sea food, corn on the cob and mushrooms for night one, and steak and roast peppers for our second evening. Eating outside was a pleasure (yes, we were lucky it was dry). A kettle could be boiled on a gas ring, next to the barbq for cups of tea (tea bags, coffee and sugar were provided like they would be in a hotel). It’s also possible to boil a kettle on the wood burning stove if it’s bucketing down outside.
We experienced Dundas’ Breakfast Hampers which were a huge treat and much of the produce came direct from Craigies’ deli just up the road. The hamper contained bacon, eggs, jam, smoked salmon, orkney salted butter, marmalade, seeded bread, fresh apple juice, muesli, fruit yogurt and croissants. The hamper is bound to last two days at least, and you’ll take goods home with you. It’s quality.
And tidying up? Weird as it sounds I enjoyed doing the dishes outdoors on the decking in a pop up washing up bowl. Ecover washing up liquid was provided along with a brush and sponge and I used hot water from the kettle, cooled down with water from the mains. I felt like Heidi.
THE LOCATION – Lots of little pros and cons here. Each tent is set back from the loch so the views are truly stunning, and you’re a safe distance away from the water if you have small children with you. The tents are in the shade most of the day, so not too sunny, but the sheltered spot provides a good wind break. There is low ambient noise from the roads nearby but the main things you hear are the ducks, birds and the occasional squawk from the resident swan. I love hearing owls at night.
Guests can explore the estate – we enjoyed a stroll as the sun set. The castle itself is off limits as it’s regularly hired out for private weddings, and the last thing a bride needs to see is my tribe cagoulled up to the max. Being so close to Edinburgh is a huge advantage – the airport is minutes away, and the big city and all its sights and sounds are close by. North and South Queensferry offer their own attractions but the highlight of our trip was Dynamic Earth near Holyrood Park – our toddlers were transfixed for the entire visit (unheard of) so a separate post is coming on that!
THE VIBE – I enjoy camping and going a bit off grid but I loved the ease and comfort of glamping. The tent was vast, it felt like we had a cave, and we all bundled together. I think we paid the children more attention. There was no television; our little boys were wrestling and playing better than they do at home. In the photo on the right you see them playing with wood chip – they spent twenty minutes doing this!!! Something clicked in with them, maybe it was being outdoors, and they just got into the whole vibe. It was a special and memorable experience with children.
Tips – Pack slippers so the kids can go between the hardwood floor of the tent (which can be quite cold underfoot) and the decking. There are quite a lot of steps up to the tent so we left our buggy in the car. On the first night we did have to keep Mr Baby away from the steps by blocking the decking entrance with some chairs, but as you can see by Day Two, he had sussed that it was smarter just to sit at the top and play with the wood chip! Dogs are also welcome. When guests arrive they’re met by a Dundas representative who not only welcomes you but ensures that visitors understand how to use all the equipment available so don’t worry if you’re not used to glamping, outdoor heating or lighting gas bar-b-qs etc. Great weekend.
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