Down on the Farm: Glamping, Camping & Self-Catering on Wheems Organic Farm, Orkney

If there’s ever a place that charms you into going back to basics, back to the land, to nature, to life round the campfire, it’s Orkney. Blistering sea views, tales of Neolithic man at multiple cairns, chambers, stone circles and settlements, it’s a mystical land, yet in the capital of Kirkwall it’s easy enough to stock up on supplies for any forthcoming adventures.

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Glamping Pods with Staggering Views at Wheems Organic Farm

Wheem’s Organic Farm, on the island of South Ronaldsay, encapsulates the good life. An organic six hectare horticulture and animal smallholding, it’s a stunning destination. You cannot beat waking up to views like this. Wheems, run by a farmer/architect Mike and his daughter Islay, is manned by volunteers (often from WWOOF – World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) who work the land in return for food and lodging.

When we booked, out of a selection of glamping pods, yurts and bell tents, only the self-catering cottage was available, so I had no choice but to avoid a night under canvas. With one double bedroom, a bathroom and a kitchen/living area, the cottage was compact and quaint. Mr Child was to spend the night on the sofa covered in blankets, and Mr Toddler had his trusty travel cot. This is how we got on.

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Inside the Self-Catering cottage

CHECK IN – We arrived early, as the cottage was still being cleaned, but we were kindly allowed to dump our suitcases and give the boys lunch in the kitchen. After about 40 minutes we headed off sightseeing (to the hugely family friendly Tomb of the Eagles which I’d thoroughly recommend) and the final touches of the cleaning were completed in our absence. This was really helpful and considerate of the owners.

THE ACCOMMODATION – Despite being relatively small our cottage was perfectly formed, cosy and felt like home. There were various random oils, herbs, spices and teabags in the kitchen so it was easy to add flavour to basic ingredients. It also helped that the site has an honesty shop selling, amongst other things, its own organic vege. Buying fresh vegetables and eggs, straight from the farm, was an added bonus. For campers there’s a shower block as well as a quirky and inviting kitchen and dining area. The interior of the pods is basic, whereas the yurts may provide a family with more space, so it’s best to phone Islay to talk through your requirements. Although it looks wild and beautifully remote the cottage also had excellent wifi. Again, it looks like kids are exploring the edge of a cliff, but it’s actually safe and enclosed, yet simultaneously wild and free for mini travellers.

 

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The Art Gallery

Wheems also has a small art gallery onsite. Farmer Mike initially moved here with his artist wife Christina Sargent, a felt and print artist, who passed away in 2013. Her work is still on display and for sale in the gallery, and it gloriously celebrates the wildlife, seabirds and seals that clearly inspired her. It’s an unexpected and colourful corner of the farm. 

It’s also possible to spot the free range chickens pecking around and organic crops being tended. Put simply, it’s a breath of fresh air, with a very chilled out atmosphere.

LOCATION – South Ronaldsay is three islands away from mainland Orkney. This sounds seriously remote but it’s a simple 25 minute drive, across the Churchill Barriers (key historical sites in themselves), crossing Lamb Holm (home of the Italian Chapel), Glims Holm and Burray before reaching South Ronaldsay. This is how joined up and easy travelling in Orkney can be. Our boys blinked and they’d covered three islands and were ready for a new start.

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Wheems Honesty Shop with Organic Veg, eggs and bread for purchase

After checking in we continued South to visit the staggering Tomb of the Eagles then, the morning after staying at Wheems, we’d booked a visitor slot at the serene Italian Chapel on Lamb Holm, on our way back to the mainland to catch our ferry home from Stromness. Lamb Holm is also home to Orkney Wine, so for a handful of small islands there’s a lot to see and do. Whilst we opted for self-catering dining at Wheems, the Skerries bistro was also been recommended to us though I didn’t personally try it myself.

Our stay at Wheems was informal, friendly, fresh, the kids felt at home, and the scenery was unbeatable. It took me to Orkney islands I hadn’t visited before and introduced me to the memorable historic sites that moved me. A simple but special place.

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Wheems Camping Facilities

OUR STORY – We sailed from Aberdeen direct to Kirkwall with Northlink Ferries taking our car with us. After spending 3 nights at Ayres Hotel in  Kirkwall as a base for Orkney mainland sightseeing we drove to South Ronaldsay to spend one night at Wheems in order to explore what the southern Orkney islands had to offer. Click here for top things to do in Orkney with kids.

If you like what you read then don’t miss a post, enter your email address in the ‘Follow’ box then click ‘Follow’ or join the conversation on Facebook. For any queries or opportunities please email tots2travel@hotmail.com.  We ventured to Orkney courtesy of Northlink Ferries. We stayed at Wheems Organic Farm for one complimentary night for review purposes. Discover more at orkney.com. All images copyright of Tots2Travel.

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23 Comments

  1. Reply

    Shawna Holly

    September 26, 2017

    This is just too cool. I would love to travel more with our kids…need to make that happen!

  2. Reply

    tots2travel

    October 5, 2017

    Cool. You should do it! Lots of colourful options out there. Give us a shout if you want any more ideas.

  3. Reply

    myrabevlife

    October 6, 2017

    What an incredible adventure, I am in love with the views and who wouldn’t. Sounds like an epic journey for the family

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      October 6, 2017

      Staggering views, such an experience to wake up to.

  4. Reply

    NM (@nmdiariesx)

    October 6, 2017

    Would you look at that! I have definitely heard of glamping before but have never thought of it as being this GLAMOROUS! What have I been waiting for! This looks AWESOME!!!!

    http://www.nmdiaries.com

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      October 6, 2017

      Go for it! Give it a try. We’ve done some 5* star glamping too and it’s the business.

  5. Reply

    fashionandstylepolice

    October 6, 2017

    What an amazing adventure. Sounds like a great adventure.

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      October 6, 2017

      Orkney is a strangely magical place, sounds stereotyped but it’s true.

  6. Reply

    hannahandfitness

    October 6, 2017

    Sounds like a great adventure! Reminds me of my childhood family trips 🙂

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      October 6, 2017

      You can have a lot of fun camping and going back to basics.

  7. Reply

    The Abbottses

    October 6, 2017

    Never been to Orkney but it looks beautiful! The cottage looks so cute! Getting excited for our trip to the highlands now! xx

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      October 8, 2017

      Wearvlayers and you’ll be grand! 🙂

  8. Reply

    Claire justine

    October 6, 2017

    This looks like lots of fun. Looks like a great adventure for you all 🙂

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      October 8, 2017

      A beautiful spot to spend the night.

  9. Reply

    Laura Dove

    October 7, 2017

    Ahh gorgeous, this is my kind of holiday! We’ve never been to ORkney, I’d love to!

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      October 8, 2017

      Hope I’ve given you a few Orkney ideas 🙂

  10. Reply

    Kira

    October 8, 2017

    We wanted to go glamping this year but unfortunately didn’t get the chance – looks amazing ! Can’t wait for next year 🙂

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      October 8, 2017

      Yes, definitely give it a try next year.

  11. Reply

    Kara

    October 8, 2017

    Lovely to meet you at Britmums. I feel inspired to visit Orkney after my chat with you, such a stunning location 🙂

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      October 8, 2017

      I hope you do. It’s quite a special place and we only explored the mainland. Lively to chat in person. We’re looking forward to our family trip to London too.

  12. Reply

    Musings of a tired mummy...zzz...

    October 8, 2017

    This looks like a great place to stay. I love the inside of the cottage and how they have used the space

    • Reply

      tots2travel

      October 9, 2017

      It was compact but exactly what we needed. And compared to camping it was pure luxury.

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