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Sunday, 13 July 2014

Lantern & Larks Glamping in Lancashire

Mumsnet Lancashire review of Lantern & Larks, Bleasdale. 

I've always declined camping for a variety of reasons/excuses. I may be scarred by the memory many years ago of trying to find our tent in the middle of the night in a field of similar sized tents all I knew was the colour of it and they all looked the same in the dark! When we were asked to go Glamping at Lantern & Larks at their new site in Bleasdale I wavered, I have always said when my children asked about camping "When tents have kitchens and bathrooms I'll go!" - now I had to keep to my word. The children who historically asked are now teenagers aged 14 and 16. They were more enthusiastic than I was, even when I stressed hair straighteners would be useless there and WiFi was unlikely!

The directions to Bleasdale are easy to follow as long as you read right to the end and not presume you are there. The 'Glampsite' is situated down a private driveway with sheep on each side and green open spaces as far as you can see, the view welcomes you to your own piece of the countryside for the weekend. We parked up and met Jennifer - the site manager  for that day who showed us around and explained the workings of the stove and lighting provisions. The Lanterns and Larks website looks idyllic, solid furniture under canvas but you can't appreciate the size of the tents until you are there. There are 3 separate tents on site, each with their own generous space around them very different to our previous holiday experiences. 

Inside? Well, welcome to the tardis tent, to call it a tent doesn't do it justice, a canvas covered holiday cottage may be more apt. At times it was only the walls moving slightly in the breeze that reminded me of it's structure with it's solid furnishing and styled interiors it was so much more than I imagined. Whilst they look generously sized from outside the interior was perfectly proportioned 3 bedrooms, 1  double, 1 twin, 1 bunk, a kitchen area, a generous living space and dining table. Outside is a large decking area with cushioned seating and additional deck chairs with steps down to your own picnic bench area and fire pit.  At the rear of the tent is a zipped door which leads to the back door with room for boots and coats and leading to 2 separate rooms housing the shower room and toilet, the area is lit with motion sensor lights so even at night you can find your way.

Wheelbarrows are provided to help get luggage from the car -one wheelbarrow trip and loading up spare hands and we were all set. The storage within each room means you could easily stay for a week without having 'stuff' all over the place. The kitchen is well stocked with necessities and more. There was enough room for us all to be in there without getting in each other's way. Unsure of what to expect in relation to location of nearby shops we had brought our own food. There is also an honesty box for any essential you may have forgotten in such a natural environment I appreciated the trust put into people, there were personal messages written to acknowledge & thank for payment. The site manager visits each day and will replace batteries if required for the motion sensor lights and for the battery operated lanterns rechargeable batteries are exchanged at the honesty shop.

We decided on a BBQ for that evening and set about exploring the local area. We set off across the field instead of using the sensible slate paths provided with teen 1 and 2 clearing the pathway for us. We set off down the hill and aimed for the bridge ahead, down the hill which is steep in  places and younger children would need supervision. We could hear the trickling water in the distance, ahead there was a bridge across the stream teen 1 & 2 were equipped with wellies and waded in using sticks to check the depth of their steps ahead. Enthusiastic parenting aside, I stayed on the bridge and listened for large splashes in case they fell in!
We walked through the nearby meadow The noise of the crickets was amazing, such volume for something we couldn't see. The vastness of the open fields regressed teen 1 & 2  to enthusiastic children with their let's explore exclamations they set off up a steep hill climbing up they looked like they could reach the sky. Such beautiful surroundings within close walking distance we were reluctant to leave but realised it was so close to our tent we could easily go back. We had been provided with a fire pit for our stay which was to serve our cooking requirements for the evening, everything was cooked through much faster than our BBQ at home. We sat on the decking contemplating our holiday with the realisation we had only been there about 4 hours yet we had settled in and relaxed so much in that time, contemplation whilst toasting marshmallows comes highly recommended. We met the site owner who explained their consideration in opening up the land for holidays given the beauty of the area I can completely understand the reluctance in sharing.
We set off on another walk that evening heading up the lane and across fields, there were para-gliders in the far distance and rolling fields at one point we could see across to Fleetwood. We headed back as the sun was about to set we were expecting the temperature to drop but were unaware of how suddenly that happened. Battery lights are provided but we chose candle light.  Duvets and blankets are provided - it turned into an earlier night than we had planned to keep warm under all the layers.

We had the best nights sleep in such a long time, emerging around 10am about 12 hours after we had gone to bed! Dazed by the realisation we had spent so long asleep our thoughts soon turned to breakfast. We had a breakfast pack which is filled with essentials many of which are sourced locally and were there for us on arrival in the ingenious cool box filled with frozen (usually hot) water bottles they kept our food chilled all weekend despite the days being warm. The pack provided bacon, eggs, sausage, fruit juice, local marmalade and butter, bread, tea, coffee,sugar & cornflakes. The bacon & eggs alone would be worth a trip to Bleasdale for. As tempted as I was to attempt stove cooking we were too hungry to wait so used the gas hob, breakfast was devoured by all as we planned the day ahead. 
There are many nearby places to explore including Cobble Hey Farm & gardens, Old Holly Farm, Bowland wild boar animal park and an array of walking trials in different directions.

We were more than happy just to be in such a stunning location away from the usual distractions of day to day life. It was alien to be away from the usual tech and TV but so enjoyable to hear the soundtrack of sheep and birds and explore an area we haven't been to before. We live less than an hour away yet we could have been a million miles away, such was the relaxation and pleasure in being there. It was fantastic and much needed. The space on offer, I feel, adds to the relaxation also knowing any noise you make you do not have neighbours nearby helps when children are playing. We watched the children of neighbouring tents play with the wheelbarrows up and down the paths which looked great fun until we needed more logs and they still had the wheelbarrows.

We had a chat on what could be improved on, we struggled, I'm hoping next time we go  they will come and pack for me as I think the people behind the design of Lantern and Larks would have thought to pack trainers - they seem to have thought of everything else! Teen 1 thought WiFi and electricity, teen 2 said it was missing board games  which are available to borrow In the honesty shop along with ball games, we borrowed the badminton kit for games on the decking. We found the shower to be intermittent in hot water but adequate once you knew what to expect and preferable to walking over a field and joining a queue.

We wouldn't hesitate to return, the weather forecast for the weekend we went was mixed, the space on offer I feel helps cater for everyone whatever the weather, part of the decking area is covered so can be enjoyed regardless. We felt we had been away for longer than a weekend and we were sad to leave. Lantern & Larks are almost fully booked for the school holidays, they also have some great offers at the moment including a discount for parties of 4 or less for bookings made before the end of October. For us such an offer is perfect, more space on offer and a reduction in price, we would usually pay under occupancy  fees to enjoy a 3 bedroomed holiday stay.

We were the guests of Lantern & Larks  but all views are our own. Mumsnet Suffolk have  reviewed Lantern & Lark Sweffling Hall, Suffolk  here 

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