The Orchard, Stalbridge Park, Dorset DT10 2RR
Here in the valley, the world seems to be constructed upon a smaller and more delicate scale...The atmosphere below is languorous, and is so tinged with azure that what artists call the middle distance partakes of that hue, whilst the horizon beyond is of deepest ultramarine.
So wrote Thomas Hardy of his beloved Blackmore Vale. This area of north Dorset, fringed by the chalky Dorset Downs and Cranbourne Chase, has a pastoral idealism which belies its wild beauty. It is easy to see how this region so enraptured the young Hardy. So enamoured, particularly with Marnhull, the author chose the surrounding area as the locale for his seminal Tess of the D'Urbevilles. A little to the west of Marnhull in the quiet village of Stalbridge, lies the the sprawling Stalbridge Park. The restorative air is sweet here, abuzz with the sights and sounds of West Country critters. And it is within this physical totem of Hardy's fabled Wessex that we find the luxuriously secluded Safari Glamping.
If Dorset has a more idyllic setting for luxury camping (or any sort of camping, for that matter), we're hard pressed to find it. In an enchanting coppice clearing, the twin lodges which comprise the sole accommodation are dotted with care amongst the four orchid-strewn acres of idyllic cider orchard – this is the home of scrumpy after all.
The lodges (to call them tents would be a disservice) are the very vision of luxury. From the en suite bathroom (proper plumbing) to the hard-wood floors and veranda for al fresco dining, your affable host Charlie has taken every care to make your break completely hassle-free. The accommodation speaks for itself, but it's the little touches that really make your stay special – touches like a picnic basket left in a location of your choice (handy when exploring the 25 acres of woodland) or the complimentary g&t.
There's a whole host of activities on offer, from archery and riding to bush craft and ballooning. Your accommodating hosts even offer "mother's help" with the kids, so you're free to chill in the hammock with a glass of the old 'mother's ruin'!
With so many activities on offer within the sprawling estate grounds, you needn't venture far. However if you do, the site is ideally placed to explore the best that Dorset and Somerset have to offer. Situated just under an hour from both the coast and the New Forest, you really can have the best of both worlds. Weymouth provides a pleasing mix of bohemian buzz and 'kiss-me-quick' kitsch. Be sure to visit the lively Old Harbour. Closer to home (you'll wish it was by the end of your break), the idyllic watermill at Sturminster Newton is an essential stop for Hardy pilgrims.
The Owner Says
The two fully plumbed in safari lodges (proper mini kitchen and ensuite shower and loo) are situated within an idyllic woodland orchard in an historic Jacobean park on the Dorset Somerset border.
You are surrounded by 30 acres of woods that you are free to explore and enjoy. Think freedom, seclusion and privacy.
Children can build camps, help with the camp fire, or swing on the monkey ropes. This is heaven.
If you are looking for adventure, there is shooting, archery, riding, art safari, hot air ballooning and bush craft in and around the surrounding woods and farm land.
If you are feeling less adventurous, you can just sit on the veranda and sip the gin and tonic (inclusive). Paradise.
Garden of Eden
We stayed for a week - it was heaven. We are a family of 4 and the everyone was totally chilled, relaxed and energised by the end of the holiday.
It was easy with the fully plumbed in kitchen and loo and shower ensuite. The beds were incredibly comfortable. Everything was there, beds made up, and supplies of wood, and gas etc and so we could concentrate on the holiday.
The children enjoyed the freedom of the apple orchard and the woodland - building camps, swinging on the monkey swings, relaxing in the hammocks. Our eldest son and husband went clay pigeon shooting in a pretty valley two fields away. The hassle is, he now wants to do it regularly. He was beaming.
I went riding. It was amazing. Forget riding school riding, we went on the most exhilarating ride. The scenery was spectacular, and gave me a great feeling of freedom.
The wild flowers were amazing in the orchard and with an array of butterflies to match.
In short we were inspired. Thank you.
enchanting summer orchard
We stayed at this newly set up camp set in an idyllic cider orchard last weekend. It is surrounded by beautiful and wild woodland which the kids had an absolute blast exploring, playing on the monkey swing and building dens. We also booked a pony ride and picnic which was a success with the kids especially as Charlie gave them plenty of attention and riding tuition on a pretty Welsh Mountain pony. The remoteness of the campsite but accessibility makes it an ideal easy get away from city lights to the calmness and stillness of the countryside. The camp was totally private save for a few owls and deer. We will be recommending Safari to family and friends.