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Swinton Bivouac

UK England North East England North Yorkshire Masham

  • Campfires allowed
  • Groups welcome
  • Good walks nearby
Eco-friendly, off-grid Yorkshire Dales glamping on a sprawling country estate

Over on the eastern edge of the Yorkshire Dales the countryside is less rugged and, dare we say, a tad more refined. Instead of hardcore hiking and hill-farming, think of glamping as rolling greenery, meadows and woodland – country-house country if you like, radiating out from well-to-do market towns like Masham. Swinton Bivouac fits these surroundings like a well-bred lady’s glove, offering genteel outdoors’ overnighting in a bucolic corner of the grand 20,000-acre Swinton Estate.

The glampsite is an enchanting location, set beneath a tree-shrouded, 18th-century folly known as the Druid’s Temple. Here you'll find a scattering of fully furnished hillside yurts with see-for-miles views (each sleeping up to five), Robinson-Crusoe woodland lodges (sleeping up to seven), a bunkhouse (for up to eight) stylishly fashioned from former farm buildings, and a rustic-chic terraced café at the heart of the operation, the eponymous Bivouac.

It’s so achingly cool it could have been constructed just for us – from the hand-built, round-wood beds, bunks and timber shacks (using materials sourced from the estate) to the wood-fired stoves and rocking chairs. Fixtures and fittings are handmade or recycled, from chunky, locally made ceramic crockery to wall mirrors fashioned from gnarled tree off-cuts.

There’s running water in the yurts along with an attached toilet, plus gas-stove and terracotta “fridge”. The lodges, meanwhile, not only have bathrooms with instant hot showers and flushing toilets, but also wood-burners with a kitchen range attached – it seems entirely in-keeping that you’re encouraged to pop in a warming stew before you set out for the day.

There are some hardships – erm, let’s see, you have to walk over to the café for internet access and the site is off-grid so don't forget your torch – but between a soak in the wood-fired hot tub (using their own eco-toiletry range, naturally) and a scenic stroll acround the stunning estate grounds, we’ll think you’ll manage.



Shacks have toilet, warm-water shower (if you light the burner) and sink; yurts and bunkhouse share excellent facilities down at the café and reception – 6 showers (including 1 disabled-access and 1 dedicated family shower, both with twin shower-heads) and 6 toilets (including 1 disabled-access). Site shop sells some food and supplies, but it’s more of an organic chocolate, eco-toiletry, arty-crafty outlet. Hot-tub requires pre-booking (£60 for a day’s use). Off-ground BBQs are fine, but no campfires.

Suitable For

Families, couples, friends, groups, weddings, walkers, basically everyone – yes. Dogs are not permitted. 


To be honest, you might not even venture off-site, though brewery tours of Theakstons (01765 680000) and Black Sheep (01765 680101) in Masham are tempting. But with a tramp around the estate, a climb to the Druid’s Temple, organized Bivouac art and craft workshops, artisan food and drink courses, and wine-tastings and music-nights in the café, there’s not going to be a whole to lot of time to explore the nearby Yorkshire Dales (03004 560030). Should you wander further afield, though, Bivouac is enviably situated on the edge of both the Dales and the Nidderdale AONB (01423 712950). Explore the Wensleydale valley, the balancing Brimham Rocks (01423 780688) and, of course, the famous creamery (01969 667664). The medieval ruins of the Jervaulx (01677 460391) and Fountains (01765 608888) Abbeys are a must see, with the latter a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. Nearby 12th century Middleham Castle (03703 331181) and the Wren-designed stately pile, Newby Hall (01423 322583) are also both well worth a visit. The area also boasts one of the UK’s top amusement parks in Lightwater Valley (08717 200011).

Food & Drink

Yurt dwellers are free to self-cater, making use of the communal kitchen and Weber BBQ area. However, with the Bivouac’s onsite cafe (open daily 9am–4:30pm, until 8pm at weekends) serving up delicious snacks and light meals, you could do a lot worse than this reasonably priced menu. Posh trip out is down the road for afternoon tea, lunch or dinner at Swinton Park (01765 680900) – estate HQ – which is an honest-to-goodness castle with grounds plus swanky cookery school.

Opening Times

The site and lodges are open all year. The yurts are only available March–October.

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Contact Swinton Bivouac, Bivouac, High Knowle Farm, Knowle Lane, Masham, Ripon, HG4 4JZ

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Getting There

Bivouac Swinton is about 5 miles west from Masham, a charming Wensleydale market town renowned for its breweries (Black Sheep and Theakstons) and annual Sheep Fair. The villages of Ilton, Fearby and Healey are all a short drive/half hour walk away. The Bivouac is 30 minutes drive from the A1 and 8 miles north of Ripon. The nearest train stations are in Thirsk and Northallerton. If you would like to coninue on public transport from there than you will need to get a bus to Ripon, where you can hop onto a bus to Masham. It is also possible to get a bus from Richmond and Leyburn to Masham.


Add Your Review

Rated ★★★★★ over 5 reviews


Bivouac Swinton

Stayed here for a hen weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it. As earlier reviews say they have given great attention to the details. The staff were friendly and nothing was too much trouble, the location is stunning and with plenty of walks and things to explore. We stayed in the yurts which were a really high standard and very well equipped. And we were able to enjoy a variety of activities including a camp fire on our last night. Definitely good for families too, I'll be back for an adventure with mine!

May 12, 2013 by MFB

Bivouac Swinton

We went up to Bivouac to celebrate bonfire night - brilliant night including local cider & beer with bonfire, fire dancers and great music. Fab opportunitity to look around the accommodation from the bunkbarn to the tents - amazing! 

Mar 12, 2013 by Fran Greenwood

it’s the little touches that make the difference

We have recently returned from a 3 night stay at Bivouac and have had a great time. The accommodation is quirky and stylish as well as comfortable. Unfortunately we had terrible weather during our stay and the ford was more raging torrent by the time we left so had a detour to leave the site. Despite the ’british summer’ inclement weather we never felt cold or uncomfortable. The yurts are cosy and surprisingly spacious, the furniture all individual and eclectic. The wash rooms and wcs all very clean and with really lovely hand made toiletries! (it’s the little touches....) We can also recommend the forest school if it’s on when you go. the kids loved it and our 6 year old boy now thinks he’s the next Bear Grylls... Definately one to recommend and return to!
Jun 18, 2012 by Lisa -Yorks

top notch place

We recently spent four lovely nights in a shack on the edge of the forest. My five year old described The Bivouac as like heaven on earth, she’s not wrong. Granted we were blessed with amazing weather for three of the days we were there, but even so, the setting is beautiful, the finish of the facilities superb, and the attention to detail and eye for decor top notch. It has a magical feel about the place, made all the more mystical by the druids temple tucked in the forest behind the shacks. We had breakfast every morning in the cafe, which was seriously hearty, served to order on large olive wood boards. We also ate dinner there on two nights. The food was lovely, and the wine decent. The little play room was also handy for the kids to muck about in. I was staggered how good the standards were, considering it had only been open eight weeks when we went there. It was very professional and felt like a well run and established business. I can heartedly recommend booking in for a Hawaiian massage with @ilovelomi aka Jo. It was a brilliant way to switch off for an hour, absolute bliss. All in all a great break, beautiful place, warm hosts, good food, we can’t wait to go back.
Jun 16, 2012 by domburch

Bivouac Swinton

We have just returned from a 4-night stay in one of the Bivouac’s yurts with our 16 month old son. To say our expectations were blown away is an understatement. The yurt was homely and cosy; large enough to play in and make meals (utensils/crockery and stove provided) by day, and romantically lit up by a 20 candle chandelier and wood burner by night. The solid wood bed under the skylight were a perfect place to finish the day, and the woodburner kept up toasty til morning. The attention to detail and charm around the site, in the facilites and cafe, were never ending. On the first day I thought I wouldn’t get a chance to look at the countryside for all the small quirky details of the Bivouac! With a 16 month old, their cafe houses a family room with plenty of toys and a microwave for heating milk and food, which made the whole stay a lot more practical and family friendly. We were blessed with a heatwave, but there is plenty to do indoors with worse weather! There is an abundance of places to visit and walk within a 30 minute drive of the site, so our days were always occupied by adventure. The Druid’s Temple on site it also worth a small trek to see. The hot tub on our last evening was the icing on the cake. We will definitely return here for another holiday and won’t hesitate to recommend it to others.
May 31, 2012 by TeamCollin

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