Camping doesn’t have to mean roughing it, as Lee Sobot discovered during a break on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast.
There is no disguising the fact that it’s a fair old drive to Dorset. Even the most southern parts of Yorkshire to Dorset’s eastern tips will take you four hours; if you’re lucky. Get caught on a bad day leaving from a busy North Yorkshire town like Harrogate and you could be knocking on double that tally.
It speaks volumes then that a stay at tranquil Higher Moor Farm leaves the yearning feeling of requiring a return visit at the next opportunity.
Put simply, Higher Moor Farm is a campsite but a high-end and extremely good one with several beneficiary twists, topped by the presence of a handful of boutique S-pod luxury pods thanks to East Yorkshire-based manufacturer Swift.
Consequently, a stay here can offer visitors a flavour of rural camping with home comforts all in one go.
The best of the pod lodges have their own kitchen complete with microwave, grill, gas hobs and fridge to chill those drinks that have been rumbling around in the car on the journey down.
Time to put them on ice so to speak and take in the views with each pod blessed with its own picnic bench and sunbathing chairs.
The quiet site is located on the outside of the small village of Nottington and no more than three miles from Weymouth Bay.
Higher Moor Farm caters for all ages – with families and children welcome – but the site still has a peaceful and secluded feel.
“Daniel – the owner there – has made the place a very high-end campsite. The site is one of the best and he’s done a terrific job with it,” reported a very helpful taxi driver-cum-tourist guide upon one of his regular pick-ups from Higher Moor Farm.
Taking in the Dorset sunrise amidst the chirping of the birds and the crackling of the odd campfire, it is hard to disagree.
And when it’s time to call it a night, each of the site’s pods has a sofa that turns into a seriously comfortable bed at the pull of a handle, nestled beside a modern and clean bathroom with its own toilet and shower.
It’s camping with a twist and there is an extremely satisfying homely feel about lazing away the day and evening at Higher Moor Farm.
That, though, is unlikely given the host of nearby attractions on offer, given that the site is only a ten-minute drive away from the golden sands and hustle and bustle of Weymouth, or “Weybiza” as they call it in these parts.
Not quite, but the town’s beach is pretty stunning and there is a plethora of cafes, bars and restaurants in which to unwind before the short taxi ride back to Higher Moor Farm which costs less than £10.
Travelling slightly further afield, a stay at Higher Moor Farm also offers easy access to the Isle of Portland, home of the 2012 Olympic sailing events, and also the historic county town of Dorchester.
But travelling in the opposite direction and up to the nearby village of Upwey, a visit to the beautiful Wishing Well Tea Rooms & Water Gardens is a must as part of any trip to Dorset.
Pulling up outside, the cafe appears an unassuming and small venue but a step through the doors takes you into a beautifully presented and large tearoom where just about every table seemed to be reserved. Devon’s answer to Bettys it seems, but without the queues.
The Wishing Well serves an array of options from breakfast to Sunday lunches and three-course meals to afternoon tea, all under pretty bunting in immaculate surroundings.
The biggest surprise comes from exploring the cafe’s ornamental water gardens which are one hectare in size and impeccably kept, planted with a variety of shrubs, perennials and water-loving species and containing the village’s famous wishing well nestled in the corner.
The well itself is a natural spring and source of the River Wey, with George III no less among regular former visitors. Legend has it that the gold cup that the king used to consume the spring water from later became the Ascot Gold Cup.
The well’s waters are also thought to have healing properties, especially sore eyes, and for over a century visitors have been participating in the ritual of taking a few sips of well water from a glass and throwing the rest of the water backwards over their left shoulder while wishing.
Wishing you could stay for a few more days perhaps? Have your fill of whatever treats take your fancy at the Wishing Well, with the desserts particularly superb, and it’s then just a five-minute drive away back to the Higher Moor Farm base.
There, you can then return for an evening of “camping” on the quiet and picturesque site as the sun descends on the 96 miles of the Jurassic Coast.
There are plenty of attractions on the campsite itself including a vintage marquee bar, wood-fired pizza oven and, for the little ones, play areas and an indoor games barn.
Plenty to ponder before calling it a night. No need to worry about putting the tent up, though, the pods have that covered.
Swift Group based in Cottingham, East Yorkshire, is the UK’s leading manufacturer of holiday homes, luxury pods, caravans and motorhomes. www.swiftgroup.co.uk
A pod lodge sleeping two at Higher Moor Farm costs £339 for three nights in high season, £199 in low season. www.highermoorfarm.co.uk
For visitor attractions in Dorset, go to www.visit-dorset.com