Rural retreat helps redefine camping...
RICHARD PARTINGTON discovered the ideal blend of adventure and comfort at Lantern and Larks
AT least the kids were excited by the prospect when I declared “We’re going glamping!”
My wife’s expression was somewhere south of joyful.
A fully signed up member of the anticamping brigade, she immediately wanted to know the difference between the camping she so detested and this new fangled glamping.
When I showed her the website for Lantern and Larks, with the promise of ‘Comfort under Canvas’, images of happy families enjoying sunshine and fresh air with solid wooden floors beneath their feet rather than a soiled groundsheet, she was almost won over.
But I was back to square one with the realisation ‘Comfort’ did not include electricity.
“So where will I plug my hair straighteners in?”
I gave up at that point, readying myself for a ‘dad takes the kids away’ weekend.
But after another browse of the website she was reassured this was no ‘pitch-yer-own’ campsite and happily headed up the M6 for the Lantern and Larks site at Bleasdale, in the beautiful Forest of Bowland.
And there we discovered the big difference between camping and glamping – with comfort being the key word. Canvaswrapped it may have been, but you couldn’t call this a tent. Our Lantern and Larks home was spacious – it would have comfortably slept six – with three bedrooms, solid deck flooring throughout and a large open plan living room and kitchen.
Taking centre stage was the wood-burning stove while behind a canvas wall our abode housed a shower room and separate WC at the rear.
Yes, bathroom trips in the middle of the night are best undertaken with torch in hand but, hey – there’s no trampling across a muddy field at the mercy of unseen cow pats trying to find the toilet block, it’s all ‘in-house’.
And once you’ve negotiated your way to the loo the lights come on automatically, so you’re not fumbling the length of a wall for the right switch.
Each house is situated in a peaceful corner of private land, making the most of the tranquillity and views on the doorstep.
We were especially lucky in that sense – field after field of bluebells were in full bloom during our stay. Ideally, we’d have rolled up in glorious sunshine, but we had to settle instead for a mixed bag weather-wise. That said, when the wind and rain came pounding in the middle of the night it was a sure test of our accommodation’s resilience.
And where a tent would most certainly have broken our resolve, the family slept soundly through the storm in comfortable oak-framed beds. Earlier in the day we’d headed into nearby Garstang.
We were in good company – The Queen was in town the same afternoon, though the royal party were well down the road by the time we landed in search of sustenance.
Perhaps Her Majesty might have stuck around had she known it was ‘Steak Night’ at the Wheatsheaf, one of two pubs recommended for good grub by the helpful staff at Lantern and Larks.
The other, The Royal Oak, started serving an hour after we arrived – but my impatient brood were ready to be fed and watered immediately.
Fortunately, The Wheatsheaf proved a gem. Sharing floor space with the Friday tea-time, post-work crowd isn’t always ideal for families, but the atmosphere here was friendly and the only sign of lairy behaviour came from my three-yearold, who found amusement in smacking the posterior of the waitress serving our table.
The food was good quality pub fare, the highlight for me being the sweet-tasting English house red – £20 bought the adults two steaks and a glass of wine each.
Later, by lantern-light we whiled away a couple of hours playing board and card games, the usual background noise of children’s television replaced by crackling logs in the stove or the occasional patter of feet from an inquisitive hare.
The full-English breakfast cooked on the stove with produce from local farms proved a treat and set us up for a day on the coast at Lytham, an hour’s drive away.
With our second evening being milder and more settled than the first, we sat outside on the veranda warmed by the fire pit and slices of pizza cooked in the stove.
None of us really like marshmallows, but there was some fun to be had in the toasting if not the tasting and it wasn’t long before the day’s sea air took its toll, cutting short a game of Junior Monopoly as bed beckoned and signalling the end of a satisfying weekend of good old-fashioned family time. Now, whoever needed electricity for that?
●● The interior of one of the tents at Lantern and Larks in Bleasdale, near Garstang; A relaxing break