Ru­ral re­treat helps re­de­fine camp­ing...

RICHARD PART­ING­TON dis­cov­ered the ideal blend of ad­ven­ture and com­fort at Lan­tern and Larks

Macclesfield Express - - TRAVEL -

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

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