This month’s expert advice comes from Guy Mallinson, owner of Crafty Camping in Dorset. Guy set up Crafty Camping and has been a member of the Canopy & Stars tribe for 6 years.
Guy runs eight successful spaces – two yurts, three bell tents, a shepherd’s hut and the beautifully hand-crafted Woodsman’s Treehouse. He has successfully managed to open some of his typically summer spaces throughout winter weekends. Here are some of his top tips and insight for extending your season.
During winter you probably want to be doing maintenance and so do we. We only open the glamping spaces at weekends (but the treehouse every day) so that we get some time to do our maintenance and noisy works whilst it’s quieter.
The critical thing is to make sure guests keep warm – thus we provide electric blankets, heated towel rails and endless fast-flowing piping-hot water for their showers. We also have a small greenhouse heater in each space that we leave on before they arrive so the chill is taken away without them having to get the log burner going.
Fire regulations mean that we can’t light the log burners before they arrive, so it’s critical that they have good fire lighting instructions, plenty of kindling and well dried wood. We cut and split our firewood before drying it for 2 years & then check it’s at or below 18%mc before it’s used. We only use local temperate hardwoods that are being thinned as part of a long term woodland management plan, or hedgerow trimmings.
Frozen water pipes can be an issue. Our plumbing was added to bit by bit as Crafty Camping evolved and this causes us problems as we can’t remember where lots of our pipes are (part of the added challenge of running a glamping operation in the middle of a wood). This year we are re-plumbing the whole site & burying all pipes underground. If all goes to plan we will then be able to either drain down or insulate pipes above ground should the Beast from the East return. Every outlet has a cut off valve and draining point for this reason.
Being in the woods makes maintenance and infrastructure much more challenging, but it does have a few benefits as it has the advantage of being sheltered from the wind. We do however make it clear to our guests that if there are gales that make it unsafe we will evacuate and give them their money back or allow re-booking. It happens once in a while and is never very popular with the guests (who usually want to stay put) but we have to be strong and insist as we have a duty of care for their safety.”