Harelawhill Yurt - Stay in a Mongolian yurt in rural Scotland
Eco-yurt in Dumfries & Galloway makes for ideal camping holiday with children
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the only way to experience a stay in a yurt is via an expensive trip to a boutique music festival. Thankfully, yurts have been around since long before festival-goers developed a taste for sleeping in something more substantial than a tent, and several can now be found on campsites throughout the country.
Used by the nomadic peoples of Central Asia for three thousand years, yurts generally feature a timber lattice supporting several layers of material. Not all ‘western’ yurts are the same, however, and Harelawhill Eco Yurt has clearly been a labour of love for owners Diana and Mick, who have created an interior according to principles of the authentic Mongolian ger (home) to create a space that is unique, beautiful and very cosy.
Crucially, there are several things in a yurt that make your stay very different from camping. Real beds, handmade using traditional methods by Mick in this case, mean you will sleep well. A wood-burning stove, gas hob and sink mean you will never be cold, hungry or unwashed. The yurt is insulated and the compost toilet has loo roll. Access to shower, fridge and wi-fi at the cottage should calm even the most twitchy urbanites. The addition of these simple facilities transforms the experience, but all that’s great about a night in the outdoors remains: chopping wood; lighting a fire and cooking on it; the quiet. Engaging with the simplicity of the yurt’s domestic arrangements is enough to make the holiday.
Visiting with young children, it feels like the ultimate gang hut. There’s a large enclosed garden to explore in the unlikely event that ‘helping’ with the fire (i.e. burning stuff) loses its appeal. Later, inside the (now very warm) yurt, there are games and jigsaws.
Harelawhill lies in southern Dumfries and Galloway, two hours’ drive from Edinburgh and Glasgow and within sight of the English border. Nearby pub The Bridge Inn is just over it, meaning you can even rebrand your trip as a holiday abroad. Many Buddhists are drawn to the area by the spectacular Kagyu Samye Ling Tibetan Buddhist Centre in Eskdalemuir, which is worth a visit, as is Langholm, fast becoming a centre for artists and makers. Diana and Mick have ongoing creative projects of their own: converting their cottage using traditional, ecological and low-impact building methods, making log cabins and restoring a vintage Sterling caravan – and they’ll happily show anyone around who has an interest in any of these.