Price: From £159 / night
Sleeps: up to 5
Location: Near Masham, North Yorkshire
Swinton Bivouac is a glamping and outdoor pursuits venue set on the Swinton Estate on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales. The estate is situated just outside the pretty market town of Masham in North Yorkshire. A beautiful part of the country where villages are filled with winding lanes of stone cottages and the views are rolling and wide. Swinton Bivouac forms part of the vast estate offering guests a range of rural experiences.
The site offers a range of glamping accommodation. There’s the option of staying in one of six tree lodges, nestled amongst woodland with front facing views across the Dales. Then there’s the Meadow Yurts with a communal outdoor hot tub and bbq area. And finally there’s the Loft and Snug – perfect for group stays.
During the October half term we braved the cold and opted to stay in one of the seven Mongolian style yurts in the Yurt Meadow. Arriving late after a long drive from Sussex we could only anticipate the views that we’d wake up to the next day. Needless to say we weren’t disappointed.
The yurts are pitched in their own field which is car free allowing children to explore safely. The car park is adjacent to the field, as is the Cafe Bistro..more about that later. Each yurt comes with its own wood burner, running spring water, toilet, cute rustic furniture and fire pit with outdoor seating. Fire wood is also provided which we made good use of during our Autumnal stay!
As a family of five the yurt accommodated us well. Two single beds are able to tuck under a larger double bed meaning there’s plenty of living space once they’re tidied away. An additional fold out bed was also provided which we left up in the day doubling as seating whilst the children toast their hands on the log burner.
Meadow guests also have access to a communal cooking space and wood fuelled hot tub – which despite our best intentions we just couldn’t manage in the cold temperatures!
The Bistro Cafe
The Bistro Cafe is open to both glamping guests and members of the public. Situated in a beautifully converted barn the cafe serves breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and evening meals as well as a wide selection of hot drinks, beers and even cocktails!
It was great having the cafe available during our stay as it gave us the freedom to choose whether we wanted to cook for ourselves or dine out. We indulged in a cooked breakfast on our first morning and were really impressed. The cafe itself is incredibly cosy with a quirky, rustic style. Staff are friendly and accommodating and were happy to tailor our order to personal preferences. Our breakfast got a thumbs up all round.
There’s so much you can do during a stay on the estate there’s no need to venture far. Based at the cafe is the site bike hire centre. We really enjoyed exploring the cycle trails towards Leighton Reservoir which allowed us to enjoy some incredible views whilst giving us a good feel for the surrounding area.
Also within easy reach of the yurts is the Druids Temple. This amazing feature was constructed in the 1700’s by a former Swinton Estate owner, William Danby. There are various stories told regarding the purpose of the stones..including the theory that they may have been built by estate workers returning from the Napoleonic Wars. Years later they are a great way to engage the children whilst enjoying the local walking trails. Our kids were filled with all sorts of tales of witch craft, spells and even giants!
Towards the main estate, a short drive from the yurts (or a couple of miles on bike or foot if you’re feeling active) there are further opportunities to explore the grounds. In total there are over 50 miles of footpaths on the estate. We spent a lovely afternoon discovering play areas, secluded ponds and were totally fascinated watching the rutting stags!
There’s also a range of outdoor pursuits based at the estate including shooting, horse riding, falconry and cookery. You certainly won’t be bored!
As guests of Swinton Estate it’s possible to visit the hotel spa as a glamping guest for an additional charge of £10 per person. Facilities include an 18 metre indoor pool, an aroma steam room, salt steam room, al fresco cedar hot tub, Finnish sauna and a 10 metre outdoor natural pool. Family sessions are restricted to 9am – 10:30am and 4pm – 5:30pm both of which worked well for us leaving the rest of the day to explore.
The spa facilities are fantastic! There is a separate ‘family’ changing area with large changing rooms and big locker spaces. Children under the age of 16 are only permitted into the pool areas (indoor and outdoor) with access to the Thermal suites being gained through a separate closed off area. This all worked really well for us. The children were very happy splashing about in the main pool (no – we didn’t brave the outdoor pool in October!) with my husband and I taking it in turns to indulge in some quiet time in the Thermal suite. Best of all the children were oblivious that we were going anywhere exciting due to the discrete entrance. Had they seen the other facilities on offer there would have been tantrums, but as they couldn’t see them they were happy to miss out! Great set up.
We really enjoyed our time at Swinton Bivouac. There is so much to do on the estate that it was a really ‘easy’ holiday in terms of entertaining the children and having activities available close to hand. The location is incredible…we really felt we’d just scratched the surface in terms of exploring the grounds during our short stay. Most importantly we felt incredibly welcome. Every staff member we came across was approachable, friendly and accommodating. I’d love to return – the only criticism I have is that 3 days simply wasn’t long enough!
With thanks to the Swinton Estate for hosting us during our stay.