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A Scottish glamping trip with a sense of adventure

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A stop at a service station for a McDonald’s breakfast was followed by another for a coffee at Trump Turnberry. Thankfully, our base was more five stars than fast food. The sign for Coorie Retreats was inadvertently driven by before a quick U-turn saw us arrive at the right spot. The greeting from Mother Nature was not the kindest as the wind howled and rain lashed on the shuttle runs between the car and Dalriada Den. It was time to put the feet up and get the wood stove crackling.

While the baby sat on the large king-sized bed to take in her new surroundings and cover the soft, fluffy throw in crumbs, the older one had her eyes drawn out of the geometric panels that made up one gable end of the dome. A central seating area had a wood-fired hot tub and projector screen to one side, while a pizza oven, grill and fire pit sat at the opposite end of a plot that was compact but not claustrophobic.

The Herald: The DomeThe Dome (Image: free)

The two units that sleep four look out onto the Wigtownshire countryside, with the smaller quartet, all of which accommodate two, sitting closer to the A77. The odd rumble of cars going by reminded you that you were not far from civilisation, but you still felt secluded, almost cocooned in your home from home. Each space is family and dog friendly and is decorated to a unique theme, with the character of Dalriada Den described as ‘a modern Bohemian design’ that ‘combines convenience and style in one package’.

The Dome itself was half navy, half white, with portholes in some of the panels adding even more natural light to a space that was finished underfoot with a heated wooden floor, although the wall-mounted control panel wasn’t easy to operate, even for someone whose mobile phones have an app or two on them.

The Den is equipped with everything that you need – a living area, kitchen facilities and a compact bathroom – under one unique roof. A continental breakfast hamper and kits for making pizzas and S’mores were provided by the hosts, who were diligent and helpful before, during and after our stay.

When they realised after the first night that bedding had not been provided for the couch that folded out into a large bed, it was delivered early the next morning. As was an extra electric heater to keep the baby cosy at a time when the temperatures and conditions did not exactly have the feel of spring being in the air. When the kids were occupied or asleep, the sound of the rain on the roof was relaxing. Like any family trip, those moments were few and far between. This was perhaps more a couples getaway pad than a family vacation destination.

Coorie Retreats sits just a couple of miles from Portpatrick and six from Stranraer. It was to the harbour that we headed on our first day of exploring. There are no amenities on the site itself but both towns are easily accessible and offered enough to entertain the girls.

A walk along the beach at Portpatrick was followed by time in the playpark and lunch, while a train ride and karts were the highlights at Agnew Park. In both locations, there was a sense that we were there out of season and a return in the summer would no doubt be rewarded with more to do.

One of the other attractions that Coorie Retreats recommend is Dunskey Castle, a 16th century tower house that was built by the Adairs of Kinhilt. At the end of a long day, we only stopped briefly for pictures while the wind from the Irish Sea felt like it was cutting us in two.

A foray into pizza making on the first night ended up in a slightly charred calzone being shared. While the outdoor oven took longer than it should have to heat up, the dough that had been rolled and topped began to warm. When it was eventually slid towards the fire, the pepperoni was the only part of the creation that moved. The hilarity from mum and dad didn’t go down well with a hungry eldest child. Keen to avoid a repeat, we opted for a takeaway on night two.

It was once again time to light the fire, take a dip in the jacuzzi and fire up the projector screen, which was equipped with all the apps you need for your viewing pleasure. Whether you spend your day sightseeing or walking, those are the ideal ways to end any evening. The kids were tired out by that point, as were the parents.

At night, the Den was bathed in a warming glow from the lights that were draped around the decking area. At no point did you feel exposed to the elements, and this was certainly not just a beefed-up tent. It had its own charm and it was cool and comfortable.

We compared it to a hotel and still don’t know if that was fair or not. At prices starting from £299, it seems like a reasonable like-for-like debate to have but this was more about the taking part and having fun. There are friends of ours who we think would enjoy the experience even more than we did, but there are others for whom a hotel stay would always trump, no pun intended, a glamping trip, even to one as well-equipped and well-finished as this.

We travelled with no real expectations of what to expect and headed for home – in the rain, of course – with memories and mementos. This was definitely an adventure. We had found a place to Coorie in.

Travel info: Prices from £299 a night. Spring offer, 20% a midweek 2-night stay until end of May.

https://coorieretreats.co.uk/

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