Twisting and turning along the winding country lanes, surrounded by undulating green and yellow fields deep in the heart of the Welsh/English Borders, it's almost impossible not to get childishly giddy about the treats that await you at Cosy Under Canvas. As you slowly roll into the car park, offload your bags into the wheelbarrow kindly provided for you, and walk along the wooden manmade pathway across a sea of wild flower wetland, it quickly becomes apparent that when it comes to glamping, you can never underestimate a woman's touch.
Owner Emma has been running Cosy Under Canvas for seven years now, and oh, does her experience resonate throughout the site! From the little welcome boards with your names written in chalk, to the bag of marshmallows for toasting on your campfire, left out for your arrival.
The site is made up of seven pitches, all spread out amongst a small private woodland, and cleverly hidden from each other by the trees. There are five spacious and cosy geodesic dome tents – Hazel, Rowan, Holly, Oak and Beech; and two beautifully furnished smaller domes, Ash and Willow. All the pitches come with their own private firepit, recycled gas bottle chimenea, compost loo, indoor wood-burning stove, sheepskin rugs, double or king-size beds, kindling, lanterns and tea lights. The domes all come with their own private wood-fired outdoor hot tubs and some have views overlooking the surrounding wild flower wetlands.
There’s a ‘cosy corner’ which is filled with board games and activities for kids and a large communal sheltered kitchen which comes equipped with everything you could possibly need for cooking up a storm over a campfire, from tripods, skillets and pots and pans, to chopping boards, coolboxes and even a brand new pizza oven. There’s also fresh drinking water and a handful of gas stoves in case the rain tries to put a dampener on things. The two communal showers are heated by the large wood-fired Aga in the kitchen – a nice communal touch, as it relies on everyone chucking in a log from time to time to make sure the water stays hot. It’s no real wonder then that Cosy Under Canvas is also the proud owner of a much coveted gold Green Tourism Award.
Add up all of these seemingly endless well-thought-out touches and you can easily see why this is a woodland retreat like no other. It’s a series of camping oxymorons: rugged, earthy daintiness; muddy, organised plots; rustic, frilly communal areas; and axes lying next to hammocks. The kids will never want to get out of the hot tub, and couples will only want to cosy up with each other next to the fire and stare up at the dark night starry sky above them. Should you decide to venture out of cosy-camping central, then you will no doubt stumble into the literary haven of Hay-on-Wye – the host town for the annual Literary Festival and awash with excellent book shops. There are plenty of organic food delis, antique stalls and bric-a-brac gems to keep you occupied for a full day. But if you prefer the more outdoorsy side of living, Hay also happens to be situated within the 520 square miles of the Brecon Beacons National Park. That’s 520 square miles of uninterrupted, unspoilt, and truly outstanding natural beauty. And yes, yet another excellent reason to choose to stay at Cosy under Canvas.
The site lies in the Brecon Beacons National Park (01874 624437), so any route you choose to take will be a walker’s paradise. Nearby Hay-on-Wye is brilliant for rummaging around boutiques and galleries. Or, for something more active, canoe down the River Wye, 5 minutes from Hay’s town centre (01497 847213). You can be as active as you like. Stride a section of the Offas Dyke Path which forms the border between England and Wales or try climbing in the National Park. For the real adventure seekers try gorge walking, kayaking, quad biking, climbing, caving or the nearby assault course.
There's a fabulous deli, butcher and baker in Hay for those all important provisions. For a contemporary eatery, relax in the Globe (01497 821762) with a Penguin Classic from one of Hay’s many bookshops or try Richard Booths Bookshop Cafe for tasty locally sourced treats. For cool cocktails and stunning vintage and industrial furniture, and household items, try The Old Electric Shop. While Hay on Wye has a multitude of lovely pubs and cafes, you could also try The Roast Ox (01497 851398) at Painscastle for a great value and tasty traditional pub meal.