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Swinton Bivouac

UK England North East England North Yorkshire Masham

  • Campfires allowed
  • Groups welcome
  • Good walks nearby
Eco-friendly, off-grid Yorkshire Dales glamping on a sprawling country estate

Over on the eastern edge of the Yorkshire Dales the countryside is less rugged and, dare we say, a tad more refined. Instead of hardcore hiking and hill-farming, think of glamping as rolling greenery, meadows and woodland – country-house country if you like, radiating out from well-to-do market towns like Masham. Swinton Bivouac fits these surroundings like a well-bred lady’s glove, offering genteel outdoors’ overnighting in a bucolic corner of the grand 20,000-acre Swinton Estate.

The glampsite is an enchanting location, set beneath a tree-shrouded, 18th-century folly known as the Druid’s Temple. Here you'll find a scattering of fully furnished hillside yurts with see-for-miles views (each sleeping up to five), Robinson-Crusoe woodland lodges (sleeping up to seven), a bunkhouse (for up to eight) stylishly fashioned from former farm buildings, and a rustic-chic terraced café at the heart of the operation, the eponymous Bivouac.

It’s so achingly cool it could have been constructed just for us – from the hand-built, round-wood beds, bunks and timber shacks (using materials sourced from the estate) to the wood-fired stoves and rocking chairs. Fixtures and fittings are handmade or recycled, from chunky, locally made ceramic crockery to wall mirrors fashioned from gnarled tree off-cuts.

There’s running water in the yurts along with an attached toilet, plus gas-stove and terracotta “fridge”. The lodges, meanwhile, not only have bathrooms with instant hot showers and flushing toilets, but also wood-burners with a kitchen range attached – it seems entirely in-keeping that you’re encouraged to pop in a warming stew before you set out for the day.

There are some hardships – erm, let’s see, you have to walk over to the café for internet access and the site is off-grid so don't forget your torch – but between a soak in the wood-fired hot tub (using their own eco-toiletry range, naturally) and a scenic stroll acround the stunning estate grounds, we’ll think you’ll manage.



Shacks have toilet, warm-water shower (if you light the burner) and sink; yurts and bunkhouse share excellent facilities down at the café and reception – 6 showers (including 1 disabled-access and 1 dedicated family shower, both with twin shower-heads) and 6 toilets (including 1 disabled-access). Site shop sells some food and supplies, but it’s more of an organic chocolate, eco-toiletry, arty-crafty outlet. Hot-tub requires pre-booking (£60 for a day’s use). Off-ground BBQs are fine, but no campfires.

Suitable For

Families, couples, friends, groups, weddings, walkers, basically everyone – yes. Dogs are not permitted. 


To be honest, you might not even venture off-site, though brewery tours of Theakstons (01765 680000) and Black Sheep (01765 680101) in Masham are tempting. But with a tramp around the estate, a climb to the Druid’s Temple, organized Bivouac art and craft workshops, artisan food and drink courses, and wine-tastings and music-nights in the café, there’s not going to be a whole to lot of time to explore the nearby Yorkshire Dales (03004 560030). Should you wander further afield, though, Bivouac is enviably situated on the edge of both the Dales and the Nidderdale AONB (01423 712950). Explore the Wensleydale valley, the balancing Brimham Rocks (01423 780688) and, of course, the famous creamery (01969 667664). The medieval ruins of the Jervaulx (01677 460391) and Fountains (01765 608888) Abbeys are a must see, with the latter a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. Nearby 12th century Middleham Castle (03703 331181) and the Wren-designed stately pile, Newby Hall (01423 322583) are also both well worth a visit. The area also boasts one of the UK’s top amusement parks in Lightwater Valley (08717 200011).

Food & Drink

Yurt dwellers are free to self-cater, making use of the communal kitchen and Weber BBQ area. However, with the Bivouac’s onsite cafe (open daily 9am–4:30pm, until 8pm at weekends) serving up delicious snacks and light meals, you could do a lot worse than this reasonably priced menu. Posh trip out is down the road for afternoon tea, lunch or dinner at Swinton Park (01765 680900) – estate HQ – which is an honest-to-goodness castle with grounds plus swanky cookery school.

Opening Times

The site and lodges are open all year. The yurts are only available March–October.

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8 yurts (sleep up to 5 in 1 double bed and 3 singles), 6 lodges (sleeps up to 7 in 2 doubles, 3 singles), and an 8-bed bunk-barn.

Meadow Yurt

Yurt or Ger Sleeps 5 3 Available
Our yurt is kitted out with a kitchenette, proper beds with bed linen supplied and a wood burning stove with logs supplied. There is no electricity so please bring a torch with you! There is also a wooden veranda with outdoor seating which overlooks stunning views of the valley

Tree Lodge

Cabin Sleeps 7 3 Available
Our tree lodge can sleep up to 7 guests on 1 kingsized double, 1 double and three singles with bedding provided. You have a Kitchenette with a sink as well as a wood burning stove and firewood provided. You can also sit out on your own wooden veranda and take in the fantastic views of the valley.


Contact Swinton Bivouac, Bivouac, High Knowle Farm, Knowle Lane, Masham, Ripon, HG4 4JZ

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Getting There

Bivouac Swinton is about 5 miles west from Masham, a charming Wensleydale market town renowned for its breweries (Black Sheep and Theakstons) and annual Sheep Fair. The villages of Ilton, Fearby and Healey are all a short drive/half hour walk away. The Bivouac is 30 minutes drive from the A1 and 8 miles north of Ripon. The nearest train stations are in Thirsk and Northallerton. If you would like to coninue on public transport from there than you will need to get a bus to Ripon, where you can hop onto a bus to Masham. It is also possible to get a bus from Richmond and Leyburn to Masham.


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