Camping and glamping in the grounds of Walton Hall with exquisite views of the Shropshire countryside
The real camping dream is often a slightly exotic one; alpine mountains kissed by the morning sun; dusty orange rocks curling around Himalayan valleys; salmon jumping beyond your tent flaps in North American forests; the rich aroma of pine needles tingling in your nostrils. The same smells, sounds and romantic camping atmospheres are closer than you think though. Come to the feet of the Shropshire hills and you can find the exoticism of foreign fir tress, bygone birches and Pacific pines at your fingertips, and still with that all-important English country pub just a hundred yards away. Now if that’s not the dream, we don’t know what is!

Home to one of Britain’s finest and most eclectic arboretums, Walcot Hall is the very site in question. It was back in the early 1800s that the first trees were purposefully planted here, in the sweeping grounds of a grand stately home, and since then both the trees and the collection have continued to grow. Different species and varieties are always being added and today the vast range makes for an impressive visit at any time of the year. The old ones, though, are still the best – in particular a towering Douglas Fir planted by Lord Powis in 1842 and once the tallest tree of it’s kind in the entire country.

The campsite itself is tucked in a more open, grassy space directly to the rear of the Powis Arms, an ivy clad inn at the gateway to the estate. There are 30 pitches in total, half with electrical hook-ups, and excellent ablutions available in a heated amenities block. The site is ideal for those who want to spread themselves around, with ample room for large tents and fold out tables where you can sit and admire the view.

The real joys here, though, are for those who really want to delve amongst the bows, camping beneath the arboretum canopy in one of Walcot Halls hidden treasures. The campsite now boasts no fewer than ten different glamping hideouts spread around the 30-acre site and the majority are tucked up amongst the trees providing a true sense of woodland seclusion. Sticking with the spirit of diversity these too are a varied bunch, from a traditional wooden shepherd’s hut and creamy canvassed yurt to an old-school gypsy wagon and a vintage fire-truck surrounded by rhododendrons. All are exquisitely fitted out in a rustic but luxury style with huge beds and nearby ablutions facilities.

Whether you chose the indulgence of glamping or the space of the campsite, guests are still welcome to all the privileges of a night at Walcot Hall. There are water pools for fishermen, two large lakes with rowing boats to dabble around in and stables for those inclined – head out for a hack with Stuart Murray who’ll show you the local bridleways. For more independent travelers there’s a wealth of other activities on the doorstep (no, beyond the pub!) not least the fabulous walking opportunities in the Shropshire Hills. Try the scenic three-mile route to Bishops Castle, a thoroughly welcoming little market town accessed along a beautiful tree-lined pathway – not that you haven’t seen them before!

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