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Friday, 8 February 2019

The Joys of Tents, the Pleasures of Pods

Nigel and I like to think of ourselves as camping purists. Certainly, I never sleep better than when I’m lying on my Thermarest in my small Vango tent, drifting into dreamland whilst vaguely conscious of small creatures rustling inches from my face in the grass outside. Sometimes I’ve even had encounters with creatures attempting to get inside my tent, including hedgehogs, a fox, farm dogs, and, like many other visitors to Lochranza, stags. As campers who refuse to admit defeat whatever the weather, it’s important to us, if not to other, more sensible people, to occupy the last tent standing in a storm. I love the symphony that is a wet night in a tent, with wind and rain flapping the flysheet, drumming raindrops and rattling poles. I love sitting on the grass in sunshine, waiting a good quarter of an hour for the water in the Trangia stove (bought 1977) to boil. Camping fills up our senses, but does a camping pod?

I first noticed camping pods in Eskdale in the Lake District more than thirty years ago. I didn’t know what they were and guessed they were pigsties (albeit very attractive ones). From modest beginnings, camping pods and glamping pods have become a travel success story. However, we must not confuse the two: a camping pod is to a glamping pod as a canoe is to a luxury yacht. If you’re a camping purist like us, you seek neither luxury nor glamour on your holiday. Whether you’re camping or glamping though, you normally still have to go outside to the loo. This may give you a privileged view of a star-spangled night sky, or, on a rainy night, it may mean damp pyjamas
The first time we stayed in a camping pod I was surprised how much I enjoyed it: it was as simple, basic and cosy as a tent and I still got to hear the rain at night pattering on the roof, lulling me to sleep. It also had the advantage that I didn’t have to wear three fleeces, a woolly hat and my walking socks in bed. 

Here are some other advantages of camping pods over tents:
·         Heating and lighting- useful early and late in season
·         Well-insulated for warmth
·         Curtains to help you sleep on light midsummer nights
·         Less to pack and less to carry meaning that you might even not need to bring your car over on the ferry. Also, there is less to clean and dry when you get home. 

At Lochranza Campsite we have four camping pods: Alder, Birch, Hazel and Rowan, named after trees that grow around Lochranza.  You can find a description of each pod and book online by following this link: http://www.arran-campsite.com/index.php/camping-pods. The pods are situated on the southern edge of the campsite with the burn, Chalmadale Waters, winding behind them. Each pod’s back window frames the magnificent crags of Torr Nead an Eoin.

Is a camping pod camping? I would say so, except for the backpacking aspect. Arguably, pods offer the best of camping and none of the hardships.