All the delights of the Dorset coast: cosy canvas woodland homes, foraging for seaweed and cuppas on the beach with the lovely lot at Dorset Tea.
John, Lou, Coralie and I stayed in suitably adorable surroundings – Glampotel‘s beautiful canvas cottages, nestled in a glade in the Purbeck Hills. I’m not sure you could really call this camping – these delights are more like luxe safari tents nestled the great outdoors. Each beautiful bell tent comes with a huge wooden bed, an outdoor shower and a cosy stove to warm you up at night. Posh!
It felt like the first day of summer had finally arrived as we sat under the trees of a cup of tea and a slice of Dorset apple cake with the lovely Lisa of Dorset Tea, sampling their new herbal infusions – wild about mint, cool camomile and foraged fruits.
You could easily while away a whole weekend without leaving Glampotel’s fairytale glen, but we decided to get out and explore the coast. We wandered on the windswept cliffs at Weymouth, walked along the harbour spotting brightly-coloured fishing boats and then followed a winding road out to Portland Island, linked to the mainland by Chesil Beach. I loved the remote red-and-white striped Portland Bill lighthouse, which stands proudly looking out to sea on the edge of the land, guarding ships from the dangerous rocks.
All that salty air had left us rather peckish, and we devoured fresh seafood at the cute Crab House on the Fleet, where you can lunch on oysters under day-glo pink parasols and borrow a sunhat whilst you crack crabs in the sunshine. Heaven.
Lisa (most definitely a fellow outdoorsy lady) and I got up early and headed to pebbly Ringstead Beach for a swim. Lisa swims all the time around Dorset, even in the chillier months – brave! We collected driftwood and started up the kettle, then pulled on wetsuits and walked over the pebbles and into the cold but calm sea. A lone fisherman on the hunt for crabs pootled past in his boat as we swam along the shore, the water so clear we could peer down at waving fronds of seaweed below us. The cold slowly ebbed away and the sun came out, casting rays of light over the beach. I’m moving to Dorset and doing this every day.
After our early morning dip we all met foraging expert James Feaver of Hedgerow Harvesting for a hunt for edibles along the coast. Dorset Tea have just launched a gorgeous new range of herbal teas inspired by the wild produce found along the lanes and coast of Dorset, and James took us on a ramble to discover the culinary riches of the county. We found nodding sprigs of elderflower on the walk to the shore, and then wandered around rock pools on the empty beach as James showed us how to identify different seaweeds. We collected long mottled strips of sugar kelp, bubble wrap-like bladder wrack and tiny fronds of jewel-green pepper dulse (my favourite, as it tastes like truffle oil!). Then James checked the crab pot he’d lashed to a rock the day before and, magically, he’d caught a velvety blue lobster inside.
After a walk back along the beach, collecting driftwood and bunches of sea kale along the way, we had a lazy lunch of foraged ingredients, including seaweed miso soup, smoked mackerel fritters and an elderflower pannacotta for pudding, all washed down with tea from Lisa’s kettle. Tea is always better if you make it outdoors, don’t you reckon?
Dorset Tea have a wonderful new competition – you could win a set of their beautiful new enamel camping ware, including a mug, plate and bowl – there are 100 to give away. Plus, their new tea caddy will be available in shops and online soon, along with their latest collection of Dorset-inspired herbal infusions.