Just a short drive from Scotland’s new Queensferry Crossing and nestled amongst the woodland within the grounds of Dundas Castle, you will find the luxury glamping site of Glampotel Dundas Castle. This rural spot makes for the most tranquil and romantic getaway with nothing but nature for company. The ultimate relaxation!
Camping vs Glamping
I have enjoyed a few family camping trips as a child on the Isle of Arran and also in my childhood neighbours back garden. Both camping experiences being before I was diagnosed or even showing any real signs of having Muscular Dystrophy let alone using a wheelchair. So it is safe to say my experience of sleeping outdoors is pretty limited.
So when my friends at Euan’s Guide invited me to try glamping with a stay in the wheelchair accessible canvas cottage at Glampotel Dundas Castle I jumped at the chance. I was really intrigued and excited to experience the more luxurious side of camping as a wheelchair user.
Glampotel Dundas Castle
Glampotel prides themselves as the leading eco-tourism glamping hotel chain with two of their nine locations being in Scotland. Dundas Castle is a fantastic setting for these canvas cottages (tents). Combining all the benefits of being out in the wilderness with all the comforts of a luxury hotel.
The ten canvas cottages at Glampotel Dundas Castle overlook the castles private loch with plenty of opportunities to spot the local wildlife and enjoy the beautiful views from the wooden deck. As you arrive at the glampsite you’ll be greeted with a Welcome Hut where you can check in. Prior to our arrival, the Glamping Wardens had sent me a text message instructing us to make our way straight to our tent.
Each tent is individually named making it easy to identify which is your own. We parked our car in the parking bay next to the accessible tent called Wren. We then quickly made our way up the wooden ramp onto the private patio for a closer look. The patio was fitted with outdoor furniture, gas BBQ, patio heater and a small outdoor fridge.
It was already looking great and that was just the outside. Opening up the doors and peeking inside gave us our first glimpse of luxury. Rolling across the wooden flooring and seeing how spacious it was inside had us pleasantly surprised. This really was bigger than a lot of hotel rooms we’ve stayed in before. Strange as from the outside it looks quite deceiving.
After a few minutes of looking around our home for the night, I sent a text to the Warden to let him know we had arrived. Within minutes he arrived to welcome us. He gave us a tour of the tent and instructed us on how everything worked. It was reassuring to know that if we had any problems he would just be at the other end of the phone and minutes away.
We now had the chance to properly relax and get used to our new environment. No TV, electricity and more importantly no Wi-Fi. This was a welcome break from all things technology and our chance to enjoy each other’s company without any distractions. Other than wildlife and the stars, of course.
Wheelchair Accessible Canvas Cottage
The large wooden bed decorated with woodland themed cushions, blanket, and hot-water bottles looked warm and comfortable. Thankfully it didn’t just look warm and comfortable, it actually was. Spare blankets were in the large wooden chest when we needed them, which is perfect for those extra cold nights.
It would be difficult to stay cold for long once the wood burning stove is alight as it quickly had the tent feeling cosy and warm. The basket full of logs kept the fire going for a long time. It can get a little smoky inside the tent, so I’d recommend letting some air in at times. We went home smelling of smoke, but I guess that’s all part of the experience.
Lovely wooden cabinets sat on each side of the bed with glass candlestick holders which added to the cosy feel once lit especially as it became dark. The bed was lower than a standard bed and had space underneath to accommodate a portable hoist if required.
Sat in the corner of the tent was a chest of drawers filled with everything we needed to cook and enjoy our BBQ outdoors. It had everything from cutlery, crockery, utensils, pots and pans and glasses. There was even a kettle and a selection of tea, coffee, and hot chocolate as well as a large glass drinking dispenser filled with water.
BBQ on the Private Patio
Having these cooking essentials already in the tent made it much easier and saved us from lugging it all with us. It was even better and a real treat to have a hamper waiting on us with delicious vegan and gluten-free goodies inside. This provided the basis for our BBQ dinner and breakfast.
The amazing hamper was delivered to Glampotel Dundas Castle from their local farm, Craigie’s and was filled with apple juice, orange juice, almond milk, raspberry jam, GF pancakes, fruit salad, Mexican quinoa, lazy day shortbread, rosemary and garlic olives, crudities and vegan hummus. Pure yumminess!
It was lovely and relaxing to sit outside on the patio while dinner was cooking nicely on the gas BBQ. I watched the ducks in the loch and the buzzards high above the trees whilst cosy under the patio heater. Even though there was no Wi-Fi I had no desire to be on my phone anyway. There are not many occasions when I can just sit and have nothing to do, so I wanted to enjoy this moment. Allan was content watching over the food on BBQ.
My Mum, sister, and nephew stopped by to have the BBQ with us as they were nearby. The private patio area was spacious enough for us all to sit around the table and the large parasol covered us entirely when it started to rain. It wouldn’t be Scotland if it didn’t rain. There’s nothing like sitting outdoors while it rains but feeling cosy and warm.
Walk along the private loch
Dinner was delicious and afterwards, we enjoyed a stroll along the beautiful loch. The path from the tent down to the loch was gravel which was manageable with support in my powerchair, but some people may find this difficult. The actual path running along the loch was tarmac and accessible.
Our walk allowed us to see the locations of the other canvas cottages and it was a pleasant sight to see each tent was private and not looked upon. In my opinion, the accessible tent is the most private with the biggest space in-between.
After our walk, it was time for my family to head home. As it was getting dark when they left it was the perfect time for us both to cosy up inside by the fire. Before we could do that I had to use the loo. Up until this point, we had only used the en-suite bathroom in the daylight when we could clearly see everything and what we were doing.
The bathroom was surprisingly spacious with a hot water shower, washbasin and eco-friendly toilet. We requested a seat to use in the walk-in shower and there were fluffy towels, biodegradable toiletries, and a towel rail. The shower seat did not have a back or armrests, which I found difficult to use as I need the extra support and security.
The eco-toilet was slightly too high for me and due to my poor balance, I struggled to feel secure and required assistance. There was only one pull-down grab rail next to the toilet. I feel one on the other side would have provided more support and stability.
These difficulties, as well as the low-key lighting, made using the bathroom at night much more difficult and tricky to manage. There was a small solar light on the roof of the bathroom, but it only gave off a slight glow leaving the bathroom almost complete dark. So I feel it’s perhaps not so good for guests with mobility and visual impairments.
Back to Basics
I appreciate the solar lighting was due to having no electricity and its all part of the
camping glamping experience. I’m all for taking it back to basics and being at one with nature, but as a wheelchair user, this isn’t always practical. I mentioned the lack of proper lighting could be an issue for disabled guests who need more light to walk or move around safely, but also those who need to charge mobility equipment such as power wheelchairs like myself.
Obviously, I was aware I wouldn’t be able to charge my wheelchair during my stay so I made sure to fully charge it up the night before. It was also not going to be an issue as I only live 20 minutes from Dundas Castle and was only going to be away for one night. It’s important to bear this in mind if you are considering glamping particularly as a powerchair user or need electricity for medical equipment. However, Glampotel Dundas Castle provides a solar power USB power pack to keep your mobile and other electronic devices charged.
Here is a video of our glamping experience. Watch as I give you a tour of the tent and surrounding area.
My experience of glamping as a wheelchair user at Glampotel Dundas Castle was enjoyable and I particularly loved the location. However, the few issues I had with the bathroom accessibility and the lack of good lighting at night made using the bathroom very difficult and potentially unsafe for myself even with assistance from someone. If you’re a more independent wheelchair user or feel you’d manage with the bathroom setup and don’t require electricity for mobility/medical equipment then I’d recommend you give glamping at Glampotel Dundas Castle a try. Enjoy the fresh air, relaxation and nature.
Edit 2019: Glampotel Dundas Castle has permanently closed.