“ Address: Comrie Road / Braincroft / Crieff PH7 4JZ / Scotland „
For those of you not already fed up of my camping related reviews here's another one! Apologies in advance for the length but this place has a lot to offer and is worthy of some lengthy description. It is also now split into two parts, my summer visit in 2009 on the regular campsite and my January (yes really) 2010 visit in which I slept in one of the sites kata's (a Swedish tepee).
This place is a little special and a little different than my previous campsite reviews, a place designed to appeal to families, first time campers, bikers and also those looking for a fabulously romantic outdoor experience. Comrie Croft is located just outside Crieff in Perthshire, Scotland and if you get no further than reading my opening gambit above really is worth a trip offering so much more than your standard campsite.
I decided to get my dad something a little different for his 50th birthday and treat him to a weekend away camping, an activity he enjoyed greatly as a young lad but has since grown a bit more used to his creature comforts....wine, good food, comfy bed (all of which can be provided, camping need not be as basic as you may imagine.) I began the planning a few months in advance and found Comrie Corft merely by way of Google search. These guys sell themselves as Eco camping offering four options for your accommodation, camping, kata, farmhouse and hostel. This site is strictly no caravans!
**Accommodation Options and Prices**
The website is very useful and recently updated which plugs one of the criticisms in first writing of this. Prices are easily and readily available and it has an online enquiry form, I received a reply within four hours and despite booking in April for late June was surprised by the limited availability. This boded well as a popular place is normally a good one!
Camping - obviously this was my first choice however its not as simple as one decision you have the option of what I would call traditional camping and then woodland camping. The woodland camping experience is something very special! There are around 10 of these pitches and Comrie call this wild camping! You are well spread out from your neighbours and each pitch has its own fire pit!
On this site CAMP FIRES ARE ENCOURAGED!!! Im sorry to shout but this is a really big deal and unheard of! Anyone who camps in these organised places will know how strict the site supervisors are and my other half just loves lighting fires so I knew before I booked I would be onto a winner!
Sadly due to a fear of midges and the size of our tent we didn't book the wild camping and instead opted for a field pitch which holds about 15 tents. You pay per person £8.00 for Friday and Sat £6.50 during the week and half price for children.
=January 2010 - Braving a kata in winter=
I wrote briefly about these first time but hadn't tried them, following another fantastic weekend at this amazing campsite I thought I would let you all know a little more about the kata experience! For my boyfriends Christmas present I took him for a weekend of winter camping, something he's always wanted to do and something I have been less keen on. So I decided if we were going to do it, it had to be a little warmer than your average canvas tent. I booked in December for the last weekend in January, pre- snow and pre coldest Scottish Winter in a century. As the day dawned closer I was more than a little anxious that I would be driving home on the first night! For two nights it cost £89. We arrived amidst blazing sunshine and a cosy 1 degree. Our kata was situated on a little hill about five minutes walk from the toilets and washing up facilities. The view was amazing over the Perthshire hills and beside our kata was a hammock, spot for campfires and a picnic table, all bravely utilised on a cold Friday night. As I approached two deer grazing by our kata spotted me and we starred each other out for a few seconds, this is why the city girl comes to the country!
The kata itself is an impressive structure containing pretty much everything you need for your stay apart from sleeping bags, towels and I would suggest a good torch. As you enter the kata is an open space, large enough for two/three adults or two adults and two children. Half of the kata is a raised sleeping platform adorned with sheepskin rugs (absolutely ideal as a base for your sleeping bag). This also made a nice lounging sofa type area. In the centre of the kata is a stove, this is your main source of heat and my one complaint is that for winter it was quite small and burnt wood so fast that we had to get up in the night to keep it stoked. Of course from my boyfriends point of view this all added to the fun and the general winter camping experience but for me when it ran out of wood at 5am with snow falling outside I was a little less pleased. However the night after we got it sussed, boiling ourselves in front of it playing cards (I discovered the warmer I was when I got into my sleeping bag the warmer I stayed!) and then getting up at regular intervals whilst it was still warm to stock it up. The heat it gave of was warm enough to keep a full kettle simmering and for you to strip down to your undergarments to get changed without your toes falling off so a success in my opinion!
The kata comes complete with a little table and chairs, hand crafted and beautifully made, plates and cutlery, a gas camping stove which was much quicker then cooking on the wood stove, spare gas, washing up items and bowl as well as a bag of wood.
Ok so you're a little bit away from the toilets and when its dark, snowing and your being snarled at by some unseen fox you might want to slip behind a tree but as long as your prepared this is as bad as its going to get.
It really was a very special and romantic experience, maybe not for everyone but if you think camping might not be for you this could be the ideal compromise especially in warmer months.
A comfortable self catering house that sleeps 14 and costs £440 for a weekend -£31 each
Sleeps 56 and is large, clean and very homely. The hostel offers a dorm bed for £16 and a private room for three with ensuite for £42. Tea and coffee is included and would be a great place to stop and rest if you were on a cycling/walking holiday. They had plenty of availability when we were there first time but fully booked in January.
On the A85 about 35 miles from Perth. The drive from Edinburgh where I work was an hour and half through some of the most dramatic scenery you can hope for in Scotland and we also had glorious weather on both visits! It is 2 miles from the little village of Comrie which houses some shops, a pub, golf course and an excellent walk which takes you past Deli's cauldron and Laggan Wood, highly recommended. Wandering round the village you could imagine packing in the hustle and bustle and setting up a cheese shop!
Comrie Croft is in a perfect location. The camping field in which we stayed has unspoilt views for miles, overlooking hill peaks and endless green space. The site is very well laid out so the camping field has the best vantages over the surrounding area and the woods where the kata's and wild camping is located are just behind you. A well maintained toilet block is close by as is a small car park. If you decide to wild camp I would bear in mind you have to carry your tent from the car park area so keep it light.
There is a collection of very animated hens and of course a rooster, if it wasn't such a lovely place I might have resented its 6,7 and 8am alarm call. The children who were staying loved the hens and the nearby lambs not to mention the occasional bat in the evening.
The staff were all fabulous and made the whole stay very enjoyable. My dad thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and true to form campfires were encouraged!
The shop is well stocked and of course you can buy fresh eggs. All produce is local helping with their eco philosophy!
One of the best things was that they had an open Kata in the camping field which when it started raining everyone flocked under with their barbeques and we all got to know one another which essentially is one of the things I love about camping - meeting strangers and sharing a beer and a burger.
We utilised the bike hire and also followed some of their hand drawn maps...hmmm not totally accurate but very entertaining!
Comrie - on my recent winter trip we opted for a full day walk, now Im not much of a hiker and so the route was specially selected to include a decent length but varied scenrery and a small hill (Lord Melville's Monument) the staff are delighted to point you to their favourite spots and they certainly know a few.
Crieff is a small town located about 4 miles away and offers an abudance of activities as it has a Hydro Hotel offering a spa, horse riding, falconary etc. Of course there is ample walking and cycling routes and we were easily amused both weekends.
I will definitely be heading back and if you are looking for a UK holiday this year put this place on your consideration list.