MAKING CHILDHOOD DREAMS COME TRUE.
We spoke with with the owner and founder of The Paddock, a well-loved glamping site just outside the town of Ramsbottom, Lancashire England. Discussing the site, the industry and the unique battiness of their local area.
The modern day traveller is discerning when it comes to their holiday destinations and has a heightened sensitivity to the atmosphere and vibe of a place. They seek comfort alongside excitement, they want affordability while feeling exclusive, they seek unspoilt beauty and rarity but also need to be able to share their experiences in real-time via their devices. They seek a story that they can write for themselves, an adventure that they can regale their friends and family with. Not everywhere is a great setting for a story but sometimes you find a place that seems destined to appear in the prologue of a great tale. This brings us neatly to The Paddock, a camping and glamping site located in the former Lancashire mill town of Ramsbottom.
A diverse location, with a history of human occupation since before the Bronze Age, Ramsbottom is exactly what people think of when someone says, “picturesque English town”. A cluster of houses and buildings of brick and stone surrounded by dense woodlands and set against the backdrop of Holcombe Hill. With a population of roughly 21 000, it is a community small enough to be quirky and large enough to be proud of it. About 12 miles out from Manchester and packed with retailers and award-winning restaurants and cafes, Ramsbottom was featured in the Sunday Times as being in the Top Ten Places to Live in the UK. It was also called by The Guardian a ‘town with a whiff of battiness’.
Charlotte who is the owner and founder of The Paddock has lived on her farm with her family for over twenty years. She explains that in 2015 the town approached her to host the camping for the Ramsbottom Festival. This is an important local event that draws an ever-growing crowd from the surrounding locations and in response, she purchased a small toilet and shower block to make sure the guests were comfortable and dedicated a section of her farm to the cause. After that success, she really took the idea and ran with it and today The Paddock offers camping and glamping and is booked throughout the year.
THE PADDOCK’S LOCAL APPEAL
Unlike hotels that simply provide a generic and forgettable place to sleep, sites like The Paddock that offer glamping in all its flavours, give guests the chance to immerse themselves and engage with the surroundings.
Here, walking and cycling routes promise coddiwomplers majestic hilltops and dense woodlands to wander through with shy wildlife like foxes, roe deer, squirrels, owls, hedgehogs, and a myriad of sing-song bird species to keep them company. Independent shops in town provide a range of local foods, organic goods, artwork and award-winning spots for food and refreshments. There are also regular Saturday markets as well as monthly artisan and vintage markets for those in search of treasures and keepsakes. Then there are the things that really set the town apart, like the Ramsbottom Chocolate Festival on the weekend before Easter and the World Black Pudding Throwing Championships held each September.
“Many of our repeat customers are extremely local, even from Ramsbottom itself,” Charlotte says, “They say, ‘Why drive to the Lake District and be stuck on the M6 for hours when they can just come here and get all the excitement and comfort they need?”
One of the appeals of glamping is that every kind of unit can offer an entirely unique experience for the guest. People are introduced to new acoustics, new smells and new textures and can peer through a window to the influences of different cultures. Little details, like the sound of rain on the outside of a tent, or wind buffering against the side of a yurt, or how the sunrise reaches them in the morning through the geodesic dome, add up.
“Every unit has its own personality and character,” Charlotte reveals, “And we’ve gone out of our way to bring this to the surface for the benefit of our guests. Each one has its own style, décor and name.”
The two onsite yurts are named Grant and Jasmine, the geodomes are Peel and Bertie and the set of pods are Bill, Ben, and Polly. Then there is the safari tent which is named Belle and she sleeps up to eight people. Tent pitches are available for the more traditional camper and nearby ablution blocks offer the expected amenities.
“We have plans in the pipeline for the next season to increase our glamping area and replace the domes,” Charlotte says, “We would also love to expand to another site, so are on the look out to do this, hopefully in the not-too-distant future we’ll find a suitable location and opportunity.”
Each unit is positioned in such a fashion that guests can enjoy their privacy and in 2022 Charlotte and the team began an arbour mission and planted one hundred trees during the winter. This was concentrated on making walkways, hedges and fedges (little hedges). This activity has continued into 2023 and has provided heightened privacy as well as a natural habitat for more tree dwelling animals.
Barbeque packs are available, but Charlotte requests that if a BBQ Pack is needed that it be mentioned in the booking process as she likes everything to be ready for new arrivals. Firewood for the wood burners can be found at the Honesty Shed which is readily stocked as are the kitchens. The only thing that must be brought by the guest is food and drink, although even this can be purchased in Ramsbottom or any number of nearby supermarkets.
FUTUREPROOFING THE PADDOCK
Charlotte expects to see many glamping sites pop up in the future as more farmers look to diversify their available land. There is already a fruitful market of interested glampers to support the industry growth, but competition for sites has risen sharply and things have progressed away from being a simple cottage industry. Glamping site owners need to be able to offer something uniquely theirs that cannot be simply replicated, In The Paddock’s case it would be the working farm populated by tractors, sheep, cows, horses, cats, dogs and lunatic chickens and the convenient positioning near Ramsbottom.
They are by no means immune to shifts in trends and taste however and Charlotte believes in a finger-to-the-pulse approach to keeping relevant. She subscribes to the major glamping publications, keeps in touch with other site owners through groups on social media platforms and glamps whenever she can. The latter of which allows her the chance to enjoy being the guest for a change.
“Our glamping spirit is found in the small details,” she says, “Big hotels might have swimming pools and bars and flashing lights and sure some of our units have en-suites while others make use of communal showers, but you don’t get the pleasure of the small details and little discoveries that you can find when glamping. Every adult I know was once a child who promised themselves that they would sleep in a tent when they grew up. It’s pretty amazing that we can make childish dreams come true for our guests.”
Name: The Paddock
Phone: 01706 489486
Address: Ramsbottom, Bury, Lancashire
Coddiwompler: Noun: someone who coddiwomples.
Coddiwomple: Verb: to travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination.