image This year we decided to take a summer break at home in England; the Blackdown Hills of Devon in the south-west of the country, to be precise.

As fairly keen walkers, we have a great love of the open countryside and a growing interest in all things eco. After having read various holiday articles in the Sunday newspapers earlier in the year, we decided to try staying in a traditional Mongolian Yurt.

The Mongolian Yurt dates back over 2,000 years, being a very simple and low-cost way for various nomadic groups to survive the harsh weather conditions in Siberia, where the temperature can range from +45°C down to -55°C.  In the UK, famers and other landowners can erect a Yurt within planning guidelines designed for camping, as long as the Yurt is taken down each winter. This makes them ideal for farmers fields  where it would be nigh-on impossible to get planning permission for a new-build holiday cottage.

Taking all this into account, a Yurt in Devon certainly seemed like a pretty safe bet for a short break. Look on it as a good compromise between the discomfort of British camping and the extortionate rates for renting a west country cottage in August. Yurt holidays are often referred to as ‘luxury’ or ‘glam’ camping.

Being the UK in August, the weather was mixed. A day of non-stop rain, a day of brilliant sunshine and the rest of the time something in-between. We expected nothing less.

image The Yurt itself stands up to changing weather conditions pretty well. It’s like a big tent, with 10cm think insulation plus a wood-burning stove, sat on a large area of raised decking. You wouldn’t think the stove would be needed in August, but we found that if there’d been any rain at all the Yurt started feeling a bit damp inside and the stove burnt that off in minutes. It also kept the chill off the air on cloudless, starlit nights. At least we were burning locally sourced wood, which can arguably be claimed a carbon-neutral source of heat.

I was going to include a link to the website of the company we used (www.blackdownyurts.co.uk), but several people have reported that the site doesn’t seem to work outside the UK or through some corporate proxies. Therefore, I’ve put a short page together on Office Live, which you can review here : http://yurt.web.officelive.com

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