Queensberry Bay, three miles outside Annan, has five of these Swift S-Pods. Each of them has a pull-down bed – similar to a sleeping compartment on a train. But these compartments also have a fully functional kitchen (cooker, fridge, microwave, toaster and kettle) and, most importantly for those of us who don’t do well with shared facilities, a bathroom with power shower (and flushing toilet).
The pods are set along the shoreline and the large windows at the front afford amazing views of the Solway Firth. Views that almost make the TV and DVD player superfluous.
Budget or boutique?
A weekend on a campsite on the Solway Firth? Or a weekend at a spa with luxury accommodation on the Solway Firth? I know which I’d plump for. This takes glamping to a new level.
Don’t for a second worry about being at the mercy of the elements. All those “summer” holidays spent shivering under wet canvas should be dispelled immediately. We were very snug in our pod as the springtime snow pelted down outside. And we could only hear the howling wind if we opened the door.
The bathroom has wonderful Highland Aromatics toiletries and the fridge came pre-loaded with milk and bottles of water.
The site shop has a full range of food and gifts, coupled with a policy of reasonable pricing, so that their customers keep coming back.
Wining and dining
The wining and dining can be as spectacular as you like – since you’ll be doing it. The small kitchen is amazingly well equipped. Anyone who has ever self-catered knows that there are never enough pans, that the knives aren’t sharp and that there aren’t any utensils. None of that is true here. There are even cloths and washing-up liquid supplied – although we did feel the lack of a chopping board.
However, Annan’s best restaurant – Del Amitri – is less than half a mile away at The Powfoot Hotel. Unfortunately, they were still in the process of refurbishing when we were there. But it just gives us an excuse to return.
Worth getting out of bed for
Powfoot Golf course – which borders the park – is known as the golf world’s best kept secret. It’s certainly a popular course as a windy Wednesday was no deterrent to the groups that we saw. Around ten miles away at Kirkpatrick Fleming is the Cove Estate – which has the cave that sheltered Robert the Bruce and his spider chum. Caerlaverock Castle is one of Scotland’s great medieval fortresses and also has a great children’s play area and a nature trail. Nature lovers might be more tempted by Caerlaverock Wetlands Centre – especially if you enjoyed it from the comfort of your sofa during the recent Autumnwatch series. However, watching the ebb and flow of the Solway Firth from the comfort of your own bed is a joy that cannot be overestimated.
It’s not that little an extra, but the benefits of having a spa on site can’t be undersold. The strains of a day’s golfing or walking can be eased away by the soothing hands and tender ministrations of the spa team. Or you could just content yourself with booking the spa for your own party. For a two-hour slot, you have the sauna, large hot tub and swimming pool all to yourselves. But be sure to book in advance, because it is a popular facility.
The other little treat is the animal pens. Rabbits, guinea pigs, ducks and even emus are there to be fed by willing little hands, and bags of animal feed are on sale in the shop for 25p.
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The tiniest word of warning. The handles on the pull-down bed are set at ankle height and I had more than one bruise to testify to my inability to walk past them without bashing myself. Also, pack your binoculars. Even if you never make it to the Wetlands Centre, the birdlife on the firth is amazing to watch.
A two-night stay in the S-Pod starts at £90 and rises to £140 in high season. Seven-night saver package starts at £115 rising to £290. www.queensberrybay.co.uk (01461 700 205) and www.swiftgroup.co.uk