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Family travel: Tepee Valley Campsite

Go glamping in your very own gypsy caravan in remote Northern Ireland for proper Famous Five-style fun

Family travel: Tepee Valley Campsite
Rosie-Lee, a gypsy caravan in Tepee Valley Campsite. Image: Ally Thompson.

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Tepee Valley, the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, opened in 2011. Ironically, the tepees are gone now, but you can still find a totem pole along with a new log cabin at the campsite, converted shepherd’s hut, several yurts and a brightly painted gypsy caravan. The campsite’s remote location in the wilds of County Armagh make it all the more appealing, yet it’s still less than an hour’s drive from Belfast and only 15 minutes from historic Armagh.

We drove through the site gates and the kids bounded from the car, skidding to a halt as they spotted ‘Rosie-Lee’. She was exactly how any six- and four-year-old might expect a gypsy caravan to look. She was brightly painted, complete with wooden steps and shutters, and incredibly bijou on the inside — the miniature Belfast sink, gingham curtains and wooden bunk oozed with charm.

We’d travelled light as everything (bar bedding) was provided, so it didn’t take long to unpack. The site is contained within a small area, safe for the children to go exploring on their own, and grassy circular mounds divide each pitch from the next, offering a bit of privacy, while providing Libby and Isaac with more fuel for their imaginations — the first evening was spent running up and down the mounds pretending to be Hobbits!

There are giant garden games, including draughts and four-in-a-row;  open meadows; and each pitch has a BBQ or chimney, plus a central fire-pit with log seating for socialising with the neighbours. Gosford Forest Park, with its walking trails and four-mile cycle track, is only a short drive away.

Tepee Valley offers a spot of luxury (and a good night’s sleep!) with the emphasis still on campfires, sizzling sausages and toasted marshmallows galore. On the one night it rained during our stay, we snuggled up, loving our electric lights, toasty heater and comfy beds, reading Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox for the umpteenth time. Definitely happy glampers.

Best for: Ages 3-12.
Highs: “This has to be the coolest and cutest caravan ever. Everything’s so tiny.”
Lows: “I’m a bit sad Rosie-Lee doesn’t have a horse to pull her.”
How to do it: Gypsy caravan from £130 for two nights. tepeevalleycampsite.co.uk

If you liked this… try these

Perthshire: Comrie Croft, eco-camping in Nordic kata tents with wood-burning stoves and sheepskin rugs. comriecroft.com

Lake District: Wild in Style, a National Trust campsite with luxury yurts in the heart of the woods at Ambleside. wildinstyle.co.uk

Powys: Living-Room Treehouses are both remote and magical, giving a taste of luxurious treetop living. living-room.co

Devon: Aller Farm is a 350-acre dairy farm that offers family holidays in safari tents 20 minutes’ drive from the Jurassic Coast. featherdown.co.uk

Published in the Summer 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveller – Family (UK)