The mood is informal and relaxed, appealing to couples and families in search of an authentic yet comfortable back-to-nature adventure. Great attention to detail is paid in everything from the rustic décor to the activities on offer. Swinton Bivouac also hosts groups (there’s a larger Loft sleeping 10) and organises woodland weddings at the Druid’s Temple, a 200-year-old folly set among the pines nearby. There’s plenty to do: hiking, cycling, visiting castles and waterfalls, and tasting famous Dales produce such as Wensleydale cheese and Black Sheep beer. And you don’t have to go far - trails lead out from the site, and there's a homely café for those who don’t want to self-cater, serving delicious food prepared from local ingredients.
- A peaceful, rural location with sweeping views across the valley and moorland - restful for adults and liberating for kids
- Ideal for families, with a play area and organised activities (crafts, nature trails). Yurts have a double bed and 2 singles; lodges have 2 doubles and 3 singles
- Generous breakfasts, lunches and dinners in the cosy café, plus local beer; takeaway meals and picnics are available with 24 hours’ notice
- Friendly and welcoming staff, who are always ready to chat but never intrusive
- Plenty of outdoor activities in the surrounding countryside, with the beautiful Yorkshire Dales National Park on the doorstep
- Don’t expect luxury: the yurts and lodges have no electricity, and the yurts share a communal shower block (lodges have their own bathrooms and private hot tubs)
- It’s remote, and city slickers might feel a little marooned - no nightlife, no telly, just fire pits and star-gazing after dark
- You’ll need to be reasonably nimble to get in and out of the beds in the lodges, arranged over 3 levels and reached by a steep ladder; you might also risk bumping your head in the top and bottom levels
- Full pre-payment and a security deposit is required
- The yurts are closed November to April annually
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Rural Lodges & Yurts
- 7 yurts (for 2-4) & 6 lodges (for 2-7)
- Self-catering (on-site café)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Spa Treatments
- Beach Nearby
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Car recommended
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Daily Maid Service
- Towels & Bedlinen
- Bicycles Available
- Games and books
- Electric car charger
Sleeping up to 7 people each, the timber-clad Tree Lodges are set on the edge of a dense pinewood, a 10-minute walk from the farmhouse. Each has a veranda with private hot tub, shabby-chic furnishings, a fully-equipped kitchen with gas hobs and a gas-powered mini-fridge, and a slate-tiled ensuite bathroom with a gas-powered hot shower. The beds are arranged in 3 tiers, accessed by a ladder: a double on the upper level, set under a sloping roof with a sky-light, 3 single mattresses on the middle level (ideal for kids), and another ‘secret’ double underneath with a curtain for privacy. The main living area has a table, benches, seating and a sink. There’s no electricity, but candles are provided and there's a wood-burner. It’s all very cosy and, thanks to the surrounding trees, very private. Guests can also use the meadow tipi with its own firepit, and the sauna located close by.
Set in a field a little nearer to the farmhouse, the Mongolian-inspired Meadow Yurts (open April-November) sleep up to 4. They're timber-framed and canvas-clad, erected on wooden platforms with small verandas. Inside they’re open-plan, with a chunky wooden double bed and 2 singles that pull out from underneath it. There are colourful rugs, a giant bean bag and a wood-burner providing heating and basic cooking facilities in a camping kitchen with power, gas hobs, communal seating and barbecue facilities. There’s also a sink with cold running water and adjoining en-suite WC; yurt residents also use shared shower facilities (spotlessly clean, with underfloor heating).
Within the farmhouse itself is the Loft, The Loft is a large, airy room with plenty of space, featuring a double/twin bed and sofa bed (for two), with a smaller interconnecting double/twin room - sleeping a maximum of six guests across the two rooms. There's a tea- and coffee-making corner with a sink and kettle, and a shower bathroom. It’s ideal for hiking parties and can also be hired for kids’ parties or groups.
The Café/Bar occupies a beautifully restored stone barn with a pitched roof and exposed wooden beams. The main area has wooden tables, mismatched chairs and subtle lighting. This is overlooked by a mezzanine, where you’ll find a wood-burning stove and a piano. There’s also a kids’ play area, and double doors open onto a stone terrace with tables and lovely views.
For breakfast (8-10am), there are light options like 'Jam Jar' Yorkshire yoghurt with granola and Berries as well as hearty bacon, sausage or egg sandwiches served with tea, coffee or fruit juice.
The lunch menu (12noon onwards) includes light bites such as sandwiches, ploughman's boards and soups. Vegetarians are well catered for, and everything is made from local, free-range ingredients. There’s also a kids’ menu, plus yummy homemade cakes and locally-made Brymor ice creams. Dinner is sometimes served too, but it varies according season and days of the week.
Picnic boxes are available and you can pre-order a takeaway meals to eat in your yurt or lodge if you don't fancy cooking. The bar offers cocktails and local beers, including Black Sheep Brewery and Theakstons. During the summer months, Friday BBQ nights bring everyone together for a feast framed by stunning views and live music.
If you want to self-cater, choose a Tree Lodge or Meadow Yurt (not the Loft). The Tree Lodge's wood-burners have ranges, so you can cook food inside or on the top, and there’s also a calor-gas hotplate, a cold box (no fridge), and pots, pans and crockery. The Meadow Yurts are slightly more basic, with the stove working as a hotplate but not an oven. The Yurt field has a communal kitchen with gas rings. You can pick up supplies in Masham, 5 miles away.
- Coffee / tea making
- Hob or stove
- Kids' meals
- Vegetarian options
- Check out the Druid’s Temple, a 19th-century folly hidden among the pines, or walk across the fields to Swinton Castle; Swinton Country Club & Spa, Swinton Park and the stunning heritage parkland are just a few miles away
- Hike out from your door and pick up one of the many signed trails that run through the site. Ask in advance and the café can make up picnics to take with you
- Try a falconry experience - Swinton Bivouac have resident owls and hawks. Options range from a half hour “Taster” to an hour’s Family Experience and a full Hunting Day
- Explore the estate on foot or hire a bicycle; there's a dedicated woodland mountain bike track that is ideal for families and pros alike
- Bubble away in Swinton Bivouac’s outdoor hot tub, which can be rented by the day
- Horse-riding and fly-fishing are also available nearby (ask staff for details)
- Visit pretty Masham (5 miles away), which centres on a cobbled main square with a small open-air market. Call at the Black Sheep Brewery for a guided tour, then sample their award-winning cask ales and bottled beers
- Explore Jervaulx Abbey (9 miles away), a once-prosperous religious institution founded by Cistercian monks in 1156. Set in parkland, the romantic ruins still offer the tranquillity the monks once sought
- Visit Middleham (13 miles away) to see its 12th-century castle ruins (the childhood home of Richard III) and to watch race horses training on the gallops on Middleham Moor
- Visit the hillside 14th-century Bolton Castle (20 miles away), built overlooking Wensleydale and said to have once held the imprisoned Mary Queen of Scots
- Drive up Wensleydale to Aysgarth Falls, then visit the Wensleydale Creamery at Hawes
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Historical sites
- Horse riding
- Mountain biking
- Plantlife / flora
- Shopping / markets
- Well being
This is the perfect place to escape with the kids, especially those who enjoy outdoor activities and nature. Children will no doubt relish the idea of running wild in the surrounding fields, and the unconventional sleeping arrangements will delight. There are lots of attractions nearby, and Swinton Bivouac runs regular children’s events covering everything from foraging to cake decorating.
Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
Family friendly accommodation:
The Tree Lodges (private shower bathroom) accommodate up to 7 in 2 double beds and 3 singles, arranged in tiers and reached via a ladder. Each Meadow Yurt (shared shower block) sleeps up to 4 in a double bed and 2 pull-out single beds. Note that they are slightly more basic than the lodges, with minimal cooking facilities. The Loft and the adjoining snug is handy for groups, as it can sleep up to 10
Cots Available, Extra Beds Available, Family Rooms
- Baby cots (additional charge)
- High chairs
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
The café has a kids’ menu, and hot meals are served from noon onwards (open Wednesday-Sunday only). Takeaway meals and picnics are available with 24 hours’ notice. The lodges and yurts have some facilities for self-catering.
Kids Activities on site:
- Forest School (school holidays)
Kids Activities nearby:
- Horse-riding and pony-trekking
- Castles to explore (Middleham, Bolton Castle)
- Aysgarth Falls (12 miles away)
- Forbidden Corner (a maze of tunnels, chambers and follies in a 4-acre garden (14 miles away)
- Cookery school 2 miles down the road which runs kids and teens classes during school holidays
Families Should Know:
The yurts and lodges are off-grid, with no electricity. Candles are provided, but it’s worth bringing torches. The ladders to the beds in the lodges may be difficult for very young children to negotiate
- Shop: 5 minutes (Masham)
- Hospital: 25 minutes (Ripon; minor injuries only) or 40 minutes (Northallerton; full A&E)
- Airport: 1 hour (Durham Tees Valley)
Swinton Bivouac is set on a hilltop, 7km / 5 miles from the small market town of Masham and 18km / 14 miles from Ripon, on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park in North Yorkshire, northern England.
The nearest airports are Durham Tees Valley (50km / 32 miles) and Leeds-Bradford (54km / 34 miles); you can also fly into Newcastle (116km / 72 miles) or Manchester (144km / 90 miles). Click on the links below for more information about flights to these airports.
From the Airport
You really need a car to make the most of the area, though if you plan on exploring by bike or foot only, you can take a taxi from Durham Tees Valley or Leeds-Bradford (though it will likely cost at least £50).
Northallerton train station is 30km / 18 miles from Swinton Bivouac. It’s on the mainline from London King’s Cross to Edinburgh, so is easily accessible from most major UK towns and cities. From the station, you can take a taxi.
We recommend having a car here, as Swinton Bivouac is remote and the nearest town is a drive away. You can charge your car at the main hotel which is 10 minutes drive away. For hire cars, see our car rental recommendations. Swinton Bivouac is around 5 hours’ drive from London and Bristol, 3 hours from Birmingham, and 2 hours from Manchester.
Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.
More on getting to the UK and getting around
- Durham Tees Valley 50.0 km MME
- Leeds-Bradford 54.0 km LBA
- Beach 80.0 km
- Shops 0.1 km
- Restaurant 7.0 km