A guide to yurting.

Due to popular demand we have kept the yurt available throughout this winter and I have been impressed / bemused by the willingness / foolhardiness of the folks who have chosen to spend their weekends there, the lowest recorded temperature being a barely survivable 22 degrees below. I have been asked a couple of times what it would be like and I had to say I hadn’t tried it in the winter. It is, after all, a tent in the highlands.

So 2 nights back I gave it a shot. I am no hardcore outdoorsman, I don’t own North Face pyjamas and there was a foot of snow all round with a frozen crust on top, thankfully it cant have dropped below minus 4.

Here are my recommendations.

Life revolves around the woodburner.

Get here early, chop lots of kindling and get the fire lit. Its not instant heat by any stretch and dealing with all that in the dark is more difficult (adding wine makes it easier). The smaller you get the wood the hotter the woodburner will be, therefore the easier it will be to cook on (you want it really roaring), also the faster it will burn out, you have to find a balance.

We went for the simple option – pasta, sauce, garlic bread (in the oven). There were 6 of us round to the yurt for dinner which was no problem but you should probably triple any recommended cooking times. It pays to leave the big kettle on all the time the fire is lit. I have just bought a dutch oven – a big cast iron pot on a chain for one pot meals over the bonfire – but haven’t tried it yet.

Chuck two or three generous scoops of coal in before bed and open the little wheel just a crack. Also fill the oven with wood at night, it may catch fire if its up against the back of the oven but it will be tinder dry and speed up your morning coffee no end. If it does go out empty the fire and start again, I often go to change the yurt and find the firebox is totally choked.

Honestly what was it like? Really comfortable, not warm exactly but the two duvets and three rugs would keep anything out. It must have been baltic when it was minus 22 and super cold as soon as the burner went out. I could do a bit of draft proofing and perhaps turn the doors to open inwards. I’m tempted by a bigger stove but dont want to sacrifice the oven. If there weren’t quite so many jobs to do round the farm and it wasn’t a significant part of my income I would live down there for the summer, go back to nature, go fishing and read a lot. I have a couple of brilliant books I’m going to leave there.

The question on my mind now is who gets it for the Insider Festival… Suggestions, blank cheques and begging letters to the usual address.

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