By Karen Carruth

The last three months have passed in a blur for the Galloway family, that’s Lorraine, Ian and son Fraser, who have dived into the accommodation market, by opening a luxury Wigwam Glamping site on their Wigtownshire farm.

Dealing with the needs of beef and sheep are one thing, dealing with the wants of the public are quite another, but it’s a task that they have taken to and with a terrific occupancy rate, they are attracting lots of visitors to the area.

This area has the benefit of being within the Galloway Forest Park which was awarded UNESCO Dark Skies classification, so expect some star gazing as part of your trip.

There are six luxury Wigwams in total, five of them are four-berth and three of them have rather tempting electric hot tubs attached. One of their Wigwams is fully accessible for wheelchair users, it also offers those with no disabilities a little more space as it is the biggest Wigwam on site, it sleeps five and also comes equipped with a hot tub.

Diversifying on this scale takes a lot of planning and the financial commitment was substantial, but they had a contribution from LEADER funding Dumfries and Galloway to see them over the line.

Anyone who has gone through the process of trying to get funding will know that if you don’t steel yourself for a lengthy process of form filling and finding numerous quotes, then you are in for a brain numbing few months.

The funding was an essential boost to the pot and they wouldn’t have been able to complete the project without it, so they are very grateful for it.

They started thinking about Wigwams a couple of years ago, they had a holiday cottage for years, so they knew what the needs of customers were, but this was going to be on a much bigger, time intensive, scale.

Their son, Fraser, has just completed a Rural Business Management degree and he has been contributing ideas that maybe maw and paw wouldn’t necessarily have thought about. The three of them working together has gone rather well, they tell me, looking quite amazed themselves.

Elder son, Russell, maybe has the good sense to remove himself from the world of farming and diversifications and go into a career in Pharmacy, but he and his friends had the invaluable job of trying out the Wigwams for snagging issues before they opened (tough job).

The learning curve was steep, but it would have been much more so if they hadn’t had the hand of Wigwam Holidays to hold onto throughout the process? Wigwam Holidays is a franchise that can supply the Wigwams, the knowledge on how to run a site, the marketing needed to get your name out there, and help with planning etc, in effect you are taken under the Wigwam holidays brand umbrella and added to their extensive family of sites around the UK and further afield. It also meant that they didn’t have to think too hard about the interiors of the wigwams as the franchise can also supply that too.

Who are they attracting to their shiny new site?

“The main bulk are coming from Central Scotland for two to three days, and we’ve been surprised by how diverse the clientele has been,” said Lorraine.

Ian continues: “We’ve had teenagers coming down for a few days and we’ve had folk who are in their 80s, and they all just love our cows. I think we have the most photographed cows in Scotland. They come wandering up to the fence most nights for a photoshoot.

“Visitors come for the peace and quiet, and if it’s a family they also enjoy being unplugged from the digital world (if they want to, that is, you can buy wifi for the duration of your stay), mums and dads tell us it’s a great excuse to get the kids outside and away from their devices.

“We’ve had terrific feedback, and we have already had repeat business, we’ve been surprised by how far some of our guests have travelled, we’ve had people from London, Holland, and Belgium.

If you are unfamiliar with Wigwams, then it is a rather luxurious form of glamping. Double bed, pull out double sofa bed, full ensuite facilities with shower, cooking facilities, TV, wifi, and if you fancy it, a hot tub outside your door, it’s really not a hardship to go Wigwaming these days.

The family are aware that where their farm is located, they don’t really have passing traffic, so having the reach that the Wigwam Holidays site offers, has been invaluable in tempting guests to Wigtownshire.

The hot tub Wigwams mostly get booked first, but they decided to have some without hot tubs as they thought that some people wouldn’t want a hot tub and therefore wouldn’t want to pay extra for it, and they have been right, it’s not everyone’s idea of fun.? The hot tubs do give Fraser a job to do twice a day, and that’s checking the ph levels of the water and checking chemicals etc, plus the water has to be changed between each guest. Even though they are a lot of work, guests do love them, so it has been worth the extra expense putting them in. They bought the hot tubs from Solway Spa which have given them an amazing service, Lorraine says: “The company put Fraser through training so that he knew exactly what he was doing with the hot tubs, checking all the levels etc, and they are always on hand to sort out any problems we have had, I can’t fault Duncan, who owns the company’s, customer service.”

Around the farm guests have access to many woodland walks where they can experience the Galloway countryside, then they can come back and light the fire pit, toast some marshmallows and spend some quality time reflecting on the stars above their head.

The family decided on adding a BBQ hut to the site, which has been a terrific success. The hut seats 15 people, all inside cosied up with the fire in the centre of the hut. Guests can hire the hut for an evening. The whole site has already been booked out for Hogmanay, and in that case, they donated the hut to the guests for no charge.

The Wigwam site is a safe place for kids to run around and enjoy being outdoors, it is perfect for groups of friends to go away together, but still enjoy family privacy in their own Wigwam, and if it is a special occasion, then the Galloways don’t mind popping up some bunting, adding a cake or whatever is required, as a welcome.? The accessible Wigwams double up as the special occasion cabin as it is larger than the rest.

There’s lots of plans ahead for the family when they catch their breath, it’s been a busy summer since they opened in June and they are looking forward to having a little more time (they hope) over the winter months to plan ahead properly.

“What we enjoy most is meeting the most lovely people, who have come here and given us terrific feedback, it gives us a lot of satisfaction,” says Lorraine.

Ian says: “In farming you don’t get satisfaction straight away, it takes a long time for your work to come to fruition. But with this, it’s that instant gratification you get when you get a heartfelt thank you that makes it all worthwhile. And I’ll say this, I’ve never had a phone call to say that there’s a cabin that has broken through a fence and is running up and down the main road, so that’s a bonus!”