As lockdown restrictions begin to ease, there is some light at the end of the tunnel for Peel Farm in the county of Angus, as plans are now in place for re-opening.

No customers for three months has certainly not been easy for the economics for any rural tourism business and expected plans for Claire Fleming’s business based at Peel Farm,have been put on hold. However, with the coffee shop just recently opening back up for takeaways, there is now hope for the accommodation, farm shop, and Courtyard Gift Barn on site, given that compatible tourist bases can open up shortly.

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The courtyard farm shop has something for just about everyone 

For my snowy trip there, way back in February, up to Lintrathen, via Kirriemuir, the brand-new luxury glamping pods were a welcome sight. At Peel Farm there are also two holiday cottages to provide a perfect year to get away and view bonny Scotland!

The location is perfect as it is surrounded by fields, hills and luxurious walks, almost encouraging all guests to get up out of the cosy beds and venture into the countryside. Perhaps if you are there for longer than one night, you might want to take a trip into Edinburgh – only an hour away – and Dundee is only 40 minutes by car.

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Isla Gorge is situated just below the luxury glamping pods 

Claire Fleming, her dad Charlie, and brother, Hugh, also run a beef farm between them as well as diversifying into accommodation and shops. They are one of only a few farms to diversify in the locale.

Their diversification started with Claire and Hugh’s mum, Frances, running a small tearoom in the sun porch around 40 years ago, which soon required an extension to be built to house. That is now the coffee shop.

Six years ago, the Flemings made the decision to convert two cattle courts from a bygone era into two high spec’ holiday cottages, as they were too small to get the machinery in through the doors, but too ‘historic’ and sound to demolish. They have proved a great success over the years.

That encouraged them to take a bigger leap last September by adding four luxury glamping pods to their inventory – with the intention to build more, depending on success. The Flemings were awarded a grant from Angus LEADER funding which went a long way in helping to buy the pods.

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The line-up of the four glamping pods situated at the bottom of the farm

But these are no ordinary pods. They are the perfect getaway for a night of chilling and relaxing, with each one coming with its own hot tub, heated via a log fire.

The luxury pods have a number of modern-day extras, including wireless charging pods, Netflix and Apple TV, Bluetooth music speaker and a variety of coloured lights. Pop on a film and enjoy!

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The small, but cosy glamping pod with a double bed which can also be made into two single beds on demand 

The small cosy space has no cooking facilities, but comes with a fridge and kettle – the perfect reason to treat yourself to dine out, or pack a picnic! The welcome basket waiting for us included a bottle of Prosecco, orange juice, milk, cereal, tea, coffee, shortbread and tablet – all of which we made great use of.

Although it was snowing, it really was no excuse not to hit the hot tub, which was kindly fired up for our arrival – which can be requested when booking. The hot tubs were purchased from Podz R Us which sells naked flame hot tubs, that are an eco-friendly addition and again something a little different to your ordinary hot tub.

They do, however, require a lot of maintenance and are labour intensive, needing a bit of prep before guests arrive and cleaning when they leave. Specialist business, Solway Water Management, tests the hot tubs once a month to ensure they are being maintained correctly and make sure the water levels are where they should be.

The wooden water baths are definitely a way of relaxing, even if it is freezing cold outside, and so we ‘braved it’.

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The eco-friendly woodburning hot tub for two 

After some research, the family chose Armadilla as their source for the glamping pods, chosen for their uniqueness and being that little extra special. They are quite different and luxurious, making Peel Farm stand out in the glamping market.

“We wanted to ensure we chose the right glamping pods, they needed to suit our site and be just right before we made our final decision,” said Claire.

Armadilla use ‘sustainable, high quality materials and the latest manufacturing technology to create beautiful, functional and iconic eco-pods that ‘wow’ the customers’.

Next on our agenda was dinner. Since we were there for just one night, Claire recommended a few places to go to and with many local restaurants around you don’t have far to go (though post-Covid-19, you may have to check availability) – Armstrong’s bar and restaurant, the Strathmore Arms, Drovers Inn, etc, but we made the choice to go to the Airlie Arms, which we could not fault.

You won’t go hungry in this area that’s for sure – and if you don’t feel like travelling, there are takeaways around – there is something for everyone, even in lockdown!

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You will find many unique products in the luxury pods 

A big thing for Claire and the family is business collaboration. As much as they want people to come to Peel Farm, they believe it is important to support other local businesses – it seems to be a tight-knit community. By putting glamping pods up, it encourages customers to use other businesses, especially for dinner and activities to do during the day.

As well as word of mouth through local organisations, the main type of advertising the Flemings use is their own website, since it has enough hits it works well for them.

The glamping pods were only installed last September and have already had return customers, which is a key thing to the team as they believe that is the most satisfying thing is to see people come back and its a testament to their hard work.

When the new glamping pods arrived, people who had popped in for a coffee or a look around the shop, were intrigued and wanted to look around them and some wondered if they were for sale!

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The counter inside the spacious pod comes with a sink, coffee machine and kettle to make those morning cuppas!

“I think our location, adults only, wood fired hot tubs, views, luxury pods, coffee shop on site with a huge amount to do in the area all makes us unique and different to our competitors. And, hopefully, encourages guests to book in with us,” said Claire.

Waking up to blue skies and the sun shining through the windows, it was time to see what Peel Farm’s nature trail was all about. A short little walk, with wellies required, allowed us to explore the wildlife in the Angus surroundings, passing hens, insect houses, bird boxes and finally their very own red deer park was at the end of the trial. The Isla Gorge, which is situated just below the glamping pods, was another spectacular part of the walk.

Reekie Linn waterfall is just half a mile away and with the Loch of Lintrathen one mile away, there are some impressive sights to be seen locally. These were just a couple of things we did, but we were sure there were lots of touristy hiking paths and other things to tackle.

Back from our walk for the coffee shop opening, it was time to enjoy a delicious breakfast – and one which would fill you up for the day. Already, this has reopened for takeaway only and hopefully in the near future it will be back to allow sitting inside.

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The big breakfast to set us up for the travel home with everything locally produced

There was plenty to choose from, either the breakfast or lunch menu, with everything possible being locally sourced and cooked to the highest of quality. Anything that can be made in the kitchen, will be done, with a variety of sweet treats and scones on offer but that would be too much after our huge breakfast.

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The cosy little cafe

Before hitting the road home, it was time to have a proper look around the Courtyard Gift Barn, also known as a shopper’s paradise.

There is something for everyone in there with the variety going from local farm sourced products to kitchenware to antiques, you could spend all day in there.

The antiques barn is rented out to different concessions – a lot less work for Claire, and throughout this shop, local designers can rent a shelf or place to put their products on display.

As for the farm shop, everything is sourced and produced locally, with their own beef and pork on sale, including Highland beef, which is always a very popular, tasty product!

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Cute little tea pots in the Cafe 

As well as having some lovely gin to taste, the shelves were full of different gins to browse – a lot of which we had never heard of, but all looked unique and personal.

The on-farm shop proves ever popular with both over-night guests and visitors there for a coffee, popping in for a look. The clock turns quickly when you step in the shop, as they say time flies by when you are having fun.

Santa’s grotto is a key fun element for the kids during the festive period, and from Easter to throughout summer there is an ice cream takeaway in the Bothy for people to enjoy the sun outside. During the summer, the coffee shop is very popular and so they also do sandwiches and takeaways in the Bothy, along with children’s packed lunches (with this year, of course, being an exception!).

It’s also a bit of a community hub. “We have catered for the local school’s Burns suppers, which seated around 30 people for a three-course meal. We want to differentiate as much as possible and will take on any challenge that is given to us,” said Claire.

Peel Farm was also one of the first Agri Tourism Monitor Farms and can also be used to host various meetings, lunches, rural trips with craft demonstrations, outside catering and gin tastings, to name but a few.

The future is looking promising. The Flemings would not only like to expand their pods and their coffee shop is also on the list for ‘improvements’, including building a play park for children to enjoy. The potential for growth is there for the Fleming family to secure a long-term future.

It is somewhere we will definitely return to, so make sure you pay a visit at Peel Farm for a trip away to their luxury glamping pods.

Unable to go abroad? ... then this is the perfect year to travel and enjoy the sights in bonny Scotland!

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