Claudia Massie


If you like old travel chests and composting toilets, perhaps

Glamour. It’s Marcello Mastroianni drinking negronis on the Via Veneto; it’s Audrey Hepburn, George Clooney, Sinatra on the Vegas Strip in ’59… and a composting toilet on the west coast of Scotland.

The latter was the only one available when I went glamping in Skye. Glamping is a neologism, an awkward portmanteau word that seeks to persuade us there really can be a satisfactory crossover between glamour and camping, even though most reasonable people have these two concepts pegged in different stratospheres.

You can ‘glamp’ all over the place these days, in everything from yurts to airstream caravans, but to do it in Skye you must head to Skye Eco Bells near Dunvegan. The ‘Bells’ are the tents, traditional canvas things with guy ropes and fabric bunting (a classic glamping signifier) that belie their squat appearance to reveal a commodious interior, complete with double bed, armchair and old travel trunks for tables.

There were three tents on the site, each with a fire pit and all served by the communal facilities. ‘The Hub’ was once, I think, a static caravan that has been transformed into a log cabin-style kitchen where glampers who can’t be doing with campfires can cook on gas hobs.

Behind it stood the composting toilet. I had been looking forward to this, perversely hoping it would be monstrous, or at least as foul as those holes you used to have to brave in French facilities, but it wasn’t at all. To call it glamorous would be a struggle, but it was fresh and not at all repellent, despite theshadowy glimpse of soil pile that meets an unguarded look down the pan. Regular dousing with hemp fibre keeps it fragrant.

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