With a big surge in demand expected for travel right here in the UK once lockdown is lifted, life under canvas – or in a Shepherd’s Hut and even a treehouse come to that – offers a perfect self-distancing, post-isolation break.
This could be the summer to head off on a camping holiday to rediscover all the natural beauty that England has to offer.
So, for when lockdown rules are eased still further, here are a few suggestions for top places to camp – whether it’s a tent, luxury lodge or, indeed, a treehouse.
Celebrate the world’s first ecologist, and ‘go green’ in Hampshire
Surrounded by glorious countryside, the Hampshire village of Selborne is worthy of a visit in its own right, but it’s a place to discover more about a pioneering Hampshire ‘parson-naturalist’ regarded as the world’s first ecologist. Gilbert White’s House and Gardens, based in the former home of Rev. Gilbert White – who revolutionised the way people observed nature and inspired naturalists from Charles Darwin to David Attenborough – is a focal point for Selborne. 2020 marked the 300th anniversary of his birth, and while the coronavirus crisis sadly cut short the celebrations, it will still be offering a fascinating insight into his life and work when it eventually re-opens (www.gilbertwhiteshouse.org.uk).
Visitors, meanwhile, can also do their own bit for the environment as well during their Hampshire break. Just under 10-miles away from Selborne, the car-free, off-grid zone of Adhurst Yurts offers ‘proper’ camping for those who really want to be at one with nature, with plenty of creature comforts too. Set in 100 acres of ancient woodland, there’s no electricity, but there are solar fairy lights and solar reading lamps, a gas-heated open-air shower under a canopy of trees as well as dry compost privies – and even the vacuum cleaner is hand-powered. (https://adhurst.co.uk)
Or how about getting back to nature at Feather Down – Manor Farm, just under two-and-a-half miles away. The UK’s first Feather Down farm, it remains a tranquil oasis of calm with luxurious Frills tents, set in the old farm orchard (www.featherdown.co.uk/location/manor-farm/#detail_nav_accommodation). And for those inspired by White’s work, the Sustainability Centre, a learning and study centre, aims to be a beacon for sustainability, sharing practical solutions “to inspire and enable people to become the planet protectors”. As well as running eco courses – from craft and upcycling to health and wellbeing – it also has its own accommodation, including tranquil camping, rustic yurts and a cosy eco lodge (www.sustainability-centre.org).
Horsing Around in Hampshire
Getting away from it all doesn’t come much better than exploring the South Downs, a haven for cyclists and walkers. Tucked away on the north-western edge of the National Park in the heart of Hampshire’s Meon Valley is the 2,500 acre Bereleigh Estate, home to Cedar Valley. There’s some glamorous camping to be had in luxury safari tents – but for a quirky experience, how about staying in a horsebox? ‘Betty’, a converted Bedford horsebox, comes with 6ft double bed, kitchen, recently renovated bathroom, deck with a Hot Tub and new Sundowners Deck offering views of sunsets over the hills. And for a tasty treat, there’s always a snack from the onsite takeaway… ‘Boycie’, a double decker bus, now a cafe and farm shop, usually offering ice creams, coffees, cold drinks and pick and mix during the day, while a Rice trailer horse box serves as a pizza oven alongside a converted shipping container providing kitchen facilities. Every weekend they hope to fire up the pizza oven and serve up local ale and cider. www.cedarvalley.co.uk
More details about visiting Hampshire: www.visit-hampshire.co.uk
Take romance to new heights… via a spiral staircase in a treehouse
Tucked away at the foot of the Yorkshire Wolds, on the edge of the small village of Bishop Wilton in East Yorkshire, Wolds Edge Holiday Lodges offer a real taste of village life, with facilities for cyclists and walkers. Nestled amongst wildlife you’ll find seven beautifully designed lodges, two lovingly hand crafted glamping Snug Huts… and its latest addition, a Treehouse. This lavish accommodation has a king size bed, ensuite with a walk in shower, kitchen and an open plan living room with large flatscreen TV, all beautifully designed and decorated. Outside on the deck guests will find their very own hot tub, while the etched glass balustrade is the perfect place to survey the wildlife and enjoy stunning views over the surrounding countryside. With footpaths and bridleways in every direction, Wolds Edge is the perfect base from which to explore the undiscovered Yorkshire Wolds, and just a stone’s throw from the historic Wolds Way. https://woldsedge.co.uk
Rock the Kasbah… in rural Yorkshire
Inspired by exotic locations around the globe, North Star Sanctum is a collection of boutique five-star lodges in the rural surroundings of the East Riding of Yorkshire. The six lavish self-catering lodges allow visitors to immerse themselves in elements of Morocco, India, Bali and Africa, and each includes log burners and hot tubs to accompany the stylish interiors. With one or two bedrooms, guests can opt to stay in The Fez, The Raj, The Lotus, The Ashram, The Kasbah or Madagascar. There’s also plenty to see and do nearby too, including the Elizabethan Burton Constable Hall and Capability Brown parkland, one of Yorkshire’s finest country houses, as well as the spectacular Bempton Cliffs RSPB reserve, which transforms into ‘Seabird City’ from March-October each year with half a million nesting seabirds, including the much-loved Puffin. The wide-open spaces of the Yorkshire Wolds are on the doorstep, while a half hour drive will take you to the medieval market town of Beverley, with its magnificent Minster, historic buildings and cobbled streets. www.northstarsanctum.co.uk
More details about visiting East Yorkshire: www.visithullandeastyorkshire.com
From Bali to Mongolia… in the heart of Lincolnshire
Head to Lincoln Yurts, nestled within an 11-acre equestrian farm in Lincolnshire, and you’ll be tucking up for the night in an authentic Mongolian yurt. It’s yurts only here, which means they can open all year round, being cool in the summer and well insulated for winter. With just five yurts, breath taking sunsets and big skies, the small site offers space to relax and unwind. Themed yurts range from the Balinese (with a125 year old hand carved rosewood wedding bed) to French (the couples only, shabby chic yurt) and Gothic (featuring a 6 foot bed head with a carved vampire face), while the Mongolian is a family yurt with one of the biggest beds on site. Each has its own private bathroom, BBQ and decked area with seating – and three wood burning hot tubs for the French, Balinese and Gothic yurts, as an additional extra. Nestled just one mile away from the charming village of Welton, and six from the cathedral city of Lincoln, a heritage rich city brimming with history, there’s plenty to see nearby too. http://lincolnyurts.com
More details about visiting Lincolnshire: www.visitlincolnshire.com
A stylish retreat to discover ‘Hidden England’
Set in England’s historic heart, ‘Hidden England’ is a consortium of heritage sites all within an hour’s drive of one another with picturesque towns, villages and rolling countryside in between. Straddling Lincolnshire, Rutland, Leicestershire and Cambridgeshire, it joins together five historic houses, with two of the country’s finest Cathedrals, plus a garden with a hidden history. For a stylish base, The Retreat, adjacent to the grounds of Barnsdale Lodge Hotel overlooking the beautiful landscape around Rutland Water, offers contemporary self-catering accommodation. Designed for privacy and with relaxed luxury in mind, the Retreat is a collection of two and three-bed accommodations created using natural and sustainable materials with architectural detailing throughout. Ideal for families, each comprises a master bedroom, with en-suite shower room, and one or two additional bedrooms. French doors also open onto the garden and patio in each Retreat. Guests can take advantage of the Barnsdale Lodge Hotel’s on-site facilities and concierge service. www.barnsdalelodge.co.uk/pages/sleep/the-retreat
More details about visiting Hidden England: www.hiddenengland.org
[At the time of writing it is important to note that accommodation providers will not re- open before 4 July at the earliest, so please check individual websites for the latest updates].
Cedar Valley Hampshire
Lincoln Yurts French Interior
North Star Sanctum Interior
Wolds Edge Tree House
Wolds Edge Treehouse
Betty Bedford Cedar Valley
Feather Down Manor Farm