The best British forest retreats for a short break

With many people hoping to get away this summer, Sarah Marshall rounds up some close-to-home holiday experiences where families can immerse themselves in nature.

Undated Handout Photo of The Treehouses at Lanrick, Perthshire. See PA Feature TRAVEL Forests. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/David Cooke. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature TRAVEL Forests. (30636522)
Undated Handout Photo of The Treehouses at Lanrick, Perthshire. See PA Feature TRAVEL Forests. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/David Cooke. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature TRAVEL Forests. (30636522)

SHIELDED below a canopy of leafy boughs and protected by an army of solid trunks, forest cabins are reassuringly cosseting.

Surrounded by all the sounds, smells and sensations of nature, homes hidden within woodlands also present lots of opportunities for having fun.

Whether you opt for a fantasy treehouse or an elegant timber suite, these forest-bathed getaways are ideal for a refreshing post-lockdown treat.

Wood Shack, Brecon Beacons, Wales

So many objects we use are made from wood but cutting down a tree is a big responsibility, demanding we make use of this valuable natural resource. When Robert Penn felled an ash, he set himself a challenge for making as many things as possible from the grand tree. He came up with 44 items, some of which decorate this wooden one-bedroom cabin, where he also wrote a book about his mission, The Man Who Made Things Out Of Trees. Set in a valley, surrounded by private native woodland, the cabin features an environmentally friendly compost toilet, kitchen, woodburner (with logs) and plenty of board games.

Old Mill Treehouse, Bath

Elevated on stilts and tucked into the trees, this woodland retreat blends perfectly into its natural surroundings, and looks like a setting for a Brothers Grimm fairy-tale. Sleeping two, the one-bedroom wooden property is deceptively comfortable inside, with enough amenities to please every Goldilocks in the forest. Find crisp white linen on beds, soft rug carpets underfoot and decorative works of art hanging from the walls. Outside, a hammock and dining table are set in a small garden, for a post-lunch laze. Although secluded, the treehouse is only a five-minute walk from one of England’s oldest pubs, The George Inn.

The Lake Cabin at Lime Wood, New Forest

Wake up on your own private island, gazing out to rippling water from a chandelier-lit double bed. Surrounded by one of England’s oldest woodlands, where some trees are almost 500 years old, this magical hideaway is located on the grounds of Lime Wood Hotel. Cantilevered above a miniature lake, it appears to float on water and has a balcony with a bath for watching ducks while neck-deep in bubbles. A shower and mini kitchen make the space self-contained, but there’s an option to make use of the facilities at the hotel.

Woodside Bay Lodge Retreat, Isle of Wight

Combine the best of both worlds – forest and beach – with a stay in this palatial two-person seaside shack. Sandwiched between The Solent and an area of woodland with numerous nature trails, this timber rondavel features a kitchen, bathroom, woodburner and outdoor hot tub, along with a TV for those feeling a bit too cut off from the outside world. The treehouse is part of a bigger resort with restaurants and a gym, although its discreet position makes it easy to forget about everyone else. Spend summer days strolling along the shingle beach, or look for red squirrels in treetops during autumn months.

By The Wye Treetop Glamping, Hay On Wye, Wales

Bringing an African safari experience to the River Wye, a collection of canvas tents are elevated above the forest floor, providing guests with an opportunity to sleep in the tree canopy. Set in four acres of managed land, where a large area has been declared a site of Special Scientific Interest, the off-grid getaways feature a kitchen with wood-stove and gas hob. Energy is provided by solar power, toiletries are chemical free and an effort has been made to minimise disruption to a woodland populated by owls, bats, badgers and otters. Being off-grid, there’s no wifi connection, but entertainment comes in the form of long walks and reviving river dips.

The Treehouses at Lanrick, Perthshire, Scotland

Tuning into the sounds and sights of the forest can take time, requiring a base that’s as comfortable as it is quirky. Recently completed, all five self-catering treehouses at Lanrick are mighty structures, allowing guests to slip effortlessly into the rhythm of woodland life. Flycatcher, Treecreeper, Pipit, Nuthatch and Willow Warbler are spread across a private area of land bordering Trossachs National Park, where activities can include river walks, biking, picnics, salmon- and trout-fishing. Ideal for families, Flycatcher and Willow Warbler are linked by a rope bridge, while Treecreeper is a visual feast of upcycled furniture and fun design.

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