Turns out a night of treehouse glamping in Wales can be relaxing and reviving with a toddler in tow. First, what it’s like to sleep in a treehouse. Second, how – and where – you can do it too.
It’s an astonishing feeling to sip morning tea high above the treetops. To see them swaying, sunlight splintering through, to feel with them, swaying slightly, unable to see their base.
The treetop cabin at Redwood Valley seems different to how I’d imagined: not perilous and poky but refreshing and full of the promise of adventure. A steep path leads here, rather than a ladder, the banks of earth thrusting upwards to lift visitors up, up, up and into the forest.
And what a forest it is.
We’re in England, here, you see, but through the forest and across the river is Powys in Wales. That’s also where the owner lives, and the campsite kitchen.
If I lift my head up from the hammock and squint between the leaves, the outline of the kitchen dances in shadows of green.
Freshly made with raw sawn wood, it’s a kitchen as you’d expect anywhere. Except that this lies gloriously outdoors, skilfully hidden from the elements with a sloped roof and key backdrop.
Up here in the cabin, while there isn’t a kitchen, there is actually all that we need.
Baby Lab, now a toddler and soon to be two, has accompanied me to this treetop escape.
We have our main cabin, consisting of two linking rooms: one with a comfy double and wardrobe space, the other with a built in sofa and beautifully natural looking wooden table.
In between, sits a bookshelf with titles like Butterflies of the World.
Beneath that, shelves store the essentials: a kettle, tea, mugs, fresh coffee and a cafetiere.
By the bed glints a power point for charging up your phone.
So it’s camping but not camping. Glamping but better than glamping. More substantial than a yurt. Yet open, still so open, beautifully open to the sky.
On our balcony (yes, we have a balcony) there is a set of table and chairs, with a single stemmed flower rising out of a vase. We dine there, baby Lab and mum, on a feast of cheese and pickle sandwiches we picked up in Presteigne, washed down with milk.
Our plans for the afternoon are simple: to explore the grounds.
There is more, much more to do around here than that, of course, but the beauty of this place is to breathe deep and spend time with nature.
And for toddlers, a ten minute path can easily exceed an hour.
The hammock is a hit with baby, too, playing peekaboo in in its linen lavender folds and swinging in the breeze.
There’s a wooden walkway to our kitchen sink, with running water, where the owners have kindly thought to stock up with basic plates, cups and cutlery. It’s not that far down to the kitchen, but it’s far enough with a little one or when you just fancy a cuppa to start or end the day. The toilet, compost like and within about ten safe strides from the front door, smells sweet and comes decorated with pine cones. A mug of sawdust sprinkled into the darkness is all that is required. This is glamping, so, naturally both an opening into the air and a safe stock of toilet paper is provided.
The showers are the only need to trek: fully gas serviced and down next to the kitchen, with eco-friendly toiletries to bubble into the forest air.
With only one night and the promise of frost, I decide that it’s good to let the natural oils of life work their magic and we skip the shower and listen for the footfall of deer instead.
Around six have been seen here over the last few weeks, some bucks, a new mother, the owner David tells me.
He lives with his family, just off the site, but from the leafy heights of the cabin, it’s easy to believe that no-one else is here from miles and miles around.
Two other yurts live here in Redwood Valley, within easier reach of the main kitchen and the gentle path to the outdoor camp fire zone.
But for our stay, the place is empty, just the call of the buzzards in the sky.
We have space for our own fire, anyway, logs all stocked in a barbecue area outside and a teensy log burner within.
It’s not the first glamping fire for baby Lab and mum. The first time, I felt terrified she would rush past me, diving headfirst into the flames or some other unreasonable terror of new and fledgling motherhood.
But she didn’t. She held back. She watched. And the UK-mandated fireguards would have stopped all that anyway.
And so the fire is alight.
She watches, fascinated by the flickering, licking curls of orange and yellow but somehow she knows to stay away. Whether it’s an inbuilt imprint of evolution or a sternness in my voice that I can’t fake for table manners, I don’t need or wonder to know.
With the fire flickering overnight, it is warm.
We start by wearing thermals and end in normal PJs, snuggling in one bed alone.
In the morning, the softly spoken owner, will whizz up a secret track to help with our belongings.
But I don’t want to rush ahead too fast.
I don’t want to gloss over the gurgle of the stream and the way we stood for nearly an hour, watching leaves skim and skate across a pond.
The meal we shared with logs as seats, wibble-wobbling over the autumnal crunch below.
The mist in the morning and the call of the birds. The sweet smell of the burning wood or the sight of those giant branches, those ancient oaks that turned and twirled and whirled their way up into the sky.
Over us, under us and seemingly all around us. In a treehouse in England, glamping in Wales.
Abigail King is an award-winning writer and author who swapped a successful career as a hospital doctor for a life on the road. With over 60 countries under her belt, she's worked for Lonely Planet, the BBC, National Geographic Traveller and more. She is passionate about sustainable tourism and was invited to speak on the subject at the EU-China High Level summit at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.Here she writes about food, travel and history and she invites you to pull up a chair and relax. Let's travel more and think more. Welcome!
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