All parents love a back-to-nature woodland and seaside break where children can simply be children: having adventures in the great outdoors, building sandcastles on the beach, playing hide-and-seek in the woods, roaming through the great British countryside and basically for once in their lives, becoming detached from their tablet, iPad or smart phone for more than just a few minutes! We all want our children to experience the care-free lives we had as kids, hopping on your bike to visit friends and playing on the common and so on, and a good countryside break offers a taste of this with a dose of adventure, exercise, nature and wildlife. Here I’m looking at the Top 5 Family Back-To-Nature Family Escapes in the UK that offer just this.
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1. Burnbake Campsite & Forest Lodges and Camp Cleavel Tipi Village, Dorset
Burnbake Campsite & Forest Lodges and their Camp Cleavel Tipi Village is truly a hidden gem set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the Purbeck countryside, all surrounded by nature and wildlife and far enough away from it all to enjoy no phone reception (though there’s always wifi in the lodges if you need it, though don’t tell the children that!).
Rich in wildlife and flora, this wonderful and multi-award-wining woodland oasis lies surrounded by dramatic coastlines, blue flag beaches, coves, ridges, castles and valleys at the gateway to the World Heritage Jurassic coastline. At Burnbake children can enjoy a sense of freedom and good old fashioned play, beavering by the stream, hiding in the woods and foraging in the forest.
It truly is a rural wildlife haven with rabbits hopping about while you eat your breakfast, as well as deer, birds, butterflies, pheasants and squirrels popping by to say hello, all lulled by the gentle mooing of cows in the surrounding fields.
A stay here thankfully doesn’t have to involve pitching a tent, instead you can add a touch of luxury with a stay in one of the chic 2 and 3 bedroom rustic wooden lodges or select an executive lodge if you want a few more modern comforts. Each lodge offers spacious, open plan living with stylish oak furniture, cosy sofas, flat screen television and a wood burning stove to keep you toasty in the winter months.
There’s also a fully equipped kitchen with little luxuries like a dishwasher and coffee machine; a master bedroom with a sumptuous king-size bed, bathrobes and slippers and a full size ensuite bathroom; a family bathroom and the additional bedrooms can be made up as twins or doubles on request. During your stay you can of course dine alfresco in the sunshine or under the stars on your fully furnished decked terrace complete with BBQ and your own private bubbling hot tub!
On the main site itself, during peak season, the small eatery at Burnbake serves delicious breakfasts and evening meals to take-away or eat alfresco and the shop always provides whatever it is you have forgotten.
However, if this doesn’t sound bohemian and back-to-basics enough for you, then why not become totally unplugged and get-away-from-it-all with a bare-foot-chic glamping experience in one of the magical lantern lit tipis at Camp Cleavel Tipi Village, as seen on Celebrity 5 Go Camping. Hidden in the beautiful Dorset countryside, Cleavel lies in an utterly secluded location with incredible views over the southernmost tip of Poole Harbour and its’ islands.
Each of the impressive Tipi’s, which lie right at the water’s edge, can comfortably sleep up to four adults and one child and four legged friends are welcome too. You’ll need to bring your own bedding, warm clothes, waterproofs and wellies, however, if you still fancy a hint of luxury, then why not book an outdoor massage or relaxation treatment amidst nature, there’s honestly something truly magical about a pampering treatment in the great outdoors.
If the children are looking to be entertained, then there are giant lawn games, miles of cycling and walking paths or you can really engage with nature by paddle boarding and kayaking. The Tipi Village is open every August and offers breakfast and dinner options to purchase on the day and a central village tipi campfire each evening, it really does offer a truly unique nature experience.
Throughout the year, there are numerous festivals, fairs, firework shows, regattas and carnivals that you can attend from Burnbake, and if it’s action or adventure you’re after there’s plenty to keep you entertained from: archery, shooting, climbing, abseiling, kayaking, bushcraft, coasteering, cycling, golf, horse riding and more. Beyond the surrounding gorgeous sandy beaches, a highlight for little (and big!) kids in the area, is the nostalgic steam-train on the Purbeck line which lies just three miles away.
The 12 mile Swanage Railway return trip takes you through the beautiful Purbeck countryside and includes stunning views of the iconic remains of William the Conqueror’s Corfe Castle. As you travel down to Swanage you can appreciate the rich history of the area, its abundant wildlife and fascinating geology as well as the influence the region had on famous authors such as Enid Blyton and Thomas Hardy.
Other local activities include the Brenscombe Outdoor Centre which offers instructor-led rope courses literally at the front gate and the nearby Dorset Water Park overlooking Corfe Castle features two giant lakes with many different obstacles to tackle, as well as the Tank Museum at Bovington, Monkey World and of course, not forgetting the charm and wonders of Brownsea Island.
The wonder of Burnbake is that you can do as little or as much as you want, but every night you can retreat into your very own woodland idyll under the twinkling stars, far away from it all.
2. Log House Holidays, Gloucestershire
Set around a private lake within a 130-acre nature reserve in the Cotswolds, lie eight luxurious but low-impact Finnish-style log cabins with unspoilt views that sleep between 4 and 11 guests. Log House Holidays has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest for the unusual flora and fauna which thrive here plus it’s bursting with wildlife all year round, including: otters, kingfishers, nightingales, great crested grebe, a breeding colony of common tern and 17 varieties of dragonfly!
Surrounded by nature and embracing life’s simple pleasures, the eco-friendly log cabins have been finished with beautiful and unique interiors, all modern appliances, and amenities including: a wood burner, lakeside hot tub, rowing boat, fire pit, private beaches and BBQ. One even has a pool, so you can truly swim, sail, fish, go woodland walking or simply sit on your jetty and watch the ducks go by.
Outside the resort you will find nature trails and walks, beautiful picnic spots, wonderful country pubs and farmers markets and all the wonders that the Cotswolds has to offer. Guests return year after year for a taste of unique luxury, seclusion and an escape from today’s hectic pace of life.
3. The Nap at Langabridge Farm, Devon
Secluded with great Scandi style design, this unique cabin lies in a quiet fold of the hills on Langabridge Farm above the River Taw in Devon with nobody around for miles, this destination truly takes you away from it all.
Sleeping four in one double bed on ground floor with a low double bed on the mezzanine level (accessed via ladder), The Nap at Langabridge Farm is suitable for children of all ages and pets are welcome too.
Sitting in its own private field with spectacular views of the valley through the huge corner doors, the cabin will keep you cosy in winter, as the Swedish wood-burner’s long flue warms the cabin right up to the mezzanine double bedroom, but on warm nights you can fold the doors back and let the evening breeze flow in. There’s a fully equipped kitchen, but down the hill is the fire pit for stargazing with after dinner drinks and the smell of woodsmoke. There’s also a wood-fired hot tub for you to relax in while you soak up the views of the surrounding countryside.
The children will enjoy playing in the fields and meeting all the farm animals or why not set off on walks too numerous to list, ranging from Tarr Steps, Watersmeet and the Doone Valley to local routes right from the cabin’s front door. Although you may occasionally see owners Adam and Becky out feeding the farm animals, The Nap and its high nest are yours and yours alone, so you can relax into the ripple of birdsong and enjoy the fire pit, bubbling hot tub and the moon and stars above.
4. Woodland Escapes, Shropshire
Wake up in 45 acres of Shropshire’s beautiful rolling countryside when you stay in one of four unique woodland retreats, that have been featured on BBC’s Escape to the Country. At Woodland Escapes, you can embrace everything you love about the great outdoors before retreating into a little bit of luxury at the end of a busy day in the fresh air.
The estate offers panoramic views of over six counties and provides the perfect habitat for a wealth of wildlife and rare flora and fauna that inhabit this tranquil escape.
If you want to re-engage, Ludlow lies just six miles away, known to be ‘the loveliest town in England’ for its array of listed buildings, bistros and cafes, plus the glorious River Teme which meanders its way through the town. However, if you enjoy the great outdoors, you can explore a variety of magnificent countryside including Mortimer Forest and the Clee Hills; perfect for walkers, cyclists, or nature enthusiasts.
Choose between Rowan Lodge which sleeps three and offers contemporary open plan living; Forest Glade which is ideal for families, sleeping up to two adults and three children, all set in its own woodland clearing. Bluebell View luxury bell tent allows you to get in touch with your barefoot bohemian side with indulgent furnishings and private facilities.
And finally, and my favourite, is the Star Dome which offers the ultimate luxury glamping experience with amenities you would expect to find in a deluxe hotel all surrounded by a canopied canvas pod with amazing views, it’s truly unique and well appointed beyond your expectations.
5. Gwel an Mor Resort, Cornwall
Although not surrounded by acres of woodland, Gwel an Mor Resort is a place to stay, surf, relax and revive, all located a short stroll from the beach and harbour town of Portreath on the Northern coast of Cornwall. Portreath itself is situated on the famous South West Coastal Path with 630 miles of superb coastal walks to discover and it also has one of the finest sandy beaches in Cornwall.
The resort is set high on a hill overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and offers contemporary Scandinavian style cabins and eco-friendly luxury lodges, residences and studios all equipped to the highest standards. The coastal lodges feature contemporary colours and coastal holiday themes with light and airy open plan living space with patio doors opening onto your private deck complete with hot tub.
The resort offers a multitude of activities to keep families, couples and individuals entertained throughout the entire of your stay, plus there’s free wifi throughout to keep you connected to the outside world too. In terms of facilities, there’s a fully equipped gym, indoor pool with jacuzzi, steam room and sauna, Wellbeing Spa, play areas, tennis courts, putting and croquet facilities, not forgetting Base Camp indoor play centre and Clip’n’Climb facility.
Clover Lake is the resort’s 2 acre coarse fishing lake stocked with tench and carp, offering a peaceful but challenging fishing experience, while the Famous Nine at Landal Gwel an Mor is the UK’s largest all weather greens and tees golf course, inspired by aspirational courses from around the globe. Finally, Feadon Farm, which lies within the resort, is the only wildlife centre of its kind in Europe, where you can meet and feed a wide range of animals including reindeer, rescue foxes, barn owls and more. Or why not try your hand at falconry, badger watching, rock pooling or one of their magical night walks.
In terms of getting in touch with nature, guests can go deep sea fishing, horse riding, coasteering, kayaking, surfing or try their hand at archery, sea scootering, snorkelling and more.
Although you’re not truly getting away from it all at this resort, and there isn’t abundant woodland for the children to roam free in, it is a wonderful coastal and nature break for families and couples alike and you can even bring your four-legged best friends too!
I feel a back-to-nature British escape, surrounded by wildlife, flora and fauna, offers so much more than the commercialised lodge holidays out there, that offer row upon row of cabins set on a suburban campus and where every activity costs more. Instead, I enjoy watching the children interact with nature and enjoying the fresh air, so why not try something a little different and embrace nature, taking time to reconnect with your loved ones.
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