I’m in a wetsuit on the edge of a huge lake, trying to stand up on a paddleboard. It’s not going well. Five miserable attempts later, I decide the kayak is more in my comfort zone.
The private lake I’m floating across was dug out by hand in the nineteenth century, and it’s charming. Giant carp swirl in the water and fat geese flap off in pairs through the trees. Other than the birds chirping and the wind rustling, there’s just silence.
Sometimes I forget how beautiful the wilderness is. Living where I do in Peckham can be hectic. I normally don’t have the time or energy to venture too far from London, so this cabin is ideal. Just a little over an hour on the train and I’m practically in Narnia. I feel extraordinarily calm wandering around the South Downs like a period drama extra, foraging for wild garlic to make pesto out of later.
It’s not all fairytale, though. I fully intend to go wild swimming, but I slip a single toe into the water and suddenly a hot bath seems like a much better idea. And, although there’s phone signal and wi-fi, there’s still a sense of isolation. No matter how loud I shout, nobody will be able to hear me. It’s both liberating and completely terrifying.
I wake in the early hours of the morning, a bit groggy and confused, and peek out through the giant floor-to-ceiling windows at the lake. It’s eerily illuminated and I half expect the creature from the black lagoon to crawl out of the murky water. It turns out all this nature is much dreamier in the daylight.
Luxury Cabin on Private Lake. Hassocks, West Sussex. Sleeps four. From £320 a night. Book here.
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