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Leave London to hike along a ravine and sleep in the trees

Ellie Walker-Arnott
Written by
Ellie Walker-Arnott

It’s rural rush hour in Devon and I’m getting shouted at by a tractor driver with North Circular-levels of road rage. So much for the serenity of the countryside. I’d rather be on the Central line.

Wolf Wood

I change my mind when I cross a rope bridge and step inside my treehouse at Wolf Wood. It’s beautiful, with rustic timber and an already balmy log burner, but, really, I’m here for what’s outside: fresh air, neon-green leaves and, in the distance, Dartmoor.

Ever goal-oriented (thanks, London), I throw myself into unwinding. I take deep breaths. I ignore my phone. It’s useless anyway without the wi-fi that I’m pretending doesn’t exist. 

Photograph: Lizzie Walker-Arnott

The real switch-off is easier a short drive away at Lydford Gorge. Being mindful here isn’t optional. Start stressing about work and you could lose your footing on a mossy slope or slip into the churning river at the bottom of the ravine. I’m not joking.

Two hours of hiking and one blister later, I’ve come through lush greenery, past a waterfall, and along a narrow ledge to the Devil’s Cauldron cavern. The loud rushing of water in the cavern is overwhelming, but, despite the name, standing in the middle of the roar is the anything but hellish.

Back at Wolf Wood, the little wood-fired forest sauna is up to temperature. The glass-sided shed is soothing, silent apart from the hiss of water on hot stones. I head back to the treehouse – no damp changing room overflowing with naked strangers for me. I run a bath outside on my now-dark deck and sit in a cloud of steam. A gentle drizzle lands on the wood. A cow moos somewhere in the distance. I feel reset and ready to face the city again. The countryside can keep its tractors, though.

Photograph: Lizzie Walker-Arnott

The Lookout Treehouse, Wolf Wood Treehouses, Bratton Clovelly, Devon. From £180 a night, sleeps four. Book here. Find out more about Lydford Gorge.

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