Worldwide icon-chevron-right Europe icon-chevron-right United Kingdom icon-chevron-right 5 outdoorsy UK getaways to help you reconnect with nature
NEWSLETTER_LON_20210223_Glamping-credit-Canopy Stars
Photograph: Canopy Stars

5 outdoorsy UK getaways to help you reconnect with nature

Switch off your smartphone, pull on your hiking boots and step into the great British outdoors at these very cool cabins, treehouses and campsites

By Rosie Hewitson
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Let’s face it: we’ve all spent more than enough time indoors already this year. Sure, you’ve probably tried to stave off the boredom with a few winter walks. Maybe you even donned three jumpers and your thickest pair of gloves to go and nurse a hot chocolate on a park bench on one of the less freezing days back in January. But it’s hard to feel at one with nature when you can’t even feel your toes.

That kind of sucked, because being surrounded by nature is a brilliant (and scientifically proven) way to destress. It can lessen symptoms of depression and anxiety, improve your mood and increase concentration. After the relentless trials of the past year, a few days’ holiday somewhere vaguely wild is something we could probably all do with.

Fortunately, it’s (mostly) getting sunnier across the UK now and you’re allowed to venture a bit further than the little patch of grass down the road. So make use of the warmer weather and your newfound freedom to reconnect with the great British outdoors at one of these fabulous retreats.

5 wild and natural places to stay in the UK

Digital Detox Cabin, Saffron Walden
Digital Detox Cabin, Saffron Walden
Photograph: Canopy and Stars

Digital Detox Cabin

Best for disconnecting

Living in fear of your weekly Screen Time stats? Constantly tired from the late-night TikTok binges? This is the perfect getaway for you. Digital devices are strictly verboten at this quiet, secluded cabin situated in the Essex countryside - you actually have to lock your smartphone away on arrival. Fortunately, there’s plenty to keep you entertained while you go cold turkey.

Reconnect with the IRL world on a stroll around the rural surroundings, embrace a slower pace of life by nursing a pint at the local pub or make use of the cabin’s box of digital-free activities, including a retro cassette player with a selection of classic tapes, and Polaroid camera to help you document your new stripped-back existence. You’ll actually feel your blood pressure coming back down. Just don’t go uploading the pictures to Instagram after, yeah?

The Beach House, Isle of Sheppey
The Beach House, Isle of Sheppey
Photograph: Ellis Anastasiades

The Beach House

Best for being by the sea

Sustainable staycationing doesn’t have to mean washing in a stream and doing your business in a bucket. At least, not at this solar-powered seaside retreat; with its sun-dappled bedrooms, airy open plan living space, cosy log burner and picturesque sea views feel like the ultimate in luxury, despite being almost completely off the grid.

Situated in the middle of a bird reserve, it’s a perfect base from which to immerse yourself in the local wildlife, with plenty of hiking routes and several great pubs nearby. Or relax with a BBQ on the deck, breathe in the salty sea air (which is great for your lung function) and doze off to the meditative sound of the waves down below. 

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Gwennol cabin, Powys
Gwennol cabin, Powys
Photograph: Canopy and Stars

Gwennol

Best for green spaces

You can’t really get any more off the beaten track than this rustic wagon in the Welsh wilderness. It actually has the word ‘near’ in its address, so far is it from any discernible civilisation. With no phone signal, a compost loo, a wood fire for cooking and absolutely zero phone signal, the cosy cabin in the Black Mountains is about as far from modern life as it gets.

But there’s still plenty to do. Explore your surroundings on a pony trek from Llanthony, canoe down the River Wye, make use of the cabin’s collection of board games and art materials, or just experience the powerful relaxing effects of sitting among the trees, which has been shown to stimulate an anti-depressant effect in our brains.

The Danish Cabin, Kudhva
The Danish Cabin, Kudhva
Photograph: George Fielding

The Danish Cabin

Best for fire gazing 

Cornwall might be one of the more popular staycation spots in the UK, but this stunning ‘kudvha’ (that’s Cornish for ‘hideout’) is a little off the beaten track. Situated in a secluded former slate quarry, it’s the perfect destination for outdoorsy types, with a lake, a climbing wall, a cave featuring a 40ft waterfall and plenty of hiking routes right on your doorstep.

Fire gazing has been shown to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, helping you to de-stress and unwind. Experience its calming effects in bucketloads as cook your meals around the fire pit on the cabin’s cosy private deck.

And if that still isn’t outdoor enough for you, fold up the cabin’s lightweight polycarbonate wall panels to experience unparalleled access to the natural world from the comfort of the living room sofa. Ovens and walls? Extremely overrated if you ask us.

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Bowcombe Boathouse
Bowcombe Boathouse
Photogtaph: Owen Howells

Bowcombe Boathouse

Best for boat watching

Spending time near water has a variety of proven health benefits, including reducing blood pressure and cortisol levels. So if a waterside retreat is what you’re after, look no further than this dreamy Devonshire boathouse situated on the banks of Bowcombe Creek, a stone’s throw from the popular resort town of Salcombe.

A former storage shed for traditional Salcombe yawls, the hideout has been lovingly restored using traditional boat-builders materials for added nautical charm, and is the perfect location from which to explore the surrounding coastline. Relax on the veranda and watch the boats passing by, or make use of the two private kayaks and set off on the water to nearby Kingsbridge from your own private jetty. 

Now read up on the science

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