Monday , May 29 2023

Splendid isolation: 15 of the best off-grid stays in the UK

Campwell, near Bath

Comprising yurts, A-frame log cabins, shepherd’s huts and roundhouses, this off-grid retreat in 16 hectares (40 acres) of woodland near Bath was created by a green woodworker as a low-impact village, where a large group or several small ones can get together to embrace the good life. Cabins sleeping 2-4 sit amid lush greenery, with wooden decks and a communal kitchen and dining area. Guests are encouraged to lock their phones away. Wild fitness, yoga, archery lessons, foraging and bushcraft, swimming in a nearby lake or hiking to the local pub are the order of the day, and the site often hosts yoga retreats and workshops.
Sleeps two, from £79 a night,

Windsworth House, Looe, Cornwall

Windsworth House, Looe, Cornwall

What could be better than sipping a beer in a wood-fired hot tub overlooking the sea? It’s all about the great outdoors at this stone cottage on a hillside smallholding, part of the Caradon coastal reserve above Looe Bay. The reserve covers half a mile of quiet south Cornish coastline, home to rare butterflies and bats, and the South West Coast Path runs through it. A labyrinth and monkey sanctuary are close by, with the beach directly accessible from the sloping gardens. It’s off-grid but has solar electric lighting, heating and hot water.
Sleeps eight, from £710 for seven nights,

Romney Marsh Shepherds’ Huts, near Aldington, Kent

Romney Marsh Shepherds Huts in Kent
Photograph: Nathan_Shepherd/Matilda Delves

If you’re a family of two, or have children old enough to sleep in their own hut next to yours, these stylish shepherds’ huts on the ethereal and sparsely populated Romney Marsh are an inspiring spot for a digital detox. The owners run an artisan wool business, Romney Marsh Wools, and the huts share a field with their flock of ewes. The brand’s woollens and lanolin toiletries are supplied for guests and activities such as cycling the Royal Military Canal to Folkestone, taking a marsh Jeep safari, and lessons in photography or creating felt toys can be arranged.
Sleeps two, from £273 for two nights,

Causeway House, near Bardon Mill, Northumberland

The Landmark Trust Causeway House, Northumberland
Photograph: Jill Tate/The Landmark Trust

The Landmark Trust has restored a fantastic collection of 200 unusual historic properties but decided not to add wifi to any of them – great news for those wanting to escape the digital age. This once-abandoned farmhouse, built in 1770 in rolling countryside behind Hadrian’s Wall, is the only house in Northumberland still thatched in heather, tucked into which the Trust discovered dresses dating back to 1890, a child’s shoe, an iron key and a pewter spoon, hidden as good luck charms. Wood panelling, a range and a loft room with a canopied bed add character and there’s excellent walking from the doorstep.
Sleeps four, from £257 for four nights,

4 Coastguard Cottages, Weybourne, Norfolk

Four Coastguard Cottages, Weybourne, Norfolk

Logging off and immersing yourself in nature doesn’t have to be a forest thing. At 4 Coastguard Cottages it’s sea and sand that will wash away any urges to check Twitter or play video games. Set above the beach in Weybourne, this cottage is one of a terrace built by Trinity House in 1904 and still has no mains electricity – using solar and wind power, and fires for heat. There’s no washing machine or dishwasher, TV or wifi, but kids will love dashing on to the sand each day, swimming in the sea, playing games and tinkling on the piano.
Sleeps six from £500 for three nights,

High Hallgarth, near Coniston, Lake District

High Hallgarth, near Coniston, Cumbria
Photograph: Mike Henton/National Trust Images

Similar in nature, style and position to Bird How, High Hallgarth is another remote National Trust cottage offering a taste of life in the Cumbrian fells centuries ago. Little modernised, with brass beds and open fires, an outdoor loo and a tin bath that has to be filled from the kitchen tap (then taken in the kitchen or heaved out to the yard for a stargazing soak), this whitewashed 17th-century cottage lies beside a hiking trail up through Little Langdale. The impressive Cathedral Quarry caves are down the lane and the Three Shires Inn a brief ramble away.
Sleeps seven, from £331 for three nights,

Resilient Woodlands Retreat, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire

Resilient Woodlands Retreat, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire

A “tree talk and walk” to learn about sustainable woodland, coppicing and conservation is part of the programme at this tech-free retreat. In an elevated position between the Severn and Wye valleys, and overlooking the Severn estuary, the two smart four-person cabins have covered terraces and wood-fired hot tubs, handcrafted wooden kitchens, and woodsy details such as whittled hooks. Sessions in charcoal-making, cooking over fire and woodland foraging might fill your days, along with hiking, biking, kayaking and forest bathing. Definitely no emailing or Zooming.
Sleeps four, from £125 a night, two-night minimum,

Unplugged, Hertfordshire, Essex, East and West Sussex

Unplugged Cabin Monty, Gaddesden, Hertfordshire

Switching off from technology is the primary aim of a stay at Unplugged, a series of black, Scandi-style cabins in secret locations. Phones are locked away during a stay, but analogue alternatives are provided, from Polaroid cameras and a cassette player with 1980s tapes to an old Nokia for emergencies. Cabins have just one double bed so aren’t aimed at families but you’re welcome to squeeze in. Each has a huge window looking on to fields and there are interesting places such as vineyards and rewilding projects within walking distance of all. The minimum stay is three nights: any less and guests won’t feel the benefits of the detox, say the founders.
From £195pp for three nights,

Engine House, Whitchurch, Shropshire

Engine House, Whitchurch, Shropshire

The Engine House once produced electricity for the main house on the Whitewell estate near the Welsh border but is now an off-grid retreat. With a simple exposed-brick interior with antique furniture and colourful rugs, the conversion is a calming place from which to explore the estate’s woodland and lakes. Hammocks, table tennis, fishing rods and a pianola provide fun, illumination comes from solar fairy lights and candles, and there’s a woodburner for warmth. New arrivals are treated to mead and honey from the estate’s apiary, and can walk to local farm shops.
Sleeps four, from £415 for three nights,

The Straw Cottage, near Llandrindod Wells, Powys

The Straw Cottage, near llandrindod Wells, Powys, mid Wales

Candles and lanterns, gas lamps and solar lights create atmosphere at this straw-bale cottage, constructed using centuries-old methods. With a roof insulated with sheep’s wool, no electricity or wifi and few mod cons, this intriguing home set on its own three acres on Ty Gwyn Farm offers true escapism. Guests fall asleep to the sound of a burbling brook, wake to birdsong and can chill in the woodland hammock and swing before firing up the veranda barbecue for supper. Young explorers can build dens, play in the stream, follow a treasure hunt and toast marshmallows by the fire.
Sleeps four, from £245 for two nights,

Honeydown, Hatherleigh, Devon

Honeydown, Hatherleigh, Devon Moss Dome cabin

Set 50 metres apart in oak woods are five architect-designed wooden pods, nicknamed “Truffles” by the designer and owner of the site. Sleek interiors have woodburners, sheepskins and hammocks but no modem; outside, sheltered cooking areas have fire pits and strings of lights. Each pod has a double bed plus an extra bed for kids if required, and a private bathroom with hot shower in a block nearby. Dartmoor is within easy reach, as are the beaches of north Cornwall.
Sleeps two adults and two children, from £105 a night,

East Lodge, Banchory, Aberdeenshire

East Lodge, Banchory, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Other than the lack of wifi, East Lodge is a perfectly normal, contemporary cottage in the spectacular grounds of turreted Crathes Castle, owned by the National Trust for Scotland. Arch latticed windows accompany modern conveniences including a telly and DVDs for movie nights, though you may prefer to switch off and focus on outdoor fun in the vast grounds and gardens, spotting buzzards, bats and deer on six marked nature trails or tackling the Go Ape high ropes course. Sleeps four, from £412 for two nights,

Oak Tree Cottage, Cilgerran, Pembrokeshire

A bird hide on the Teifi Marshes nature reserve.
A bird hide on the Teifi Marshes nature reserve. Photograph: Glyn Thomas Photography/Alamy

With an adventure playground and willow maze on the doorstep and nature trails to explore, nobody will be begging to play Roblox here. The whitewashed cottage lies on the Teifi Marshes nature reserve, home to incredible birdlife such as kingfishers and barn owls, otters and even water buffalo. Lively Cardigan town is only a few miles away and the reserve has a cafe and numerous bird hides among its marshes, reed beds and woodland, for those who want to swap tweeting for some mindful birding.
Sleeps four, from £493 for seven nights,

Shepherds’ Retreat, Gortin, County Tyrone

Shepherds’ Retreat Gortin, County Tyrone

Granite peaks, vivid green fields and speeding clouds are your only neighbours at this remote cottage on a private forestry plantation and sheep farm in the Sperrins. Glass doors open straight on to this landscape, and though there’s no phone reception or wifi, there’s a TV with DVDs, and plenty of books and games to enjoy by the fire. There are stone circles and mountain bike trails nearby.
Sleeps four, from £278 for seven nights,

Laggan Cottage, Scottish Highlands

Laggan Cottage, Highland, Scotland

On the Ardnish peninsula and accessible only by boat – or a three-hour hike – this comfortable off-grid pad is seriously isolated. There’s nobody for miles around, bar the occasional kayaker, almost zero mobile signal and no TV. Paraffin lamps, wood-burning stoves for hot water and a Calor gas cooker are the only mod cons you get, allowing a total focus on the sublime surroundings. It is perfect for a week of hiking, swimming and watching the wildlife.
Sleeps five, from £1,050 for seven nights,

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