Preparing to become parents and moving house are two of life’s...less settling events, shall we say. So we thought we’d do both at the same time. It’s fair to say that we were ready for some downtime ahead of the impending life changes.

Time to reconnect with each other, ourselves and with nature.

Like full-blown, proper hippies. 

Camp Well entrace in forest with trailers for carrying bags Suzie pulling the trailer for wheeling our bags to our cabin in the woods

We arrived at dusk and checked ourselves in, by which I mean: we loaded our clothes and food supplies into the handy trailers and wheel barrows and found our way to our cabin. The “hands-off” approach befitting for a few days living in the wild.

The hand drawn map of the forest village

The hand drawn map of the forest "village"

"Yurtis" our yurt cabin for our stay complete with log burner

'Yurtis' our yurt cabin for our stay

With Suzie being 8 months pregnant, "roughing it" wasn't really an option for us, so thankfully 'Yurtis' had a comfy double bed and small yet mighty log burner. Our favourite design feature had to be the large skylight ceiling – perfect for stargazing. Once the log burner got going we soon had to leave the door ajar to cool down!

Looking at tree tops and blue sky through the skylight of the tipi Sunlight rays through the forest and cabins

Morning greeted us with blue skies and views of the forest canopy. I'm an early-riser so I headed out to explore the "village" and surroundings.

It was a beautiful, bright September morning and the sunlight poured through the forest, clinging to the rising morning haze.

Village kitchen

The wonderfully rustic communal "village" kitchen
Cabin in the forest Solar power panels in the forest
Left: "Waney" cabin. Right: Solar panels amongst the shrubbery

Bridge across to the showers and toilets in the canopy

Across the bridge to the forest canopy toilets and showers
'loo with a view' tree top canopy toilet Shower opening out onto the tree top canopy

The showers and compost toilets were thoughtfully built into the forest canopy, juxtaposing exposure with privacy. Thankfully there are no public footpaths in view, but I’m sure the squirrels get an eye full.

"Humanure" using human waste to fertilise the cherry wood forest

Camp Well is designed in a way that follows nature’s grain. From solar powered lighting and appliances, to wood fired jet stoves, though there’s a trusty gas stove if you just need your brew asap.

The long drop compost toilets create “humanure” which fertilises the coppice. A healthy symbiotic relationship in action. There’s a few more whiffs about than with a mains run sanitised toilet of course, but it felt strangely natural. No whooshing flush torrent of water swirling down some porcelain pelican. Just bare bottom on wooden hole and I’ll leave the graphic imagery there.

Wooden chairs around the fire

The Cherry Wood workshop which hosts the spoon carving and bowl lathe turning workshops which can be pre-booked.

Most of our holidays consist of darting here-and-there, seeing all that we can in the area, but we consciously decided to spend 2 full days just around the forest and surroundings.

We read and dozed in sunlight-dappled hammocks, then rambled in the forest and footpaths in search of the nearby “secret lake”... 

The cherry wood workshop Hammock with sunlight
Sign to the secret lake Wooden painted arrows on sign pointing towards lake

...which we eventually found after a few wrong turns. Well worth the search though.

Secret lake with handmade wooden canoe

The resident dragonflies patrolled the perimeter of the lake and were intrigued by my presence.

I’d love to report the oneness I felt with nature as they danced by, their intricate iridescent bodies of azure blue and chilli red shimmering in the sunshine...However, near misses from miniature helicopters whooshing past my ear were deeply unsettling.

I tried googling “do dragon flies sting?”: alas no phone signal. I sat and read, and gradually became less conscious of their presence. Steeling myself to notice their beauty and quelling my natural aversion to sharing my personal space with all things insect-like.

Besides, it was me invading their playground.

I’m pleased to report that none of the dragon flies were in a biting or stinging mood. (Just FYI, apparently they can’t sting and rarely bite). Good to know.

Time to relax, looking down at bag, book and rug

Huckleberry Finn eat your heart out

When in Rome: I decided to take the hand-carved canoe for a test paddle. It was surprisingly comfortable when laying down and I enjoyed reading and drifted lazily across the lake in the warmth of the afternoon.

"do not disturb" laying in canoe reading but sticking middle finger up

Do not disturb!

Following a brief chilly dip in said lake, we made our way back to the "village" to warm up...

wood fired Jet boiler in the kitchen for a warm cuppa Small Wooden cabin sauna
Left: Wood-fired jet stoves for an eco cuppa. Right: The sauna cabin.

Wide angle shot of village kitchen with table and pizza oven

We enjoyed cooking our own meals in the well-equipped kitchen and it was nice to chat to other guests and the friendly Campwell team.

We sought to embrace the slowness of the process and even planned in the 2 hours it takes to get the wood-fire pizza oven up to temperature. Well worth wait.

Wood fired Pizza oven cooking our homemade pizza

No wilderness bingo would be complete without campfire-toasted marshmallows...

Toasting marshmallows on the campfire

So there you have it, our stay at Campwell Woods. If you’re looking to escape the urban sprawl and have some stillness in the forest in relative comfort then I’d highly recommend it.

Mark and Suzie looking fresh faced pre-children

Look how fresh-faced and re-wilded we are (before kids!)

This is not a sponsored journal post. My words and thoughts are my own. However, Tim and the team did kindly put us up for 3 nights in exchange for some photography and a write up. A reciprocal creative exchange - it’s the future.

Mark Musgrave

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