Julia Sanders created this wonderland on an unused part of her parents’ farm, after her application for eco-lodges was turned down by the local council. A small gathering of Sioux Indian tipis and yurts now inhabit the enchanting little 11-acre forest and private grassland valley with views across the Malvern Hills.
The two yurts and three tipis are scattered around an ancient woodland that has been undisturbed for years, bar the mystical creatures and fairies that are said to inhabit the bluebells at the bases of the trees. Ready-made tracks – originally built for the previous owner’s huskies’ sledging practice – loop the forest floor. They’re perfect for racing through the woods and collecting bow-and-arrow sticks and makeshift fishing rods with which to catch dinner, in the pond at the bottom of the valley. Each tent is cosily laid out with sheepskin rugs, raised mattresses and plenty of additional blankets for those extra chilly nights. Most importantly, there’s also a wood-burning stove and a kettle in each one for that first cuppa in the morning.
Outside there’s a campfire, log-style tables and chairs and your own personal hammock. The tipis are all slightly different and each seems to have its own distinct personality. For the best view, go for Valley tipi, the name alluding to the panorama that awaits. The facilities are first-rate and thoughtfully put together. First, and most importantly, the showers are better than home. The fully stocked kitchen has everything you could possibly want and a separate fridge is assigned to each tipi.
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Nearest train station is Hereford. From there take the number 37 bus, which drops you right outside the pub. You can also get the 37 from Ross.
Running wild in the woods, making dens, swinging on old tyres and rope ladders. Making home-made biscuits in the clay oven. Playing in the sand-pit. Pushing your friends around in a wheelbarrow.
You’re only a hop, skip or a jump away from the stunning River Wye. Enjoy paddling on tiny pebbly beaches, wobbling on the swing-bridge or kayaking. Outdoor activities abound, from Pedalbikeaway Cycles (01600 772821) to Severnvale Llama and Donkey Trekking (01594 528482).
You’re spoilt for choice. The epitome of gastropub cuisine (and a choice of 80 beers!) can be found at the New Harp Inn in nearby Hoarwithy (01432 840900). The Lough Pool Inn in Sellack (01989 730236) has a beer garden, and the invitingly named Cottage of Content sits on a 4-mile stretch of the River Wye just below Little Dewchurch (01432 840 242). All sell local ales and tasty, mostly organic food (main courses around £10-12).
If it rains
Check out the visitors’ book for loads of recommendations, including the grandeur of Eastnor Castle (01531 633160) and underground adventures at Clearwell Caves (01594 832535). For those needing a bit of sophistication (and a latté or two), swing by the Baileys café; and über-chic interiors barn, 10 minutes down the road at Bridstow. Otherwise, take a tour around Weston’s Cider Farm (01531 660233) in Much Marcle, 8 miles away, is a tasty day out.
Apart from falling off a tree swing, or tripping over a guy rope, there’s little for even the most anxious of parents to worry about here. A ‘no cars inside the campsite’ policy means kids of all ages can dash about willy-nilly.
If it's full
Head to Tresseck Campsite (01432 840235) in Hoarwithy for a peaceful riverside location, to launch a kayak or do a spot of fishing.
The 3 yurts and 3 tipis each sleep 4–5 on comfortable mattresses strewn with sheepskin rugs. Bring sleeping bags/duvets and linen. Each has an in-tent gas-stove and woodburner. Outside you’ll find your own hammock, fireplace and dining space. There’s a communal kitchen with electricity, fuelling fridges, energy-saving kettles and cookers. On the cooking front, though, the pièce de résistance has to be the massive clay oven – so huge it has its own little house, complete with armchairs. Send your offspring into the woods on a fuel-finding mission, while you sit close by with a glass of something – and watch the flames rise. The shared loos and showers are immaculate and the ultimate in cool. For the greenest option, there’s one composting loo tucked away in the bushes. Woodland have thought of everything for little people, as there’s a travel cot, available on request, as well as 2 retro-style highchairs in the kitchen. And if you’re not keen on hand-washing, machine facilities are available.
To a high-wired forest adventure with ‘Go Ape!’ at Mallards Pike Lake (0870 4589078).