Winning tip: Glamping on a dairy farm, west Devon
Hole up in one of two cosy, wooden glamping pods, on Alistair’s beef and sheep farm in the tranquil Devon countryside not far from Launceston, Cornwall. Despite a relentless late-October downpour, we stayed warm, snug and smug inside the pod thanks to a heater and clever insulation. Having an en suite shower room spared us the usual torch-lit scramble across a field, and the heated towel rail felt indulgent. The firepit was a hit on dry nights, as we enjoyed the warmth as well as a visit from Alistair’s flock of rare-breed sheep.
From £65 a night for up to four
Cosy cabins, Whitstable, Kent
These converted fishermen’s huts on the Whitstable seafront were once inhabited by cockle farmers, but now serve as cosy cabins for tourists looking for a bit of fresh sea air all year round. Just metres from the beach and the famous Whitstable Oyster Company restaurant, these sea-view cabins are the perfect base for exploring the England Coast Path or cycling the Crab and Winkle Way.
Huts from £85 per night
Woodland cabins, near Shrewsbury
My husband, two sons and I loved Riverside Cabins just outside Shrewsbury for its peaceful location and woodland surroundings. There are only a few cabins and lodges and our cabin deck (and hot tub) overlooked the river, which was the perfect place to unwind and watch out for wildlife. Our stylish cabin interior was finished to a really high standard and was beautifully cosy and well equipped. We all loved the huge firepit in the sandstone quarry (marshmallow toasting under the stars!). It was a great base for exploring Shropshire’s areas of outstanding natural beauty.
Cabins from £90 a night
American school bus, Beachy Head, East Sussex
There is no better place to clear winter’s fug than atop the white cliffs of Beachy Head. As the wind whips across a churning sea, tearing chunks of the crumbling cliff face, I feel wild and free, at one with the elements. Inside, ruddy-cheeked, I am protected by the safe, dependable walls of another icon. An American yellow school bus, converted into a tiny, quirky home that gently rocks in the wind. It’s as if it wants to remind me that it, too, came to shake off past lives, to feel alive.
Prices from £155 a night based on two sharing
A hut on high, Lake District
Dubs Hut is slate-built with a stone floor and a slate roof. It is free to stay in. Start at the top of Honister Pass (Grid ref: NY 225 135) where there is a National Trust pay-and-display car park. From there, walk alongside the road passing the slate factory on your left. Enter the quarry yard, go up a few steps and pick up a path signed “Great Gable and Haystacks”, which starts to climb immediately, leading you onto on to the old abandoned quarry tramway. This is Moses Rigg. There is a 150-metre ascent before you descend again, reaching Dubs Quarry. As you approach the hut, you have a panorama of Haystacks and the whole of the High Stile range.
No charge, but you are advised to take a tent in popular areas, in case the bothy is already occupied when you arrive. It is crucial to check the weather forecast for adverse conditions before attempting to reach a remote bothy
Bikepacking bothy, Cairngorms
Recently renovated with a composting toilet and two woodburning stoves, Ruigh Aiteachain bothy, in Glen Feshie in the Cairngorms, provides the perfect overnight stay between Blair Atholl and Aviemore for a two-day bikepacking trip. The first day up through Glen Tilt and Glen Feshie provides magnificent Scots pinewoods and bellows of stags reverberating through the glens. The second day reveals another magical journey as you continue northwards along the River Feshie and the Spey, up to Aviemore for a well-earned refreshment. Fording two rivers, you’ll need to check first if they’re in spate, but otherwise it just adds to the adventure.
No charge, but you are advised to take a tent if you intend to use a bothy in a popular area. It is crucial to check the weather forecast for adverse conditions before attempting to reach a remote bothy
One-room cottage, Isle of Skye
Struanlea self-catering cottage in Lower Breakish, in the south-east of the Isle of Skye, is a secret hideaway, perfect for two. Just off the main road from Kyle of Lochalsh, it has everything you need for a break from daily life, yet it is easily accessible, only a short walk from the beach and minutes from the local community facilities. It’s cosy and welcoming, and you can imagine you are in a secluded corner of Skye.
From £230 a week
Caravans and Morecambe Bay views, Cumbria
We stayed at a lovely caravan site named Meathop Fell, with our mini-caravan and massive awning. It is a very quiet place close to the Lake District at Grange-over-Sands, Morecambe Bay. Our awning flooded, but we made a cup of tea and survived! The site is open all year around. You don’t need to be a member of the Caravan Club to enjoy this lovely place.
Touring pitch from £11.15
Fit for a hobbit, Ceredigion
Ty Barcud luxury glamping pod at Devil’s Bridge in Ceredigion (near Aberystwyth in mid-Wales) is in an amazing location. It sits in two acres of meadow and woodland. The pod is a curved, cedar-clad, fully insulated cabin with a round entrance door that looks as if it waiting for two Hobbits to arrive! It is en suite, with wifi, and has a gorgeous deck area.
£255 for a Friday-Monday winter stay for two
Shepherd’s hut, Berkshire
Little Fleece at Folly Farm in West Ilsley is a cosy shepherd’s hut in beautiful countryside by the Ridgeway in Berkshire. The wood stove, electric central heating and fire pit make it cosy in winter, and it has an electric shower and wood-fired outdoor bath for romantic evenings under the stars. The sheep and pheasants are great company on frosty walks across the farmland. I can’t wait to return.
From £310 for two nights for up to two people