When looking at glamping sites, it can seem like shepherds’ huts and bell tents aren’t enough to catch the eye anymore.
Camping and glamping businesses are coming up with more and more quirky concepts to draw people to the countryside all over the UK. Northumberland alone has a sky den, safari-inspired huts and even converted canal narrowboats overlooking the coast.
One place that has really pushed the creative boat out is Hesleyside Huts, which is located in Northumberland National Park on the banks of the River North Tyne just west of Bellingham. It has a treehouse with a fairy-tale turret and treetop walkways, a hand-crafted North American-style cabin, and there’s soon to be an eco-friendly reimagining of the Pele Tower that the Hesleyside Estate is built around the foundations of.
Read more: Two Northumberland farms named among the best new glamping stays in the UK
However, it’s an upcycled chapel named Holly made with reclaimed church doors and cladding from a Victorian school where a reviewer stayed before giving a glowing review.
Dubbed a ‘beguiling mix of treehouses, wagons, towers and shepherd’s huts,’ by reviewer Lucy Perrin, Hesleyside Huts are the brainchild of Anna and William Charlton, with the latter’s family having lived on the estate for centuries. But the creativity is mostly down to Anna, whose biggest inspiration for the huts is her childhood.
She said: “The treehouse is because my older sisters wouldn’t let me into theirs, which was actually just two planks of wood. But I couldn’t get up there, so I always imagined what it looked like when I was little.
“It’s all about that magic of youth, den building and Wendy houses and fairy stories because I want people to come here and remember what it was like without responsibility when they were young and adventurous.
“There’s no phones and no Wi-Fi, I don’t put TVs in the cabins which I think worries people sometimes, but they’re so grateful at the end of it and they come back again and again to try a new hut each time. It’s that switching off, reconnecting with each other and nature, but also with themselves and being able to say, “Oh yeah, I remember what this feels like!””
Reviewer Perrin had followed Anna on Instagram for a long time before going to stay at Hesleyside Huts, and her positive review has seen an uptick in bookings. And while the estate is well-known in Northumberland and the North East, it’s now been put on the national and even international stage.
Anna continued: “The treehouse is almost full for August 2023 already. Some people are thinking wow, that is special, it’s worth booking more than a year ahead – usually for an occasion or a celebration.”
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The article also documented visits into Northumberland National Park, Kielder Water and Forest Park and Hadrian’s Wall, all of which are within driving (or cycling) distance of the estate. Anna added: “I think putting this part of the wilderness on the national and international map really excites me. It’s always been a lovely retreat for people in the North East but I think it’s showcasing what we can do up here in the natural witness – we hope to encompass dark skies, local heritage, wildlife and nature.”
“People know about us up here but since the review, I’ve had a lot of bookings from people in London and Surrey and all over the country, I’ve even had bookings from France. If that means people are coming to our beautiful part of the world, that’s a good thing I think.”
To read the full review of Hesleyside Huts in The Times, click here.
published 2022-05-19 20:29:54