Cathy's Holiday Ideas

Wilderness cottages in England

Wilderness cottages in England

'I just want to get away from it all'. How often have you heard that expression used when someone feels that everything is getting too much and they believe the answer is to escape, even if just for a few days. A friend recently asked me to recommend some cottages to rent in the middle of nowhere. After a few minutes' conversation it became clear that we were not talking about somewhere we might stumble across Bear Grylls foraging for food and requiring us to use bushcraft, survival and primitive skills to get through the holiday. Equally we agreed that the middle of nowhere was not a state of mind. It's true that there is a sense of satisfaction of discovering something unexpected or unusual in a place you did not know existed - perhaps a quiet, contemplative chapel off a bustling street in a hectic city. What was required was a place that allows you to breathe more easily and slow down to the pace and rhythm of nature. Here you would be able to unwind by contemplating the ever changing scenery as the light and the mood of the weather moved through the day, where you can become absorbed in the minute habits of wildlife or whatever contact with nature pleases.

So in this selection of wilderness cottages I have not applied any specific criteria such as they must be such-and-such distance from a road, or have no other properties (or indeed people) within view. Rather the cottage could be surrounded by windswept countryside, it feels like it's in the middle of nowhere, but the nearest village is actually only two miles away. And of course there is no compromise on the facilities on offer - all have everything to enjoy a relaxing holiday, even if popping out for some milk might involve a bit of a trek.

Naturalist David Bellamy dubbed the area of the northern Pennines (pictured above) that gives birth to the north-east's three great rivers, the Tees, the Wear and one half of the Tyne 'England's Last Wilderness'. If not quite virgin country - man has left his mark here - it has a bleak beauty and the vast emptiness is inspiring.

Two areas of Devon also claim the epithet - Dartmoor's untamed expanses and Exmoor's strikingly varied landscape. Dartmoor has tall, windswept granite tors standing out atop wild and rugged hills on two high plateaux split by the valley of the River Dart. On those plateaux the famous Dartmoor ponies still graze. It is a rich habitat for wildlife and has a wealth of archaeological remains which dot the landscape of the moor.

Straddling western Somerset and northern Devon, Exmoor is home to some of the most varied and beautiful scenery in England with heather moorland cut by deep valleys as well as precipitous cliffs and hidden coves along the Bristol Channel coast.

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  • Ashberry Cottage

    Ashberry Cottage

    Property Reference Number:

    Ashberry Farm.  View on map>

    In a nutshell: Riverside location, wood burning stove, walk to pub. Among the holiday cottages North Yorkshire can offer is this pretty riverside ...
    Sleeps: 4
    Weekly price range: £314 - £621
    Add to shortlist > View more information on this property
  • Horseshoe Cottage

    Horseshoe Cottage

    Property Reference Number:

    Hellandbridge.  View on map>

    In a nutshell: Riverside location in lovely wooded valley, short drive to coast at Padstow, both bedrooms en suite. If you are staying at any of o...
    Sleeps: 4
    Weekly price range: £392 - £897
    Add to shortlist > View more information on this property
  • Jasmine Cottage

    Jasmine Cottage

    Property Reference Number:

    Slaggyford.  View on map>

    In a nutshell: Comfortably furnished, pet friendly, enclosed garden, fishing on-site. Among the holiday cottages Cumbria can offer is this charmin...
    Sleeps: 8
    Weekly price range: £528 - £1156
    Add to shortlist > View more information on this property

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