Fancy a real break from the city? A short trip up the A1 will lead you to the tranquil haven that is Harvest Moon treehouses at Lochhouses, Scotland, where the raw majesty of nature is literally on your doorstep - Neil Hudson tried a weekend on the Scottish coastal resort
AFTER you’ve got over the breathtaking beauty, the idyllic setting and the excitement at the prospect of living in a treehouse for four days, the thing that hits you about this remote corner of Scotland is the silence.
If you stop and listen for just a seconds, you can’t hear a thing. Literally. It’s a strange feeling, especially for someone from the city, whose used to the constant background rumble of urban life - the distant hum of cars, the rumble of trains, the roar of aircraft and countless humdrum sounds.
Here, thirty minutes east of Edinburgh, tucked away on the coast, the gaping quiet opens up before you like a vast ocean.
Harvest Moon Treehouses at Lochhouses Farm, a stone’s throw from the A1 (which makes getting there a doddle), offers a little taste of back-to-basics life.
At first, it’s a bit unnerving but as you stare out over ploughed fields toward distant treelines, it suddenly hits you this is what you’ve been missing. Stand a while and allow the silence to seep in and you can feel yourself relaxing.
We travelled from Leeds, a journey which took around four hours. Once you reach the entrance, the track becomes a gravelled road and splits, with one side weaving through trees. It was dark when we arrived so crunching our way through the woods was an adventure in itself. Luckily, there were signs every few hundred yards encouraging you to drive on… saying things like: ‘This way to tranquillity’.
Finally, after a mile (yes, I measured it on the way back), the track opened into a car park with another sign, announcing we had reached our destination.
It was only then we realised none of us had torches and the journey and sat-nav had depleted all our phones. Luckily, a sign informed us there would be lanterns nearby and wheelbarrows (of all things) to transport our luggage. This was exciting enough for the adults, never mind the kids.
Toward the edge of the car park was another curiosity - an ‘honesty shop’ masquerading as a wooden shed stocked with all manner of goods, from freshly laid eggs, bread, jam, cider to firelighters and spare loo roll. They even had two cool boxes, one full of frozen two-litre bottles of water (a home-made ice pack, for holidaymakers to take to their individual houses) and another full of bacon, sausage, milk and so on.
Lanterns in hand and luggage loaded into several of the large plastic wheelbarrows, we made our way through a gate and onto a path in the middle of the night, wondering where it would lead.
Again we were met with a wondrous site, because the path was lit up by so many tiny lights, which snaked off into the night, taking us past the impressive treehouses.
The houses themselves are beautiful, nestled among the trees and conjures images of The Lord of the Rings and a Star Wars Ewok village. Each is slightly different but all are made up of a kitchen/dining area complete with everything you’d ever need, plus a few luxuries like a gigantic cool box but the centrepiece has to be the wood-fired oven.
A bucket full of wood was left to get us started but there’s more to be foraged outside, so you’ll never go short. In fact, that’s all part of the experience and if you have children, it’s great to see them relishing the chance to get their hands dirty.
Sleeping quarters were two bedrooms, one with a double bed and a second with a bunk, although the bottom bunk was easily wide enough for two. If you really need the extra space, the dining table in the kitchen area folds down into a bed.
During our three-day stay, the furthest we ventured was to a local farmshop called Knowes, which had everything you could want, including pick your own veg (there were people walking from the field with fist-fulls of muddy carrots) and a live lobster tank.
It has to be remembered Edinburgh is only half an hour away and if you’re into your history, there’s also Roslyn Chapel, which featured in The Da Vinci Code and which legend has it is a replica of the Temple of Solomon.
On our first full day, we learned that it was possible to buy locally caught venison, partridge and grouse from the farm and so one phone call later, one of the staff turned up with a leg of venison and two game birds, which we cooked on an open fire in the fire pit outside one of the treehouses.
What could be finer than cooking local meat on an open fire burning wood you have foraged while drinking a glass of Scotland’s finest?
Later still we decamped to a larger fire pit about a hundred yards away, circled by some logs and there we built and lit an even bigger fire and the party continued into the night.
The farm has other attractions, including a smallholding with chickens, ducks and rabbits, which those staying there are encouraged to go and see. If you keep a keen eye, you’ll spot wild grouse roaming the farmfields.
There’s also one of the finest beaches you’ll ever see and when you get there, you’ll find it practically deserted - our hosts encouraged us to take sledges with us so we could slide down the sand dunes and, indeed, we found this great fun, if not a little tiring climbing back up again.
If it’s the outdoors you crave, then Lochhouses has it in buckets. It’s a corner of heaven. Close enough to the city and yet remote enough to allow you to cleanse yourself in the tranquillity of doing nothing much other than watching nature, relaxing and planning the next meal.