So it was my birthday this week and I entered the last year of my twenties….yikes. The start of 2015 started a little flat in truth, but half way through it danced its way through a pirouette and this ‘ballerina’ point in my flat out the blocks year is the very reason I am packing my suitcase full of down, Goretex and thick socks to travel to….. (well I don’t actually know yet) these were the items on the packing list.
That is because my lovely boyfriend Stu :) has decided as a birthday treat I am to be whisked off in my best, colourful outdoorsy gear on a compass bearing of 260 degrees. Don’t tell him I had to google compass bearings and the detective in me (google) says we’re off South West somewhere. He’s not going to be proud of that comment!
And we're off...
....boring Stu silly during the two and a half hour drive from Bristol trying to guess our final destination. He finally gives in/humours me and divulges that there is no electricity or heating and it’s basic……. BUT… fun and I should ‘love it’. Surprise trips are exciting, but slightly unnerving, as the inner control freak in me likes to know, when, where, how, what...
It takes me all of two hours, twenty minutes to get over the fear of the unknown and I relax into the final 5 minutes of our journey really excited, and overwhelmed by his efforts; however regretting going off piste on the packing list and throwing in a hairdryer and minidress. We depart Bodmin Moor and follow the sat nav, where in typical sat nav fashion we end up following the most direct (non-direct route) and almost get the van stuck in an overgrown lane. Navigation is part of the challenge of this destination especially when travelling in oversize vehicles. *
We arrive at Broom Park Farm and I’m told to welly boot up and passed a head torch. A nice man turns up to welcome us and we’re off into the forest towards the sound of rushing water. A 5-10 minute boggy walk later my head torch catches the first glimpse of our home for the weekend.
Out of the shadows pops a crazy and mind boggling hanging structure; we’re staying in a huge wooden BEEHIVE. Awesome!! It was hard to grasp the setting because we arrived in the dark but we could tell it was going to be special sunrise surprise.
Facilities at the Beehive were basic, the interior of the cabin is simple; but that is part of its charm. It has two benches with cushions which fold down to form beds, a wood burner (box of wood included) and a sink. Below on the forest floor is a hut which houses some basic cooking equipment including a gas hob, chairs, table, a toilet shaped waste paper bin and a black bin waste bin. No prizes for guessing the intended use for toilet shaped bin (noted: nature pee it is…..). It is worth saying that back up towards the farm is a toilet block with warm showers; however that is a 5-10 minute walk through the forest and I wasn’t venturing far in search of hot showers and flushing toilets at this time of night. Adjacent to the river is a fire pit with tree stump seats, grill top and a tar-poling shelter.
Considering the fact it was January and we were predicted below zero temperatures, I was dressed for bed like we were embarking on an arctic expedition; down jacket and fleece leggings but the wood burner did a wonderful job of keeping us cosy and comfortable all evening. No chilly toes here! ** .
It was only at dawn when we poked our heads out the Beehive could we fully appreciate the tumbling river, dense forest canopy backdrop. This is a special place, what a lovely treat. So it turns out woodburners also double up as hot plates for croissants, so after a quick breaky we were off to explore the wintery wonders of the Fowey River by Canoe in the January sunshine.
As stated, the challenge of this destination is navigation, and in typical wilderness camping fashion our trusty GPS apps are rendered useless. Some bad map reading (al la me), and two van U-turns later (sorry Stu) we ended up in Golant. This place is a CUTE and quaint little village adjacent the river Fowey. We met a lovely lady named Karen who together with her husband run Encounter Cornwall which runs kayak tours and hires out canoes for the day.
We could have spent all day exploring the waterways on the Fowey but we paddled up round the meandering bends until we landed on the riverbank of Leyrnn and went to find the nearest pub for a coffee. *** The village is adorable. So picture postcard and ashore the banks of the Fowey. We stumbled across the lovely village shop with a young chap selling, as he proudly informed us, ‘award winning pasty's’. I heart Cornwall!!
As winter Saturdays go we could not have timed our trip more perfectly. We passed about three others enjoying the delights of morning on the river with the standard ‘lovely day for it’ and paddled on into the sunshine in total tranquillity.
As the tide dropped we finished our picnic got ‘stuck in the mud’ and had to drag the canoe off the riverbed before heading back to Golant. In the afternoon we headed to the picturesque town of Fowey, it is clear from the first cobble street you hit that there has been significant cash injection into the area, the houses were pristine or in the process of renovation with fancy glass balconies. The town was full of trendy homeware shops selling an array of Scandinavian furniture, and expensive yet beautiful art galleries. However, Fowey retains it sense of Cornish charm within the pubs/restaurants, we found a cosy spot in The Ship Inn for that post midday beer and sat snug amongst the locals near an open fire.
Dinner for the evening was back in the forest on the campfire. I rustled up some veggie kebabs, gourmet burgers and salads then left Stu to do his man thing and make fire. Slumped in two camp chairs we warmed our toes by the fire, drank too much of a delicious Merlot I forget the name of and chatted/plotted the 2016 calendar.
I would not hesitate to recommend the Beehive to anyone looking for a romantic, family or friend filled weekend ****. It really was the most perfect getaway to relax, and the fact you get zero photo signal here forces you to avoid any modern day distractions. Time does amble past very slowly when you have little concerning you, it was wonderful to take stock of surroundings and enjoy being immersed within the forest for the weekend to let your mind wander. It was the perfect Robin Crusiow inspired weekend and we'll be back to explore more of the area in time; that I am sure of.
Huge thank to Stu for organising such a lovely weekend, I felt so spoilt. Also to the owners at Broom Park Farm for being such wonderful hosts! The space is listed on Canopy & Stars website and available for rent all year round for a minimum of 2 nights.
* Follow directions on the website NOT the Sav Nav.
** They provide you with sleeping bags and blankets.
*** Fear of judgement for ordering a pre midday beer
**** as far as I am aware there is space to camp on the forest floor, but you would need to confirm with the owners.