“A collection of contemporary wood-and-glass eco-cabins, each sleeping 4-6, hidden on a hillside above sweeping Swaledale”
Tucked above the forested valley of Swaledale, a rollercoaster drive leads down towards a central cluster of eco-lodges, arching around a pair of ponds. We stayed in one of these and, though fairly open to passers-by, we didn’t feel our privacy was intruded on. From here, rough tracks lead on to the more secluded cabins, camouflaged in the woodland - the pick of the bunch.
Each lodge has a large, glass-walled, open-plan living-dining space which, being south-facing, feels like a kind of Scandinavian sunroom. A kitchen island contains all you need for breakfast and simple meals. French windows let you pad straight out onto the cedar decking; in fine weather you can sit at the umbrella'd table and spot rabbits.
The back of each lodge is split into 3 bedrooms (though you can choose to book only 2), which feel a bit boxy by comparison, but are very comfy. Expect snuggly duvets, oak floorboards, trendy touchlamps - and utter silence in the morning (but for the warbling of finches outside). The spacious master bedroom has a French window to the side; the 2 smaller bedrooms are best for kids or short stays.
See resort plan
Designed for self-catering, each cabin has a kitchen island with plenty of pots, pans, cutlery, crockery, sharp knives and glasses. There's a cafetiere, a kettle and a toaster for brekkie; a hob, oven and microwave for dinner; and a fridge-freezer for storing it all.
When you arrive, the table for 6 will be waiting with a hamper of bread, milk, jam, wine, cheese etc from Ken Warnes' grocery on Richmond square - a shop which you'll get to know well during your stay. If it's warm you can dine on the deck, and even shelter under a large parasol if it gets too sunny.
If that all sounds too much like hard work, there's a decent choice of eateries in Richmond (a mile away), from Indian (Amantola) to Chinese (New Treasure Garden) via fish'n'chips and the fancy Frenchgate Hotel. Some will deliver to your door - check the in-cabin directory for details. Founder Matt Spence decided against building a restaurant on-site in order to encourage guests to eat out and spread the income locally.
This is a great place to escape with the kids, especially those who are interested in the great outdoors. Our toddler loved watching the rabbits running around outside the windows and the ducks swimming on the pond.
Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)
Each cabin has 3 bedrooms (but you can choose to book only 2 for reduced occupancy rates). Parents of toddlers should avoid cabins 2-6 which have a pair of unfenced ponds out front; and generally you will need to keep an eye out, as there are various small drops and sharp edges around the deck.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
The Sanctuary building has a play room filled with play tents, a wooden kitchen and a pop-up tunnel. It’s a great place for rainy days and for tiring out little legs in a safe environment.