Julia Sanders created this wonderland on an unused part of her parents’ farm, after her application for eco-lodges was turned down by the local council. A small gathering of Sioux Indian tipis and yurts now inhabit the enchanting little 11-acre forest and private grassland valley with views across the Malvern Hills.
The two yurts and three tipis are scattered around an ancient woodland that has been undisturbed for years, bar the mystical creatures and fairies that are said to inhabit the bluebells at the bases of the trees. Ready-made tracks – originally built for the previous owner’s huskies’ sledging practice – loop the forest floor. They’re perfect for racing through the woods and collecting bow-and-arrow sticks and makeshift fishing rods with which to catch dinner, in the pond at the bottom of the valley. Each tent is cosily laid out with sheepskin rugs, raised mattresses and plenty of additional blankets for those extra chilly nights. Most importantly, there’s also a wood-burning stove and a kettle in each one for that first cuppa in the morning.
Outside there’s a campfire, log-style tables and chairs and your own personal hammock. The tipis are all slightly different and each seems to have its own distinct personality. For the best view, go for Valley tipi, the name alluding to the panorama that awaits. The facilities are first-rate and thoughtfully put together. First, and most importantly, the showers are better than home. The fully stocked kitchen has everything you could possibly want and a separate fridge is assigned to each tipi.
There are fresh flowers in an eclectic collection of vases scattered charmingly all over the site; lanterns and candles add to the already tranquil ambience. Swinging ropes and ladders make this a kids’ paradise whilst the grown-ups have their own covered communal area with furniture made from old school desks and benches. On arrival there’s a welcome note chalked onto a board with the name of your tent and a handy wheelbarrow to lug your stuff down to the car-free campsite. Then follows a quick lesson on how to make a fire in the middle of the tipi, without asphyxiating everyone.
Now, who wants to head for the hills? With easy access to the Forest of Dean and the Malvern Hills, walkers are spoilt for choice. But there’s also kayaking on the many meandering Wye Valley waterways or swinging from high wires in tree-top canopies at Go Ape. The quaint market towns of Ross-on-Wye and the more literary Hay-on-Wye are also worth exploring before heading back to begin the task of fire making and pizza burning.
As the kids run around playing cowboys and Indians in the woods, this magical place may well bring out your inner child. It’s a real woodland adventure, scented by the heady aroma of campfires – and scrummy home-made pizzas slowly cooking in the communal oven.