Innovative glamping accommodation and architectural firsts, set in a remote wood in Mid Wales
Some glamping sites choose to turn back the clock. A rustic shepherd’s hut, perhaps, with an 1800s vibe or a twee log cabin with skis upon the wall. Not so on the Red Kite Estate in Mid Wales. This is a place that innovates. Faced with a timeless setting at the foot of the Elenydd Plateau – a remote stretch of the Cambrian mountains – the owners of this wooded 80 acres have turned instead to architects of the 21st century. The result is truly unique glamping structures that feed off the likes of Rolls Royce designers and aviation expertise. There’s a reason it’s featured on Channel 4’s George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces and in the design pages of The Sunday Times.
The estate first began with just the one structure, a suspended turquoise orb that hangs high among the pine trees and sleeps two in a double bed. The ‘tree tent’, crafted from highbred aluminium, canvas and steam-bent ash, suspends from taught metal wires that give it a lofty position overlooking a mountain stream. Access is via a wooden bridge that leads to a raised terrace where there is also a kitchen area and an atmospheric outdoor shower. Inside, meanwhile, the cocooning felt interior is warm and cosy, with a wood-burning stove to fire up and the bed folding away into a comfortable sofa.
After the success of the Ynys Affalon tent, a similar second tree tent was built – the aptly named red ‘Dragon’s Egg’ set a couple of hundred metres away in the woods. The egg has its own access track, giving guests in each tent their own very private space, though friends could also book out both and enjoy acres upon acres all to themselves. Either way, it’s certainly the setting that really brings out the beauty in these quirky structures. Off-grid and off the ground, they offer a unique perspective on wildlife and the forest and an unbeatable location for a ‘digital detox’.
Above the trees, where the woods thin out and hilltop views take over, is the Red Kite Estate’s very newest design: The Conker. Made of aluminium and recycled plastic, this world-first, contemporary structure – a copper-clad, spherical shell – features circular windows and a hidden door that leads inside. Within, it’s all mod-cons – think LED colour lighting, bluetooth speakers, high-tech heating – with a bespoke double bed that neatly converts into a dining table and soft chairs, plus a compact kitchen area with copper kitchen wares to match. Partnered with a Scandi-style bathroom (the shower has a view to die for) and composting loo, it has everything you could need.
Whether smuggled amongst the trees or conquering the hilltop, the location of the estate opens up ample opportunities. There’s the stream to explore, footpaths on the doorstep and wildlife aplenty. As the name suggests, red kites swooping overhead are not an unusual spectacle. To really get up close, though, it’s a 20-minute drive to the Gigrin Farm Feeding Station – not to be missed. There’s much to be said, however, for staying put and winding down in your own private setting. Peace and solitude are best served beside the campfire. Perhaps with a marshmallow or two.
Powys, Wales, United KingdomTo respect the Host's privacy, the precise address of this land will be provided after booking
Hosted by Anjana ?.Joined in February 2018
From the host
One Forest - Two TreeTents. AND newly-landed this season is the startling Conker, a completely spherical UFO-type pod set high up above our own magical Red Kite woodland and enjoying breathtaking views of the surrounding moorlands.
Approached by its own fairy bridge, the Dragon's Egg Tree Tent (the red one) has two sweeping wooden decks so you should bring your own copy of Midsummer Night's Dream to declaim if that's your thang. Ynys Affalon (the green one) is the classic original, featured on George Clarke’s 'Amazing Spaces', a rich verdant green orb, with opulent purple interior, named after the Isle of Avalon in Arthurian legend. She remains welcoming and intimate, cradled like a barque in the breeze and is approached from the north part of the estate via her own private bridge.
Above the lusty shout of a vibrant stream you can hear the harmonious Welsh dawn chorus. A twitcher's paradise, aesthetically rich, green and pleasant, this very special spot makes for an extra-special romantic experience, nestled in the canopy. Outdoor cooking, baked bananas, toasted marshmallows...sitting by the fire pit. What's not to enjoy? Piece de resistance under construction for the brave at Dragon's Egg is the new log and rope bridge-short-cut to the glampaloo. It isnt only sheep here: you may see red kites and buzzards and owls and hares and wild rabbits and lots besides. You are located within striking distance of the Brecon Beacons and Hay-on-Wye (the world-famous town of books), and the western coastline of Wales, and close to Builth Wells and Llandrindod Wells. It is perfect for long countryside walks through forests and valleys, past waterfalls and mighty reservoirs, and for mountain biking, fishing, canoeing and just hangin'. You can even invite your friends and keep it private by booking them into the gorgeous Red Kite Barn only moments away across the wooded valley.
Though you may easily see them circling overhead the private forest, the best place to watch red kites close up is at Gigrin Farm Feeding Station (01597 810243) near Rhayader. It's just under 12 miles from the Red Kite Estate and is excellent both for seeing the birds and learning a bit more about them and the success of their breeding in Wales. The dams and reservoirs of the Elan Estate (01597 810880) are situated within an AONB a half-hour’s drive from the site. As you approach the town of Rhayader you will see the road signs to The Elan Valley Reservoirs. Visit the coffee shop that's open seven days a week (10am–5.30pm) and take a scenic walk around the reservoir. Try out some wild swimming at Pen-doll Rocks, Builth Wells: a lovely stretch of the Wye just outside Builth Wells with a variety of flat rocks and wooden planks that connect them and fairly easy access to the water – 7 miles from the site. Visit Henryhd Waterfall, the highest fall in South Wales located in the Brecon Beacons.
For Sea, beach and dunes Try Borth, just north of Aberystwyth on Wales’ western shoreline. Heading north along the coastline through Borth itself until you come to the Dyfi National Nature Reserve – great sand dunes to explore, with beach and water on each side. You can park up on the beach itself (£2 charge) and watch kite surfers and horses alongside ice cream vans and paddling children. Or for those more interested in the written and spoken word, try Hay-on-Wye's myriad of second-hand bookshops, and The Willow Globe's utterly charming and unique outdoor theatre (01597 811487).
Food and drink
It's a long-ish but pleasant three mile walk over the moorland and down the lane to the oldest pub in Powys, The Red Lion (01597 860204) at Llanafan-fawr, where there are real ales on tap and hearty meals on the menu. Nothing fancy but a real pub atmosphere – Wednesday night is the one for steak and wine! Be warned, it does close for a short while after lunch service and reopens in the evening. Four miles away at Newbridge-on-Wye, next to the New Inn (and owned by the pub landlord; 01597 860211), is a rare breeds butcher shop. They have rather random opening times but if the pub is open (which it is at lunch and dinner Mon–Thurs and Sunday, all day Fri and Saturday) then ask at the bar and they will open the shop for you.