A rather prolonged moment in fact, with global demand having exploded in recent years and forecast to continue steadily increasing*. This sustained trend is part of a much bigger movement towards people reconnecting with the natural world.
At Otter Falls, we have the perfect setting for that connection to happen. In August 2023, we completed the build of an exclusive development of one and two-bedroom luxury Treehouses and ground level Woodland Retreats. They are dotted among the trees at our long-established holiday hideaway at the foot of the Blackdown Hills on the Devon and Somerset border. Whether you want a magical getaway with your little ones or a romantic escape, just the two of you far from the madding crowd, a treehouse holiday has all the right ingredients.
Like many other legacies of the Covid pandemic, such as the increase in working from home, we began to really think about what was important to us. And some of the most important things turned out to be the simplest: family and friends, nature, and the small pleasures in life. Post pandemic, this has led to a surge in staycations that involve reconnecting with our favourite people and getting back to nature. It’s had the added bonus of reminding us that the UK is a beautiful country (and is a whole lot easier for holidays than going abroad). Treehouses tick all the right boxes for our new-found connections and tap deeper into our emotions too, with nostalgia for childhood adventures. The Treehouses at Otter Falls put you right at the heart of nature, with balconies among the branches, forest views from every window and woodland walks all around you. And they evoke those rose-tinted memories of childhood, when dens and treehouses where all part of playing outside.
The pandemic pushed the reset button on our relationship with nature. Suddenly, in the spring of 2020, going for walks was just about all we could do and for many, it was a revelation. For the first time in a long time many of us had time to appreciate nature, as cherry trees blossomed, bluebells burst into life, birds filled the air with song and butterflies danced between the flowers.
In fact, we seem to crave nature and even our TV viewing bears it out. Over 10 million people watched David Attenborough’s Planet Earth lll last year, making it one of the most watched TV events of the year (beaten only by the King’s coronation, Eurovision and Happy Valley – we’re a complicated bunch). And over two million viewers have tuned into the latest Springwatch on BBC, which advertises that it ‘connects viewers to spring’s miraculous moments in real time’.
There’s another way to connect to nature in real time though – go out there and see it, hear it, smell it and touch it for real. Our Treehouses and Woodland Retreats at Otter Falls are very popular with couples and with parents who have young children, giving you the opportunity to experience nature up close, to teach your children -and perhaps yourself – about the trees, flowers, birds and butterflies and the turn of the seasons.
Treehouses, dens and forests, are never far from childhood stories and they are potent symbols of childhood freedom and adventure. From Enid Blyton’s Enchanted Forest and her Famous Five and Secret Seven books to classics like The Wind in the Willows, so many adventure stories have played out in the natural world. And, even as children lives become increasingly dominated by technology, children’s books still tap into the evergreen appeal of nature, dens and treehouses. Perhaps the most famous recent series is The 13-Storey Treehouse, written by Andy Griffiths and illustrated by Terry Denton, which was the first in a series of funny and exciting books. The series, at the time of writing, has reached the 169-Storey Treehouse, and the treehouse in question contains, among many other features, a bowling alley, a see-through swimming pool and a marshmallow machine that shoots marshmallows into your mouth!
On a more serious note, in his eye-opening book, Last Child in the Woods, author Richard Louv talks about how children have become increasingly alienated from nature and he coins the term ‘nature-deficit disorder’ for the consequences of this. The book promotes the importance of nature in children’s lives, both for its positive effect on them and for its benefits to nature – because of course, those children will eventually be the custodians of our natural world.
Louv is a co-founder of Children and Nature Network which campaigns to bring nature back into children’s lives. Their premise is that ‘the child in nature is an endangered species’ and the more high tech we become, the more we need nature, almost as an antidote. They quote the shocking statistic that, on average, today’s kids spend up to 44 hours per week in front of a screen, and less than 10 minutes a day playing outdoors.
Most parents today grew up in a pre-digital world, when playing outside was all part of your childhood. And we want that for our children too but it sometimes feels much harder to achieve in a tech-dominated world. That’s another reason to stay in a Treehouses or Woodland Retreat at Otter Falls. Here you can immerse your children in nature in a way that is exciting and magical and at the same time you can relive your own childhood.
Set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (now known as National Landscapes), Otter Falls is also managed as a haven for wildlife, with water birds on the lake, deer in the woods and buzzards flying above. If you’re really lucky you may even see an otter disappearing into the river bank. Bring your little ones along to one of the regular Bushcraft sessions and you’ll probably learn as much as them!
A treehouse holiday immerses you in the natural world. And the natural world is good for you. We know it intuitively of course, but over the last 50 years or so researchers have proved conclusively that nature is good for us in all sorts of ways. Research has shown that just two hours a week spent outside in a natural environment has far-reaching benefits. A study** of over 20,000 people found that those who spent at least two hours a week in nature were significantly more likely to report good physical health and higher levels of psychological wellbeing than those who don’t visit nature at all during an average week
Woodlands and forest in particular have all sorts of unexpected benefits. Apart from the physical and wellbeing benefits of being outdoors, spending time in the forest can lower your blood pressure, boost your immune system, and help with depression. It can also reduce the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones can be responsible for headaches, digestive issues, chest pains, poor sleep patterns and feelings of anxiety, so the there’s a lot to be said for spending time in the woods.
A treehouse holiday is a wonderful way to reap the benefits of spending time in nature. It’s also an opportunity to recapture your sense of adventure and escape from the busy world. Our luxury Treehouses bring you close to nature while also being rather lovely to stay in (although, just to manage your expectations, there is no marshmallow machine that shoots marshmallows into your mouth!)
Park your car a short walk away – it’s a peaceful, car-free zone in the woods – and make your way to your Treehouse. As you climb the steps towards the woodland canopy feel the tension slip away. Your Treehouse life starts in the hexagonal living area with its dramatic vaulted ceiling, comfy seating area and a double or king size bed. Step onto the balcony and let the woodland vista calm your soul. A cosy bathroom with a large walk-in shower, and fully equipped kitchen complete your self-contained woodland home. In the one-bedroom Treehouse, you have a roomy king size bed, while the two-bedroom Treehouse is perfect for a family with two small children, with a double bed and a separate bunk room which the children will love.
The Woodland Retreats, tucked away in a secluded clearing, are effectively ground level Treehouses. Again, the two-bedroom Woodland Retreat would suit a family with small children, while the one-bedroom Woodland Retreat is perfect for a romantic escape, with the added indulgence of an outdoor copper bath tub beneath the trees.
Inside, all the Treehouse and Woodland Retreats have simple luxuries, including free Wi-Fi, flat screen TVs and smart stylish décor. Well, it makes no sense at all to pretend the modern world doesn’t exist!
Book your holiday today in one of our Treehouses and Woodland Retreats at Otter Falls. Whether it’s to enjoy nature with your children, rediscover your sense of adventure, or escape for a romantic break, a Treehouse staycation is an unforgettable experience that is right on trend.
** Source: naturalengland.blog.gov.uk/2019/07/12/two-hours-a-day-outside-is-vital-for-health-and-wellbeing/