My family are generally quite keen on the idea of sleeping under the stars and the whole camping experience that goes with it. But who among us outdoor types has not secretly wished they could transport their double bed into the tent, or as the rain sets in, retreat into a cosy fire-lit room?
Well, we found a way to have it all – my and husband and I, and our son and daughter aged 13 and nine – in a luxury treehouse at Harvest Moon Holidays, on Lochhouses Farm, in East Lothian. A short drive from the seaside town of North Berwick, we checked into our “house” on a sunny Friday afternoon in spring.
We were able to leave our car a few minutes’ walk from the treehouse area and carry our overnight bags along to the track to our weekend home.
The treehouses are not actually built in the trees, rather on wooden stilts between the edge of a forest and flanked by farmland and sand dunes leading to the breathtaking Tyninghame Beach. Each of the houses has its own sandy outdoor area, complete with swing, hammock and fire area. Steps take you up to the wooden building, which is divided into four sections.
Firstly, there is a beautiful octagonal living area, which looks out across farmland with a glimpse of the ocean and the Bass Rock. It has a log-burning cooker, Belfast sink, pine dresser and all the pots and pans you could possibly need. It also has a yacht-style table which drops down to form a bed for extra guests.
A covered walkway takes you to the two bedrooms, the first with a surprisingly comfy double bed and small wardrobe. The second has a single bunk above a double bed – ideal for us with two children who would rather die than share a mattress. Then there is a bathroom with a toilet, sink and – wait for it – a hot shower.
Budget or boutique?
This treehouse living experience is a bit a both. You get all the benefits of a wholesome camping experience – the fire, the fresh air and the freedom – but the cosy octagonal living room with a wood-fuelled stove, a piping hot shower and a double bed to collapse into after an evening star gazing by the fire all give a luxurious hue to your holiday.
Forget the soggy canvas nightmare, as the treehouse rooms are all wind-proof and watertight, and once the stove in the living room is fully stoked, the only issue is being too hot. There is no electricity on the site but lighting is not a problem as you are given lamp-like torches that can be hung from various points in the rooms. These can be exchanged each day for a newly-recharged unit.
Food and drink can be stored in the cold box supplied, and logs can be carried by wheelbarrow from the central pile to your treehouse to keep the home fires burning.
Wining and dining
The fuel stove is an excellent cooker and we knocked up a delicious spaghetti Bolognese on ours, but there is always the option of creating a feast on the fire with cooking pots available to hire. At the nearby village and farm shops you can order crab and lobster caught from the sea in front of the site. For those looking for a night away from the cooker (or fire) there is a wealth of excellent restaurants, pubs and bars in nearby North Berwick or East Linton.
Worth getting out of bed for
Just a few minutes’ walk from the treehouses is Tyninghame Beach, whose vast unspoilt sands are truly magnificent. There is also a pony trekking centre, and for bird lovers the sand dunes are an ornithologist’s dream. Visitors can go on hiking and biking trails, as well as trying more adrenalin-packed activities, such as wakeboarding, at the nearby Fox Lake water sports centre.
For families with young children there is the chance to enjoy a hands-on farm experience with hens, ducks, lop-eared bunnies and lambs to bottle-feed in the spring.
We were joined by another family for a night and after a beautiful evening walk on the beach followed by lashings of food and wine at the treehouse, my friend Lois said: “It feels like I’ve just stepped out of my life.”
• A treehouse between 27 June and 4 September, 2016, (peak rate) for a weekend (Friday 4pm to Monday 10.30am) costs £840, and midweek (Monday 4pm to Friday 10.30am) costs £785. Harvest Moon Holidays, Lochhouses, Lochhouses Farm, Tyninghame, East Lothian EH42 1XP, www.harvestmoonholidays.com