Michael Edwards visits an uber-luxurious treehouse at Dittisham Hideaway, Devon
It’s doubtful that the Swiss Family Robinson’s treehouse would have taken the weight of a washing machine, dishwasher, full-size American fridge freezer and two bathrooms. And treehouse has significantly evolved since the days when Enid Blyton’s characters cobbled together ramshackle bolt holes in an ageing oak.
Considering the eye-catching aesthetics of the treehouses at Dittisham Hideaway, nowadays The Famous Five is more likely to be a contemporary architects’ partnership who bring cutting-edge design to the forest. This is where Robin Hood living meets Grand Designs. Maid Marion would love the sinuously curved walls and yurt influences. Wooden sun ray struts culminating in a porthole circular glass roof.
A mile north of Dittisham, a canopy of four treehouses is strung through the Devon Forest. Is that the correct collective noun? Or should it be a cloud of cedar timbered treehouses?
Though there is more to the 12 tranquil acres of Dittisham Hideaway than just treehouses. Below are five artisan-crafted Shepherds Lodges. Here, shepherds have gone upmarket with lodges that are significantly larger and more comfortable than your average shepherd’s hut. These lodges have decking housing a hot tub.
Set below the treehouses and away from the Shepherds Lodges, a gleaming aluminium Airstream Caravan catches the eye. This icon of mid-century Americana, constructed in 1956, has far more character and headroom than many of today’s caravans.
Again, the Airstream has decking and a hot tub. Though the treehouses have the largest expanse of decking. Perfect for family summer living with sun loungers alongside the hot tub, table football and outdoor chess set. Fully enclosed, it is a secure place for children or dogs to play.
The Pheasant, Owl and Woodpecker treehouses are dog friendly, providing a glass jar of treats, a toy and Sophie Allport dog beds. For short strolls, there is a walk through the birdsong of the 12 acres of the Dittisham Hideaway. But the banks of the River Dart, plus the hills and beaches of South Devon, offer longer walkies. A fourth treehouse, Buzzard is reserved purely for humans.
Interior decor has a pastoral theme. Natural fibre textures on the cushions, rugs and throws contrast with a plethora of woods: cedar floorboards, dark wood dining table and even wooden owl coasters. Duvets on the beds are handcrafted by the Devon Duvet company with wools sourced from the southwest. As well as the large double bed there is a bunk room with a triple bunk bed for young children. The treehouses can either be a romantic retreat or a hub for a family holiday. Though a bottle of wine chilling in the fridge and a welcoming decanter of sloe gin are definitely adult pleasures.
A welcome pack kick-starts self-catering. Bread, butter, cereals, coffee, jam, milk and tea will see guests through their first breakfast. Open-plan and well-lit, a well-equipped kitchen could cater for a dinner party. This is serious self-catering with dishwasher tablets, olive oil, vinegar and washing-up liquid all provided. And come summer, there is a BBQ on the decking.
If self-catering doesn’t appeal, it is a five-minute drive to the Ferryboat Inn in Dittisham, a pink-washed pub that revels in its FBI moniker. The fact that the pub lists tide times on its website, illustrates how waterside the location really is.
Ring the bell on the jetty, pointing out into the River Dart, and a small passenger boat will ferry you across to Greenway. Once the home of Agatha Christie, the prolific novelist, the grandiose White House is now cared for by the National Trust. In tribute, the FBI features Agatha Christie and Miss Marple pizzas on its menu.
Dittisham Hideaway, with decking and hot tubs, is designed for both summertimes, when the living is easy, and for winter cosy. When the winds whip through the trees and temperatures drop, underfloor heating and a wood burner provide a delicious Devon take on the Scandinavian art of hygge.
Tell Me More About Dittisham Hideaway
Dittisham Hideaway Treehouses and Shepherds Huts, Dittisham, Dartmouth, Devon, TQ6 0JB
T: 01803 925034
For 2023, the price per night for a treehouse begins from £275. Both the Shepherds Lodges and Airstream Caravan start from £195 per night.