What is ‘the dream’? Your own little corner of the natural world, unspoilt and inaccessible to everything else and everyone else? Just you and nature. A place to disconnect and reconnect. A place that makes you feel glad to be alive?
How about an isolated cove, a crack in the coastline where a little stone hut has been tucked in under the cliff with awe-inspiring views out to sea, the waves lapping at your doorstep and nothing but the sound of the seaside?
If this is your niche, you’ll be as excited as I am about The Beach Hut hidden on the south Devon coast. Whenever I go for a wander along the coastal path I like to imagine being shacked up overnight, the slight threat of the power of the sea outside, especially when I spot isolated structures and can’t imagine why else they’d be there – lighthouses have purpose but random shelters have intrigue. Who built it and why? What has it been used for and who owns it now? Who gets the privilege of turning the key in the door and can it be me?
The Beach Hut has much of this appeal but without the sense of squatting – it’s obvious what this little place is now used for, with its luxury makeover; a tiled roof keeping it watertight, wood panelling and double glazing keeping you safe from any storms, oh and there’s a hot tub on the deck!
Basically, if you stumbled across this place somehow, you’d know it wasn’t your average ramshackle sail loft. But still. It belies its interior.
The owners clearly have impeccable taste – and appropriate taste. You could easily go very wrong kitting out such a place, but it looks like they’ve got it right with natural materials and understated charm, plenty of exposed wood and stone keeping you in touch with your surroundings but safe, cosy and warm. The installation of two single suspended hammock chairs in the window tells you all you need to know about a stay here. Sit and contemplate the sea. Stare out at the ocean hand in hand with your loved one, snuggled in your swinging cocoon. Bliss.
So apparently it’s a 15 minute walk from the parking on the farm down to The Beach Hut and yes you have to carry your luggage; clothing, entertainment, food – everything or nothing you want to have with you for your time away. Plus you can’t go alone, or with children or animals. This is a time-out for two of you.
Saddle up your rucksack and set out down the lane that leads to the clifftop, forage en route and breathe deep a salt-laced lungful. When you reach the private gate to The Beach Hut your jaw will drop. Stop a moment to pick it up off the floor and take in the view. There’s still a meander-ey snaking path dropping down to the shore with that view distracting you for every step. You couldn’t make this location up, a cottage tucked in solitude at the bottom of the steps, perched on a rock ledge just enough above the tideline to save you from a seaweed strewn living room, but oh-so close you could still feel the spray. It fits here so snugly yet in another way it’s so totally out of place, so out of place it immediately shifts your senses and transports you well away from any worries.
On a summer’s day I imagine throwing open every available portal in its façade and welcoming in every bit of the outdoor atmosphere, soaking up the glittering surface of the sea before easing my achy body into its depths. Cold but life-affirmingly invigorating. Plus there’s that hot tub to warm up in after but we’ll save that for later with a sink in up to our chins under the stars. On inclement weather days I’ll want to hunker down in a catalogue-esque pose with designer woolly blanket around shoulders and a ridiculous amount of whipped cream and sprinkles on a hot chocolate, to read all the books I’ve brought with me. My Other Half will act as a protesting human hot water bottle for my toes after I’ve spent too long barefoot on the beach – but as he will have failed to get the wood-burner going sooner, it’s his own fault.
Climbing into the bedspace up in the eaves, I know I’ll sleep tight – that sea air is good for the soul. In the morning I’ll quietly admire my small collection of shells and stones picked after high tide while he attempts to apply his poor knowledge of physics to constructing the highest pebble stack – it’s all in the choice of pebble, you know. We won’t have to say much to each other, just exist in the same little slice of heaven, a million miles away from work emails or scrolling social media. I should take my Journal, unwrap it and remind myself what my handwriting looks like. He can impress me with his stone-skimming skills before taking up position in front of the coals and providing me with a hot meal. Maybe we’ll find some fresh shellfish among the rocks and pair it with the end of season rock samphire nearby.
We’ll spend a weekend with each other’s thoughts, disconnect from the world and reconnect with each other as well as ourselves. Figure out the meaning of life but not how they managed to get mains water and electric down here. And never want to leave.
I think it’s obvious this place has enough wow factor to stir up my imagination and get me staring out the window from my desk. If it does the same to you, you can book a stay direct with the owner.