Arriving at Bodmin Parkway station (a four hour train journey from London Paddington) I was soon winding my way by taxi towards Trebarwith Strand, a tiny little town that faces Cork, Ireland, across the Celtic Sea.
The dramatic slate coastline is simply stunning, juxtaposed against the soft pastel-coloured homes that cling onto hillsides and line the entrance down towards the sea. It being winter, the tide was almost always high, except for just after sunset when the blood-orange glow from the distant horizon lit up Gull Rock.
In the summer people travel from hundreds of miles away to set their towels on this scenic stretch of beach, disappearing into the caves set 30 or 40 feet above the water to have their picnics and watch the surfers get swallowed whole by waves, and the small children investigating shallow rock pools exposed by the receding tide.
In many ways I was glad to be experiencing Kudhva in winter. The slate quarry on which this unique camping concept was founded looks even more magical bathed in soft winter light, the verdant forest which surrounds it effervescent after days of proper British drizzle.
Kudhva was founded in 2016 by leatherworker Louise Middleton, who, from her studio not far from Trebarwith Strand, produces beautiful bespoke belts for Liberty London. She bought the abandoned slate quarry last year, seeing its potential as an adventure playground.
The natural-born designer has created four stunning Kudhvas (Cornish for ‘hideouts’) along with architect Ben Huggins. These tree houses, built for two, are raised on stilts above the forest floor, affording guests uninhibited views of the coast and, on a clear night, thousands of flickering stars.
They’re basic but luxurious, cool in summer and warm in the winter. It was the first time I’d slept in a timber structure since the beach forests of coastal Denmark. The tranquility is indescribable, affording deep, dream-filled sleep.
There’s a communal kitchen and dining area, or guests are free to use the outdoor fire pit to cook (as I did). There’s nothing like cooking on an open fire, especially with the sight and sounds of the sea to occupy you while the kettle boils.
You might also be interested in: The 8 Most Beautiful Coastal Walks in Cornwall and The Adventure Traveller’s Guide to Devon and Cornwall.
Guests can come and go as they please, explore the quarry and waterfall for wild swimming, soak in a wood-burning Japanese-style hot tub, and, from 2018, Kudhva is adding rock climbing and mountain biking to its list of activities. Louise’s beautiful vintage Ford pickup truck is also on hand to take guests down to the beach.
Riding shotgun, I left Kudhva for nearby Boscastle. Since it was Halloween, my group and I decided to check out the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic (coming soon to London) to watch an atmospheric routine performed by masked, cloaked figures dancing around a fire that seemed to rise and fall in time with the drums.
Not satisfied we’d had enough sorcery for the night, we tried the beer at the Cobweb Inn, which, on this occassion, was filled with ghostly incarnations of British kings, famous singers (past and present) and enough white hair dye to feel like an Adams Family reunion.
The next evening we fired up the pickup as the light disappeared and drove to Pilchards, Port Gaverne Hotel’s new café and restaurant, which didn’t disappoint. The bavette steak with chimichurri was only surpassed by the mussels cooked with spicy nduja sausage and sherry.
Kudhva is neither camping nor glamping, but something else entirely. The self-described ‘kingdom of Kudhva’ is pure possibility with a great blend of off-grid adventure and award-winning food, drink and coastline only a short drive away.
Tree tents start at £45.60 per night for one person and £57.60 for two people. Kudhva from £114 per night. Prices are inclusive of VAT. Minimum booking two nights. Visit kudhva.com for more information.