Cool cabins, Perthshire
With no wifi on the site, guests are encouraged to switch off completely at Guardswell Farm and spend time soaking up the jawdropping views. On a hilltop between the small villages of Abernyte and Kinnaird, the farm has a choice of self-catering options, from cabins sleeping two to a farmhouse sleeping 10. The Infield, a couple of fields away from the main farmhouse, is particularly romantic with all-wood interiors and huge windows overlooking the Carse of Gowrie. There’s solar power for lights (but no fridge) and a choice of gas hob, woodburner or outdoor firepit for cooking. If you bring the children, there’s a foldout sofabed, too.
• From £130 a night for the Infield, guardswell.co.uk
Highland romance, Ardnish peninsula
About as far away from it all as you can get, Laggan, a whitewashed cottage on 3,500 acres of private land, is only really accessible by sea (boat and outboard engine provided). There’s no electricity: paraffin lamps provide a romantic glow and woodburners keep the place cosy, while the antique-filled sitting room has games and playing cards. Close to the water’s edge, it has views over the Hebrides and Small Isles, and wildlife to spot ranges from red deer and seals to white-tailed eagles. With the nearest neighbour a three-hour walk away (or a 10-minute boat trip), the only sounds will be those of nature – and you can be marooned for an hour or so either side of very low tides. Some boating experience required.
• £900 a week, sleeps five in two bedrooms and a “cabin”, ardnish.org
Private beach, Cornwall
Winding lanes and a narrow track lead to the Old Coach House, a pretty, three-bedroom Victorian property near Looe on the south coast. There are 70 acres of private land, with fields and wild gardens for perfect picnicking, and a steep path leads down to the private beach. Totally off-grid, electricity comes from solar panels for lights and the fridge, but cooking is done on a woodburner or gas hob, and with no neighbours, the rest of the world feels a long way away. The house is close to the South West Coast Path and Looe is an hour’s walk along the coast. There’s a room full of games and books, as well as guitar and African drums for rainy days, but on clear nights the skies are impressive, with little light pollution; stargaze from the homebuilt, woodfired hot tub.
• From £89 a night, sleeps eight, sawdays.co.uk
Deep in the forest, Northumberland
At the end of a five-mile track in Harwood Forest, 20 miles from the Scottish border, Chartners Farm is a new, off‑grid bunkhouse that sleeps 12. There’s no wifi, electricity is generated by wind turbines and solar panels, and a huge logburner keeps the place warm. With no light or noise pollution, the modern world feels a long way away, and days can be spent walking through the woods or cycling the Sandstone Way, a new mountain biking route. There’s a terrace and barbecue area for summer evenings, larger groups can bring tents and camp in the grounds, and dogs are allowed by arrangement. Bring your own sleeping bags.
• Sole use £95 a night (two-night minimum), sleeps 12 in three rooms, independenthostels.co.uk
Field of dreams, Norfolk
On an organic farm in north-west Norfolk, 15 miles from King’s Lynn, the Woodcock is a wooden cabin surrounded by fields of barley and sugar beet. There’s no electricity to the cabin, but there is a handcrafted kingsize bed, a roll-top bath (and outdoor shower) and bifold doors on to a private deck – perfect for enjoying the wide peaceful meadows and big East Anglian skies (there is a resident barn owl). Everything is locally sourced, from the butler sink rescued from a scrap yard and the curtain rail forged by the local blacksmith, to the organic milk (fresh farm produce is available to buy, too). Woodburners keep it cosy and provide plentiful hot water, and candles, lanterns and the firepit light up the night. It’s a beautiful area for exploring on foot and the coast is not far away.
• From £125 a night, sleeps two, canopyandstars.co.uk
Hot tub by the river, Cumbria
On a riverbank surrounded by dense woodland, Shank Wood Log Cabin was built from local timber and provides a back-to-nature experience – but Longtown is just a 10-minute drive away. No mobile phone signal or wifi (and no fridge or TV either), just the sound of running water – which you can enjoy from the wood-fired hot tub on the deck. Solar panels provide lights, but it’s all about leaving mod cons behind and keeping an eye out for roe deer, otters and kingfishers. With two double beds on the mezzanine floor, and an open-plan living area with kitchen and woodburning stove, it’s a good family option. Hire bikes in town to explore (from bikeseven.co.uk) or trek through unspoilt border landscapes.
• From £150 a night, sleeps four, minimum two nights, oneoffplaces.co.uk
Woods and wildlife, Devon
In a forest outside the village of Germansweek, 10 miles west of Okehampton, Carpenter’s Cabin offers a wifi-free, full nature immersion. Expect flashes of kingfisher over the pond, a bubbling stream and badgers in the woods. Owners Ben and Jo are experts in sustainable living – and woodburners, compost loos and solar power minimise impact on the environment. There’s a firepit and woodfired sauna (shared with another cabin), a welcome hamper of local produce and maps.
• From £125 a night, sleeps four in one double and a mezzanine with two singles (sofa beds sleep extra guests at additional cost), canopyandstars.co.uk
Stone ‘tent’, Peak District
At the foot of Narrowdale hill, and reached by an old bridleway, Alstonefield Camping Barn is an old stone building offering off-grid back-to-basics shelter. There’s no electricity or shower (though there is a washroom with toilet) and the stove is just for heating, not cooking (so bring a camping stove, as well as sleeping bags). It’s lit by tealights, making the beamed interior very atmospheric, and the location is perfect for exploring on foot or by bike (the Manifold cycle trail is just down the road). Wetton, Hulme End and Alstonefield are all within walking distance and have good pubs. Over-18s only.
• From £108 a night, sleeps 12, pitchup.com
Birders’ paradise, Pembrokeshire
There’s no electricity, so oil lamps and candles add to the romance of Penrhyn, a three-bedroom cottage on Strumble Head on the north-west tip of Pembrokeshire. Reached via a track through National Trust land, it has views over the sea and the garden leads to the coastal path, with plentiful birdwatching and beautiful walks (look for porpoises and seals). An open fire and a woodburner take away any evening chill – and there are games and a piano for entertainment. The cottage is full of character, with Welsh settles and locally made wool curtains. There are two bedrooms downstairs and a loft bedroom reached by a ladder.
• From £522 for 7 nights (£1,133 peak season), sleeps six, coastalcottages.co.uk
Sweet spot, Brecon Beacons
Wood Shack, at the foot of Sugar Loaf mountain’s 596-metre peak, feels cut off from the world, but is only three miles from the shops and pubs of Abergavenny. It sits in a wooded valley and has a spacious outdoor deck with a hammock, as well as a snug double bedroom and a living area with electric cooker, woodburner (plenty of logs supplied), board games and books to read on the rug-covered sofa. The small shower room also has a composting loo. There’s a pub less than half an hour’s walk away, and walking routes up Sugar Loaf and into the Black Mountains beyond. It is also in excellent mountain biking territory.
• From £298 for three nights, sleeps two, sugarandloaf.com
Edwardian retreat, Isle of Wight
Surrounded by rolling hills on the National Trust-owned Mottistone Estate in the south-west of the island, Longstone Cottage is an off-grid hideaway built in Edwardian times, with solar panels now powering the lights, a woodburner, and no wifi. Approached along a bumpy track (not recommended for low-slung cars), it is comfortable and well furnished, with three spacious bedrooms and beautiful sea views. There are great walks in every direction, and Compton Bay – a favourite with surfers – is a short drive away. The estate is famous for its gardens, and there are lots of activities for children, from exploring the maze to looking for flowerpot people on the flowerpot trail (and entry is free for cottage guests).
• From £270 for three nights, sleeps six (plus two dogs), nationaltrust.org.uk/holidays
Full circle, Somerset
In a secluded spot on a 40-acre organic farm, the Roundhouse is a circular wooden hideaway that offers a peaceful base for exploring the Mendip Hills, only 12 miles from Bath or eco-minded Frome, both with railway stations. The open-plan interior, 26 metres in diameter, has a four-poster bed crafted from locally coppiced ash, and a 1940s Rayburn for warmth. The bathroom has a small roll-top bath and there’s a compost toilet in the boot room. It’s a working farm with geese, ducks, cows, pigs and sheep, and guests can buy homegrown produce to cook on the gas hob – or walk a mile to the Kings Arms in Stratton-on-the-Fosse for good pub food.
• From £383 a week, sleeps four (two folding beds on request), sykescottages.co.uk
Green luxury, County Down
Carbon-neutral Birch Cottage is on Lackan Cottage Farm, an organic smallholding in County Down, and offers off-grid living with creature comforts. Powered by solar and wind power, it has a woodburner, underfloor heating, organic linen on the super-king bed and the loo uses harvested rainwater (or there’s a compost one outside). The farm also has a refurbished horse truck sleeping two, with its own herb garden and deck. There are lovely walks in the Lackan Bog area, with mountains and beaches a short distance away. The farm offers courses in sustainable living and natural wine-making.
• From £80 a night, sleeps two, lackancottage.co.uk
NT bothies, Yorkshire Dales
The National Trust has two new bothies in a converted 17th-century barn and a shippon (cattle shed) near Malham Tarn. Meadowsweet bothy (pictured) and Ragged Robin bothy are next to each other, right on the Pennine Way, and surrounded by wild, remote countryside. They’re great as overnight stays on a long-distance hike, or as a base for shorter walks from the doorstep. Natural highlights nearby include Janet’s Foss waterfall and the rock formation of Malham Cove. The nearest train stations are Settle and Skipton on the scenic line to Carlisle.
• From £30 a night, each sleeps six, nationaltrust.org.uk
Channelling nature, Lundy Island
On one of the highest points on Lundy Island, Tibbetts was built in 1909 as a signal and watch station and has amazing views – it’s said 14 lighthouses can be seen from here on a clear night. It has no electricity – but there is pumped water and a shower. It’s all wood-panelled, with four built-in bunk beds. The village is two miles away so there’s just the sound of waves on the rocky shore. Birdlife is prolific (lots of puffins) and this is one of the UK’s best dive sites. In summer, access is via the island’s supply ship and ferry from Bideford or Ilfracombe; winter means a helicopter hop from Hartland Point.
• Four nights from £282, sleeps four, landmarktrust.org.uk
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