Travel inspiration: elevate your camping in a Cornish hideout

Posted by
Moya Crockett
backgroundLayer 1
Add this article to your list of favourites

Stylist’s digital women’s editor Moya Crockett discovers the treehouse of her childhood dreams at Kudhva in northern Cornwall.

As a bookish child, I fantasised about having a treehouse: a place where I could hide away, pull up the ladder and read undisturbed. I never expected to find somewhere that fulfilled those dreams in an old Victorian slate quarry – but that’s because I’d never heard of Kudhva, an off-grid camping retreat on the Cornish coast.

‘Kudhva’ is the Cornish word for ‘hideout’, and that pretty much sums it up. On a craggy hillside near Tintagel, four architect-designed pods (also called kudhvas) teeter on timber stilts amidst a willow tree wood. On arrival, we climb the steel ladder of our kudhva and open the door to find a tiny, angular room made of wood and glass, decked out with a sofa, Turkish cotton hammam towels and scented candles. 

Up another interior ladder is a mezzanine double bed, which is – disconcertingly – comfier than my own. Once you’ve spent a night gazing at the stars from a treetop cabin, your phone mercifully signal-free, you wonder if you could hide out forever. 

Moya finds solace in her personal sun trap

Guests at Kudhva are welcome to bring their own food to cook over a campfire or in the rustic communal kitchen, and organic veg boxes can be pre-ordered. But I’d recommend driving to Port Gaverne, a tiny bay 20 minutes away, for dinner at Pilchards. Owned by the Port Gaverne Hotel – recently named south-west England’s best pub – this restaurant has tables so close to the beach that you could swim between courses. 

Order the crispy Porthilly oysters then hop into one of the hotel’s complimentary tuk-tuks: they’ll drive you over the hill to Port Isaac, best known as the setting for TV series Doc Martin. We finish our evening with G&Ts (made with Tarquin’s Cornish gin) on the balcony of the Golden Lion pub, overlooking the harbour.

After hot solar-powered showers the next morning, we join Kudhva’s owner Louise, her team and other guests in the open-sided kitchen for a breakfast of omelettes and avocado. As well as the four kudhvas there are five tents strung between tree trunks, floating a few feet above the ground. The retreat has a community feel, with guests able to be as involved or as independent as they like. 

Kudhva is two miles inland from the stamp-sized surfer village Trebarwith, and we use this as our starting point to walk along the coast to Tintagel Castle (£9.50). These medieval ruins have long been associated with the story of King Arthur: according to legend, he was actually conceived here (it’s a creepy tale, look it up). Despite that, there’s no denying that Tintagel, perched on the edge of dramatic cliffs with turquoise waves crashing below, is breathtaking. The nearby village is kitsch and touristy, but worth the trip for forearm-sized baguettes at King Arthur’s Cafe.

Back at Kudhva, we head to the Carlsberg Cabin, an eco-bar that was recently built in collaboration with the famous brewery. In a world first, the bar is powered entirely by a waterfall, and also has six beds that can be booked separately for £366 a night. After cold beers, we hop into the wood-fired hot tub in a secluded spot atop the hillside, and watch the sun set over the sea. Sure, this is camping – but not as you know it.

Two-person kudhvas start from £122 a night and two-person tree tents start from £46.50 with a minimum stay of two nights;

Images: Kudhva