Off-grid romance: remote British boltholes

Friday 15 January 2016

What could be more romantic than retreating from the WiFi-borne distractions of the world and cosying up with your sweetheart somewhere secluded? These boltholes either have no electricity, no roads or they’re remote enough to render ‘Do not disturb’ signs pointless. Out-of-the-way hostels, bothies and campsites aren’t included as, in my experience, dormitories, mummy-style sleeping bags and shared outdoor bathrooms can dampen even the most ardent passions.

A cabin in a barley field, East England

 There’s no electricity to power this wooden cabin hidden amid crops of sugar beets and barley near the magical north Norfolk coast, in the east of England. Candles and lanterns light up the cosy interior, while moonlight, stars and a fire pit illuminate the private deck. The Woodcock scores extra romance points for the lovingly handcrafted wooden king-sized bed, locally sewn curtains hanging from a locally forged curtain rail, and mismatched crockery sourced from local antique shops. Best of all is the huge bath warmed by a wood-fired heater. Alternatively there’s the outdoor shower...

A loch-side guesthouse, Scottish Highlands

The all-inclusive Skiary Guesthouse is tucked away on the road-free shores of Loch Hourn. To reach ‘Scotland’s Wildest Guesthouse’, you can walk for 35 minutes from the end of the road or organise a ride in the owners’ little motorboat. Instead of electricity and mobile phones, entertainment comes via board games, home-cooked meals and good old-fashioned conversation. And whisky, naturally. The whole place is lit by paraffin-fuelled lamps and candles and warmed by a driftwood-burning stove. While you’re there, drift across the loch in a rowing boat, spot seals and red deer, amble hand-in-hand along the loch-side paths or stretch your legs on a hill walk.

A cliff-top lighthouse, Shetland Islands, Scotland

Eshaness lighthouse Pic: Shetland Amenity Trust

 

As an automated lighthouse, Eshaness needs electricity, but as far as location is concerned, this place is seriously off-grid. It perches on the top of sheer cliffs on the western edge of the Shetland Islands; the most northerly place in Britain, at 962 miles north of London and 400 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Inside, the lighthouse is warm and cosy but it’s the 360° views that make this place so romantic. There are no visible neighbours and the only noises you’ll hear are the powerful Atlantic waves pounding the cliffs below and the gannets and skuas soaring overhead. If you’re lucky, you might spot whales breach the endless sea. Hope for an almighty storm for an excuse to cuddle up even closer.

An 18th-century retreat, Wales

Tune in to a simpler time in Bryn Eglur – a cute-as-a-button traditional Welsh smallholder’s cottage in a remote part of Wales. Built in 1775, the tiny rooms have been carefully restored, with just a few subtle modern conveniences added, such as a roll-top bath and underfloor heating; after all, it would be considerably less romantic without! Mobile phone reception is patchy at best, and there’s no internet access. Instead, you get Welsh wool blankets, a grandfather clock and a wrought iron bedframe. Cook on a solid-fuel Rayburn stove, cuddle up in front of the inglenook fireplace and fill your days with romantic walks and your nights with stargazing. Read our experience of a stay in the Welsh House.

An island escape, Southwest England

 Admittedly, bunk beds aren’t the most amorous of sleeping arrangements, but this self-catering cottage’s romance factor is amped up by its location. Originally a signal-and-watch station for boats, Tibbets occupies the second highest point on tiny Lundy Island, just off the north coast of Devon. It’s one of a few places to stay on Lundy, but timber-floored and matchboard-lined Tibbets is the most remote and the only one without electricity. Ramble the island’s rocky shores, snorkel or scuba the clear waters of the Lundy Marine Conservation Zone, spot puffins, sika deer and Lundy ponies, and try to count up to 14 lighthouses twinkling in the distance.

Latest Blogs

Places to experience a real British Christmas

Read more
Places to experience a real British Christmas

What to expect on Wainwright’s Coast to Coast walk?

Read more
What to expect on Wainwright’s Coast to Coast walk?

Dinosaur sightings are rising across Britain!

Read more
Dinosaur sightings are rising across Britain!

Britain's real winter wonderlands

Read more
Britain's real winter wonderlands

When Staying in Britain, Think Outside the Box

Read more
When Staying in Britain, Think Outside the Box