When you’re in need of a time-out from city life and a digital detox, hop into the car and head to the countryside.
Imagine long walks, comfort food and being nestled in the great outdoors in a place that’ll make you feel like you’ve travelled to the middle of nowhere. Less than 1.5 hours from Central London you’ll find Elmley Nature Reserve on the Isle of Sheppey. Set in a 3,200-acre estate, which is a National Nature Reserve and working family run farm.
The population is small; ok actually teeny tiny being a grand total of five. The reserve is off the grid as it is the most remote spot in southeast England, but surprisingly has 4G although you should definitely switch your phone off.
The closer you get to the grounds you’ll see some of the 800 suckler cows and sheep grazing the marsh. Once you’ve parked up you’ll instantly feel relaxed with the only sounds you’ll hear from the wildlife.
As we strolled to our new home down a little path, we passed pheasants and bunnies, until we reached the marsh.
The grounds are simply breathtaking.
You can stay in adorable shepherds huts, a cottage for larger groups or if you fancy really spoiling yourself then in the new Saltbox hut. Let’s face it we all need to spoil ourselves every now and then so Saltbox was the top pick for us.
Fling open the barn doors and lay your eyeballs on the phenomenal view.
Blessed with blue skies, we sat out admiring the scenery.
The owners deliver mini milk bottles for the much-needed tea you’ll be downing throughout your trip.
Before the rains arrived, we slipped on some wellies and went for a long walk.
The furthest hide is Spitend hide, which is a 5.5km stroll from the farmyard and is well worth the adventure.
Despite it being winter it was very mild out, and luckily for us the winter wildlife were still out and about. Wildfowl filled the sky flocking in large groups.
Nestled in a timber shack viewing point you’ll find treasure, a secret hamper filled with tartan blankets and goodies.
Grab the binoculars, munch on choccies and sweeties, there’s even a Polaroid camera to take some snaps on and a mini bottle of gin. Yes you read it correctly – gin!
After having a little rest, we strolled back passing lots of hares on our way.
When we arrived back at the farmland we had a peek into the Kentish barn that was the remains of a Victorian brick-making village.
When it’s raining outside the barn is a great spot to nestle inside with blankets and watch the world go by through the gigantic windows.
If you don’t fancy cooking on your stay you can order in delicious dinners and eat them tucked in the barn under the twinkling fairy lights.
Right so back to our home Saltbox, as I know you are dying to see what is inside.
Step up and in, Saltbox is clad in white-washed timber panelling has natural light pouring throughout with it’s floor to ceiling window looking out on the reserve.
The miniature kitchen basically stole my heart; copper panelling formed the backsplash, reclaimed timber barn style cupboard doors and shelves stocked with all life’s essentials.
You instantly ask yourself what more can one need from a kitchen, well pop the kettle on the stove, as there’s always a need for tea.
Industrial lighting kept the entire space warmly lit.
The bed zone had a reclaimed timber headboard, striking palm print cushions, the softest white linen and the world’s comfiest bed. No lie.
The hut is lovely and warm thanks to earthwool insulation a breathable carbon-neutral insulation made from 80% recycled bottles. Plus there is a radiator that’ll keep the entire space heated in case you’re the type that feels the cold.
The bathroom is small but well-appointed offering everything you need for your country escape.
To help protect the reserve the huts are all decked with Green & Spring products, natural products that smell dreamy – trust me.
Panelled in a stony blue tone, with exposed copper sanitaryware that looks striking against the beautiful blue. The overhead shower has great pressure, and is lovely and hot.
Dressing gowns, fluffy towels, and snugly wool throws and hot water bottles that will keep you feeling extra cosy.
We watched nighttime begin to fall and had a snack whilst we relaxed.
Followed by a cheese board as we played scrabble on the comfy bed.
Piled our layers on and headed out to pick fresh herbs from the herb trough for dinner. Collected some timber for our outdoor fire pit, when we eventually got it going.
Lauren attempted to not set her marshmallows on fire whilst we toasted s’mores.
We sat by the fire sipping our favourite bubbles.
The rest of our evening was spent giggling the night away amongst the pitch black skies and the rustling wildlife.
Book Elmley Nature Reserve here – stay for two nights, as one just won’t be enough. You can thank me later.
I cannot picture a better place to escape the busy day-to-day life. After all sometimes the best things in life are the simple things.