FROM up in the treetops, the heavy downpour sounds almost biblical.
This is proper rain, lashing down by the bucketful — exactly the type of weather you would normally despise if on a weekend getaway in Blighty. Yet I was delighted.
Staying up in the treetops leaves you embracing the rain if it pours down[/caption]
The treehouse comes complete with an outdoor pizza oven and there was a barbecue on the decking too[/caption]
It was my first night of two in Ravendere Retreats’ Treehouse — a glorious wooden structure built in the canopy of the Fuchsia Valley forest in the North Devon coastal village of Lee, near Woolacombe.
Lee has a pretty beach but I had no interest in the seaside on my first evening.
While most holidaymakers would be praying for sun, the rain provided me with the perfect opportunity to make the most out of my unique accommodation.
I threw some logs in the wood burner and filled a bowl with snacks before wrapping myself in a blanket on the sofa and scanning Netflix for something mindless to stare at.
It was complete and utter bliss. The sound of the rain falling through the trees and on to the decking outside was so relaxing, it was close to meditative — and the perfect soundtrack to help me unwind at the beginning of my stay.
That’s not to say Ravendere’s tree-house isn’t relaxing without a rainy day — far from it.
The outdoor hot tub and sauna can each carry your stresses away into the treetops, in a cloud of steam.
But for those put off by the idea of outdoor bathing, the huge roll-top bath positioned opposite the king-sized bed offers an equally rejuvenating soak.
There’s also a pizza oven and barbecue on the decking, meaning guests can prepare themselves a delectable feast while taking in the stunning views from near the top of the forest.
The experience makes you feel truly a part of nature. Buzzards can be heard calling to one another as they swoop from tree to tree, jays chatter loudly as they search the forest for acorns and muntjac deer daintily sneak around through the woodland below.
To be so close to so much wildlife without disturbing it is a rare treat, indeed.
But being in its company with a stone-baked pizza that I had just made — having finally mastered the technique with the pizza paddle — was all the more unforgettable.
While the Lee valley boasts plenty of its own natural beauty, the rest of North Devon has a great deal more to shout about too.
If the weather is not so great then the treehouse is the perfect place to unwind[/caption]
DOLPHINS AND SEALS
The nearby beach at Woolacombe is one such highlight, with miles of golden sands and clear sapphire waters making it the perfect place to spend a day.
Come the evening, the smaller yet just as striking Barricane Bay offers holidaymakers the chance to enjoy a homemade curry with a sunset — the the beachside café cabin is well known for its Sri Lankan suppers.
But I opted for more traditional seaside fare at Ilfracombe harbour — with a chippy dinner overlooking the inky-blue sea.
Ilfracombe is just a short drive from Woolacombe and is an excellent place to while away an afternoon.
There is all sorts of fun to be had, from perusing the trinket shops, to crab-fishing off the harbour wall.
There is also the option of sea- safari boat trips that set off from the harbour each day.
Dolphins and seals are known to frequent the surrounding waters, so keep your eyes peeled for them.
Guests are taken out on a RIB speedboat to look for them, and they will sometimes put on displays by merrily swimming and leaping alongside the boat.
But for me there was entertainment enough on dry land just staring out to sea from the Chapel of St Nicholas — which has sat high upon the headland at the harbour since the 14th century — while tucking into my scampi, chips and mushy peas.
I then returned to the treehouse for my final evening, which was spent gazing at the stars and listening to owls hooting at one another from the comfort of the hot tub — bottle of fizz in hand.
Had I not drunk it all, I would have happily stayed there all night.
The unique accommodation will leave you quite content not to go further afield[/caption]
STAYING THERE: Stays at Ravendere Retreats’ treehouse are from £210pp, per night, minimum two-night stay.
Sleeps two. To book, go to ravendere.co.uk