GILL HARRIS goes off-grid for a weekend of ... well, very little at all... on a relaxing glamping break

I WAS really looking forward to getting away from it all in a cosy log cabin on a farm in the middle of nowhere. Birdsong, greenery all around, peace and quiet. Maybe a bit of snuggling up in front of the fire with a movie.

And then it dawned on me. There wouldn’t be any electricity. We really would be getting away from it - no laptop, no phone, no movies, no hairdryer... no light. How would we cope? What would we do with ourselves? Would we manage even to cook anything?

Well, the eating thing was easily solved because I’d asked the farmers, James and Kate, in advance (when I still had access to email) if they would kindly make up one of their stews for us so it was ready for our first night. A wise – and delicious – move.

We arrived at Warren Farm, nestled in the heart of the Mendips and a stone’s throw from the stunning Cheddar Gorge, at about 5pm. The farmers ask that you turn up when it’s still light so you can get your bearings before nightfall.

James showed us around the farm, which is very much a working farm (there are places you’re asked not to go to for safety reasons) and it’s obvious straight away that they really have thought of everything.

An honesty shop stocks everything from freshly laid eggs (free – and the best I’ve ever tasted) to batteries to orange juice to wine. Nearby there’s a huge shed with firewood, games tables of various sorts and hot running water and an electric kettle, for those who can’t tough it out waiting for their morning cuppa as the woodburner gets going. There are also charging points for your mobiles and laptops if you really can’t bear to go without.

A fantastic looking wooden children’s play area would certainly keep the youngsters entertained (and apparently there’s also a den in the woods) and there’s an outdoor pizza oven and picnic tables overlooked by goats, chickens and other farmyard chums.

Warren Farm welcomes dogs between between June 1 and February 28, but a word of warning – those hens really are free range so you do have to keep your hound on its lead at all times.

We explained that Wolsey, being mostly whippet, likes to zoom around at full pelt off-lead and James kindly let us use the field by our cabin as long as there were no sheep around. Perfect – and I think it must have smelt of sheep because the dog couldn’t get enough of it all weekend.

Overlooking this field of dreams were two cabins side by side, one of which was our home for the weekend.

It was a beautiful little building with two deck chairs on the veranda, ideal for sipping on something nice and admiring the view.

Inside, it was quite simply stunning – small, but holding everything you’d need. We counted room to sleep six to eight people (there are bunk beds hidden in a cupboard – kids would love it) and a dining table to seat just as many.

The main room had a small kitchen at one end, that huge wooden table in the middle, and a couch in the window by the woodburner.

Tastefully done out with all that bare wood, it oozed cosiness. And that was before you lit the woodburner.

“We’ve had people here at Christmas and they’ve had to leave the door open it gets so hot - that woodburner really pumps out the heat,” said James. And he was right. Given it’s the only source of heat in the place, we were proper toasty.

If the weather’s nice enough, there’s also an outdoor cooker ideal for rustling up something tasty while you socialise around the picnic table.

Determined to enjoy the full, cosy cabin experience, we set about getting the woodburner lit (easy, for those of you who aren’t used to them – pretty much look at it and it roars into action). Then we found a pot, popped the stew on the stove, cracked open a bottle and wondered how long it would be before supper was hot enough to eat. And it turns out it was much quicker than expected. And divinely tasty - if you go, I recommend requesting the stew!

And so as darkness fell, we lit the candles and oil lamps and read for as long as we could... which wasn’t actually all that long. How people read and mended clothes and did other detailed work before the advent of electricity, I have no idea.

So, there was nothing for it but to bring out the Scrabble and commence battle - an evenly matched game which I ultimately lost.

It’s a curious thing giving up all your mod cons. No checking your phone, or Googling something or other, or liking things on Facebook. No sending a quick email or watching something on catch-up. It was strangely refreshing and you can feel the stresses of the modern day slipping away as you relax into a slower, more simple way of life.

A word to the wise, though, we did take battery powered lamps with us, essential for reading late into the evening and finding the loo in the dark without injury!

And yes, for those who have a horror of glamping, we did have an indoor bathroom, with a gas-powered shower (excellent, but leave all the other taps alone in the cabin while someone’s in there) and a flushing loo. There’s also a shower block next to the honesty shop, complete with underfloor heating and hairdryers.

The shower is the only source of hot water - all the other taps run cold - but if you want to you can cart your dishes up to the main shed and wash up there. Handy little trolleys are provided for carrying stuff between your cabin and the shed or your car.

In the very dark, very peaceful surroundings, we slept like logs and arose desperate for a cuppa.

My pal got the fire going while I got the tea and coffee ready and headed up to the honesty shop for those yummy eggs and a pack of the thickest bacon I’ve ever seen.

And we waited. And waited. We never did quite see water boil, but it was hot enough to do the trick, while the breakfast sizzled away remarkably quickly.

“You can’t rush things,” said my companion. “It’s not that kind of place.”

And all that apprehension about coping without electricity proved to be unfounded. Having to wait for the fire to get going properly before even thinking about boiling some water sets the tone beautifully for a chilled-out, lazy day. Goodbye deadlines and rushing from one thing to the next. Life happens at a different pace here.

Fed, watered and scrubbed, we decided to saunter into Cheddar in search of provisions for that evening’s meal and a bit of a mooch about.

As ever, Cheddar was buzzing with tourists, come to admire the stunning gorge. We found a supermarket, collected supplies for the coq au vin I’d not too confidently offered to make and went for a walk in the beautiful, craggy scenery, watching the dog zoom up and down impossibly steep slopes like he was having the time of his life.

There is plenty more to explore in the surrounding area and plenty of excellent walks... but why bother, we thought, when we have that gorgeous little log cabin to get back to and the Saturday papers?

So we whiled away the rest of the day, reading the paper, watching the dog race back and forth in the still sheepless field, slicing onions for the casserole and sipping wine. Time flies when you’re busy doing nothing and before we knew it, the coq au vin, surprisingly successful, was ready and another evening of yet more lazing about lay ahead.

As the sun came up the following morning, there was much disappointment for the dog. Sheep had turned up in his field and he was no longer allowed in it. He gazed longingly out of the window as we, with heavy hearts, cleared up and packed our belongings.

“A weekend wasn’t long enough,” I said. “I’d like to spend a whole week here.”

“I’d like to live somewhere like this,” said my friend. “It’s just so peaceful. I’d probably need electricity though, sooner or later.”

As we were just getting ready to leave, one of the chickens turned up and had a bit of a cluck about in the chicken coop next to our cabin. If you want the full farming experience, you can hire a hen for the weekend, learn to look after them and gobble up any eggs they lay. Despite being out on the veranda, the dog insisted on gazing in the opposite direction so the chicken got to enjoy mooching about without any barking shattering the peace.

Having settled up in the honesty shop, we said cheerio to Farmer James, who was off out to round up some sheep.

Wolsey stole one last wistful glance out of the car window as James and his sheepdog zoomed off across the fields, ready to chase some sheep. Nice work if you can get it, he thought, before settling glumly down in the back of the car ready for his trip back to the hustle and bustle of town life. We know how he felt.

Warren Farm, Somerset,

Cheddar Gorge, BS40 7XR

Part of Featherdown glamping holiday company, which has sites in the UK and abroad. visit

As well as the cabins, Warren Farm has luxurious canvas lodges. Prices vary depending on the time of year, but a seven night stay in a canvas lodge in April 2018 will be

£849 and in a cabin it will be £1049. It is possible to stay longer than a week or

reserve a number of tents.

Call 01420 80804 to arrange.