I’ll happily shit in the woods for a weekend of Mother Nature’s finest. This was her on TOP form. The Nut Plat Retreat in South Kent, London. Wowzers!
In the woods
This one awesome London weekend glamping getaway was absolute peace. And by shitting in the woods I mean an outdoor compost toilet. If like me, you enjoy a good read whilst sitting on your throne, then learning the mechanisms of a compost toilet from the useful infographic placed inside the wooden hut door was it. And learn I did. Useful pub quiz knowledge aside, I’d found a gem of a London getaway weekend here.
It was my girlfriend’s birthday (@themoonontheotherside); I won’t say how old but I was on the hunt for an outdoor experience close to London. Having recently trekked the Himalayas together I figured we were due another escape from the concrete jungle that’s London. Putting some miles under our feet on country lanes and farmer’s fields sounded like the plan. Plus I was gagging to make a fire. I mean, what boy isn’t?
I get itchy feet if I’m stuck in a city; bound by the smog for too long.
It’s weird. Although London is packed and non-stop I’ve found it a lonely place at times. The monotonous rush and same-same cog turning our lives can be soul destroying. It can consume me – drink, drugs, lifestyle and work. Although contrary to that, I’ve had the best times of my life here. It’s a finely balanced relationship.
Escaping the city for a couple of weekends a month to the green outskirts, whether for cycling or a walk, brings back my balance. And my health. Speaking of which, I recently completed a wicked
4-day cycling trip in the Pyrenees (coming soon). If you’re a lycra-clad-coffee-suckling human like myself then you may find this post rather charming.
It was around September time when I Googled ‘outdoor getaway from London’. It brought up the expected results: The Cotswolds, Center Parcs style stays and spa breaks. I’m an off the beaten track, live out of a backpack northern scum bag. Anything remotely organised or tourist central? Aye, forget it.
I can’t remember how, but after a ton of searching the title Nut Plat Retreat caught my eye.
I initially read it as “Nut-Plant’ Retreat and visualised lots of squirrels and nut picking whilst munching on a few hazelnuts. A click through to their website and I was quids in. It wasn’t heavily advertised. You won’t even find it on the generic booking sites but after reading through the web info it sounded like these guys had a place that was their pride and joy. And they wanted to share it with a lucky few. Ideal! The gypsy wagon style experience took my fancy. A quick email booking confirmation and they were straight off the tee. I received a warming email back full of the essential info and delights that they offered. You could even rent the outdoor wooden Jacuzzi!
When I think of glamping I think posh buggers in teepees chatting Brexit, high. This wasn’t that place. It was more Peaky Blinders season 4 when the Irish arrive in their gypsy wagons. And what a badass wagon it was. Kitted with a log burner and wall décor from the sixties, it felt like a home away from home.
Outside I had my fire pit. And Frida (@themoonontheotherside | www.themoonontheotherside.com) had her kitchen. If she reads this, I’m in trouble. The little kitchenette was a separate outdoor hut housing the stove and sink area, a small dining table and chairs and not to mention the electric shower!
On our doorstep, was a stream overlooking a field of horses. If I’m painting a visual picture of bliss, it was.
The three days off the grid
I had a few things in mind for this weekend: Fire building 24/7; marshmallows, cheeses, hams and breads around the fire; vino under the stars; country pub ales accompanied by comfort food and finally, some cracking scenic walks through nature.
Day 1: Fire starter
On Friday, we kicked the day off with a honking bad ass breakfast on Upper Street, Angel London. With our bellies expanding, it set the standard for what was ahead.
After arriving at the Nut Plat Retreat at around 1pm, we unpacked our little sacks and set our paws out for a local wander. First port of call was picking up the standard essentials – eggs, bacon, milk etc. from the nearby town square. On our walk there we came across help yourself punnets of strawberries with a donation box, apple orchards ripe for plucking and little paths cutting through crop fields. A glorious 15 min stroll from the Nut Plat Retreat.
Boom! On the walk back we spotted the our first night’s pub feast. An old tavern that would be well suited in Hobbiton. Pies, ales and a solid “you’re from London!” inquisitive reaction was the line up for the eve.
At one with nature and her toilets
Upon our return my fingers were twitching for some kindling. I’m no pro at fire building but I am decent. I know my way around the pyramid technique setup. After a good hour of cursing and several spelks I had the boy roaring. Man be proud.
Whenever we’re in a remote location, just the two of us, we always kick things off with a cuppa tea, a quiet sit and appreciation of our surroundings. And then chat about the most unusual things. For some reason being in secluded areas brings out my most soulful thoughts and questions. I guess it’s simply because I’m not distracted by Netflix or MyFitnessPal. The Nut Plat Retreat was the place for those hippy style thoughts. I mean, we were in a wood under the stars, living out of a gypsy wagon. Aye!
We spent a good amount of time, as we always do, setting up and shooting photos. In all, we probably spent about 2 hours snapping our little area. It’s sad, but it’s a creative addiction. There’s something about photography for me that has no limits. No “yes that’s it, that’s the best shot.” I can always improve and always find a better shot. I never get bored. It’s certainly enhanced travelling and exploring. Even the blandest of places becomes a creative experiment; much to the pissing off of my mates when I reveal it on nights out.
I forget the name of the pub but it was the closest one to the Nut Plat Retreat. By God the food was awesome! The ales true to their quality and the warm welcome honest. A cracking evening for the old bird’s B-Day.
Back it was to the warmth of our gypsy wagon (thanks to the log burner) and some slow shutter speed night time photography.
Day 2: Knocking back the miles
Eggs. I eat a lot of them. Minimum 6 a day, normally 2 full and 4 whites. Wherever our nomad bums settle I always make the time each morning to craft a cracking veg omelette. Normally using the local herbs, spices and sauces. To this day some of the best omelettes have been in the Caribbean and Belize. You may throw your mouse at the screen when I say this: pineapple, Caribbean chilli sauce and jerk seasoning make for an incredible omelette.
My point? This place was epic for my breakfast scenes – the freshest local eggs, little china cups and teapot, an outdoor rustic table and a roaring fire (courtesy of me). You beauty! We stuffed away enough for an adventure because today, was hiking day and this was one awesome London weekend glamping getaway.
Getting out and about
There’s a couple of looping country walks that the owner suggested to us. She even gave us a handy laminated map, bless her. We’re ones for the less travelled path so opted for the 8-9 mile loop through fields and forest.
We had our little packed lunch of hams and cheeses and donned our Sorell Trekking Boots. I’ve blasted the Himalayas, Patagonia and The Andes with these bad boys. They’re still going strong. Highly recommend them as a brand. The scenery of Kent is stunning. We were left to our own devices and didn’t cross paths with another soul, café or pub for almost the whole walk. That is until we began to loop back towards the main village where we hit the pubs for some well earned ales.
The pub served Thai food and brownies for dessert. And, of course, the standard pub food expectations. But whether it’s because we were starving or because we were getting hammered on ales, Thai food and brownies ticked the box. We stumbled back, changed and grabbed a taxi back to the same pub. We were those guys! It was the only pub in the village centre serving food. The Papermakers Arms, was its name. It’s hard to miss – beautiful large white Victorian building.
Day 3: Fine nature dining
The last day called for one hell of a last supper. By supper, I mean breakfast. And it deserved a final roaring fire to go with it. We didn’t disappoint ourselves. The full works came out. A heart attack of a northern one-pan fry-up. All local farmers produce. The sausages were to die for. Or in my Geordie “Why aye man! Bloody class like!” The views really do call for fine breakfast dining. Cup of tea upon cup of tea were drunk and we even polished off the last of the marshmallows and cheese.
We sat all morning enjoying the last comforts and freedom of space before packing up. The owners kindly dropped us back at Sevenoaks train station for the jaunt back to the concrete jungle.
There’s few places outside of London that actually feel ‘outside’ in my opinion. Usually I still feel like you get the standard city amenities and type of people but on a smaller scale. This place was different. We really were in the sticks and Christ it was perfect.
We arrived in Sevenoaks via train from London Waterloo. It was a 20 min taxi from there to the Nut Plat Retreat; a whirl of fields and winding country lanes.
Greeted initially by chickens and a sleeping dog, we were led to our gypsy wagon. On route through the little field, we spotted the nut trees! It all came together after realising that.
The owners were sound as a pound. Friendly and very accommodating. Even left us a cheeky bottle of vino and breads. Know any other glamping getaways other than this one awesome London weekend glamping getaway? Let me know in the comments below.
- Take ear plugs for the local morning bird calls.
- Google how to light a fire beforehand if you’re not familiar. Although the guys do supply firelighters and will help you out if needed.
- Take hiking boots.
- Walk to the nearest local village and top up on breakfast and snacking supplies. It’s about 15 mins away.
- Request for the owner to pick you up from the train station to save on taxi fare.
- Do one of the stunning hikes.
- Eat at the local, and I mean REAL local pub.
- Spend time sitting around the fire with wine and marshmallows. We found a lot of the beauty was simply sitting in the grounds allowing that time to recoup.
- Expect an easy taxi service. They’re limited and expensive.
- Come expecting warmth at night. It’s cold. Thick blankets and fires to be had though.
- Come expecting absolute luxury like a hotel. It’s beautiful, clean and cute, but you’re in nature.
Where to get meat for that protein hit
- Although it’s off the beaten track there’s still access to local farm fresh newsagents. Quite the opposite to the local ones in London, however. More like a deli merged into a newsagent. One finds fresh eggs, meats, bacon and fresh cheeses.
- There’s pub galore with steak and chicken on the menu served in real large countryside portions. No skimping or fancy plates.
- To bring with you, I’d advise picking up some dried meat and taking Glutamine and BCAA.
- You can get hams, tinned tuna with pita bread and cheese for the hiking from the local newsagent.
- I’m a sucker for always carrying a couple of MyProtein high quality Protein bars too. Some days it is hard to hit your protein macro. And more so expensive to keep eating out for everything. These help.
Tips for healthy eats
- On the side of the country lanes you’ll pass many food stalls and farms. They leave fruit and veg out with donation boxes.
- The Nut Plat Retreat provides a range of herbal and fresh leaf green teas.
- The local pubs use farm fresh produce so you’re in for a treat with the salads.
Where to exercise
It’s simply a rest weekend with some slow fat-burning cardio in the form of hiking, mingled in. Time off.
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