After two blissful nights spent in a luxury lodge at the South Lakeland Leisure Village, Dougie and I were sad to be leaving. It felt too soon to be giving up the comfy sofas and the corner bath and I was settling into the routine of watching the ducks on the lake every morning. But we had to move on. We were about to spend a night in a Woodland Retreat in the nearby Fell End Holiday Park, also owned by Pure Leisure.
If you don’t know what a Woodland Retreat is, let me try to describe it. It’s sometimes called a super-pod, a modern alternative to a tent, taking camping off the ground and into a contemporary cube (though, technically, a cuboid, as it’s rectangular). You may have heard of the phrase ‘capsule wardrobe’? Well this is capsule camping – all you need for an overnight stay in the countryside but without tent poles and underground sheeting. It’s not to be confused with a camping pod, which can also be booked at Fell End. Whilst a camping pod is a cute little hut where you bring your sleeping bags and the wooden surround takes the place of your tent, a Woodland Retreat is far more luxurious, having all the amenities you would expect in a top quality hotel room.
Luxury living in a cube
Our Woodland Retreat was one of three at Fell End situated in a small, wooded area but close to the reception and leisure centre. You can park right outside your pod and there is ample decking with some stylish chairs and a table outside for that early evening ‘being at one with nature with a glass of Shiraz in your hand’ experience.
Inside the heated cube you do experience a Narnia moment. It doesn’t seem possible that inside this super-pod is a small apartment, flooded with light from the floor-to-ceiling windows. It houses a fully fitted kitchen with a 4-ring hob and oven, microwave and fridge; living/bedroom area and a bathroom with powerful shower, WC and hand basin.
The living area, however, is where the magic happens. During the day there is a small sofa with a collapsible table stored underneath and a large TV and storage unit on the opposite wall. However, when sleep beckons, you pull the handle above the sofa and, voila, you have a double bed with a substantial, comfortable mattress. The duvet can be found in the wardrobe, along with pillows and bedding. At each side of the bed is a handy light and small shelf. Just be careful not to leave your watch and glasses there when you revert back to sofa living the following morning as you will wonder why they have disappeared.
What does Fell End have to offer?
Just minutes from the M6 in Cumbria, the park is situated in the Arndale and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It’s very close to the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales, and a stone’s throw from the beautiful coastal estuary of the River Kent.
The accommodation consists of mainly mobile homes with space for tourers to pitch. There is a woodland walk available at the rear of the park and a lovely children’s playground on a grassed area in the centre. Owners keep their pitches smart, with some adding areas of lawn to increase the amount of greenery in the park.
Like South Lakeland Leisure Village, the activities at Fell End centre on the large leisure centre. There’s a 15m heated pool, a gym, small shop and a little amusement arcade. We loved the large welcoming bar and lounge area too. And we were most impressed with the friendly customer service, particularly one lady who gave us a complimentary drink while her husband was summoned to sort out the signal on our TV (it was a small job, just needed linking to the right source).
There are some costs to be taken into account. WiFi is charged for, with cheaper rates if taken over a longer period. Whilst the leisure centre is free for owners and seasonal tourers, charges do apply for holiday guests but rates are reduced if booked in advance. For example, a family, for a whole week, can use the leisure centre for £55.
The Woodland Retreat pods are marketed for couples and they are ideal for a short break. I can imagine them being used by friends or family of others staying in a mobile home on site, who maybe want to visit for a day or two.
If I were designing them myself, I would opt for a 2 ring hob and have a combination microwave oven, as the huge cooker seems a bit unnecessary. The wardrobe space is good, but during the day there is nowhere to store the duvet if your clothes have now taken up residence there. Maybe if a duvet bag were provided, it could just sit in the corner and remain clean and tidy? But the pods are so fun and funky, these are only little quibbles.
The location of Fell End holiday park is fantastic if you want to explore the coast and countryside of Cumbria and Lancashire. Spend the day climbing up mountains or visiting the pretty towns in the Dales, then return for a dip in the pool plus a drink or two and a snack at the bar.
Capsule camping is the new glamping and I think I like it.
I was invited to review a Woodland Retreat at the Fell End Holiday Park by Pure Leisure Group. All opinions are my own.
A minimum two night stay in a Woodland Retreat at Fell End Holiday Park costs from £75 per night.
Pure Leisure Group also operates a fractional ownership scheme for its Woodland Retreats enabling buyers to enjoy holidays in their own little cube every year for life. Fractional ownership prices start from £1600 for two weeks in low season. The park’s more traditional holiday homes are available to buy from £15,000 pre-owned or from £25,000 new.