Tried and Tested

Tried and Tested: Treetop Dreaming in West Lexham’s Tilia Treehouse

There’s something about the idea of a treehouse that firesup the imagination and brings those childhood dreams flooding back. I’ve alwaysbeen a little bit obsessed with treehouses since our first year infant schoolteacher read The Magic Faraway Tree to our class, so when the opportunity totry one of West Lexham‘s six fairytale-beautiful treehouses came up, it was onenot to be missed!
Tilia Treehouse is one of two new deluxe treetop abodesrecently introduced to the West Lexham estate, which is set within gorgeouslytranquil Norfolk countryside near King’s Lynn. Both Tilia and her sister,Quercus, feature a similar layout. Tilia is the tallest treehouse on the site(which also features tree temples, which have all the rustic luxury of thehigher treehouses but are closer to the ground for those less keen onheights!).

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As well as the fabled treehouses, the West Lexham estateitself offers a choice of beautiful bell tents in the warmer months, and aselection of cottages and ensuite barn rooms, all set around a tranquil lake onSite of Special Scientific Interest (we’re told that the lake is a breedingground for trout, and the weed within it has been managed naturally by bringingin carp – but no fishing is allowed – the fish here are happy residents!). Thesite has truly impressive eco-credentials, running on 95% renewable energy withsolar energy, biomass boilers, locally sourced food and materials, and mineralwater on tap – supplied from its own chalk stream (not many places can saythat!).

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We arrived on a rather drizzly Monday afternoon after ascenic drive through North Norfolk, past miles of woodland and countryside. Assoon as we turned into the gates, we were immediately taken with the idyllicsetting and tranquil atmosphere. The lake in front of us had free-to-use boatswaiting to be commandeered, and the chorus of birdsong and the distant sound ofthe River Nay rushing past made us feel like we’d already stumbled into an EnidBlyton story – and this was before we’d even set foot inside our treetophideaway!

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We were met by Jeanette, who showed us along the path to Tilia.I noticed all the pathways were highlighted with soft solar lighting which wasstarting to flicker on ask dusk was about to fall. We climbed the staircasewhich ran along the side of our treehouse, and as we did so, hundreds of tinysolar fairy lights intertwined with the branches adorning the exterior camealive and twinkled as we passed. I’m a big sucker for fairy lights so thisreally delighted me, but there was more to come!

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On entering we were blown away by the rustic luxury, theattention to detail and the gorgeous smell of the wood, which created a reallynostalgic and comforting vibe. The open plan space was wonderfully cosy withsoft back-lighting, fairy lights strung up the bannister to the mezzanineplatform, halved logs decorating the chapel-like high ceiling and charminglittle details everywhere; vintage tiles, door handles fashioned from branches,quirky shaped window frames, woodburner – and the impressive central table andfour poster beds made from tree trunks and branches of green hazel.

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Tilia Treehouse sleeps up to 6 guests, but on this occasionit was just myself and my partner so we had plenty of room to spread out. BeingFebruary, we were pleased to discover the vintage radiators which kept thewhole place nice and warm (though we were determined to use the woodburneranyway just for the fun of it!). Tilia also had a fully equipped kitchen, andlovely treetop veranda outside with large BBQ (but we didn’t quite have theweather for that!). Underneath the treehouse, there were tables and log stoolsmaking an ideal space for sheltering from the sun (or rain, in our case!).

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Being almost 6 months pregnant I was pleased to discoverthat Tilia also had a very beautiful ensuite bathroom with toilet and hotshower – on the same level as our bed, and equally cosy and warm inside.
We decided to have a little look around outside beforemaking our dinner, so ventured over to the communal camp kitchen, which wouldbe the perfect place for a sociable get-together with friends or other guests.It was very well equipped with all sorts of kitchenware, cutlery, cookware and condiments;tea, coffee, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and more – plus games, a pizza oven -you name it! Despite our treehouse having an ensuite we also took a little peekat the communal bathrooms (picture below) by the camp kitchen and were stunned at how beautifuland spotless they were – super cosy separate heated rooms with toilets andshowers or baths, decorated with lovely vintage tiles and supplied with sweetscented soap – it’s the little things that matter!

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Heading back up to our treetop retreat, we knocked up somerather tasty fajitas on the woodburning stove and then sat back to relax forthe rest of the evening, enjoying the peace, tranquillity and wonderfully darkskies from the comfort of our unique comfy super king size four poster bed.
Waking up in the morning in a lofty treehouse to softdappled sunlight and birdsong, in a four poster bed made of green hazelbranches is an experience in itself and truly warmed our souls. We spent themorning pottering around, reading the brochures and local information andenjoying the guest book entries (there was even a pretty impressive drawing ofSilky from the Magic Faraway Tree from a previous little visitor).

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Later that morning we met up with West Lexham’s lovelymarketing manager, Emily, who talked us through their vision and ethos, andwowed us with some facts about the estate and the treehouses. We werefascinated to learn that all the wood for the treehouse furniture and all thewoodchip lining the pathways had been sourced within 3 miles and that some 5000new trees were in the process of being planted on the site. The treehousesthemselves had been designed and built using traditional and eco-friendlytechniques, in perfect keeping with West Lexham’s ethical principles.
We were also lucky enough to be allowed a little peek insidetwo other treehouses – Tinker Treehouse (West Lexham’s first treehouse and thecountry’s first to be made available for overnight stays) and Ash Tree Temple (below) -each different but with its own personal brand of rustic luxury and charm.

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That afternoon we decided to visit the nearby village ofHolt, stopping first at Back to the Gardenfor lunch and a look around their wonderfully tempting farm shop and deli – whichas a pregnant person made me want to eat almost everything I saw.
Then on to Holt, where we had a lovely time browsing theindependent shops, a particular favourite being the Holt Vinyl Vault; we alwaysfeel right at home in a village with a record store! I could have spent a goodlong afternoon in department store Bakers and Larners too, eyeing yet moredelicious food and sniffing all the lovely organic shampoos!

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That evening, we took a local tip and headed to the lovelyvillage of Great Massingham to visit The Dabbling Duckfor dinner. We received a lovely warm welcome, and the atmosphere was friendlyand laid back – just what we were after! My partner opted for the rather epiclooking Massingham Dexter Burger, and I went for the vegetable Rogan Josh. Wewere not disappointed! Both meals were really delicious, so despite beingrather full we couldn’t resist sharing the ‘Malt Easer’ dessert which featured- as we had hoped – a kind of giant Malteser but better! With full satisfiedbellies we rolled home back to our tree for another cosy night up in thecanopy.

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Being the soppy thing that I am I’m never good at leavingholiday homes, but leaving Tilia was especially difficult. We’d had two daysand nights in a fairytale, and with baby on the way and big changes comingthese two days had been a wonderful little bubble in which to switch off, hideaway and enjoy each other’s company in gorgeously natural surroundings. We’vepromised ourselves that once our little mini-me is old enough to appreciate it,we’ll all be back to West Lexham for another amazing treetop escape – and if youlike your holidays with an added dose of woodland magic, we suggest you do thesame – you’ll come away with your head in the clouds…

Take a look around Tilia Treehouse with us.
Video by Adam Wenborn
Music by Ghost Music

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