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First it was a modern Huf Haus. Now, Cleveley Mere has Lancashire's most remarkable tree house. Amanda Griffiths takes a walk on the wild side Photography by Glynn Ward
The print version of this article appeared in the February 2012 issue of Lancashire Life
We can deliver a copy direct to your door order online here
As you teeter across the rope bridge completely surrounded by trees to a decked barbecue area surrounding an ageing oak tree, it feels like youve stepped into Im A CelebrityGet Me Out Of Here!
But no-one will be trying to escape from here. Quite the opposite. This rope bridge is connected to a purpose-built luxury tree house in the grounds of Cleveley Mere, near Scorton. Television presenter Amanda Lamb is already booked in for a stay this summer and you could be too.
Its a dream come true for owner Roger Burnside who has been planning this unusual addition to the lodge accommodation at Cleveley Mere for the last three and a half years. He and wife Gill already offered guests something different in terms of accommodation they built a stylish German-designed Huf Haus a few years ago, half of which is rented out and has gone down a storm among visitors. With interest so high, the couple knew that offering something different was the key to success.
Enter a two bedroom luxury tree house, standing on stilts in the woodland and with trees growing through some of the outside portions of the roof, to add even more atmosphere.
It all came about after the popularity of the Huf Haus, says Roger as he showed me around. We realised that offering accommodation that was a bit different was the way forward. Theres a shortfall in this country for completely unique buildings as holiday houses. The Huf Haus showed us the way but we couldnt afford another half a million to build one so came up with the idea for the tree house. At an approximate cost of 200,000, it comes with decked barbecue area around the tree, its own boathouse and deep water harbour and sunset deck with luxurious wooden deckchairs.
After around three years waiting for planning permission to be approved the couple got the green light and made an unusual start.
We started off by sourcing the kitchen first, laughs Roger. Its a top of the range Miele German kitchen with Fisher and Paykel appliances, corian work surfaces and solid gum tree wood. It features all the usual appliances like dishwasher but its more than most people would expect to find in a holiday lodge. You wouldnt normally go to a holiday lodge and find a top of the range kitchen but, to be honest, weve ended up in the past having to replace cheaper kitchens so its probably better to put in a more expensive one in the first place.
We knew what we wanted and, more importantly, what our customers wanted something high quality. The house is as ecologically friendly as we could make it, all the lights are LED and the fireplace only costs 2p a day to run. Its a new concept that uses water to give it a living flame - that cost 2,000 for something that doesnt really do anything.
Our aim was to keep the house draft free and as warm as possible. Its centrally heated and double-glazed and features solid oak bi-fold doors which open out in the summer onto the deck and allow the trees to come into the house, or the house to go out into the trees! Elsewhere trees from the Cleveley Mere estate have been used to create interesting bedside tables, the stumps sitting proudly by the bedside as well as hollowed out to make the basin in the upstairs cloakroom.
Theres nothing but the best here. Downstairs is a master bedroom with en-suite bath and shower room, featuring a pearl free-standing bath with breathtaking views through the trees. Theres a driftwood basin as well as tree trunk effect tiles in the shower to keep that living in the trees feeling.
The open plan kitchen, dining area and living room, with tree outlines stencilled on the crisp white walls, is linked to the upstairs mezzanine level by a solid Italian oak spiral staircase with rope edging that echoes the 7,000 rope bridge outside. Upstairs is a twin bedroom and separate WC with the dcor from downstairs echoed here. In place of wardrobes to maximise space are tree-like stands where you can hang your clothes and the handles of the drawers are made from leather.
The windows give it an airy spacious feel and allow visitors to make the most of the view. Even the beds have handmade Hypnos mattresses, says Roger, Again, its unusual to put something so high quality in a holiday lodge. They cost 2,000 each, but I think the main thing people want in a holiday lodge is to be warm and have a comfortable, luxurious bed.
Gill was the interior designer while I concentrated more on the build itself.
We knew exactly what we wanted to achieve, right from the start and both discussed how we wanted certain features like the rope bridge, the doors, the fireplace and how we wanted to make sure it was as high spec as possible.
This is the first of five, although the other four wont look like this. Each one will have its own personality and their own sunset decks right over
The happiness caused by completing the tree house is tinged with great sadness. Gill passed away towards the end of last year after battling a serious illness, but she did see the project finished. She burst into tears to see her dream come true, says Roger.
It was officially opened in September by TV presenter Amanda Lamb. When she came her comments were breathtaking, unique and amazing and she booked herself in to come and stay.
Amandas comments echo those in the visitor book, for although the tree house has only been open a few short months it has certainly left a mark
on people staying, one of whom called it a little piece of heaven and many have re-booked to come back in the summer.
And who could blame them? Its an idyllic location with lots to do and see on site, yet more in the surrounding area. And if you dont want to leave your tree, the creature comforts on hand mean this really is a little piece of heaven - perhaps the perfect way to describe the results of Roger and Gills hard work and dedication.