looking to escape could do far worse than the newly
expanded Wilderness Reserve, a Suffolk estate that stretches
across 5,000 Edenic acres in a forgotten corner of East Anglia.
This is a place that’s reshaping the mould of the traditional
stay. The sprawling Chapel Barn, a restored 15th-century
barnhouse, invites up to 42 guests to dip between its pool, sauna
and individually decorated sleeping quarters, while the ironically
named, one-bedroom Hovel is ideal for a lovers’ break thanks to its
gaping fireplace and vast Crittall windows.
Though all the cottages and lodges are decked out with high-spec
kitchens, it’s worth giving your culinary skills a rest for at
least one meal – chefs draw on Suffolk’s bounty of produce to throw
together hearty meals and hampers guaranteed to warm your cockles.
My drop-off dinner is a moreish chicken casserole, with caramelised
apples and vanilla custard for pudding.
Days are best spent in nature, free-wheeling through the
woodland on a Pashley bike, foraging and fire-making on a survival
course or paddleboarding on the lake. I join a wilderness walk with
ranger Steve, who reveals that the estate is home to 125 species of
birds and is in the midst of a tree-planting program designed to
help wildlife thrive.
You’re a short drive from Suffolk’s seaside towns of Southwold
and Aldeburgh, where you can promenade, fish and chips in hand –
though having discovered Wilderness Reserve, you won’t want to
stray too far.