FROM the treetops, the heavy downpour sounds almost biblical.
This is real rain, pelting down by the bucketful – just the kind of weather you’d normally despise when you’re on oneWeekend trip to Blighty. Still, I was excited.
It was my first night of two in Ravendere Retreats’ treehouse – a magnificent wooden structure built in the canopy of the Fuchsia Valley woodland in the coastal north Devon village of Lee near Woolacombe.
Lee has a nice beach, but I wasn’t interested in the sea on my first night.
While most holidaymakers would be praying for sun, the rain gave me the perfect opportunity to make the most of my one-of-a-kind abode.
I tossed a few logs into the wood stove and filled a bowl with snacks before wrapping myself in a blanket on the sofa and searching Netflix for something pointless to stare at.
It was perfect and utter bliss. The sound of the rain falling through the trees and onto the patio outside was so relaxing it was almost meditative – and the perfect soundtrack to help me unwind early in my stay.
That’s not to say Ravendere’s treehouse wouldn’t be relaxing without a rainy day – quite the opposite.
The outdoor whirlpool and sauna can take your stress to the treetops in a cloud of steam.
But for those put off by the idea of al fresco bathing, the huge free-standing bath opposite the king-size bed offers an equally restful soak.
There is also a pizza oven and BBQ on the terrace, so guests can cook up a delicious feast while enjoying the stunning views from the top of the forest.
Through this experience you really feel part of nature. Buzzards can be heard calling to each other as they fly from tree to tree, jays cackle loudly as they scour the forest for acorns, and muntjac deer slink warily through the forest below.
Being so close to so much wildlife without disturbing it is a rare treat indeed.
But it was all the more unforgettable to be able to enjoy a stone oven pizza in his company that I had just made – after finally mastering the technique with the pizza peel.
Whilst the Lee Valley has its own natural beauty, the rest of North Devon has much more to offer.
DOLPHINS AND SAILING
The nearby beach at Woolacombe is one such highlight. With miles of golden sandy beaches and clear sapphire blue waters, it’s the perfect place to spend a day.
In the evening, the smaller but equally impressive Barricane Bay offers holidaymakers the chance to enjoy a home-cooked curry at sunset – the beachside cafe shack is renowned for its Sri Lankan dinners.
But I opted for more traditional seafront fare at Ilfracombe Harbor – with a fries dinner overlooking the deep blue sea.
Ilfracombe is just a short drive from Woolacombe and is an excellent place to spend an afternoon.
From browsing the jewelry shops to crabbing off the harbor wall, there’s plenty of fun to be had.
There is also the option of a sea safari boat trip that departs daily from the port.
Dolphins and seals are known to frequent the surrounding waters. So keep an eye out for them.
Guests are taken in a RIB speedboat in search of them, and sometimes they put on a show by happily swimming and jumping alongside the boat.
But there was enough entertainment for me on land as I gazed out to sea from St. Nicholas Chapel – which has perched high on the harbor promontory since the 14th century – while eating scampi, fries and mushy peas.
I then returned to the tree house for my final evening, where I sat in the comfort of the hot tub, bottle of soda in hand, gazing at the stars and listening to the owls hooting at each other.
If I hadn’t drunk it all I would have happily stayed there all night.
STAY THERE: Ravendere Retreats tree house stays start from £210 per person per night with a minimum stay of two nights.
For two. To book go to ravendere.co.uk