We all get the idea of relaxation but how many of us ever properly succeed? A few moments to savour a coffee, ten seconds before the traffic lights change, the five minutes of any day when you’re not being digitally nagged and staring at a screen. For most, the reality of relaxation is little more than a few stolen moments peppered throughout the rush of the daily routine. As for a whole weekend of it? Sure sounds like a magical proposition, but come on, who are you trying to kid?
The folks at Canopy & Stars are up for just such a challenge, the ace up their sleeve a log cabin on the Edenhall Estate, just outside Penrith. The Lodge, as it’s known, was traditionally built over the course of a year and a half, using hand-worked larch timber that was felled on the estate. This is not a run-of-the-mill holiday chalet with pretences; plonk the Lodge in the midst of the Canadian wilderness and it wouldn’t look, or be, out of place.
Location, Location, Location
The Cabin is accessed by a footpath that runs gently down-slope through a small silver-birch wood. The sound of the River Eamont comes gently upon you as the trees open out to reveal wide, sun-sparkling rapids and, on the near bank, a building that looks as if snatched from a fairy tale.
The Lodge consists of one main, open-plan room with a lounge (WiFi but no TV), dining area and a fully equipped kitchen. Up the spiral staircase there’s a snug room beneath the eaves, an idyllic upstream view from its bed. An extension on the back houses an additional two double bedrooms and a luxury wet room. And talking of wet, if the river’s too cold for you (it was for our early February visit) then you’ll most likely want to make use of the electric hot tub that’s hidden round the side of the cabin. Let’s just say, the location might be wild but Lodge residents won’t be roughing it.
Busy Doing Nothing
Our attempt at doing nothing began at pace, which kind of defeated the purpose. We couldn’t settle: what next? We wondered aloud, having lit the log burner. Let’s sit out on the veranda with a cuppa. Ten minutes later: what now? A nap in the attic room beneath the eaves. Another ten and we were drinking coffee by the fire and thinking about the hot tub.
Our minds were like the water that flowed a few meters from the front door — always on the move, relentless. But it was in the river that we found our means to relax. There’s never perfect silence here because all that water rushing over rocks makes a sound. It’s not town traffic or noisy neighbours, it’s natural and, if you allow it, calming. The water’s flow became our meditative mantra. Whenever we felt our minds wander to stressy thoughts, we listened for the river, its white noise bringing us back to settle like the calm pools that lay a little further downstream from the cabin.
The Enlightened Ones
By the evening of the first day we’d gone from thinking about the hot tub to sitting in it, sipping champagne (it was our anniversary, okay), listening to the birds’ evening calls. We watched the sun set below the trees, and the stars — the many, many stars the city’s street-lit glare had blinded us to — come out twinkling above.
The next two days passed in the kind of bliss I imagine only enlightened Buddhist monks or lottery winners ever truly enjoy. We ate well, we drunk good wine, played Scrabble and read books. We saw red squirrels and roe deer metres from our door. We listened to the plaintive calls of the sparrowhawks that flew overhead, and we always had the river, carrying on and keeping us calm.
It wasn’t just us either. The guest book was full of similar tales of bliss, so it seems the magic at work in the silver-birch wood on the banks of the River Eamont is indeed transferable.
“I think I could live here,” one lady had written at the end of her lengthy, almost evangelical comment. I think we all should, even if it is only for a weekend.