The track entered a woodland, where hobbit-like cabins nestled among the trees, each one unique and beautiful. Above us we could see walkways and some treehouses peeping out of the leaf-laden canopy. There was no electricity, no internet coverage, just “the luxury of simplicity” as the owners of Urnatur describe it. I was lucky to be allocated the Big Raven Nest, a treehouse anchored in ten pines. Stairs and a footbridge led up to a large and light-filled room, its many windows overlooking the forest anda pond. The bed was big and inviting, and a woodburning stove sat in one corner. It was oh-so tempting to just kick off my boots and stay there, shutting out the modern world.
But, as dusk fell, it was time to head back to the lakeshore and set about making dinner. Urnatur offers an outside kitchen for guests to use, and it was well stocked with a selection of tempting organic local produce. Jars were filled with herbs and spices, grains and legumes, and there were a couple of suggested recipes to follow.
We marvelled at the huge brandywine tomatoes, the size of apples, and tucked into small indigo rose tomatoes as we prepared chard and cheese fritters with minty yoghurt, a mixed vegetable stew and rice. One of the group proved adept at
lighting the fire we were to cook over and, even more importantly, at keeping it going, as we willed the rice to come to the boil, and took it in turns to stir the stew and duck the smoke if it blew our way.
Savouring the results, washed down with glasses of wine, we all agreed that nothing beats food cooked and eaten over a fire. Well sated, I headed back to Big Raven to sleep. Once inside, all was quiet. I lit a kerosene lamp, which swayed with the movement of the treehouse, and fell asleep quickly. But throughout the night I stirred occasionally to a gentle creaking, like being on board an old wooden schooner. It was as soothing as a lullaby.
I woke to a soft dappled light streaming through the windows and stepped out onto the balcony to breathe in the scents of the forest. A gentle breeze was rustling through the leaves and the only sounds were of that and of birdsong. My clothes from the night before smelled of wood smoke and pine. I descended to the forest floor and strolled through the woodland, feet crunching the twigs and leaves. I was making too much noise to creep up on any wildlife, but did spot the rump of a deer as it raced out of view.
Over breakfast at the main building, I asked owners Ulrika and Håkan about Urnatur. “We never made a plan for this!” said Håkan. “I’m a forester, Ulrika is a biologist. We bought the farm and the original idea was to be as self-sufficient as possible. But I know bushcraft and it became popular here for team building. Companies came but not everyone wanted to build a shelter. They needed somewhere to sleep, so we built the cabins. It’s a crazy project.”