This August sees us celebrate our summer houses; those sacred places returned to year on year where sun-kissed memories were first forged. And what better summer house than this - a secret woodland hideaway, nestled amongst the trees near Cornwall’s glorious Helford estuary. In our latest chronicle, we speak with the proud owners, Anthony and Jane, who - with their children Jowan and Teänhave been lucky enough to call Wildwood Holt home for the past 35 years. 

Wildwood Holt is a place that reveals its magic to you the moment you step across its rickety bridge. The view unfolds before you: a babbling brook at your feet, the prettiest of gardens bursting with the violet of foxgloves and the scent of pink roses, and soaring evergreens that surround. In the garden, there’s a rustic pergola, with white creepers that tangle around its posts, and a wibbly wooden fence that surrounds the stream. Totally adding to the charm and personalness of this forest dwelling, Anthony explains how both were constructed from the wood of nearby trees which, turns out, is a bit of a running theme here. 

The gardens of Wildwood Holt in Cornwall are enchanting

Stepping inside, the large open-plan kitchen-diner, complete with AGA, paints a joyous picture of family times past and present. “Anthony loves the warmth of the kitchen when you come down in the morning," she says. And you can picture it now - one tasked with buttering crumpets at the table, another with making a pot of tea, another with deciding shall we have strawberry jam or rhubarb? "My daughter loves spending time here too," adds Jane. "She’s in her twenties now and enjoys being at home whenever she can. By six years old she was a renowned cake maker; the dining table has been the setting for many a creation over the years." 

Into the living room, the hand-carved oak and Columbian pine arched windows make a real statement, all perfectly framing the leafy vistas. Upstairs, the four bedrooms have a real storybook quality: pale wood beams, floral wallpaper, and dried botanical wall hangings. The personal quality continues here - two of the bedrooms flaunt hand-crafted beds: a snug children's cabin bed with closeable curtain created by Anthony, and a wooden double constructed by Jowan from reclaimed pews from a local church. 

To the left is the living room at Wildwood Holt, to the right is a bedroom

With a strong personal connection to the area, thanks to local boy Anthony growing up nearby, they couldn’t believe their luck when Wildwood Holt was theirs. “Anthony had loved the house from when he was a child,” Jane notes. “He was born a mile away and had often helped his Dad deliver groceries and coal by tractor. When the estate put the house on the market, we returned from fishing in Scilly and purchased it in 1988. It has been our wonderful family home ever since.” They extended the main house in 2002 to accommodate their growing family, following the birth of their daughter. A second project followed; the conversion of a former fishing net store, creating little sister property Tangle Belle; a charming two-bedroom cottage complete with private garden, found just downstream of the family home.

To the left is Tangle Belle, to the right is the Helford Estuary

When not out walking the dogs either from the doorstep, at Tremayne Quay, or the estuary itself, with a pasty from nearby Gear Farm in-hand, the pair shed light on their favourite ways to spend a day here. “It’s coffee and a croissant enjoyed out on the decking, watching the wagtails and dragonflies. Followed by a boat trip on the Helford, which never fails to overwhelm the senses with its beauty. Then, it’s spending sunset at Dollar Cove with a beach BBQ and the dogs, and returning home to sit streamside by night, with the moon shining through the trees and reflecting on the water,” says Jane. “For me, it’s watching the trout jumping in the stream and feeding them bits of bread. And, of course, family time around the big kitchen table,” Anthony adds. 

Available to rent during the summer with Unique Homestays when the family are away, Wildwood Holt is the perfect Cornish summer house escape, whilst Tangle Belle is available year-round. Here, everyday feels as though you’ve woken up amidst the trees in A. A. Milne’s Hundred Acre Wood.