The forest around the North Star Club was alive with shadows and secrets.
Lights twinkled magically in the celestial kingdom far above, and the call of a barn owl echoed eerily through the trees. In some places, brilliant white moon beams penetrated the woodland canopy, in others, mystery lurked in the mossy darkness. Sultry melodies from a distant guitar wove spells through the silence. Tendrils of woodsmoke caressed the boughs of oak trees, and the sticky sweet aroma of toasting marshmallows lingered enticingly on the night air.
Like moths to flames, campers were drawn to the fire, keen to share stories both real and imagined. Warmed by blankets and beer, they sat enjoying their own brushfire fairytale, for once simply slowing down and appreciating nature.
As dusk became just a distant memory, and the fire had died to an ember, it was time to swap stories for dreams. A bemused pheasant looked up from his sleepy perch as the campers tiptoed back to their cabins, whispering excitedly about the night ahead. One that would be spent hunkered down with candles and loved ones.
The North Star Club
Hubbie and I were having a few days of ‘us’ time at the North Star Club, an enchanting woodland retreat hidden away in The Yorkshire Wolds. I had to look up wold in the dictionary. It’s an ancient English term for an area of low lying and often forested rolling hills. A rather fitting setting for a luxury lair inspired by the 19th Century American Great Camps of the Adirondack Mountains. These summer camps were built for the wealthy, giving them somewhere to relax and enjoy the wilderness without leaving behind the comforts of civilisation.
Now that’s our kind of countryside! We love the great outdoors, but we also love our luxury.
The North Star Club is the brainchild of award winning designers Christian and Carolyn Van Outersterp. There aren’t many woodlands in the world where you’ll find roll-top baths and four poster beds, but that’s exactly what’s on offer here in Yorkshire. A tranquil and sumptuous escape from the frenzy of everyday life.
The Wood Shed
At the North Star Club guests can be anti-social and barely see another person during their stay. Or if they feel a little companionship is in order, mugs of cocoa and bags of marshmallows can be enjoyed around the fire, or in the communal Wood Shed.
There’s a great little honesty tea bar, with everything from sweet rhubarb and spiced apple to beetroot burst and even Moroccan mint. I was sorted! There are sometimes chocolate brownies on offer too, alas the dish was empty during our stay. Probably just as well!
The Wood Shed is a gorgeous spot for whiling away an evening, snuggled up in furs with the log fire crackling away. Our next house is going to look like this inside!
I love the fact that many of the woodland suites are named for Yorkshire’s famous sons and daughters. You’ll find the likes of Aviator Amy Johnson, poet and eccentric Dame Edith Sitwell and even the ‘White Queen’ Elizabeth Woodville hidden away amongst the trees. Of course hubbie and I settle for nothing but the best so our time was spent in the most indulgent cabin the Star Suite!
Whilst the suites do have a second bedroom with bunk beds, and a living room with a sofa bed, we think the North Star Club is more suited to couples stealing away for a few romantic woodland nights. Our Star Suite had all the ingredients for a truly dreamy weekend. Copious amounts of candles, a log burner in the bedroom for chilly evenings and even strings of seductively draped fairy lights. Beds and benches were warmed with furry throws, and with a lot of natural wood it was like the forest had been brought inside. Without the unwelcome addition of bugs. I hate bugs!
As usual, I made a beeline for the bathroom. I often choose our accommodation (much to hubbie’s bemusement) based on the quality and quirkiness of where I’ll be doing my ablutions. Bathrooms rarely come more sexy than here at the North Star Club!
I loved that the bathroom was almost as big as the bedroom, and practical as well as designer. The only slight niggle was a distinct lack of hooks for wash bags and wet hand towels. But more importantly…they passed the conditioner test! The luxurious handmade products were from one of my favourite suppliers, the Sedbergh Soap Company, just down the road from where we live. The lemongrass shampoo always brings back memories of our travels in South East Asia.
We probably spent more time in here photographing than bathing, but when you have dozens of candles and a Hubbie with a camera, what’s a girl to do?!!
For some, the pièce de résistance of the Star Suite is the private sauna. I have to be honest and admit I’m not really a sauna person. Something to do with being overcooked in a traditional Andean sauna on our honeymoon in Peru. Plus it was really warm when we were at the North Star Club in May, so getting more hot and sweaty wasn’t really a priority. Yet I think during the winter this feature will really come into it’s own. Just don’t forget to take a bath robe since there aren’t any provided, and it is visible from the main path.
Exploring the woods
When we weren’t lounging in luxury in our suite, we were out exploring the woods. We often rave about rainforests, dream of deserts and marvel at mountains, but how often do we stop and think about the humble British woodland? A lot of my childhood in Derbyshire was spent scrambling around forests, and I think I’d forgotten just how special a walk in the woods can be.
The woods were both peaceful and full of life. Pheasants and peacocks foraged in the undergrowth around our cabin, and the trees were alive with birdsong from dawn to dusk. Squirrels scampered along branches in search of nuts, and cuckoos called mockingly from the depths of the forest. We came across a deer and her fawn grazing in a woodland glade one evening, as a buzzard circled overhead, keeping an eye out for his dinner.
For us, the magic really happened during the evenings. We wouldn’t have been at all surprised to see a fairy or too flitting between the emerald branches, playing games in the dappled evening light.
As it was, there were plenty of bats, and although the fairies were conspicuous by their absence, we did spot a barn owl gliding through the trees on our last night. Now that was just as special.
If you want a break from woodland life, there’s plenty to keep you occupied during the day. Perhaps a day at the races in York, or checking out the minster in historic Beverley. There’s even polo and clay pigeon shooting if you want to get properly into outdoor life. Hubbie and I opted for some sea air and headed for the dramatic coastline at Flamborough Head. At low tide it’s a great place for scrambling and rock pooling, and rather uniquely you can explore the sea arches on foot, something we’ve never done before. Quite a surreal experience (just keep an eye on the tide, you’ll get completely cut off when it comes in again).
We also walked along the coast path at Bempton Cliffs and I finally fulfilled a lifelong ambition. I saw my first ever puffin! So happy.
There are BBQ facilities at the North Star Club, but we rarely cook whilst we’re on holiday and instead treated ourselves to a glorious meal at the nearby Star at Sancton. It’s only a 10 minute walk from camp and has the best carrot cake I’ve ever tasted (it came with blood orange frosting and cinnamon ice cream)! They also put together food hampers that can be delivered to the North Star Club if you fancy eating in.
We love ‘room picnics’ so stocked up at Drewtons Farm shop, just down the road at South Cave, on indulgent Yorkshire goodies. They do good breakfasts too!
What we loved
The serenity of the camp and solitude of the forest made for perhaps the most relaxing and peaceful stay we’ve ever experienced! It really is the perfect place to come to escape the pressures of daily life and ‘get back to nature’ as the saying goes. We didn’t once think about the stresses of work, and enjoyed having nothing more to worry about than wondering which bird was singing or what to have for breakfast.
Oh, and the complimentary Prosecco and kettle chips weren’t bad either!
What wasn’t so great
The North Star Club isn’t a hotel. Nor is it self catering. Which means it falls somewhere in between and that was a little confusing. The cabin suites have BBQ facilities and crockery, yet no washing up facilities. We’d read prior to our arrival that guests should treat the place like a hotel, and that all dirties would be cleared away by staff during the day. This wasn’t mentioned however in our welcome information on site, and no-one came to do this during our stay.
A magical place for lovers, nature enthusiasts and those who, like us, feel our camping days are behind us. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a bit of luxury with your wilderness, and we’ve never seen it done quite so well as it is here at the North Star Club.
The enchanting North Star Club on film
We filmed our stay at the North Star Club so you can see just how magical it is!
Behind the Scenes
We really don’t know the first thing about birds, and are often a little bemused by the antics of twitchers yet often on our travels seem to end up going bird watching. To varying degrees of success. We once spent an entire day on a boat (and then up a tree in a swamp!) in Cambodia just to see some birds. Only to be told by our guide once we’d finally arrived that it wasn’t in fact nesting season and there weren’t any birds!
Visiting the RSPB reserve at Bempton we felt rather inadequate in our city clothes and comparatively small cameras. I couldn’t help giggling at the enthusiasts in their camoflague gear. Even their lenses and backpacks were 50 shades of green. Surely the birds wouldn’t fall for that one? Meanwhile hubbie was having a bit of camera envy…
Tips for the North Star Club
- Take insect repellent if walking in the woods at dusk, and some citronella or mosquito coils to burn on your veranda in the evenings.
- Even in summer it does get cool in the forest where sunlight is limited, so take some warm clothes for the evenings.
- Wellies are a good idea if it’s been raining.
We received a complimentary stay at the North Star Club. As always, words and opinions remain our own, and we’d never review anything we wouldn’t be happy to pay for ourselves.
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