Author: Helen Moat

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Monday, November 13th, 2017 at 3:00 pm
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Danish Hygge in East Lothian

At this time of year, most of us want to hunker down, draw the curtains and hibernate. The Danish have a different idea: they believe you should embrace the coming of winter, pull on the boots, wrap up in a coat, gloves and hat and head out into the cold.

They’re not interested in diets, instead luxuriating in the comfort food of warming stews and crusty pies; spirits and winter warmers. They wrap up in blankets and curl up beside the fire by the warm glow of candlelight. Hygge, they believe, is about finding happiness in old-fashioned values; connecting with the people you love and with nature and the outdoors. It’s about good old-fashioned fun, and resilience…

I’m standing on Ravensheugh Beach – a lonely sweep of strand between Dunbar and North Berwick, at least in the darkness of autumn. It’s barely evening and the light is draining from the sky.

The moon slips out from behind a cloud and casts a pool of light across the ocean. Out at sea, a tanker’s lights blink on the horizon and beyond that I can see the shadowy hunk of Bass Rock. We stand on the edge of the shore and listen to the ebb and flow of the sea before returning through the dunes to our tree house on Lochhouses Farm. I sweep my torch across the links, hoping to see deer, badger, or even just a fox, but all I hear is the hoot of owl from somewhere deep in the woods. Back in our house on stilts, set into trees, the wood-burner is blazing and a stew is simmering on the stove, I feel like the owl, perched high in my octagonal hut of wood . We warm up with a tot of whisky, and our cheeks are soon as red as the fire.

Between Tyninghame and Seacliff Beach, the estates of the Dale family are a semi-wilderness of links, dune, coastal woodland, sandy beach, cove and lochan. It’s a place to go beachcombing and to seek out wildlife. On our shoreline rambles and cycles, my partner and I find cockles, razor shells and a rare cowrie. We spot oystercatchers on the shore and watch a lapwing wheel above a freshly ploughed field, its melancholy two-note filling the air above the murmur of sea. We duck a low-flying grey partridge flapping whip-winged out of the hedgerow.

We bike empty country lines, through farmyards and on past hamlets – and I feel we are cycling into an Enid Blyton novel. Indeed, the ruined Tantallon Castle and Bass Rock – a volcanic plug rising brutishly from the sea, could be the scene of a Famous Five adventure. As it is, the area was the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s novels such as The Wrecker and Catriona. Historically, this is a place of bad-assed locals who lured unsuspecting ships onto the rocks before raiding their bounty. Today, it’s a place of quiet serenity and golden autumn colour.

There’s no better place to reconnect with simple pleasures than here, at Lochhouses Farm. The host, Harvest Moon Holidays, has put together a helpful list of what to bring for its guests: wellies or boots; torches; binoculars and bird book; a seashore book of shells and books to read by the wood-burning stove. I read it and think, this is hygge in a list.

For more information on Harvest Moon Holidays visit Glamping Hub

And to read Suzy Powell’s September review, click here

Helen Moat is the author of Slow Travel Peak District published by Bradt Guidebooks. She’s a freelance travel journalist and award-winning writer with a particular interest in ‘Slow’ and eco travel. You can read more about her travels at Slow Travel Beyond https://helenmoatweb.wordpress.com/

 

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