West Stow Pods have 4 MegaPods and 1 Woodland Lodge. The pods cost starts from £65 for 2 adults for a mid-week stay; £75 on the weekends. Children are extra, depending on their age. And NEW for 2018 they have the Pod Hollow!
A rest for body and soul
The pods at West Stow in Suffolk have a lot going for them. They are set in a woodland, in the beautiful Suffolk countryside on an ancient setting.
When we visited West Stow Pods we were admittedly just on the cusp of a very cold and wet winter and its now rapid transformation into summer. There was green in the woods but it was evergreen, apart from tiny buds just starting to come in – but those classic signs of spring, ladybirds and bumble bees, were also making an appearance.
Also making an appearance was Jan, who runs and conceived the unusual site. Jan lives nearby and was clearly hands on and directed us with a professional and friendly manner to Eadmund Pod. The way he told me: “We use the medieval spelling of [King] Edmund,” spoke volumes about a serious interest in the history side of things.
Just a couple of miles away is the West Stow Anglo Saxon village and country park. West Stow itself is a historic village with a beautiful old church (St Mary’s) and an ancient, centuries-old oak just outside of the churchyard boundary. Nearby is the Culford estate with some fantastic walks.
It was still light when we arrived and our 11-year-old, Pippa, and her dog Lucky were soon exploring through the gathering gloom of the wood. There are four MegaPods, a Woodland Lodge (suitable for people with mobility issues as you can park next door) and the newly built and opening soon…Pod Hollow, on the site. Jan soon showed us into Eadmund MegaPod and ran through the comfortable facilities, with double bed and sofa-bed, wet-room with shower basin and WC and a kitchen area complete with microwave, toaster and kettle and heating, lighting, electrical points with a digital TV and small dining table area with chairs. A few non-medieval items in there and so much the better for that!
Outside a covered porch, decking area with picnic table and chairs, which will come into their own in the summer and a brick built barbecue will prove a popular feature. The literature produced by Jan (in a well–marketed campaign with a slick online presence) promotes ‘benefits of time spent in the great outdoors’ and few could argue that: ‘woodlands contribute to our physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. Spending time in the woods has been shown to reduce levels of stress, promoting calm and peaceful thinking.’
Each pod comfortably sleeps four but can take five. Two of them are dog-friendly as is The Woodland Lodge. In addition there is the unique Pod Hollow, with beautifully conceived and Tolkeinesque round door and windows. Pod Hollow is a subterranean dwelling and will appeal to those in search of something different. “The reasons I decided to construct ‘Pod Hollow’ are numerous,” says Jan. “I wanted to offer something very special to enhance the existing Glamping experience West Stow Pods already offers. The Pods are happily very successful but have been calling out for something a little different. With the Anglo-Saxon Village a stone’s throw away and its connection with Tolkien, a Halfling-style construction seemed like the obvious thing to supplement both our sites.
“We are hoping to offer guided tours from Pod Hollow, through the King’s Forest and along the River Lark embankment for part of the way and on to the Anglo-Saxon Village as just one of several Middle-Earth adventures on offer. Pod Hollow will become a unique and unforgettable experience.”
Inside Pod Hollow’s subterranean chambers, guests will find two double bedrooms, a sitting room, a fully fitted kitchen/diner and a shower room. On cold winter evenings, a cosy feature fireplace will provide the perfect backdrop for recounting tales of dragons and lost treasure. Like our hairy-footed Halfling friends, we at West Stow Pods know how important comfort is, especially being so close to nature.”
Nearby grows the “Peter Pan” tree with its prolific exposed roots arching out of the sandy Breckland soil, which is said to have been the inspiration for JM Barrie’s Lost Boys’ underground caves!
We had a good night’s sleep and the next day left us free to explore the private area of woodland and the surrounding King’s Forest. But what is special are the ties Jan has forged with the attractions locally. He has developed a relationship with the Anglo Saxon village where ‘Podders’ can claim 10 per cent off the entrance price. “There are many activities held up at The Anglo Saxon Village that complement the historical heritage of the area, (including many links with Tolkien), including a Middle Earth Experience which will tie in nicely with a stay in our own Pod Hollow!” Jan told us.
Other attractions nearby include Lackford Lakes and Larkwood trout fishery, High Lodge, Culford Equestrian Centre and Brandon Country Park.
Our Pod experience was something else – elemental really – and I’d imagine couples and small families would find it a refreshing interlude. We certainly did, recharging our batteries in the great outdoors, if only for a night.