Louise Middleton, founder of Kudhva holiday retreat, Cornwall

 

Hi Louise, really great to meet you. Can you tell us a bit about Kudhva? And where does the name come from?

Kudhva means hideout in Cornish. It’s 43-acres of heaven in an abandoned slate quarry in Cornwall. The quarry itself was established in 1820, running for just 20 years before it was left to grow fallow. We’ve built a handful of site-specific, architectural cabins where people can stay and enjoy this unique, off-grid location. It’s also 100% organic.

You’ve described them as “architectural hideouts in unexpected places”. Kudhva seems a million miles from the usual campsite experience.

People come for just a few days or, maybe, a week, to relax. The cabins are uncomplicated and compact, on stilts about seven metres off the ground – simple, elevated living. It’s a particular experience that invites guests to connect with nature and detox from the stresses of everyday life. We also offer an itinerary of activities within the site. Expand your mind and raise your happiness levels. It’s the perfect mix of survival and luxury. 

It sounds idyllic.

The setting itself really guides us in everything we do; it’s an amazing palette. The landscape is varied throughout. It’s a multi-habitat mosaic. On the site, there’s a 40-foot waterfall, an old reservoir, a climbing wall, mountains of slate and a Grade II listed engine house. And it offers 180-degree views of the sea – a real slice of heaven.

What sort of things can guests discover? 

Off-grid conversations; going to ground; passive learning via the landscape; pure nature integration; deep sleep integrating with one’s circadian rhythms. Guests can also swim in the reservoir, and the waterfall is magical. Aside from enjoying the nature, they can take advantage of a host of scheduled activities that we run with other like-minded businesses, such as Silence & Noise sound therapy. And we run a pop-up restaurant every Saturday night and Sunday morning called New Eyes. It’s really up to you. Gather with friendly faces or just take in the panoramic views over breakfast.

It sounds like you can go to Kudhva to escape but also be part of a community.

Often people just need the gentlest of nudges, and it’s amazing just how much guests tend to have in common, and how often they find they are connected in some way. Friendships are forged, and magical, impulsive moments, too. A lady from China, who is currently studying in London, came to stay, and we found out she owns a restaurant back home. So we got hold of some ingredients, and she taught 30 of us how to make dumplings.

Tell us a bit about the Seven Wonders of Kudhva. 

I’m obsessed with our personal processes and try to reconfigure and refine them every six months to stay on track and pull full focus, like Drishti, the focused gaze in yoga. Pure seeing; clear perspective. The seven wonders reflect my vision for Kudhva. It’s the concept of being rich in the fullness of life, not in monetary terms. It’s about seeing the richness that surrounds us, the colours that we have created and see through nature. And the ability to think deeply and the quality of our thoughts. You can read them on our website. 

What’s your background?

I did a degree in ceramics and graphics at Camberwell in the ’90s and ran a stall at Portobello Market on the weekend. From there I went into fashion, first working with milliner Dai Rees. Later, I got married and moved to France with my then-husband, where we built a house in a remote village in the mountains. When we sold that, we bought a boat and sailed around the Mediterranean sea before heading back to the UK. Back here, we lived in a caravan for seven years while we restored a 15th-century farmhouse. At the same time, I set up a swimwear brand with illustrator Jasper Goodall. I’d traipse through muddy fields to send a package to Vogue for a shoot. I loved the juxtaposition. I also trained as a leatherworker and set up my own sustainable leather brand and lectured at Plymouth University. And I still make bespoke collections from my workshop in North Devon. After a couple of years scouring the coastline of Devon and Cornwall, I found the place to realise the dream of creating Kudhva.

What are your tips for switching off and stepping back?

Take your shoes off and get your feet muddy as fuck. I call it going to ground. It’s quick when you do it that way. Sleep for a night in the back of a truck under the stars with your love. Look on a map and find some green space. Turn your phone off for 24 hours, and everyone else can wait – nature’s medicine.

How can we book?

www.kudhva.com