Disconnect from the modern world

by Caroline McGinn

"Landmark allows you to support a charity that helps you to reconnect with history and nature, and take a break from swiping left and scrolling down."

Martello Tower in Aldeburgh, Suffolk

 

Experts have proved it and we all know it: our screen-based lives are passive, addictive, bad for kids' eyesight and brain development, and rubbish for family life. But our lives are so saturated with tech that it's really, really hard to unplug. If you want to disconnect, you have to take a holiday away from the modern world.

In my experience, there's no better way of doing that than with the Landmark Trust, a charity which sympathetically restores unusual old buildings and lets them to holidaymakers. Landmarks have no telly, no internet, no duvets and often no mobile signal. But they are a far cry from camping in sleet with eco-toilets (something I have tried with kids and lived to regret).

They offer probably the most amazing collection of rentable buildings in the world. Landmarks usually come with log fires, well-stocked bookshelves, an incredible patina of history and a deep contact with the local natural environment.

But each is also unique. My favourites include the damp and draughty Martello Tower at Aldeburgh in Suffolk, where you can read about shipwrecks then go up on to the battlements and run your own flag up the pole. 

Or the gentler Obriss Farm, 45 minutes away from London but with edenic views of Kent that are only interrupted by sheep and the occasional hiker. Or the White House in the sleepy south Shropshire countryside, half-medieval and half-eighteenth century, inhabited continuously by the same family for over 600 years.

Obriss Farm in Kent

 

When you stay in a house that's essentially a museum with a view, it is refreshing how quickly you settle into an unmodern pattern of family life, with the kids pottering about in the woods then hunkering round the hearth instead of the TV. There are also weirder and more wonderful piles, which run the gamut from monkishly austere to extremely posh, including manors, former inns, towers, castles, mils, a mine, a classical pigsty and a holy well with a chapel above it. 

The White House in Shropshire

 

Also, the Trust owns Lundy, a blustery chunk of granite in the Bristol Channel with no cars and an award-winning pub (only accessible by helicopter in the winter). Landmark allows you to support a charity that helps you to reconnect with history and nature, and take a break from swiping left and scrolling down.

This article originally appeared in TimeOut London, Issue no. 2431