Detox

Mid-life crisis? High-flyers are buying the ultimate digital detox dens

By Kitty Knowles 30 August 2016
Summary

New age luxury is a leafy forest of your own - perfect for a digital detox.

A shiny convertible? A Rolex? Or a hair transplant?

Nope, the well-off have found a hot new way to splash their cash.

Buying their own slice of serene British woodland.

Your own digital detox den

Increasingly high-flyers are investing in their own forest fen, with thousands of private woodland plots bought up in recent years.

According to Judith Millidge of the Small Woodland Owners’ Group, buyers belong to several elite social tribes: the affluent parents who want to get their kids away from their gadgets, the rich fifty-somethings looking for a fun family retreat, and the retired men wanting who want to play with ‘boys toys’ on their own land.

At an average of £50,000 for around five acres, that’s not far off the price of a Porsche.

The wider trend

Academics have also noted this very British trend.

Darren Smith, professor of geography at Loughborough University says people are generally buying up neglected or loss-making forest in 5-10 acre plots.

One middleman, woodlands.co.uk, has sold 624 plots since December 2012, covering a total of around five square miles of land.

“The pace and scale of small woodland ownership has accelerated over the last four years,” he explained.

“We see this as generally a positive trend — a kind of counter-urbanisation that is bringing people back into the countryside.”

Meet the foresters

Several new-age foresters spoke to The Times this week.

Chris Dalrymple recently bought a four-acre wood at Cotgrave Forest, southeast of Nottingham, where he traps squirrels with his teenage sons.

New retiree George Smith just bought a 11-acre plot in Algonquin Wood, West Sussex, while Carrie Eeles used her inheritance to start an “edible forest” in a neglected site in Longbeech Wood, Kent.

Forests are the new flashy cars. British woodland is the new badge of success.

Have you got your lumberjack shirt at the ready?