Travel Special: REMOTE POSSIBILITIES

Travel Special

HOUSES ON THE EDGE

IT IS THE most isolated and often the most simple cottages that get booked up first according to the National Trust, which offers 241 holiday cottages in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Longstone Cottage on the Isle of Wight, for example, is so remote that it has no electricity. The lighting is powered by gas, heating is by two open fires and access is across a field which doesn't suit many types of cars. But Longstone Cottage is an ideal hideaway for some.

Equally remote, Bird How Cottage, high on the fells in the Lake District is described by the Trust itself as "challengingly spartan", with a local stone open fire and an Elsan lavatory. Scar House, a 300-year-old farmhouse in Yorkshire is so out-of-the-way that daytime arrival is suggested. The neighbourhood has Quaker connections and JB Priestley was a regular visitor to Hubberholme nearby.

Conservation charity, the Landmark Trust specialises in rescuing historic and often eccentric and remote buildings. If you really want to cut yourself off, there's no phone and no television in the Trust's properties on extraordinary Lundy Island. The most remote is the Admiralty Lookout: no electricity, bunk beds only. At least there's a tavern on the island.

FURTHER INFORMATION The National Trust's (01225 791199) Isle of Wight cottage sleeps six and costs from pounds 192 to pounds 495 a week; Bird How in Cumbria can take four and costs pounds 137-pounds 261, while Scar House which can take up to eight costs from pounds 192 to pounds 495. On Lundy Island, the Radio Room, sleeping one, costs from pounds 91 to pounds 323 a week. The Admiralty Lookout for four costs from pounds 207 to pounds 503, both from the Landmark Trust (01628 825925).

RENT YOUR OWN ISLAND

IF YOU NEED an island to yourself and are prepared to be tough and adventurous, there's nothing but a lighthouse and sheep on Norway's Vik Island. And you can only reach it by rowing boat. You can hire the lighthouse - built in 1875 but modernised since. Civilisation lies about 400 yards away in the fishing village of Skudeneshavn, an old centre of the fishing industry. Fishing, birdwatching and boating (you can hire motorboats for pounds 10 a day) are the major attractions; but "take plenty of books" advise Inntravel who also have a selection of remote cottages and harbour houses for hire in the Lofoten Islands and deep in the fjords.

FURTHER INFORMATION Inntravel (01653 628811) offers the Lighthouse on Vik for pounds 350 to pounds 480 each for a party of two for seven nights, and pounds 79 to pounds l69 for each extra adult. (The property can sleep up to seven). Children under four go free, and those aged between four and 16 pay pounds 40 to pounds l00 each. Prices include ferry fares for car and passengers between Newcastle and Bergen.

MAROONED IN AN OASIS

THERE ARE 50,000 islets in the 9,000 square mile oasis of the Okavango Delta, one of the world's geological freaks - a watery wilderness marooned in one of the driest places on earth, the Kalahari desert. Accessible only by tiny plane or canoe, it's known as Old Africa's last refuge. There are a few small camps and lodges in the delta which take a maximum of only 12 or so people at a time. The humans are statistically irrelevant beside the 600 or so species of birds which include lilac-breasted rollers, Carmine bee-eaters, colonies of Maribou storks and solitary vultures. Rare aquatic antelopes appear to walk on water, elephant and lion, buffalo, kudu and giraffe thrive away from the minibus safari brigade. In one of the most teeming spots in Africa, humans feel awe-inspiringly alone.

FURTHER INFORMATION Specialist firm Africa Exclusive (01604 28979) offers tailor-made safaris, birdwatching, fishing, horseback and general sightseeing trips to the Okavango Delta from around pounds 2,000 for two weeks including flight and full-board. Jill Crawshaw

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