As the new year begins, it is time to reveal our exciting project for 2017: we have a shepherd's hut and will soon be offering holidays and retreats.
Last Summer, we came across a local craftsman who was selling a shepherd's hut he had built himself, a new wooden structure on an old hay trailer chassis, with big lorry wheels. We immediately liked it and started the process to obtain the necessary planning permission from the local authority to site the hut in one of our fields. At the end of October, after an anxious two months submitting paperwork and plans, consulting with the neighbours, talking with the planning officer and awaiting his decision, we were very happy to hear that we had been granted full planning permission. Our plan to offer holidays/retreats in a shepherd's hut on our smallholding was beginning to take shape and the approval from the local authority was the first step we needed to turn it into a reality.
It took some hard work for a couple of weeks to level the entrance of the field so the hut could be delivered safely to its location. We live on a hill and nothing is flat! Rubble found around the place came in handy, followed by a structure of metal bars and railway sleepers with a good layer of gravel to raise one side of the entrance of the field by 60 cm! One afternoon in November, the shepherd's hut made its journey to us, towed by a tractor all the way from Carno. I wonder how many queues of slow traffic that caused!
We are working right now on landscaping the site around the hut and the field shelter which will be upgraded to accommodate the facilities to enable guests to have a good glamping experience: composting loo and outdoor kitchen. There is a lot of ground water in that part of the field, probably caused by a nearby spring, so Peter has dug a series of trenches to lay drainage pipes down. We may end up with a pond in the bottom corner of the field! We have a good few weeks of heavy, back-breaking groundwork ahead of us. We want the shepherd's hut to blend in to its surroundings and so want to limit any disruptions to the site. We are planning on using natural materials as much as possible, like bark and straw, and want to plant some trees and shrubs to help with soil retention and water absorption.
In the meantime, I have started with furnishing the inside of the hut. It has a full double bed base and a tiny but efficient wood burner. We want the space to be comfortable, warm and cosy for guests to enjoy their stay there whatever the weather. At the same time, we want it to reflect our low-impact, sustainable lifestyle. We are aiming to make as many things ourselves and for the rest, we are sourcing second-hand items that can be upcycled or given a new lease of life in the hut. The new things like mattress and bedding will be sourced from ethical companies. We have just ordered British-made wool duvets and pillows. My best find so far is a Welsh blanket that I cut up to make the curtains and they hang from a real shepherd's crook walking stick!
We hope that come the Spring, we will be in a position to take bookings for holidays, short breaks and retreats in our shepherd's hut. It is located in its own private field, in a quiet spot in the countryside abundant with wildlife and with far reaching views across the hills. With no tv or wifi, it will be the ideal retreat for those seeking time and space to slow down, re-connect with self, close to nature and away from their fast, busy and technology-filled life.
If your New Year resolutions for 2017 include anything about self-care, well-being and time in nature, then we may be able to help you get there! Similarly, if you are looking for time to write, paint, draw, create... then a few days in our hut, away from distractions and interruptions, may be the answer.
We look forward to sharing here how the story of our shepherds hut evolves and grow, with more photos to come as the project takes shape.
Happy New Year!