In this week’s blog, we find out from Emma, owner of three Plankbridge huts at Laverstock Farm in West Dorset, what her guests love most about their stay…
What inspired you to buy a shepherd’s hut?
When I was a child my grandmother, who was a sheep farmer/vet, had an old traditional-style shepherd’s hut here at Laverstock Farm which we were fascinated with and used to play in. I always wanted one of my own. I have always had a passion for Thomas Hardy, particularly Far from the Madding Crowd – a scene from the most recent film version was set here on Laverstock Farm and Gabriel Oak’s hut was a Plankbridge hut. We were the first in Dorset to offer traditional shepherd hut farm stays. I have also been inspired by Plankbridge at Chelsea Flower Show and a visit to the show inspired me to order our most recent Cabin, Fernhill.
Why did you choose a Plankbridge hut?
I grew up at Parnham Farm next to Parnham House in Dorset, which was a woodwork school and I worked in the café. I became interested in woodwork there under John Makepeace. This is where Plankbridge founder Richard trained. Richard lodged with my Mum and Dad in our house and as a family, we have always followed his progress and career with great interest so definitely only wanted Plankbridge huts. I have been thoroughly impressed with the craftsmanship, attention to detail and amazed by the quality of the product. I never sought a quote from any other hut builders – I just love Plankbridge.
Can you talk us through the location of your shepherd’s huts?
All three of them – two Snugs and one Cabin – are located in individual locations around the farm estate in order to give our guests a private, peaceful location. One of our Snug huts, Everdene Hut, is fully off-grid with no running water or electricity and is located next to a large pond, perfect for wild swimming and evenings under the stars.
Our Herdwick Hut, also a Snug hut, has electricity linked as well as water and is tucked away at the end of our woodland walk and our guests often have cows for company just over the fence. Our most recent addition, Fern Hill Cabin, is fully fitted out with its own integrated shower room and kitchen, as well as a king-sized bed and wood-fired hot tub, and is located in its own private paddock with far-reaching views over the Marshwood Vale. On a clear day you can even see the sea!
What can guests expect when they stay in one of your huts ?
We find each hut offers a different experience and their setting is an important part of this. Both of Snug huts are fitted out with a bed, cupboard/desk and a log burner with separate kitchen huts nearby with cooker/ and all cooking facilities and Herdwick hut has a fridge. All huts have fire pits and wood is provided within the tariff. There is a communal washroom for the Everdene and Herdwick Hut at the farm, approx. 100-150m away, with a power shower, WC, washing machine and fridge and basin.
The Cabin design has everything a guest needs for their stay, including its own toilet and shower room, kitchen with fridge, oven and two-ring hob which many of our guests choose to cook on as an alternative to eating out. We often find that guests never leave the farm and instead enjoy time in and around the cabin.
Do your huts stay warm and cosy in autumn and winter?
Our Snug huts are heated by log burners which we find are very efficient, even through the winter. All the wood needed is provided within the tariff. The Cabin has a log burner as well as a traditional-style electric radiator and heated towel rail, which on its own can keep the Cabin very warm. The Fernhill Cabin also has a wood-fired hot tub which is heated for guests on arrival. They all have outdoor fire pits too.
Do people travel from far and wide to stay in your huts?
Some of our guests come from within an hour’s drive because they are looking to escape somewhere for a few days away from the rat race. Most of our guests visit from London, Surrey, the east of the country and the Bristol area.
Favourite feedback from guests you’d like to share with us?
‘If you’re looking for somewhere to completely switch off and recharge with the option to stay put or venture out on a walk, this is the perfect space. The enjoyment of outdoor wild cooking and then cosying up by the fire of an evening soon relieves you of all life’s drama. Based on a small farm you can explore the land for miles, from the owners’ impressive veg garden, saying hello to the goats and pigs, or heading out further to the Dorset coastline.’
‘It couldn’t have been better – a perfect tranquil location, lovely but unintrusive owners, and the shepherd’s hut was well thought out and absolutely beautiful. We had a wonderful stay and would recommend it unreservedly.’
Fern Hill Cabin
The perfect place for a special anniversary getaway; so quiet and surrounded by countryside, we enjoyed watching the lambs and local wildlife. The shepherd’s hut was stunning; beautiful interiors, spotlessly clean, very cosy and had everything we needed. The hot tub was very relaxing, and we enjoyed toasting marshmallows on the fire pit. We will definitely be back! Emma was a super host and we can’t recommend enough!
Would you like to book a stay at Laverstock Farm? Follow this link to their website