This week, Hannah caught up with Diane Coates Sinclair who owns two Plankbridge huts at Burnswood Escapes – a beautiful glamping hideaway in Okehampton, Devon, with stargazing windows, friendly alpacas and log-fired Swedish outdoor baths…
What inspired you to buy a shepherd’s hut?
We loved the idea of having accommodation for students of our Sculpture School, who travel from all over the world to study with us, and were also looking for an extra income stream to complement our business. I was inspired by watching the progress of a shepherd’s hut glamping business in Somerset and thought it would be the perfect option to make the best of our location and grounds around The Sculpture School.
We had already planted 1,500 trees to create a wildlife oasis in the midst of agricultural farmland, so the idea of creating a beautiful glamping hideaway amongst the trees was ideal. I personally hate the idea of camping in a tent, but a luxury glamping experience is another matter altogether – that’s much more fun and romantic!
Why did you choose a Plankbridge hut?
We did a lot of research and visited several hut manufacturers before we made up our minds. Plankbridge came out top of our list for several reasons. We loved the company ethos and the sheer quality of workmanship: from start to finish everything is beautifully made and designed. Also, the fact that we could choose exactly what we wanted in the huts, the internal layout, the type of heating, the colours, fixtures and fittings, etc, meant we could create something individual, to our taste and aimed at the market we wanted to attract.
The staff, on every level, were very helpful and efficient. We were impressed all the way through the process from customer sales, manufacture and installation – and doubly impressed by the after-sales service. As with anything new, we had a few teething troubles as we were preparing for our first guests, and nothing was too much trouble for the Plankbridge team – they have been excellent all round. We highly recommend them, and if all goes well in the next year or two, would definitely like to add more huts to our collection.
Can you describe the location of your shepherd’s huts?
We have two beautiful shepherd’s huts tucked away in a tree-planted paddock, behind our alpaca field within a four-acre site, which includes our world-renowned sculpture school and Andrew Sinclair’s sculpture studios in Mid-Devon (just north of Dartmoor). We’re perfectly located for exploring the walking and cycling trails around Dartmoor, the Tarka Trail and Granite Way are close by too, with the North Devon coast for surf beaches about an hour’s drive away.
What can guests expect when they stay in one of your huts?
Our huts are bespoke Plankbridge designs made to the highest standard: with hand-made oak stable doors and windows, hand-forged door furniture and beautiful wooden painted kitchens with butler sinks. Each of our huts has its own colour scheme – Rodin’s Retreat has lime-green furnishings whilst Da Vinci’s Den has a red/turquoise colour scheme. Both huts feature a huge stargazing roof window above the king-size bed – perfect for snuggling up and watching stars in the clear Devon night sky.
Each hut is equipped with a fully fitted bathroom and kitchen, with double stable doors opening out onto a seating area, kitted with antique cast-iron tables, chairs and a firepit/barbecue. Hidden behind the huts are stunning log-fired Swedish outdoor baths and recliners on your own private decking – a romantic hideaway for two!
Do your huts stay warm and cosy throughout the winter?
Yes, they’re well insulated with electric radiators in the living area and a heated towel rail in the bathroom, so they’re beautifully warm. We have sheepskins on the small loveseat and a fluffy throw on the bed to make it feel extra cosy.
Do people travel from far and wide to stay in your hut?
We’ve had guests from as far afield as Vancouver and Geneva, and then even had people from our local town a few miles away coming to stay for a quiet weekend escape from the children!
Favourite feedback from guests you’d like to share with us?
“Would 100% recommend to anyone – it’s so romantic! The hut was so lovely, the location was perfect, and the bath in the evening was amazing. Completely fell in love with the alpacas. Will definitely be coming back! Thanks Diane and Andrew, you were amazing!”
- To book a stay at Burnswood Escapes, click here
- To read more Hut Owner Stories, head over to our dedicated blog page