It is almost five years since Bill Howarth, a retired solicitor from North Lancashire, sold his house and moved into a Plankbridge Cabin in a quiet corner of his partner Sue’s garden in the Yorkshire Dales. Here, he talks about watching the seasons change, cosying up in winter – and why he’d heartily recommend it as a way of life…
What do you consider to be the benefits of living in a shepherd’s hut?
Now that I no longer need to maintain a whole house, it allows me more time to spend on small tasks around our village, such as regular litter picking and looking after the planters in the square. And I would also say it has also contributed towards me becoming more aware of the countryside around us – the changes in the hedgerows and verges from week to week as the seasons go by.
Can you talk us through the features in your hut?
Sue designed the interior with Richard and they understood one another remarkably well from the start. The measurements, colour scheme and layout are spot-on. My Cabin is a standard 18ft X 9ft and has a shower, WC, basin, two heated radiators, a hob/oven, fridge/freezer and a small wood burner. I also have a bunk single bed with high-quality mattress and TV (including the sports channels because Sue and I love sport!).
My shepherd’s hut is lined in sheep’s wool and I’m never cold at night under my duvet, even when the temperature is down to -18. I light the wood burner when I’m on cooking duty and also if we’re going to be sitting into the evening in the colder months. The main electric radiator is ample for about 90% of the time – hot water for the shower and two sinks is a red ring electric heater system which we find satisfactory. The hut is connected to Sue’s cottage services, so I’ve got mains water, drainage, electricity, internet and television. My hut is really just an extra room on her cottage.
How did you find the planning process?
We asked for permission from the Yorkshire Dales National Park and it arrived about a week later. They said that a shepherd’s hut of this size, with beech hedge screening (which was already there) and ownership/ occupation as part of Sue’s cottage, would be acceptable and they confirmed a Certificate of Deemed Planning Permission.
Any advice for anyone considering doing the same?
You must feel really confident that you can live happily without all the belongings you’ve gathered up over the decades. I’d sold my cottage in the village a few months before I moved into my hut and had given most of my furniture to a very lovely family in the village. My children didn’t want much because they’re in their early 50s and already have their own furniture, and my grandchildren aren’t ready for gifts of furniture just yet!
A good-sized garden attached to a house would be the ideal spot, perhaps also serving well for a child in late teens or early 20s .
Would you recommend this way of life?
I’d heartily recommend it to anyone of whatever age and to go to Plankbridge if you would like the transition to be easy. It’s been one of the best things I’ve done in my life – certainly the very best in practical terms that Sue and I have done in our 32 years together. If you ever get the chance, then take it and do it.
-To read more Hut Owner Stories, click here
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