Author: Hannah Lee
“If the Ritz did shepherd’s huts, this would be it!”– Guest feedback
This feedback is written on the first page of the guest book of Spindleberry Hut at Tokenhill Dorset and how right they are too.
It has been a while since I stayed in a shepherd’s hut, and I couldn’t have wished for a more idyllic location to step into that world again. Nestled in a small valley, between rolling Dorset hills, are two Plankbridge shepherd’s huts, ‘Hurdlemaker’s’ and ‘Spindleberry’. The latter was delivered only last Autumn and the response, as seen in the visitor’s book and online, couldn’t be more positive. Jane and Shaun, the owners, have thought of every single addition to make for the most relaxing stay.
On arrival, you see the sweetest little shed signposted ‘Shepherd’s hut shop’ which Jane has stocked with an array of Purbeck ice-cream, Dorset bacon, eggs, milk (dairy and plant-based), pasta sauce, pasta, crackers, Dorset cereal, and apple juice. Jane explained to me that ‘Because we are fairly remote, a lot of visitors driving from London and further afield, we wanted to make sure that when they arrived, they didn’t feel they had to rush off again to go food shopping.’ And she’s right, there is everything you need for a simple dinner and breakfast.
‘We’ve stayed in a few shepherd’s huts over the years, but this is by far the best.’
The farm setting is quiet, only the occasional rumblings of tractors in the farmyard can be heard. In the morning, horses can be heard clip-clopping on the bridleway behind the hut and chickens pottering about in the far side of the field. It is full of that countryside romance that so many of us crave and there’s something about staying in a shepherd’s hut that truly allows you to appreciate the small things.
In the evening we toast marshmallows by the fire pit (marshmallows and wood provided). And afterwards I enjoy an outdoor bath gazing up at the stars, surrounded by twinkling solar-powered fairy lights. The water is hot and plentiful, all being powered by a gas cylinder connected to the hut. Bath products from Bramley are provided, fresh, natural scents filling the warm late summer air. I feel my shoulders relax, what a perfect way to spend an evening.
When I go back inside, surrounded by the warm glow of the bedside lights, I can’t help but notice how beautiful the oak flooring looks. I wasn’t expecting to be so taken by the flooring, but it really did look exquisite.
I drift off to sleep listening to the gentle summer rain on the corrugated tin roof. The Orthosoft mattress is hugely comfortable, and the shepherd’s hut is fully insulated which means there is no trouble getting to sleep. We leave the window at the end of the bed open a crack and there’s a lovely gentle breeze. This window at the end of the bed is a feature I think anyone looking to purchase a shepherd’s hut should consider. It’s lovely to wake up and be able to open the curtains to the view, lying in bed and feeling refreshed after a good night’s sleep.
The shepherd’s huts at Tokenhill are just a twenty-minute walk down country lanes to The Brace of Pheasants pub in the small village of Plush. On our second day, we headed there for lunch where we were met with a warm welcome and all the quirks of a traditional country pub. The menu is also traditional, with just one vegetarian option (and another on the specials board). The vegetarian roast special was excellent, as was the beer-battered fish and chips. Well worth visiting.
During our stay, we also drove to Piddlehinton, to the award-winning Thimble Inn, just a ten-minute drive from Tokenhill, where we had a wonderful dinner. The pub is so welcoming with a whole menu dedicated to vegetarian and vegan dishes as well as all the pub classics. On a Friday there is a mix of locals and visitors who are on holiday- always a good sign.
I recommend Tokenhill highly to anyone wishing to experience the comforts of a Plankbridge shepherd’s hut. The attention to detail and high-quality craftsmanship is so clear. Once you are inside it is evident that the 20 plus years of hard work and experience making shepherd’s huts has paid off.