It was the beginning March, and I was very aware that my husbands birthday was just over a month away. He’s one of those men that can be so hard to buy something that is a genuine surprise, because you almost always have to have a list of suggestions. He either buys the things he wants as and when he needs them, so despite me making a mental note every time he says “Oh, I quite fancy one of these”, I still end up with nothing come April. So I ask what he wants and he is very happy with said present come the 11th of April, but it’s rarely ever a surprise! I can’t actually remember what I got him last year. The year before I took him to a shooting range in New Orleans (we were on our honeymoon) at his request. And that’s usually how it goes, other than the odd time – maybe his second birthday that we were together – when I have managed to surprise him.
I wanted to do something really special. I remembered earlier in the year toying with the idea of taking him to some windmill somewhere in the country that my cousin had reviewed for the magazine she works for (Diva Mag) but it was quite a high price to pay!
But that got me thinking – what other unusual places are there to stay in, right here in the UK? I quite fancied those underground dome thingys (technical) where you can see the northern lights, but couldn’t really afford, nor did I really want to take us abroad. (We’re the very new parents of a now 14 week old baby, and I didn’t want to leave him for a weekend, where we couldn’t just hop in the car and drive to him, should he need us.)
So I googled the life out of “strange places to stay in the UK”; “Unique places to stay in the UK”; “Interesting places to stay in the UK” etc, etc. It soon became apparent that a lot of these places are located somewhere down south, and we live up north. It would be quite a drive for the matter of one or two nights. So those searches quickly became “unique places to stay in the North East of England” and so on, you get the picture.
I came upon this BRILLIANT website, Canopy and Stars , a site dedicated to reviewing all of these wonderfully quirky, beautiful places! You can also use this site to book said places. And after much research, that’s exactly what I did.
I looked at few places they have…
And many more! There was in particular that I kept coming back to and that was the Gardeners Hut. I couldn’t be happier that I booked it. Upon telling my husband, he said straight away “this seems right up my street!” We’ve just returned from the hut today, and we really did have the most wonderful time!
The views from this adorable hut are idyllic. Set in a valley surrounded by green fields and trees as far as they eye can see, it is the very definition of stunning. Visiting the hut in Spring means those beautiful fields are dotted with Sheep and lambs in the thousands.
The hut itself is located next the owners beautiful farmhouse, and yet it still feels very private. Greeted upon arrival by a very friendly face, and some very lovely doggies, the owners are a helpful, lovely couple who clearly care about you enjoying your stay.
The inside of the hut is compact and cosy, yet it still somehow manages to feel spacious. The queen size bed is a big feature in such a small space but due to the clever layout, it doesn’t feel as though it is in the way. It was also unbelievably comfortable (I had the best nights sleep since before I fell pregnant – my OH even had to wake up me up in the night to express, as my alarm didn’t disturb me at all!). It comes equipped with adorable features such as a little jars of provisions – tea, coffee, marshmallows, oats – a vintage radio, and beautiful wooden shutters on the windows. There is an en suite bathroom inside with a hot shower, and a separating composting toilet (ladies and gents, please both sit to use the loo!) which was a bit scary at first, especially as I had to use the loo as soon as we arrived (oh the joys of post child birth) so didn’t get a chance to wait for Mhairi, our lovely host, to explain to us how to use the loo! Thankfully, I managed to use to correctly! (Wee goes forward, everything else goes back…) I was also thrilled to discover the loo was inside as I had misread the description. What I saw was “Separate composting toilet” and imagined myself having to get up at 3am to go and use an outdoor loo. What is actually says is “Separating composting toilet”. I think I did a happy dance!
A nip of delicious Scottish Whiskey awaited us!
We were incredibly lucky with the weather, it was glorious right up until we were leaving! Beautiful blue sky’s, warm sunshine (I got sunburn) and barely a cloud in the sky, so this meant we didn’t get to use the wood burner. Somehow, the temperature inside was constantly perfect. I had visions of us (me) being freezing on a night but when I got up to express (by express by the way, I mean breast milk) in the middle of the night, I was nice and warm, but not melting. I found it was like this for the whole stay. I was pleasantly surprised!
Outside of the hut is a generous sun trap over looking the veg garden (sadly not thriving due to a very harsh winter) and the gorgeous valleys. You’ll find a very functional cooking area with a BBQ, perfect for making hot chocolate and toasting marshmallows under the stars. It is a dark sky area, and we tried our best to stay up to see the clear night sky, but when it got to 9.15pm and the sun still hadn’t fully set, we retreated inside. There was a storm in the middle of the night on our second night, and the lightning lit up the hut, it was pretty amazing.
It’s just a short 15 to 20 minute walk down to the stream below, and beyond. It’s a stunning walk, filled with lovely sights. We could have gone on but we actually only stayed out about 30 minutes or so, mostly because we just enjoyed sitting looking out at the view, and talking to the chickens that kept wandering in and out.
The hut is well equipped – knives, forks, spoons, bottle opener, tin opener, backgammon, cards, dominoes, books, towels – and even though I for some reason thought it didn’t have any electricity in it, there were even more than enough plug sockets* for our lack of plugs.
I would love to stay here again at some point, it was the perfect relaxing get away for us. I got to read, write and I felt so inspired! Sitting outside, looking at the rolling hills of the valley, reading The Count Of Monte Crsito, it was so refreshing.
If you’re looking for somewhere interesting to stay, please take a look at Upland Shepherds Hut I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
*Mhairi has just clarified the following “You are right re no mains electricity. There is solar power in the huts so the lights and boiler work and the phone charger but the plugs don’t. They are there for a “just in case” if we ever move…. but we can run a lead to The Gardeners Hut and have done a few times when writers have come and need to charge their lap tops.”