An adults-only glampsite with lakeside views in bespoke shepherd hut accommodation
Proud of its farming background, the Watchorn family has created a glampsite that echoes its heritage. Nine shepherd huts are positioned around landscaped lakes with wild flowers in eco-friendly luxury. We talk to Anne Watchorn about the new business and the incredible team behind it.
What’s you back story – your life before glamping?
We are a third generation farming family and farm both livestock and arable in Waltham on the Wolds and the surrounding area.
We opened the glampsite in June 2017 as our son had joined the family business and we wanted to generate a new income stream. Two fishing lakes were created 15 years ago, initially used for coarse fishing on a day ticket basis. It was always our intention to develop them further once the landscaping had matured. When we decided on glamping the lake came into its own and nine shepherd huts are now positioned around it with a tenth currently in production on the farm.
We are an adults-only site, with each shepherd hut accommodating a maximum of two, with a minimum two night stay (three nights over a bank holiday).
How did you research the business before entering it?
We did a lot of internet research, read industry literature then followed up by visits to the Glamping Show.
Tell us about your location and site
Our family farm is on the outskirts of the village of Waltham on the Wolds in Leicestershire. We are on the edge of the beautiful Vale of Belvoir, with Belvoir Castle close by, and five miles north of Melton Mowbray, the renowned ‘rural capital of food’.
The glampsite itself is in an undulating lakeside location. The units are all shepherd huts which have been carefully positioned to maximise the view of the lakes while maintaining a practical siting for drainage and services.
Keen to preserve some of the old pasture and wild flower species from the farm, we harvested some and have incorporated the seed around the shepherd huts.
How did you tackle getting planning?
We obtained advice from local planning personnel, as although the shepherd huts were built on a chassis rendering them movable, planning consent was still required and obtained.
What glamping accommodation do you offer and why did you choose it?
We chose shepherd huts as they provided something different. They are a year round option, with sheep’s wool insulation to keep them snug, and fit into the landscape in a sympathetic way, affording a close connection with our farming heritage.
All the huts have en-suite facilities with towels and linen provided, and Wi-Fi throughout. There is thermostatically controlled heating in every hut, but for that cosy feel all huts have a log burner fitted.
Each hut has its own private entrance and patio area with BBQ and fire pit. A number of huts have wood fired hot tubs. We also have ‘dog friendly’ huts.
How did you work out your brand and how do you publicise yourself?
We wanted a close association with our farm name ‘Fair Farm’ as we are immensely proud of the opportunity the land has provided for our new venture and the connection we all have with it. We also felt that ‘hideaway’ closely reflected our feelings of a ‘hidden gem’ in the Leicestershire countryside on the edge of the Vale of Belvoir.
We have our own website and have also used a number of sites including Love Glamping and Go Glamping to publicise our business in addition to local tourism sites and social media with a presence on Facebook etc.
We entered the Leicestershire Promotions Awards, nominating our team for the ‘Best Team’ category, and despite strong competition from a number of larger, more established businesses were amazed when we were ‘commended’.
As this is our first winter season we are still exploring a number of different avenues to publicise our glamping business throughout the year.
How would you describe your ethos and unique selling point?
Our ethos is to use natural, sustainable materials in an eco-friendly environment without compromising on luxury or quality.
Our USP is sustainability. We carry the theme through to utilising local skills and obtaining the support of local businesses wherever possible – the shepherd huts were built on the farm by local craftsmen.
How did you choose your interior decoration?
The colour scheme for the decoration was based around a Farrow and Ball muted palette to work sympathetically with the surrounding countryside. The range of soft furnishings reflect a country feel while complementing the clean lines of the kitchen cabinets and work surfaces.
We aimed for functional, practical, quality fixtures and fittings (such as Villeroy Boch etc.) and a range of throws and rugs to complement.
What challenges have you faced?
Setting up a diversification business while maintaining the core farming business and remaining actively involved in the day-to-day of farming.
What are your plans for next season?
We are planning to add a small caravan park in a nearby location next year.
Why do you enjoy the business?
As a third generation family farming business it was refreshing to ‘step outside’ our normal day-to-day activities and challenge ourselves, dealing with customers first hand. We are extremely proud of our farming heritage but are well aware of the challenges farming is facing, so have taken a proactive approach to take our business forward and hopefully remain in control of our own future
What are you most proud of?
Our team. We are fortunate to have local families as part of it. They have, at times, worked long hours to meet deadlines, working with interest and dedication. They have built beautiful shepherd huts with care and commitment. They have maintained the shepherd huts to an exceedingly high standard. They have, at times, asked their family members to assist and all have been happy to work alongside us.
They have adapted from helping out with traditional farm work to maintaining the grounds around the site and greeting guests as required. Our team comprises genuine people and our hope is that they remain a vital part of the team for many years to come.
We have embraced the new venture working together, each member of the team valued for their unique contribution. We have built the shepherd huts together, designed the website together, dressed the shepherd huts together, welcomed the customers together, and lit the hot tubs together. Everyone has played their part and collectively we have launched a new business which to date has exceeded all expectations.
What other outdoor hospitality sectors do you operate in?
We have lots of ideas going forward but, as we have only been open for six months, we need to build our expertise and experience with our current shepherd hut business.
What advice could you give to someone coming into the industry?
Be passionate about what you do, strive for excellence and listen/take advice from others.
Designed and built on site
Naked Flame Eco-Tubs
Yvette Design Solutions
Fair Farm Hideaways
Waltham on the Wolds
Melton Mowbray LE14 4AJ