Guest Blog: The Cowbarn – A Shepherds Hut Staycation

The Cowbarn: Guest Blogger

A few weeks ago we posted a shepherds hut on our Instagram page (here), this post introduced us to Lea Eccleston (@The_Cowbarn on Instagram). The following weekend, Lea and her family were heading off to Hesleyside Hall to stay in a shepherds hut.  

We are absolutely delighted to have Lea as a guest blogger this week, who shares with us her weekend and experience of staying in a hut. We have loved reading her blog, and  are excited to share this with you.  Thanks Lea.

The Heavenly Huts of Hesleyside 

A Shepherds Hut Staycation 

by Lea Eccleston @The_Cowbarn

Classic Camping Detail

It would appear that we don’t live remotely enough in our idyllic hamlet in Northumberland as Mr Cowbarn returned home and announced we were heading into the wilds of Northumberland to a shepherds hut for the weekend. My usual idea of a relaxing break involves a boutique hotel and a luxury spa, so I packed with some trepidation, especially after Mr Cowbarn advised he had booked ‘a few activities’ for us to do. 

Hesleyside Hall

Tree Lined Entrance to Hesleyside Hall

We arrived at Hesleyside Hall which is a short drive from Kielder water, and were greeted by a breathtaking tree lined avenue leading to the huts. Four in all, we were lucky enough to have the largest Bramble Hut, which is located on its own on the edge of a beautiful field, full to bursting with Spring lambs. Although the other huts are within view, there is no such thing as cramming them in here, and you certainly feel as though you have plenty of space and privacy. Holly hut is the newest addition to the Hesleyside family and is the most private,  being located through a small wood. A romantic hut indeed, it is double height with a mezzanine level housing a King sized bed, while the ground floor boasts a double ended freestanding copper bath. 

Bramble Hut

Bramble Hut Balcony
View from Bramble Hut Balcony

Bramble hut is perfect for families and little Miss Cowbarn wasted no time in settling into her bedroom (top bunk obviously!) and familiarising herself with the climbing wall, which was ideal as our first activity the next day happened to be climbing!

Bramble Hut: Bunk Beds

Credit to The Northumberland Shepherds Hut Company who have designed and built the huts from reclaimed oak with obvious love and attention to detail. The use of space is incredible and to find a king sized four poster bed complete with Egyptian cotton sheets and feather and down filled duvets and pillows, was a very pleasant surprise indeed.

Four Poster Bed Dressed
Lantern Detail Looking Down Towards to Bunk Beds

There is also a fully functioning bathroom with a generously sized power shower, much to Mr Cowbarn’s approval. The kitchen area houses the cutest Belfast sink I’ve ever seen, along with a fridge, oven, grill, gas hob and all the cutlery, crockery and utensils you could need for your stay.

Bathroom with Power Shower

Being interiors mad I always pack up plenty of my own home accessories for any glamping trips for comfort and styling purposes (much to Mr Cowbarn’s amusement) but for the first time ever the bunting, fairylights, lanterns, cushions and throws were not a necessity as the hut’s interior has been carefully considered and beautifully designed. The repurposed sports hall floor was a particularly beautiful feature and the soft furnishings were cosy, country and elegant in style. 

Belfast Sink

Kitchen Shelf Detail

Re-Purposed Sports Hall Flooring

The rather handsome Hesleyside Hall can also be seen from Bramble Hut. It has been the ancestral home of the Border Reiver Charlton family since 1343 and sits with splendor amongst magnificent grounds landscaped by Capability Brown. A map is provided for a number of private walks you can take around the grounds which we thoroughly enjoyed.
Balcony At Night
As the sun began to fall behind the hills, the bijou red hobbit stove came into its own and heated the hut comfortably within minutes. Miss Cowbarn was most excited to toast marshmallows and Mr Cowbarn was only too happy to build a manly fire in the generous fire-pit. Cooking equipment and utensils are provided so you can truly get back to nature and cook dinner outdoors if you wish. We braved marshmallow sandwiches as we watched the sun go down with a cold glass of New Zealand’s finest Sauvignon Blanc. Campfire perfection!

Campfire At Night
The hut has wooden shutters and blackout blinds at the balcony doors, which can be rolled back in the morning to reveal the splendid and tranquil view. At 9am prompt, a gingham lined breakfast basket (no detail goes unnoticed!)  was delivered to the front steps. Stuffed with warm croissants, bread, jam, sausage, bacon, eggs and fresh juice, we cooked up a storm and ate our breakfast on the covered balcony watching the lambs leaping around the field and the sun rising higher into the sky.

Fully fueled, we headed off for a day of activities at Kielder Water, the UK’s largest artificial reservoir and a stunning spot deep within the Northumberland National Park. Northumberland is the least populated county in England and here you truly feel it.  I can honestly say I saw more lambs than people this weekend. The area is also designated as one of Europe’s Dark Sky Parks and many people venture here to see the spectacular night sky through the telescopes of the remote Kielder Observatory. If you can’t make it to the observatory, the shepherds huts come with their own telescopes and advice on how to get the best views at night.
Kielder View

The Calvert Trust, located on the edge of the reservoir, does a phenomenal job in challenging disability through outdoor adventures and during our activity afternoon we were fortunate enough to see the incredible instructors helping people with some serious disabilities to complete really challenging activities including climbing, abseiling, archery and the zip wire. It was a humbling experience for me and also a great opportunity to step out of my own comfort zone and prove myself as a super mummy to Little Miss Cowbarn. 
The Pheasant Inn in Stannersburn

All suitably exhausted, we headed back to the hut via The Pheasant Inn in Stannersburn, one of the cosiest country pubs I’ve ever come across with some really friendly staff who brought us a delicious, much needed, hearty meal. The bread and butter pudding was very well deserved that night! 

Our final day was spent cycling around the North Shore of Kielder water on mountain bikes which we hired from the very knowledgeable staff at The Bike Place near Kielder Castle. With the sun beaming down, hardly a soul to be seen along the waters edge, and sail boats bobbing along the water, it was really rather heavenly. All in all, an unexpectedly beautiful  break and proof that I am more adventurous than I give myself credit for. We will be back,  but next time it will have to be a stay in Holly’s Hut. For such a magical experience I can forgo the hotel and spa (hint, hint Mr Cowbarn).  

Lea Eccleston (AKA Mrs Cowbarn

Further details for the Hesleyside Shepherds Huts can be found on their website (here) and Hesleyside Hall can be found on their website (here)

All photographs contained within this blog have rights reserved by Lea Eccleston and should not be reproduced without her prior permission.

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