Farmers capitalise on staycation trend with off-grid cabin

Many farmers are currently making use of unused land for holiday cabins and glamping, as the general public are itching to get away for a staycation when lockdown restrictions ease later on in the year. Such business opportunities come at a good time; with the phasing out of the Basic Payment Scheme, many farmers are looking to find alternative revenue streams.

Mid-Devon dairy and sheep farmers Iain and Jane commissioned Wild-Hart to develop their off-grid ‘lockdown cabin’ to rent out to holidaymakers looking to escape the four walls and enjoy the great British countryside.

The cabin is set a third of a mile off the road, providing peace and solitude, beautiful views and no mobile signal for a true getaway. Its location presented certain challenges for the cabin build project – it is inaccessible to lorries and built on a steep slope. However, Wild-Hart said this did not pose too much of a problem for its manufacturing techniques. Pre-fabricated modular designs offer the flexibility to create and install almost anywhere.

Building the cabin
The insulated structural panels and round pole timber frame were delivered to the site by tractor and this internal structure was pieced together in a week, wrapped in membrane ready for the details and cladding.

The cabin itself sits on a larch round pole timber frame set on the hillside. The company choose larch for its durability and because it is a very sustainable local resource. This sub frame not only takes up the undulation of the site, but also gives an elevation that increases its presence and views across the valley. Ground screws drilled into the bank are an easy foundation system that is quick and simple; they also outperform concrete and have a reduced carbon footprint.

The cabin itself, named by Iain and Jane ‘The Beehive’, is a two-floor construction, with a generous upstairs landing with seating, views through a hexagonal window and access to two double bedrooms with hand crafted beds and exceptional views over the valley. A unique tree trunk spiral staircase leads down to the ground level; the balustrade was built by a local blacksmith. Downstairs there is a hand-crafted kitchen, lounge with wood burner, and a toilet and shower. Throughout the cabin there are hints of honeycomb with hexagonal shelves and details.

“Completely off-grid”
The Beehive has a solar system for the electrics, LPG for the cooker and fridge, a borehole for water and septic tank for waste, which means its ongoing footprint is low. Constructed from local larch timber, UK sheep’s wool insulation and crafted with local labour, the overall carbon footprint is very low. Even the double glazed windows are locally made.

Wild-Hart says it prides itself on environmental sustainability and eco-friendliness. The cabin adheres to building control and is a very efficient eco-build, built for longevity with durable sustainable materials, the company says.

It promises an experience as close to nature as possible – despite being well insulated, you can still hear the rain on the roof and the wind in the trees.

A wood burner was installed to efficiently heat the cabin and sheep’s wool insulation was used to make it cosy, even on the coldest of winter days. The wood-fired hot tub filled with spring water from the borehole could even be classed as a private spa, Wild-Hart says.

The great outdoors
Outside the cabin there is a large raised deck area with amazing views down the valley. The Wild-Hart team says rainbows were dancing around them throughout the build, pausing progress at times, yet bringing joy.

Playful goats and newborn lambs also add value to the experience for holidaymakers. From the main deck there is a bridge leading further into the surrounding fields where a small hexagonal deck with hot tub gives and excellent viewing platform with stargazing opportunities.

The way the cabin nestles into the hillside shows the detail and consideration of the design process. By making all aspects of the cabin, the company says it had control over the design, functionality and feel of it; even the beds, handmade from local timber, meant it could maximise the view from the windows.

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