Over the Summer, a few getaways brought me closer to the great outdoors. One of my favourite was at the Original Hut Company, near Bodiam, East Sussex, UK. A group of us spent a weekend glamping in shepherd’s huts, for a friend’s hen do.
There are six huts, all hand-built using mainly reclaimed, recycled and locally sourced materials. Also on site are five bell tents for hire, and pitches for tents; but the Hut Company is set in a tree-filled glade, so it felt very private when we were in our huts. The site is set along the banks of a small river, the Rother, which had an abundance of wild flowers. We gathered sweet peas, flowering thistles and cow parsley to decorate a garland for the bride-to-be to wear on a treasure hunt set up by her resourceful sisters (we also made our own garlands, but mine fell apart before I could take a decent picture….)
Each hut has its own fire pit and indoor wood burner, so as well as being a summertime place, the Original Hut Company would be good for chillier nights and days. There’s also a large, communal firepit, which we all sat around on the bride’s ‘Frida Kahlo’ celebration night.
The huts come well-equipped with cooking gear, and are tastefully decorated.
The communal toilets and showers are the nicest I’ve encountered so far at a campsite. Although you can’t completely fool yourself you’re in a swish, private lavatory, the pretty tea lights, flowers and artful display of toilet rolls helped make it all a lot more pleasant than your average campsite loo.
You do feel as though you’re getting away from it all on the 200 acres of farmland housing the Hut Company, but there’s tons to do, if you so choose. Activities include pottery, archery, bushcraft, paddleboarding, kayaking, falconry and foraging with Fergus Drennan. You can hire electric or non-electric bikes, or order catering if you want a special meal without the hassle of making it yourself.
And Bodiam Castle, of course, is only a 15-minute walk away, across fields and a picturesque bridge. It’s a National Trust property that dates back to the 14th Century and features a range of activities for children and adults, including guided tours (we were treated to a specially arranged ‘saucy history of Bodiam’ talk, pointing out some of the raunchier details of courtly life, for the hen’s delectation).
The bride’s sisters chose the Original Hut Company as a venue because our friend had stayed there with her husband-to-be; it was one of her favourite places. I imagine the huts would be great for a romantic Autumn or winter getaway; but they were also perfect for our larger group. I arrived home feeling thoroughly refreshed and energised by the fresh air, beautiful scenery…and not having the kids around for a couple of days no doubt contributed, too. But I’m pretty sure they would also love a stay at the Original Hut Company.
The shepherd huts sleep up to five people, and the site is open for most of the year. I contributed towards a long weekend at the Original Hut Company, which at the time (peak season) cost £299 per hut. Prices vary depending on time of year and length of stay. Entrance to Bodiam Castle is £7.80 per adult, £3.90 per child, or £19.50 for a family ticket.