I hinted at the end of my last post about the accommodation we had for the night at the end of Day 3 of our trip, and here it is: a Shepherd’s Hut in the Exmoor National Park (book it here!). This was one of the very first Airbnbs we looked at, and we really took the plunge in deciding to stay there, because, here’s the catch: it’s entirely off grid!
We were slightly terrified but also ridiculously excited about staying here, and it was definitely an experience we won’t forget, and one that we also would definitely like to repeat at some point too. To reach the Shepherd’s Hut, you park up at the host’s house (Joy – she was super friendly) and she takes you down the fields to the site where the hut is located in her Gator. It was about a 15 minute journey down there, so you can see how really truly isolated it is! The road to Joy’s house in itself was a tiny track, and the hut is way off the beaten track, it’s not even on a track!
The hut was located in a large field beside a stream (a “babbling brook”) with no internet, no electricity and no phone signal – eek! We knew that when we booked it, so we were prepared, but it was still quite a frightening prospect.
But we had the best time!
Here’s our little campsite! The first thing we did when we arrived was to light the fires – there was an outdoor fire pit and a log burner inside the hut. Being right at the end of September, we were really lucky that it was mild-warm during the day, but it was definitely getting chilly at night, so we wanted to make sure that the hut would be plenty warm enough. So we had a fire-making competition – I set to work on the outdoor fire pit while Ben worked on the one inside. I didn’t have high hopes as Ben had the easier job of a fire that wasn’t exposed to the elements, but I have prior skills in fire building, acquired from our many family RV trips (visit that post and scroll to see me collecting wood!), so guess who won? Yours truly, of course!
Ben’s fire wouldn’t catch, but mine caught after a bit of hard work and stayed burning until gone midnight. In the end, I had to go and light Ben’s for him XD
So we pre-planned our food because we knew we were going to be more than a little isolated: Camembert, bread, prosciutto, burrata and hot dogs, followed up with marshmallows that were provided in the hut. Speaking of provided by the hut, look what was left for us in the stream keeping cool:
It was actually only the cider and we added our beer to the mix, but it was a lovely gesture to have cool cider in the stream!
So we cooked our Camembert in the fire – I was a bit sceptical about this, but we were determined to have Camembert and we’d read online beforehand you could cook it in the fire wrapped in foil and it worked! It was a little bit split because we left it in there a bit long, but still super tasty. The only problem was that I’ve now discovered vast amounts of Camembert and burrata do not mix well with my IBS, so I wasn’t feeling too great later on, but they tasted amazing!
We stayed outside by the fire until it started to get dark and a bit chiller before we migrated inside where it was SO HOT! The log burner worked fantastically – so well in fact that we ended up having to open the doors and windows to let a bit of heat out then sleep with a window open 😀
The Shepherd’s Hut was super cosy once it got dark and was lit by only candles and gas lamps. We were provided with several torches and had brought our own too for trips across the field to the horse box with the composting toilet – yes, of course my bladder failed me and I had to get out of bed to make the trip to the compost toilet in the middle of the night! It was slightly terrifying, made worse by the fact that I didn’t have my contact lenses in so everything was very dark and very blurry – but I survived!
The hut was kitted out with board games, books, maps – everything you would need. Thanks to our RV trips when I was younger, I’m used to roughing it a little bit (although not to the point of tents) and being without much entertainment, so this was a lovely break from reality for a short space of time.
The “horse-box-bathroom”, which had an open door on the side so you were looking out over the stream and fields while you were weeing, also had a hot outdoor shower! It had been equipped with an old caravan boiler that was run on gas and supplied us with hot water – and it was outside, eek! A crazy but awesome experience 😀
And here are a few more shots of the inside of the hut:
Like I said, super cozy and so well kitted out with everything you would need. We’re definitely planning to do a trip like this again, completely off-grid for one night was awesome, although I’m not sure how I’d cope for a longer time!
We were picked up the next morning at our pre-agreed time by our host after a breakfast of fresh eggs (provided by the host the day before) and bread then it was back to reality once more.
Have you ever stayed “off grid”? Would you like to do something like this?