Few places showcase the full spectrum of coast and countryside scenery quite like Mill Farm in Essex. Tidal creeks stretch their fingers in land every time the waters rise, reed-fringed ponds rustle in the breeze and wading birds natter on the flat, marshy palms that make up the Colne Estuary. In the fields, meanwhile, pick-your-own strawberries puff out in time for summer, while a newly planted vineyard is showing the first stripy signs of life. And all of this within 55 acres.
It’s in this rather fairytale farm setting that The Shepherds Hide is found – or rather the ‘hides’, plural, since there are now two different abodes to choose from. The first, tucked in its own private, partially wooded enclave overlooking a pond, has all the same comforts of the second, which is in a separate area of the farm and blessed with views of the young vineyard. Both have been crafted with every comfort in mind.
Inside, expect a king-sized bed, wood burning stove and compact kitchen space, along with an en suite shower room at one end. What really sets the place apart, however, is the fine attention to detail. There are toiletries in the bathroom (all biodegradable and wonderfully fragrant), locally sourced goodies in your wicker ‘welcome hamper’ and small tins with tea, coffee and sugar, each decorated with illustrations of native wildlife that can be spotted from your window.
Beyond the door of each hut, a trail leads away into the farm. Guests are welcome to explore, with footpaths weaving towards Arlesford Creek, a perfect place for bird watching. A short stroll and you’ll also find the old wooden mill that gives the farm its name – a fully restored tidal mill built in 1831. It’s only open on certain days if you want to peep inside but it makes for a magnificent photo or two in the meantime, set against the colours of the creek beyond, where the waters ebb away having circled the water-wheel that turns inside.
During summer the strawberry field is opened up to the public and glampers can gorge themselves on ripe fruit – a serious pleasure since they grow a whole host of sweet varieties you can’t buy in the supermarkets. Or take your basket and skip your way down to the beaches of the Essex coast – Clacton on Sea, Walton on the Naze and more – all just ten minutes or so in the car, where you could add a little ice cream to those berries. Take your pick. Literally.
The campsite owner says
Located on a family farm, the Shepherds Hide huts "Wigeon" and "Teal" are luxurious unique and secluded self catering shepherds huts, tucked away on the heart of the Essex coast, just outside Colchester. They are perfect for short breaks, romantic getaways or for longer self-catering holidays in the countryside with excellent bird watching and walking on site and a range of tourist attractions nearby. Mill Farm, is about 55 acres of a mixture of arable, grassland, salt marsh, tidal creeks and inland waters and is the home of the only fully restored tide mill in Essex. Reconnect with nature and yourselves at The Shepherds Hide, away from the hustle and bustle of your busy lives.
In February 2018 we were voted as one of Essex's top 10 most romantic spots by Essex Life Magazine and we are very proud to have been featured as Number 3 in Adventure Travel Magazine's round-up of the 10 most incredible winter glamping sites in the UK in October 2017. We are also proud to have been featured as Number 25 in The Daily Telegraph's Summer 2016 Top 40 Glamping Campsites in the UK and Europe.
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