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How we built a glamping business on our working farm

Working farm & glamping business

You hear a lot about farm diversification these days, and that’s exactly what we did 12 years ago when we launched our glamping business. We’re so glad we did! Here’s our story so far.

We’re lucky to live in an extraordinary location high in the Mendip Hills – but it didn’t occur to us to share this amazing spot with others until we started a family. This spurred us on to explore ways for Kate to leave her job as a teacher and spend more time at home with the family.

We started thinking about opening a conventional, pitch-your-tent campsite, but then we came across Feather Down Farms, who offer proper back-to-nature glamping stays on farms. The more we investigated it and visited farms that were already Feather Down members, the more we felt that we wanted to join up and go down the glamping route.

Glamping Business - Our canvas tents

This set us off on a flurry of activity as we worked to make all the changes needed before we could instal Feather Down’s canvas tents and lodges. Some of these were easily visible (we built a barn to house a chill-out area, games area, kitchen, toilets and showers, for example). Other additions, like creating a system that captures rainwater to flush the toilets in the tents, were less conspicuous but no less important.

It was a frantic rush to get all the preparations finished on time, and we were still painting the barn almost up until the arrival of the first guests! Having never opened our farm to the public before, we had no idea what to expect, but things went well, and we started getting great reviews.

We quickly discovered that we loved welcoming people to Warren Farm and seeing the farm through their eyes. We loved engaging with people, hearing their stories and finding out about their lives – and this spurred us on to expand our offering.

By 2015, Feather Down had launched its wooden lodges and we jumped at the chance to add these, because the spot on the farm with the best views was quite exposed. Placing lodges there made sense and enabled guests to stay comfortably with us for more of the year – from as early as March and into early October.

glamping business - Dew Pond Pod

In the years since then, we’ve made many other changes too, including adding glamping pods for those who want to stay in a quiet corner of the farm and enjoy the benefits of solar electricity. These are a bit different from the Feather Down offering, so they are marketed through Sykes Holiday Cottages. They’re perfect for anyone from couples wanting a romantic break away to grandparents wanting a break from the grandchildren who are staying on the main site!

Over the past 12 years, our glamping business offering has grown to be the largest single income earner on the farm. We’re still farmers – we still have our sheep and cattle. But we are cutting back on the farming side of it while looking at what we can add to our glamping offering.  It’s become primary in our thoughts about what we do, as opposed to a side project.

We’re delighted to say that 50% of our guests are repeat bookings, and we’ve made some great friendships over the years – some of our guests’ children have virtually grown up with our children. Guests come to us because they want to get away from it all, unplug from the modern world and understand a bit more about where the food comes from. 

Glamping business - 50% of our guests are repeat bookings

When the weather’s lovely, we love seeing families out playing a game of cricket together, and we never cease to be amazed by the ability of children who have never met before to form instant bonds. They band together and explore, and parents can relax because they have a good view across the campsite – so they can crack out the deck chairs and a glass of wine while they watch the kids play. 

We’re very glad that we set out on this journey 12 years ago and have created a unique, away-from-it-all experience. Here’s to many years to come!

Our 2024 season is open for bookings