Meet the sisters who futureproofed their family's Yorkshire Wolds sheep farm with unique shepherd's huts

Two farmer's daughters have thrown themselves into a new futureproofing enterprise on their parents’ farm on the Yorkshire Wolds.

The Brader sisters - now Charlotte Russell and Emma Lund - outside a shepherd's hut on their parents' Wolds farm
The Brader sisters - now Charlotte Russell and Emma Lund - outside a shepherd's hut on their parents' Wolds farm

Charlotte Russell and Emma Lund grew up at the 500-acre Manor Farm in Thixendale, where Charlotte’s husband Lee works alongside their father, Charles Brader. It is a mixed farm of 700 breeding ewes and cereal crops plus a herd of Highland cattle.

Charlotte and Emma’s mum, Gilda, ran bed and breakfast accommodation at the farm for 36 years and when she stopped realised that there was opportunity to carry on with accommodation in a different way in what is quite possibly the Yorkshire Wolds’ most idyllic village.

Charlotte said that it was very much Gilda’s ideas that led to the creation of Country Huts On The Wolds, which opened this year with two rustic holiday huts made wholly from reclaimed timber and insulated with sheep’s wool that look out on to Thixendale village cricket ground and are positioned along one of the village’s six converging dales.

“Thixendale is very popular with walkers and tourists and has become a destination. The very popular walkers route, The Wolds Way, also comes right through the village and there are many other walks that include it.

“Mum had lots of ideas and undertook a great deal of research, but it was when she and Dad stayed in a shepherd’s hut in Northumberland that she knew she’d found what she had been looking for and it has all gone from there.”

Charlotte said that the decision over where the huts were to be situated was another cause for deliberation.

“Mum and Dad’s favourite shepherding is their Sunday night shepherding when they get into the Land Rover and go all around the farm checking on the sheep and how the corn is coming on. All the time they were doing that mum was working out which would be the best location.

“In the end it came down to the most practical location, near water pipelines and electricity. We now have the Wicket Hut that sleeps four and the Wool Hut that sleeps two. They are designed and made by a wonderful man in Northumberland.

“Ours have been made using reclaimed timber from a flour mill in Chester, a bonded warehouse in Newcastle and from Goosehill School in Morpeth. Inside they have a 7kw log burner, the windows are double glazed and there is also gas central heating.

“They really are warm places to be and our guests all mention just how well thought-out they are inside, making the best use of the space. They also include a Smeg oven, a fridge freezer, power shower and a fire pit outside. They are so well thought-out with shelves in all the right places, somewhere to charge your phone and WiFi is available too.”

Emma said the response they have received since opening in May has proved that their mum was spot on with her deliberations.

“Our guests absolutely love the view they have when they open the shutters in the morning and can see right down the valley. They are also constantly amazed by the wildlife which includes hedgehogs, bats, owls, other birds of prey and, of course, our sheep.

“On alternate weekends during the summer or on some evenings they even have a village cricket game to watch and some are now booking for those times so that they can enjoy the atmosphere. They can also enjoy our local village pub, The Cross Keys, which is less than 100 yards away and where they serve not only great beers and wines but also fabulous evening meals.

“Many are simply coming because of Thixendale and the Yorkshire Wolds’ natural beauty. It is picturesque, tranquil and we are getting quite an eclectic mix including lots of young couples booking from local places such as York, Leeds and Beverley because they can be here in less than an hour, feel properly on holiday and chill out away from city life the minute they arrive.

“They love the really dark nights we get and in August those who were here for the Perseid meteor shower found it absolutely stunning.”

Charlotte said that all of the groundworks were undertaken by her husband Lee and Michael ‘Buffer’ Holmes who works with Lee and Charles on the farm, but that when the huts first arrived on a low loader it proved a logistical nightmare.

“The huts were brought down from Northumberland on a low loader and were to be craned in from the road but the night before they arrived it had rained heavily and it proved far too impractical.

“They were parked up at the farmhouse about a quarter of a mile away for two weeks until it was dry enough to drag them down. Michael did a fabulous job driving them down in past the trees and getting them in position.”