An isolated spot of moorland was the perfect place to train six energetic Korthals Griffon gun dogs, although Jason Hudson didn’t expect the rare wire-haired retrievers to sniff out a property project.
It was while exercising his dogs that he spotted workmen at a tiny, remote pump house. A chat led him to the owner and a deal that has created what looks set to be one of the most sought-after holiday homes in Yorkshire.
The building is tucked away up a track on Burley Moor and has panoramic views across one of Britain’s most famous stretches of moorland. It also boasts a hot tub, which would’ve been a blessed relief to Mary Jane and her hatless suitor, immortalised in the folk song On Ilka Moor Bah ’at.
The high ground is wild and windy on the best of days and as the song says “Tha’s bahn’ to catch thy deeath o’ cowd”.
“We thought a hot tub would be ideal after a long walk, or just to sit in and enjoy the views or look at the stars,” says Jason’s wife Justine, who helped plan the conversion.
Before anyone raises an eyebrow, it could be argued that this modern-day water therapy follows in the tradition of the White Wells spa baths and pool built in about 1700 on Ilkley Moor.
The tub is more enticing than a cold plunge and is the finishing touch to the Pump House, which is cosy thanks to 21st century building materials and innovations. Although the former Yorkshire Water property was a solid brick-built structure, there was no insulation and plenty of room for draughts to blow in from the windows.
Why so many were built-in to the industrial building, no-one knows, although some natural light would have been essential for Edwardian engineers to see the workings of the water pumps. Those original window openings and the new bi-fold doors and skylights now boast triple-glazed units in aluminium frames. The property is also wrapped in with a thick quilt of insulation, and underfloor heating brings extra warmth.
The newly-converted space is a far cry from the building that Jason and Justine bought in 2014.
“It was derelict and very small,” says Justine. “But we could see it could be special and we were also able to buy 35 acres of moorland too, which is ideal for the dogs.”
Although the building came with planning permission for conversion into a one-bedroom dwelling, the couple went back to Bradford City Council with a fresh design to create two bedrooms and make the property more user-friendly.
“The original layout had the bathroom downstairs and one bedroom, and we went back to the planners and asked if we could make the lean-to into a small extension so we could include a porch and an extra bedroom,” says Justine. “We also managed to get a wet room upstairs, which means we had space for a separate utility and loo downstairs.”
She and Jason are experienced renovators who run the Moor Valley static caravan park in nearby Hawksworth and the award-winning Wildside holiday lodges near Loch Ness.
Jason’s background is in roofing and construction, while Justine is a dab hand at layout and interior design. The couple’s son, Luke, has his own roofing company and put a new roof on the Pump House and installed the rooflights, while JH Joinery created a bespoke oak staircase, doors, cabinets and kitchen. The property now has an entrance porch leading to an open-plan living area with kitchen and the utility room. Upstairs, there are two bedrooms and a wet room. The use of space is clever. While kitchen designers suggested she put units under the windows, Justine opted for a large centre island with storage, dishwasher and a sink with a Qooker boiling water tap. The cooker, fridge and cupboards are in one floor-to-ceiling group of cupboards on the internal dividing wall.
“I felt it was important to have the island so you can get right up to the windows, plus you don’t have a big void in the middle of the room,” she says.
The walls are a mix of soft whites, greys and shades of heather with sofas from Indigo in Harrogate and cushions with wildlife prints from Voyage Maison. Although little of the building’s heritage was left inside, they did rescue an old wheel and incorporated it into the kitchen island. As a tribute to the property’s past, there is a quirky wall light made from piping, which was sourced from online store Affordable Lighting. While the decor is stunning, your eyes are drawn to the windows. There are 14 of them in all, each with a different long-range view across Burley, Ilkley and Baildon Moors and over to Otley Chevin.
“The idea was to use it as a bolt hole for ourselves but we spent a fortune on it and that’s when we decided we’d let it out and let it earn its keep, although we will still use it,” says Justine.
“It’s such a different space. We refer to it as a retreat.
“Sometimes we come up on a Friday night with a takeaway, eat it and we go home.
“We only live seven minutes away but it feels like a complete getaway.”
The Pump House, www.ilkleypumphouse.co.uk, tel: 01943 876083
Hudson Roofing, tel: 07734840310
British Blinds, electric blinds, www.britishblinds.co.uk
Kelcol handmade beds, Mirfield, www.kelcol.co.uk
Machells, Guisley, doors and flooring, www.wmachells.com
Marble from Lapicida, Knaresborough, www.lapicida.com
JML Electrical, www.jmlelectrical.co.uk
JH Joinery, tel: 07769 588252
Indigo Furniture, Harrogate, www.indigofurniture.co.uk
Affordable Lighting, www.affordablelighting. co.uk