As seen on BBC1 My Unique B&B
Featured in the i newspaper
After crossing open pasture and passing through an arch in a thick hedgerow, The Swallow suddenly appears in front of you. The 60's horsebox has been lovingly restored by owner Andy, who has woven his passions for birding and sustainability into every detail with exquisite care. There are wooden stars on the ceiling, reclaimed floorboards, stained glass in the cab and a handmade quilt covered in the birds from which the space takes its name. Full height glass doors mean wonderful views whatever the weather and the deck catches the sun all day and makes a great place to watch the stunning stars at night. The single gas hob is fine for making tea or simple meals, but the fire pit works as a bbq if you fancy something a bit smokier.
Outside you'll find the compost loo and the shower, housed in another cool conversion. The former horse trailer is now fitted with a rainfall showerhead and a huge folding window, so you can raise the hatch for an alfresco feel and give the cows something to moo at.
This being a working beef farm means you're quite likely to meet the herd of residents at some point, or possibly see and hear some work going on in the field in front of you. It also means that some superb grass-fed beef is available to buy for the bbq, as well as the family's honey. Andy is a keen proponent of regenerative farming and hosts walks and talks for people who want to learn more. Having guests to stay on the farm is another way of encouraging people to engage with nature and you'll find plenty of information in The Swallow on the best places and times to spot wildlife, from the Marsh Harriers at Cleveland Lakes to the butterflies of Ravensroost Woods and the rare Snakeshead Fritillaries (an intricately chequered member of the lily family) at North Meadow in Cricklade. If you're after history, you can venture out to Avebury and West Kennet Long Barrow, or simply walk 200 metres from The Swallow to Leigh Old Chancel, a 13th Century relic surrounded by a wild graveyard that is home to Barn Owls. If it is locked, just ask Andy for the key. You can finish the day off with a half hour walk, mostly off road, to the pub at Ashton Keynes, where you can sip a fine pint and maybe get dinner before you head home to roost.
Andy's Grandfather bought Waterhay Farm in 1949. He and his wife (an evacuee from the East End of London) brought up their four children here. Andy's Uncle and Aunt now live in the farmhouse and Andy moved into the adjacent bungalow with his family ten years ago. Andy and his Uncle run the farm, and Andy also runs the beef butchery side of the business. He is keen to link their regenerative farming directly with people, so sells their beef direct and also hosts a range of farm walks. Getting people to stay on the farm was an obvious next move.
Having bought The Swallow as an empty shell he spent two years converting and restoring her, using and re-using lots of items found on the farm in the build; everything from Bakelite light switches and leather from their own cattle as drawer handles to steel water tanks and reclaimed wood. Andy is a bit of an obsessive birder and the Swallows that make Waterhay Farm their summer home are a much beloved feature of the farming year, so naming the lorry after them seemed fitting for accommodation designed to be a great place to spot birds and other wildlife.
Open April to the end of October
Minimum 2 night stay
Prices from £80 - £135 per night
Check in from 4pm, Check out 10am