Hidden holiday homes on Herefordshire border | Hereford Times

2022-09-17 05:04:10 By : Ms. Minnie Song

DEEP in the heart of the Herefordshire border's countryside is a spot so hidden away from the cares of the world, it’s actually a part of the landscape.

This is magical countryside with glorious vistas, and has long been a compelling draw for visitors.

The Hideaways, created on farmland in the Golden Valley, are literally buried into the undulating hillside.

The first Hideaway opened in May this year and two more are in the pipeline for late summer, each affording absolute comfort and relaxation thanks to the ingenuity of farmer Richard and his wife, Jenny Layton Mills – expert in the sale ring by day, one of the first female livestock auctioneers in the country – who together run the 180-acre Pontypinna Farm at Vowchurch.

The Hideaways are the latest chapter in a long story for the Layton family.

Jenny’s grandfather, Bill Layton made the bold move in 1955 to sell his farm at Painscastle and buy Pontypinna Farm.

Jenny’s father, Tom, one of Bill’s nine children, was 21 at the time and remembered walking sheep and cattle through Hay-on-Wye to reach their new home.

When Tom died in 2015 Pontypinna remained in the family and then Jenny and Richard, accompanied by their newborn son Tommy, took on the farm and all its responsibilities.

In order to beat rising costs in agriculture, the couple needed to put their thinking caps on to make sure the farm could survive, and, having decided to diversify into the staycation market, The Hideaways’ project was born.

Jenny and Richard specially designed the unique diversification project with the help of Howard Smith of Smith Builders Ltd and Rob Bryan of RB Construction Herefordshire Ltd.

Once they had set their sights on The Hideaways, the spadework began.

First on site was RB Construction, responsible for turning the pasture into the perfect setting for the holiday spot.

Winding pathways lead from the car park to each of the Hideaways on this “vehicle free” site, testament to the care and consideration that has gone into the design.

The Hideaways, each with an individual aspect of the landscape, were designed and built off-site in Winforton by Smith Builders Ltd and brought to Pontypinna on the farm’s own tractor and trailer.

The modular design meant that on the day of arrival, the first Hideaway was craned in and connected up.

The surroundings have been at the heart of this site, from the woodland walks to the locally sourced Douglas fir decking and cladding.

Heating and hot water are provided by an eco-friendly air source heat pump and the walls and roof are not only super insulated but naturally warmed by the soil.

A succulent sedum roof covers the Hideaways and even the water supply emerges from a natural spring just a few hundred yards away.

Once completed it was time to design the interiors and all the furniture in the Hideaways is bespoke.

The craftsman responsible for all the specially designed pieces is none other than the builder himself, Howard Smith, who has recently launched a furniture making company, Cut Designs.

From the bunk beds to the coffee table, each piece of furniture has been designed and crafted in the county.

Each of the three kitchens has been handmade from birch ply and locally sourced sycamore.

Even the sofas were made in Winforton and upholstered in Hereford.

Jenny and Richard are proud to say that the entire project has been a real collaboration between some very talented county-based companies.

The enticing interiors were then designed by Richard and Jenny with input from assistants Jessica Billie and Katie Lloyd as well as local designer Jan Jay Design who handmade the soft furnishings.

The Hideaways sit in an elevated position, nestled into the edge of ancient native woodland with sweeping views across to the Black Mountains and the Golden Valley.

The air is full of birdsong and from the top of Eton Hill there is a spectacular 360 degree vista of rolling hillsides.

Soaked in sunlight from dawn ’til dusk, by night The Hideaways offer the opportunity to gaze into the dark, dark skies while toasting marshmallows around the fire pit, before “bringing the outside in” by closing the sliding glass doors and enjoying a dip in the hot tub.

Guests staying in the first Hideaway have reportedly been blown away by the setting, the views and a list of essential extras such as the woodland walk, fire pit, outside egg chair and hot tub.

Two more Hideaways are currently under construction and will be ready by the end of September.

For those who book in to The Hideaways all these details will seem unimportant when they only have to relax, unwind and sink into the scenery.

Away from the hot tub, the fire pit and the engrossing views, strolling the woodlands and spotting local wildlife come with the territory, and for the more energetic there are walks along nearby Offa’s Dyke footpath on beautiful Hatterall Ridge or the familiar lines of Hay Bluff and the Black Mountains.

Just 12 miles away is the buzzing town of Hay-on-Wye, or maybe their quest will lead them to the Wye with the alluring promise of hiring a canoe or a kayak, or even enjoy a spot of wild swimming.

All this and the heavenly Hideaways too for the discerning visitor with an opportunity to become part and parcel of the wonderful borderland landscape.

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