Staycation: Romney Marsh Shepherds Huts, Kent
by Lisa Harris
My husband and I took a mini-break to experience the shepherd’s life, with a hefty dose of luxury. Just an hour from where we live, it was the perfect holiday to simplify life, connect with nature and indulge in excellent local food and wine.
Where is it?
Near Aldington, Kent.
What’s the accommodation like?
The hut is like a small studio flat, with a built-in double bed, foldable table and chairs, a two-stove kitchen, and shower room. The outdoor firepit is kitted out with barbecue gear, so you can toast marshmallows or cook your whole dinner on the flames. The hut was luxuriously furnished shaker-style, with soft blankets woven by Romney Marsh Wools, as well as toiletries and soaps made with wool lanolin.
What did you eat and drink?
While it’s easy enough to self-cater, we enjoyed the food and drink delivery services on offer. Sinead from The Flavour Kitchen delivered a three-course feast using exquisite local ingredients, which only required a few steps to heat and serve. Goat’s cheese canapés, miniature quail scotch eggs, and rustic ham hock terrine were ready to eat for starters, garnished with delicate edible flowers and lemon thyme poached salsify.
We cracked open a bottle of Heppington wine, and finished cooking the rack of lamb with golden fondant potatoes and dark, rich jus; plating it up with delusionary pride as if we'd really done all the work ourselves. Dessert was a naughty chocolate torte followed by a local cheeseboard (and game of Scrabble). Owner Kristina Boulden also replenished the mini fridge with local sausages, eggs and excellent tea and coffee for breakfast.
What is there to do?
Perfectly positioned between major towns and the sea, this sparsely populated wetland is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and is punctuated with quaint villages, ancient churches, and wildlife for wholesome day trips.
They have a sleek Shepherd Hut app, packed with useful information and links to book unique activities such as needle felting, painting or photography classes with local artists, as well as bike hire, cocktail and food delivery, or an in-hut massage. A rich network of walks start from the doorstep, and numerous vineyards offer tours and tasting sessions too. We took the opportunity to visit the charming seaside towns of Hythe and Sandgate; ostensibly rummaging through their myriad of antique shops for a new wall mirror, but really stopping at any cafe that took our fancy for tea and cake.
There are lots of great foodie destinations a short drive away. Unit 1 is a cool brewery and restaurant on the canal in Hythe, with the brilliant Docker artisan bakery next door. The Woolpack at Warehorne and The Five Bells at East Brabourne are great pubs, and the one Michelin star Hide and Fox restaurant is certainly worth a stop for a special occasion.
Romney Marsh Wools has a little shop on the farm selling gorgeous rugs, throws and cushions, and an elegant clothing range including socks, hats and waistcoats made from the semi-lustrous fleece of their Romney and Merino ewes. They also make all the beautifully scented toiletries and soaps for the hut from the wool lanolin.
What do I need to pack?
Shepherd huts aren't known for storage space, so we’d recommend packing light – just make sure you’ve got cosy PJs, wellies and a good book.
The farm’s resident flock of Romney sheep are all very inquisitive and sport an exuberant Barbra Streisand style perm. They make for excellent neighbours.
How to book
A two-night stay at Romney Marsh Shepherds Huts starts from £250 for two adults sharing. For more info, search ‘Lookerer’ or ‘Rumwold’ at bloomstays.com. Breakfast boxes cost from £15 per booking. The Flavour Kitchen delivers three-course Kentish home feasts to the huts from £30 per person. Visit theflavourkitchen.co.uk