Matlock NWR Visit to Hoe Grange
Following Brexit, British and overseas tourists alike have been making the most of the weak pound and choosing to spend their holidays in the UK. And they are not the grimy backpacker type or the sort that enjoys cheesy arcade game caravan sites. These are sophisticated travellers who want to holiday in style.
Glamping – or luxury camping – is seeing strong growth in the UK. Viv Parker tells us about her group’s visit to an eco farm and glamping site.
Comfort need no longer be sacrificed to enjoy the great British countryside.
Last June Matlock NWR spent the afternoon at Hoe Grange, a 250 acre farm in the southern Peak District. We live in a rural area but few of us know much about farming or the changes that farm businesses are making in response to their economic needs.
Hoe Grange is a family farm owned by David and Felicity Brown. Ten years ago it was a traditional dairy farm but like many similar farms it was in economic difficulty. David and Felicity decided to take the radical step of selling the dairy herd and converting to a beef and sheep enterprise. They now had time to start a tourism business. They built two holiday cabins which included facilities for disabled people. The farm is right next to the High Peak Trail, a traffic free horse riding and cycle route, so, with its onsite livery, Hoe Grange provides a holiday for horses as well as their owners.
David and Felicity recognised early on the importance of distinguishing their holiday 'offer' from the competition and wanted to provide an excellent visitor experience. As the business developed, they engaged in a variety of environmental initiatives, especially green energy.
The business now has its own wind turbine, solar panels (which follow the sun!) and ground source heat pump. They joined an international business exchange programme and visited Sweden and Norway to pick up ideas. The farm now has a Scandinavian influence with a sauna and hot tub adding to the luxurious experience.
Hoe Grange has won a number of tourism awards, including a 2016 national gold award from Visit England's Access for All scheme and a national silver award for sustainable tourism.
And the company is going from strength to strength. There are now four cabins and two glamping pods which offer every comfort you could need, from a welcome hamper with eggs from ‘the girls’, to a heated towel rail and Mp3 speakers!
A word with the owner, David Brown
How has your life has changed since you started your eco tourism site?
As a former dairy farmer, changing to a more tourism based business has brought much needed income to the farm and has enabled us to reduce our working week from 80 hours to a more acceptable 50-60!It has also introduced us to different people from all over the world.
Why is sustainable tourism so important?
We sell the idea of the unspoilt Peak District, and to do this we have to play our part in making sure the extra people we bring to the area do not have a detrimental effect on our special place. Sustainable tourism also makes good business sense as producing one’s own power and water enables us to reduce our running costs and therefore remain competitive.
"No late night trips across the site to the loo!"
Should people choose glamping over camping?
Glamping is a more comfortable way to stay in the countryside. You don’t have to put up a tent, it is much more resistant to the British weather, and you don’t end up with a wet tent to pack up and take home. You have your own bathroom and kitchen, so there are no late night trips across the site to the loo! The carefully designed and landscaped glamping pods are less visually intrusive than multi-coloured tents and white caravans. And above all it gives that much needed touch of luxury.