Yorkshire Interiors - the remote Yorkshire Dales cottage renovation not for the faint hearted
PUBLISHED: 18:14 08 October 2012 | UPDATED: 22:02 20 February 2013
A couple take on a renovation project that even the selling agent described as not for the faint-hearted. Heather Dixon reports Photographs by Dave Burton
Sense of Space
01943 816489 senseofspace.net
Turbine Services, Cockermouth
07714 249583 turbineservices.co.uk
Naylor Building Supplies
Oldfield Lighting, Skipton
Super Ceramics Keighley
01535 600 777 superceramics.co.uk
Regal Interiors (bathrooms)
01535 614050 regalinteriors.co.uk
First time buyers generally look for a house in a popular location, close to amenities and with scope for a bit of improvement a new kitchen, perhaps, or at least redecoration.
Not Edward and Amy Pickard. Their first house was in one of the highest, most remote parts of the Yorkshire Dales and not, according to the estate agent, a purchase for the faint-hearted.
Electricity is absent, water is from an untested spring and drainage is not mentioned, warned the sales brochure. Prospective purchasers were also advised to negotiate the 1.5 mile moorland track from civilisation to the front door on foot.
Although the agents had plenty of inquiries from people all over the UK who thought 100,000 was a snip for an idyllic rural retreat, enthusiasm quickly evaporated when they saw the state of the property. It was quite the reverse for Edward and Amy, who fell in love with its wind-swept location and huge potential.
We had been looking for something to do up and this was certainly in need of modernisation, said Amy. The previous owners, who had six children and lived here for 10 years, went to bed by candlelight and walked the track every day to catch the school bus.
Edward, who runs his own construction company, and Amy who is a qualified interior designer and technical drawer for architectural firm Sense of Space, had no intention of continuing the tradition. Although they were living with their parents in Keighley at the time, they spent every weekend and holiday at the cottage to complete a project which was to take over their lives for the next two years.
There were definitely times when we wondered what we were doing, when we thought the job was bigger than we were capable of, said Amy. But we carried each other along. Even when we worked through two winters, howling gales and deep snow, we had fun. It made our relationship even stronger.
The cottage had little worth saving. The windows were plastic, the roof tiles concrete and the gables were covered in bitumen. Inside, the rooms were bone-chillingly cold and damp. But Edward and Amy kept focused.
They wanted to develop the cottage, build a garage and turn a dilapidated outbuilding into a bunk barn so they could generate an income from home. Unfortunately, plans for the barn were turned down by the Yorkshire Dales National Park planning authority.
They were, however, granted permission to convert an old lean-to into a new kitchen and utility, and extend the sitting room over a stream, with an arched base to allow the natural spring water to run freely under the building.
It was an ambitious project. Edward with the help of Amy did nearly all the building work himself, including electrics and plumbing. This included propping the gable end to create a 4m wide opening into the new sitting room and lifting steels into place the Egyptian way by raising them in stages. Amy spent hours coursing the stone, fetching and carrying, and ordering materials.
By doing everything ourselves I think we saved about 150,000 on labour, said Edward. We earned money and paid for materials as we went along. Most of the materials had to be brought to site on a dumper, driven from the tiny village of Foxup at the end of the track. You couldnt expect delivery lorries to get down a track as bumpy and narrow as this so you have to forward plan and bring in materials bit by bit.
Even the steel lintels were carried up here on a dumper truck. It was challenging and time consuming, but if you are determined enough you can achieve anything. My motto is short term sacrifice for long term gain.
The short term sacrifice involved spending weekends camping out on the building site. They got used to sleeping on the floor and when they had no running water in the house, they washed in the local stream and boiled the water for drinks. The couple refused to move in properly until the carpets were laid, by which time reclaimed radiators sourced by Eds father had been installed, stone floors laid and the whole house decorated by Amy and Ed of course.
They have furnished Cosh House in modern country style, including kitchen units hand- built by a friend and welcoming open fires which make the house cosy and comfortable in the colder months. Its definitely a lifestyle, rather than just a home, said Amy. Its a lovely way to live and a fantastic place to bring up children.
We are surrounded by the most beautiful countryside and in summer we spend nearly all our time outdoors. When winter approaches we stock up the fridge and freezer just in case we cant get out for a few weeks. It is remote, but we are not cut off. You just adapt to the circumstances.