Bank House Farm, Glaisdale - Bunk Barn in the North York Moors
PUBLISHED: 14:44 25 January 2012 | UPDATED: 20:57 20 February 2013
Sell up, sell out or change direction. That was the dilemma facing North York Moors farmer Emma Padmore, as she explains
Im the first to admit that my husband Chris and I are extremely lucky to live in one of the most beautiful places in the country.
Our stone farmhouse, Bank House Farm, and row of traditional outbuildings nestle under a rocky hillside, softened by a scattering of trees that have managed to seed themselves among the heather and rock. Around our 140-acre organic beef and sheep farm is Glaisdale, a magnificent panorama of green fields dotted with occasional red-roofed homes below a picture-rail border of moor and heather.
Surely the people who call this home are rich beyond compare? Well, yes and no. We are certainly blessed to be surrounded by such beauty when the weather allows us to see it and we both love working with animals. But farming is a business, and from a business point of view our tale is not so pretty.
Twenty years ago the farm made a modest profit of 5,000 to 8,000 a year, but we now struggle to make any money at all.
Costs are up and income is down. So we had to ask ourselves: should we sell up or change tack?
The farm is where we met, and our sons Joe, 21, and Sim, 19, grew up here. We have also shared it with our large extended family over 22 years as well as many friends and visitors, so we felt we had to stay on if we could.
Inspiration came when we started researching bunk barns on the internet. We visited some in the Yorkshire Dales, where farmers now make a decent income from walkers and tourists in the Dales National Park. We spent the next six months working on an application for funding from Business Link. They were initially positive, but then suddenly changed their tune. So we approached NatWest instead.
We did some of the simple labouring work on our previously redundant cart shed ourselves and now have a bunk barn offering modern accommodation with multiple showers, loos and a dormitory that sleeps eleven (although it actually only has one proper bunk bed because of the slope of the ceiling).
We now look back on our first few months of business with some pride. The dozen or so groups who have stayed have all been very enthusiastic and some have even rebooked. Our guests have appreciated the user-friendly facilities and the idyllic view through the large ex-cart shed doors.
We actively enjoy sharing our farm with visitors and look forward to doing so for years to come, particularly as the extra income means we can continue our passion for farming. If we have to share this wonderful place, so be it. In the end, we are all winners.
The print version of this article appeared in the February 2012 issue of Yorkshire Life
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