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Heron's Rural Retreat
Leighton Buzzard, England
1 acre
A wild-feeling campsite on the farm, with ponds and hens and quirky glamping options
When Rachel and Julian first started Heron’s Rural Retreat on their Bedfordshire farm in 2020 there were just a handful of camping pitches and a couple of bell tents you could hire. But the reaction to the wild-feeling space, with individual pitches spread about, views over Aylesbury Vale and a couple of ponds fed by a natural spring, was instant. Campers and glampers loved the place and it set the wheels in motion. It’s a short walk from the couple’s old farmhouse and its outbuildings (where there are toilets, showers and parking) to the meadowy pockets and spaces of the campsite. Today, the farm remains just as spacious and wild but there’s even more intrigue, with an ex-army truck for couples, a pair of 1960s horse boxes and an old showman’s wagon with a circus-themed interior. All of the quirky new glamping options are off gird and suit the hidden feel of the place. The secluded cedar-wood glamping pod, for example, has port-hole windows to overlook the pond and the shepherd’s hut, on the edge of an old hay meadow, is situated quietly away from other guests in the shade of willow trees. The result is a homespun site with the same secluded atmosphere but, now, a host of exciting places to return to each year, as well as the grass tent camping pitches. The farmland itself slopes westwards towards the River Ouzel, with a footpath running along the bottom of the site that you can follow, in one direction, to Rushmere Country Park, a 400-acre forest with footpaths and cycle trails, or, in the other direction, to the Grand Union Canal, where there’s a good pub beside a lock. Bring bikes to cycle the towpath further afield or hop in the car to visit the likes of Bletchley Park (five miles) or the National Trust’s Ashridge Estate (15 miles). Not that attractions are really what you stay for. The campsite is an attraction in itself, with birds to watch, bugs for youngsters to find and hens and sheep to meet. It feels odd that such escapism can be found so close to Milton Keynes and the M1. But then that’s the magic of what Julian and Rachel have created here. And, indeed, what they continue to create on this ever evolving landscape.
Natural features
Not currently accepting bookings on Hipcamp
Leighton Buzzard, England, United KingdomTo respect the Host's privacy, the precise address of this land will be provided after booking
Hosted by Deleted H.Joined in April 2021
From the host
Heron's Rural Retreat is on a working farm between Leighton Buzzard and Milton Keynes and overlooks the Aylesbury Vale. The land slopes down to the River Ouzel and is quite wild in parts with two ponds that are fed by a natural spring. We offer a limited number of seasonal camping pitches, and a choice of glamping units, all off-grid and fitted out with upcycled and handmade items.
Nearby attractions
A footpath heads east out of the farm, across the road and shortly joins you up with Rushmere Country Park, about a mile away, where more paths and trails cut through the forest and there's a visitor centre and café. If you're a runner, they also host a ParkRun here every Saturday morning. The park is huge (it recently featured on BBC One's Countryfile) and adjoins Stockgrove Country Park, too. It's also less than a mile to Alders Farm shooting range. Most people visiting the area, however, will no doubt have Bletchley Park (01908 640404; five miles) on their list, a magnificent country estate best known as the centre for Allied code-breaking during the Second World War. Other popular attractions within half an hour's drive include Whipsnade Zoo (0344 225 1826; 13 miles), good walks around Ivinghoe Beacon on the Ridgeway (12 miles) and the National Trust's Ashridge Estate (01442 851227; 15 miles).
Food and drink
There are a couple of good pubs nearby. Follow the footpath north west out of the campsite and continue down the road to The Three Locks (0152 5270214; around a mile; 20 minutes' walk) set along the canal side. And, if you like the canal, you can also cycle south along the tow path to The Globe (01525 373338) also with waterside seating and three miles by road from the campsite. Other good options include the Old Red Lion (01525 261715) in Great Brickhill, with good views and a particularly well-angled garden for sunsets, and the family-run George (01525 261298) in Little Brickhill with a sizeable garden and play area. For local produce, try T.H.E. Best Butcher (01908 375275) in Great Brickhill or pop to Hunters Farm Shop (01908 377537; five miles).
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