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Unique Shepherds Huts on a Vineyard

· Brightlingsea Road, Essex, England
60 acres hosted by Polly B.
2 glamping pitches
Luxury shepherds huts near the Essex coast, with beautiful, watery surroundings and a wonderfully private setting

Few places showcase the full spectrum of coast and countryside scenery quite like Mill Farm in Essex. Tidal creeks stretch their fingers in land every time the waters rise, reed-fringed ponds rustle in the breeze and wading birds natter on the flat, marshy palms that make up the Colne Estuary. In the fields, meanwhile, pick-your-own strawberries puff out in time for summer, while a newly planted vineyard is showing the first stripy signs of life. And all of this within 55 acres.

It’s in this rather fairytale farm setting that The Shepherds Hide is found – or rather the ‘hides’, plural, since there are now two different abodes to choose from. The first, tucked in its own private, partially wooded enclave overlooking a pond, has all the same comforts of the second, which is in a separate area of the farm and blessed with views of the young vineyard. Both have been crafted with every comfort in mind.

Inside, expect a king-sized bed, wood burning stove and compact kitchen space, along with an en suite shower room at one end. What really sets the place apart, however, is the fine attention to detail. There are toiletries in the bathroom (all biodegradable and wonderfully fragrant), locally sourced goodies in your wicker ‘welcome hamper’ and small tins with tea, coffee and sugar, each decorated with illustrations of native wildlife that can be spotted from your window.

Beyond the door of each hut, a trail leads away into the farm. Guests are welcome to explore, with footpaths weaving towards Arlesford Creek, a perfect place for bird watching. A short stroll and you’ll also find the old wooden mill that gives the farm its name – a fully restored tidal mill built in 1831. It’s only open on certain days if you want to peep inside but it makes for a magnificent photo or two in the meantime, set against the colours of the creek beyond, where the waters ebb away having circled the water-wheel that turns inside.

During summer the strawberry field is opened up to the public and glampers can gorge themselves on ripe fruit – a serious pleasure since they grow a whole host of sweet varieties you can’t buy in the supermarkets. Or take your basket and skip your way down to the beaches of the Essex coast – Clacton on Sea, Walton on the Naze and more – all just ten minutes or so in the car, where you could add a little ice cream to those berries. Take your pick. Literally.

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21 Ratings · 30 reviews
James W.recommends
January 8, 2024
Lovely winter weekend
Lovely weekend in the hut. Cosy, had all the essentials, and there is such a nice view at this time of year of the mill pond with the ducks playing around. We did a lovely walk along the footpath that runs below one edge of the vineyard and out along beside Alresford Creek. Quiet, relaxing, a wonderful break in a part of East Anglia I'd never really considered before. Will return!
Michelle R.recommends
July 10, 2023
A beautiful location and Polly could not be more helpful. A tour of their vineyard is a must.
Caroline F.recommends
September 13, 2022
Just came back from 4 nights at wigeon, was the perfect place to getaway from the city. Definitely the vineyard tour, Polly was great!
Catriona B.recommends
March 31, 2022
Just got back from staying in the Teal hut for a couple of nights; so peaceful and relaxing and allows you to feel like you are connecting with nature. The hut was well kitted out and had everything we needed in order to enjoy our stay. The log burning stove heated the hut nicely. Would definitely stayed longer if we had the chance to and will be coming back again - but bringing others with us to try this amazing experience away from the noise. Excellent site, amazing hosts.
Claire D.recommends
November 17, 2021
Wow what a delight this getaway was! We stayed in Teal for 2 nights & if I hadn’t needed to get my car MOT’d the next day, would have stayed longer. The accommodation was kitted out beautifully & to a high standard. We cooked both nights with relative ease & enjoyed the cold evenings with the log burner which more than adequately heated the place. We loved it & can’t wait to go back this time in the summer. Highly recommended.
Sandra N.recommends
October 21, 2021
I stayed in Wigeon for a few nights. The hut is well equipped with cooker, utensils and wood burner 🪵. I enjoyed waking to the sounds of the greylag and barnacle geese that live nearby who enjoy coming to greet you when you walk past! The resident chickens/hens can also be seen nearby. I enjoyed a walk from the accommodation to Wivenhoe along the river Colne and also walked to Brightlingsea. I ordered a hamper from the host and enjoyed a couple of lovely fried breakfasts 🍳. I would definitely recommend the accommodation and would suggest as per a previous guest that a roller blind over the door would assist - especially if you like the room to be really dark when sleeping. Thank you for a pleasant stay!
Brightlingsea Road, Essex, England, United KingdomTo respect the Host's privacy, the precise address of this land will be provided after booking
Hosted by Polly B.Joined in February 2016
From the host
Located on a family farm and vineyard in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Shepherds Hide huts "Wigeon" and "Teal" are luxurious unique and secluded self catering shepherds huts, tucked away on the heart of the Essex coast, just outside Colchester overlooking their very own Vineyard - Thorrington Mill Vineyard. Award Winning wines can be enjoyed from the huts at your leisure. They are perfect for short breaks, romantic getaways or for longer self-catering holidays in the countryside with excellent bird watching and walking on site and a range of tourist attractions nearby. You are also Mill Farm, is about 60 acres of a mixture vines, grassland, salt marsh, tidal creeks and inland waters and is the home of the only fully restored tide mill in Essex. Reconnect with nature and yourselves at The Shepherds Hide, away from the hustle and bustle of your busy lives. In February 2018 we were voted as one of Essex's top 10 most romantic spots by Essex Life Magazine and we are very proud to have been featured as Number 3 in Adventure Travel Magazine's round-up of the 10 most incredible winter glamping sites in the UK in October 2017. We are also proud to have been featured as Number 25 in The Daily Telegraph's Summer 2016 Top 40 Glamping Campsites in the UK and Europe.
Nearby attractions
The farm is home to the only fully restored water mill in Essex, Thorrington Tide Mill (03330 138156). It's now owned by Essex County Council and opened as a museum between April and September on the last Sunday of every month, some bank holidays and special mill open days. It's just a short stroll from the shepherd's hut. If you fancy venturing further afield by foot, there's glorious bird watching along the Colne Estuary, with footpaths leading directly down to the water from the site. Enjoy the sandy beaches around Brightlingsea – lined with beach huts and backed by a long promenade – or head inland to Colchester, Britain's oldest recorded town (20-minutes in the car). The village of Dedham is also a particular joy, in the heart of Constable country (25 minutes by car). It was here that Britain's greatest landscape artist went to school and today the main street is lined with attractive Georgian houses, old inns and a large art/crafts centre.
Food and drink
On arrival you'll be welcomed with a "local goods basket". After that, there are supermarkets in nearby Brightlingsea, while Thorrington itself, offers a local store for basic supplies and a great local pub, The Red Lion (01206 252001). During the Summer – late May and mid July (season length is subject to the weather) – the farm also opens for pick your own strawberries. The Shepherds Hide is located away from this busy hub but it means you can conveniently stroll around the corner to pick and taste their amazing, fresh strawberries!
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