A few weeks ago, our head was well and truly turned. By Ted. He stole a piece of our heart too… but don’t panic, you haven’t accidentally stumbled across our other 'secret romantic confessions' blog (that doesn’t exist, you’ll be relieved to hear) ;).
Ted is actually a truly amazing Shepherds Hut, nestled in the stunning Somerset countryside of the Mendip Hills, just outside Wells. He’s a very special rural retreat and a bit of a mystery too, as there’s no sign and definitely no doorbell! Once you've booked, you only get access to him by being emailed a secret code – love that sense of anticipation and intrigue! Then, when you have the code in your hands, Ted’s just waiting to be discovered at Tor View Shepherds Huts... and discover him we did, when we went for a wonderful Winter’s break in this secluded spot.
You could say we’re a little bit obsessed with finding out-of-the-ordinary, unique hideaways in Somerset and there are two beautiful huts at Tor View that fit this description perfectly.
Len is the original luxury Shepherds Hut, self-built by owners Phil and Amanda Russell 12 years ago and named after Phil's grandfather, Leonard, who farmed the land at Tor View his whole life. Here's a quick little glimpse of Len in all his snowy glory, a couple of days ago!
Then, there's the newer addition... and as soon we laid eyes on Ted, we knew he was the hut for us!
Tucked away in a beautiful meadow with a cracking view of the Tor in the distance, Ted's cheery colour put huge grins on our faces, as we literally skipped up the path to meet him! ;)
That short walk (or skip in our case) from driveway to hut, made us even more excited about what was to come as we spotted some unexpected sheep in the meadow ;)…
… the odd bee and dragonfly…
..and a little sign that told us why the name Ted was chosen by Phil and Amanda.
As Phil explained:
"We took quite a while deciding on a name for our new hut - the brother of Len! The field where the hut was going to live has always been used for making hay and it just so happened that when I was looking for name inspiration, I discovered an old 1960's Hay Tedder in an overgrown hedge, on a nearby local farm. I rescued it, with the help of the farmer, and thought that our own hay field would be a great final resting place for it, as something similar would've been used by my grandfather when he farmed the land years ago.
From Tedder came the name Ted and in Somerset dialect, Ted means to turn hay, so with the link back to my grandfather it was just meant to be! Farmers also 'ted' the hay to make sure it dries evenly and becomes the perfect feed to look after their animals in the best possible way. The hut prides itself on carrying on that approach, from the past into the present, as each guest has everything they need to be rested and nurtured while staying with us ".
Well, ain’t that the truth... and for us, there's something more as well. Ted has real personality and from the minute we arrived, we felt as though he was a character we were getting to know! A friend, who's offering everything you need to shut yourself away and forget about the wider world for a couple of days. For us, Ted's definitely a mate we'd love to celebrate special occasions with and return to again and again to make more precious, lasting memories.
Honestly, when we stepped inside, it was as if we’d stumbled into a stylish secret cocoon, complete with beautiful wooden flooring and spacious sleeping area, with an egyptian cotton-clad bed so comfy that you'll definitely struggle to get up in the morning.
There's a gorgeous log burner to fire up and cuddle round on those chilly Winter nights
... and a perfectly formed, handcrafted kitchen area with a simple dry larder (tea, coffee, milk, sugar etc) and beautiful views of the fields and trees beyond.
Classical tunes from the radio greeted us when we stepped inside and as we looked around for the first time, what really struck me was the whole heap of love that’s clearly gone in to creating every nook and cranny of this beautiful getaway. From the en-suite bathroom to the coat pegs spelling TED, there are cool little touches everywhere... a tiny library of vintage books on the shelves above the bed, colourful tins reminding you of bygone eras (ahh, Ovaltine!), ancient maps, kindling packed into an old wooden trunk, beautiful photographs of the local area, an antique weather vane for checking if you're in for rain or shine...
... and every unique feature and the calm colours throughout, all add to the natural, rural and magical feel of the escape called Ted!
The other thing to let you in on, is that Ted’s electrics are powered by discreet solar panels installed on the roof and there's an abundance of stylishly built-in gadget and mobile charging points too. So, if you fancy an off grid retreat that's equipped to the highest possible standard, Ted's yer hut! ;)
Outside is just as cool and we probably spent most of our time outdoors... strolling across fields and pottering about nearer to hut!
There’s a fab seating area to make the most of those beautiful views and a cracking fire pit to take the chill off those Winter afternoons. Our first job was to light that bad boy, pop the kettle on, relax and take in the stunning surroundings – a perfect way to spend a crisp December Sunday, huddled by the fire with a mug of steaming tea in hand.
It was absolute bliss and as soon as we did that, I could feel the weight lifting from my shoulders. Ahhh!
If you fancy cooking up a storm under the late afternoon sun, or the evening stars come to that, there's also an outdoor oven and we (well, Graeme) got stuck right in to preparing the outdoor eco tub, so it would be ready for a moonlit (and candlelit) soak, once it was heated to the perfect temperature.
The eco tub is a Swedish 'Hikki', pretty much the best wood-fired tub you can get. It easily fits two people and if we could wish upon a star for one of these beauts to mysteriously appear in our own garden, we flipping well would! :)
Feeding it with wood (Ted supplies all that) and relaxing with a glass of fizz, or several, as the sun set and time ticked peacefully by, was one of the most magical evenings we've had in a while. The freezing winter air and the glow of the fire pit made it all the more special and as luck would have it, there was a Somerset Supermoon out too! What a way to watch it... from the warmth and steam of the tub, with the distant song of hooting owls serenading us!
One of the things we always do when we visit Somerset cool places is get stuck in to the guest book! :) (yeah, yeah, a bit of bedtime reading and all that)!
Ted's book is full to the brim with heartfelt comments and magical moments that people like us have experienced, in this genuine Somerset gem. The day before our stay, a couple got engaged there (Ted's very first proposal, we discovered) and what glorious surroundings to do it in too! As Phil told us:
"Different people come here to experience a rural getaway (and all that Len and Ted have to offer) in different ways, but for us, creating these two escapes has been a labour of love and we're just so pleased that other people take them to their hearts too".
Well, like Fiona and Nigel who wrote the lovely comment above, we're already planning our return visit - and for unique charm and soul by the Tedder load, you just can't beat the beautiful hut called Ted!
Our review in 3 words (which has turned into 4 this time): Magical, inside and out!
Ted can sleep up to 2 Adults. Len sleeps 2 adults and a little one. Prices start at £95 a night (low season) and are dependent upon the time of year. To find out more, visit their website. Tor View Shepherds Huts is also an award winner! Phil and Amanda recently won gold at the Bristol, Bath and Somerset Tourism Awards and are finalists at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards taking place in February, 2018. To follow Len and Ted's adventures on social media, here's their Instagram and Twitter too!