Our Yurt Stay at Hill Farm, Tintern – Eco Spa, Forest Bathing & Reconnecting with Nature
Price: £360 for 3 nights Monday – Thursday or £300 for 2 nights Friday – Saturday
Sleeps: Up to 2 adults and 3 children (smaller yurt also available)
Location: Barbadoes, Tintern, Monmouthshire
Approaching Hill Farm along ancient, winding narrow lanes you can feel the stresses of everyday life start to melt away. The location of the farm is breathtaking, offering a total escape from the normality of hectic modern living. The long gravel drive takes arriving guests through deep woodland before turning into the drive and Hill Farm itself. True to its name the farm is indeed on the side of a hill providing incredible views across the Wye Valley towards Tintern Abbey. Hill Farm has been owned by Hayley and Tom Court since 2018 but this is their first year of offering glamping accommodation in the form of 3 traditional style yurts. With both Hayley and Tom having their own interests in various aspects of well-being they are able to offer guests a range of additional experiences during their stay including an eco-spa experience, forest bathing and woodland yoga. As a result a stay at Hill Farm is much more than your typical glamping holiday – a stay here allows you to immerse yourself in your own well being, reconnecting with nature and each other in the process. Hill Farm really is quite a special place.
Hayley and Tom have added 3 traditional style yurts to their range of guest accommodation which already consists of A Room With a View. Two of the yurts are 18 feet, large enough to put up a family of 2 adults and up to 3 children. The third yurt is smaller at 12 feet, making it the perfect retreat for couples or smaller families. They are well spaced in a large meadow area allowing privacy yet remaining close enough for the odd friendly chat or shared game between children. The set up also makes this an ideal space for group bookings or multi generational family get-togethers.
As a family of four we stayed in one of the 18 foot yurts located closest to the main farm house. The yurt is beautifully decorated with a bright, circular window in the roof flooding the whole interior with natural light. Despite having a large double and two single beds made up there was still plenty of space for storage and moving about. In addition to our super cosy beds the yurt also contains a log burner for chilly nights, arm chairs, coffee table and shelving for storage – and the whole interior is decorated with gorgeous throws, rugs and bunting making it feel like a real home from home.
The yurts come with a sheltered cooking area with all the utensils you’re likely to need during your stay. There’s a two hob gas cooker; a cool box with ice blocks refreshed each day for storing; all the essentials for washing up and cleaning and some delicious locally sourced eggs as well as a few other staple supplies to keep you going. Outside of the shelter there’s a BBQ, fire pit and tree stump seating. The perfect set up for chilled evenings cooking on the fire as you watch the sun dip below the horizon.
Each yurt is allocated its own compost toilet. We’ve used compost toilets before so they didn’t phase us. Hill farm have set theirs up in a very cute hut with hand washing facilities provided by the local natural spring. Shower facilities are shared by all guests with each yurt being allocated a time slot to allow for deep cleaning between sessions. The shower is an absolute wonder having been fashioned out of an old horsebox using Monkey Puzzle wood by Tom. Stylish and functional the horsebox shower is unique and totally in keeping with the rest of the farm.
Pizza Making – £15 per adult or £8 per child
Hill Farm offer Pizza Nights as an optional extra on Tuesday and Saturday nights. For us this provided a fantastic alternative to cooking over the BBQ (there is such a thing as having too many burgers!) while allowing us the opportunity to get to know Tom a bit better as he helped us prepare our meal. Pizzas are prepped in an outdoor covered dining space next to the farms very own pizza oven. Ingredients include fresh herbs and vegetables produced on the farm as well as a wide range of traditional toppings including pepperoni, ham and anchovies. Tom was a fabulous head chef encouraging the kids to get involved and create their own culinary delights. Once done you get to sit back and enjoy your home cooked pizza against the stunning backdrop of the view across the valley right down to Tintern Abbey. You certainly don’t get that at Pizza Hut!!
The eco spa sets Hill Farm apart from similar glamping sites. This spa is something quite special! Hayley and Tom purposely set the hot tub, sauna and plunge pool at the far end of the site so that guests can enjoy the best views on the farm as they soak their worries away. The views are incredible – with a sweeping vista right across the Wye Valley back into England. The hot tub is wood fuelled, filled with local spring water and upcycled from an old Koi Carp tank highlighting the sustainable ethos of the farm. We loved spending the evening together chatting and playing tub games. The wood burner is surprisingly effective meaning the children got hot quite frequently hopping in and out to dip themselves in the plunge pool to cool off. The sauna was a calmer affair offering a bit of quiet respite away from our excitable little folk. An absolutely dreamy way to end the day.
The sauna is available to hire at £50 for 2 hours. Guests can hire the hot tub and sauna for an evening experience at £250 per bubble. All facilities are deep cleaned between each use.
Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing)
Before our stay at Hill Farm I’d heard of Forest Bathing but didn’t really know much about it. I knew it was about spending time immersing yourself in trees and that it originated from Japan. That was the extent of my knowledge. When Tom invited us for a taster session my first thoughts were – Will the kids tolerate this? Is this really for us? Isn’t it the same as taking a walk through the woods? Having enjoyed every single minute of our taster session I can reassure you that it is something the whole family will enjoy. It is for everyone (even you skeptics!). And there is so much more to Shinrin-Yoku than just taking a walk through the woods.
Tom is incredibly passionate and knowledgeable about the concept, starting sessions with a bit of background information detailing the health benefits, positive impact on mental health and the fact that Forest Bathing is now prescribed as a viable medical treatment for conditions such as trauma in Japan and South Korea. Tom’s level of knowledge goes far beyond this, talking about how trees communicate with each other, releasing chemicals that have a direct impact on our mood – he’s much better at communicating the finer points but it is utterly fascinating!
During our session Tom took us into the stunning woodland that surrounds the farm. We played a few games that encouraged a fun connection with the trees – blindfolding a partner and guiding them on a sensory trail through the trees, exploring a trees shape and form through touch & taking time to awaken the senses to the sounds, smells and sensations of the forest. Is is all quite simple but we became fully engaged in everything Tom was prescribing. My children have a tendency to opt out and rarely work together. But here they were – supporting each other, communicating, bonding and most importantly having fun. Our session lasted to hour and when it came to the end we couldn’t believe the time had flown by so fast. A really unique and eye opening experience that allowed us to not only connect with the forest but also with each other.
In addition to all the wonderful activities listed above Hill Farm also run yoga and wellbeing retreat days, offer massage therapy treatments, outdoor cooking experiences and traditional skills workshops (think hedge laying and wood whittling). They will also be offering kids activities through Rewilding Yourself throughout the school holidays with a choice of activities including bush craft, archery and mindfulness.
Guests can easily walk into Tintern from the site via a woodland pathway at the rear of the farm. It takes about 20 minutes to walk there and slightly longer to walk back as it’s all up hill. Tintern has a number of pubs and cafes as well as the gothic masterpiece that is Tintern Abbey. A lovely spot to potter about and great to not need to use the car for a change.
We left Hill Farm after just two nights feeling lighter, calmer, refreshed and more content. This place is more than just a stunning location, the warm welcome that Hayley and Tom offer radiates a positive and healthy ethos that leaves you feeling inspired and wanting to make changes in your own lifestyle. Even the children who arrived bickering and sulking left giggling together having bonded over the rope swings and evenings around the fire pit. I can’t recommend Hill Farm highly enough – the accommodation is high end, the facilities and experiences on site surpass expectations and the hosts felt like old friends. We’d go back in a heart beat!
We were invited to stay at Hill Farm in exchange for this review. All thoughts and opinions are our own – it really is this fabulous! If you’d like more details please visit their website here.