Where else would you expect to see a shepherd’s hut other than on a sheep farm. No longer are these structures a practical roof over the head of a weary shepherd moving his flock across the country, they are now captivating little havens for travellers with relaxation and escapism in mind.

At Creeside Farm, Barrhill, between Girvan and Newton Stewart, stands a little green hut, that looks, from the outside, very utilitarian, but when you open the door, you enter a joyous space. And space there is. What looks pretty small when looking at the hut from the approach, it is something of a tardis inside.

I’m walking down to the hut with owner Sarah Redman, and her daughter Daisy, while husband Simon is off doing important farm stuff on their sheep and beef farm.

They opened the hut for business in May this year, and haven’t had a weekend free since then. They are doing so well that they are finalists in the Best Rural Diversification Project category of the Rural Business Awards in the northern region.

The hut has a double bed, a dining table with two chairs, rocking chair, a kitchen area with gas hob and fridge, a wood burning stove and an en-suite eco-toilet with hand-basin. Everything you need to relax and unwind overlooking the river Cree.

What it doesn’t have is almost as important as what it does have. It doesn’t have mains electricity (it is solar powered), no wifi, no TV, and no shower.

When you come to Creeside Escape Shepherd Hut, you really are escaping from the trappings of the modern world. There are lots of books, board games and time to talk, walk, cycle, or explore the surrounding areas or you can just sit and enjoy the quiet.

Sarah tells me about their decision to go down the shepherd hut route for a diversification project.

Sarah said: “I’ve always wanted a shepherd’s hut, whether for our own social use, or as a holiday home, as I just love them. They are different from the usual pods, cottages and wigwams that are readily available.

“When I spotted online that the LEADER programme had funding available (LEADER is part of the Scottish Rural Development Programme), I thought it is now or never. The now was spring 2018 and it wasn’t until spring 2019 that the grant application process was completed, and we got the funding we needed.”

LEADER, while a wonderful source of funding for rural projects, is renowned for its tedious form filling and three quotes for everything before you get the nod.

Sarah just shakes her head when I ask her about the process. “I won’t say what I feel about the process; there were times I would have given up had I not had the patience to see it through, but we wouldn’t have been able to afford to buy the hut without the funding, so we are very grateful for it, as Shepherd’s huts can cost anything from £10k to £70k.”

So where do you buy a shepherd’s hut from then? “I had no idea,” she laughs. “I just started Googling and I eventually found a wonderful chap in Cotswolds who just got our vision.

“I wanted it to be, well basic isn’t the right word as it isn’t basic, but I didn’t want all the bells and whistles. The vision I had was for a stand-alone, rustic style, comfortable hut where you could kick your shoes off and warm your feet in front of the woodburner.”

The hut isn’t on the mains water, so the eco toilet and rather adorable mini Belfast sink are run from a water pump. And bottled water is provided for guests.

Planning also proved problematic, as initial advice was that they only needed a change of use for the land it was sitting on, but then they were re-advised they needed full planning permission. Another headache, that involved architect’s drawings, plans etc, but one that they eventually got sorted.

“I was just so passionate to keep going and we had lambing coming up which didn’t help with the stress levels," said Sarah.

The hut arrived and had to sit for six weeks while they completed their lambing in the spring. By then Sarah had already started her social media campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Telling the story of their hut, their farm, and day to day life on their beef and sheep farm. The story soon gathered momentum and enquiries started coming in.

The interior design is rustic and characterful, with everything coming from antique or charity shops, upcycled items they already owned or things that Sarah made herself. “I didn’t want it to be twee with thistles and stags, it’s an eclectic mix.”

Do guests mind there isn’t a shower?

“It doesn’t seem to matter. I’m very honest in my descriptions of what we have and what we don’t have, so there are no surprises. We had a couple who stayed for a week and they swam in the river every morning. Not that I’m suggesting that’s for everyone, but it doesn’t seem to bother some people too much.”

The location is four miles from the Southern Upland Way, and Sarah is happy to pick up weary walkers from that point and drop them back off. She also does pick-ups from Barrhill train station which is just a few miles away.

What guests do find important is that the hut can be hired for one night. Most holiday accommodation states a minimum of two to three nights. And if they are walking or cycling then one night is all they need to be back on their way.

Sarah says: “Daisy here is just as good as me at doing the changeover, so she pops down and changes the bed and does some of the cleaning.”

I ask Daisy if she is on a good wage. “No, mum just buys me things.” Which seems fair enough.

Sarah listed the hut on various online booking services, and when her first booking came in through AirBnB, she was jumping for joy. They have had guests that are quite local, Glasgow, Edinburgh. And they have had numerous international visitors from Russia, South Africa, and Spain. Lots of them are touring Scotland and are looking for accommodation that is a little different, and offers solitude.

The location of the hut is within the Dark Sky Park which Sarah says on a clear night, with no light pollution guaranteed, the skies are absolutely beautiful. “I’ve put a couple of books on stars and constellations in the hut for guests to look at.”

And if cooking first thing isn’t for you, you can book a continental breakfast from Sarah and she will deliver it to your door. The House ‘O Hill Inn in Bargrennan, five miles away is the perfect place for guests to go for a delicious evening meal.

Inside the hut there is an old poster showing the various shapes of shepherd huts over the years. Back then it was a hut on wheels, pulled by a horse, with a bed, a stove and a space for the sheepdog to sleep. Things have moved on it seems.

“It’s a really sturdy structure,” says Sarah. “And it is completely part of the farm - the sheep graze underneath it, and we were baling on that field a few weeks ago, and the guests loved it. Our rare breed Whitebred Shorthorn cows nosey around and come up to the fence.”

And finally, what does Sarah want for her guests when they come here. “I want them to enjoy a digital detox; to relax, unwind and recharge with uninterrupted views, fresh air and peace and quiet.”


Bookable on Airbnb, costing £60 per night for two people sharing.