A few weeks ago, my husband and I took a trip to the Isle of Sheppey to stay at Elmley Nature Reserve. We were celebrating our 2nd year wedding anniversary and had booked 2 nights in The Saltbox – a luxury shepherd’s Hut which had windows for walls and the most amazing view out to the reserve. I’d heard about Elmley after Hannah from Seeds & Stitches stayed there earlier this year and posted the most beautiful photos. I showed them to Mark and when we saw that the only dates available in October were the ones over our anniversary we took it as a sign and booked it straight away.
A Few Hours in Whitstable
Check in to Elmley is at 3pm, so we made the most of the day and went to Whitstable beforehand for a bit of an explore. A walk along the beach and around the quaint little shops – I instantly fell for it’s charm. We had booked a table for lunch at local bistro Samphire – an unfussy, rustic bistro with an ever changing blackboard menu serving local fish, meat and seasonal greenery. Mark had booked the table and told them it was our anniversary. We arrived to a table in the window that was scattered with gold stars and had ‘Happy Anniversary’ written across it. Such a lovely touch.
We chose food from that day’s set menu. 3 courses of delightfully fresh food paired with a glass of delicious local red wine.
Elmley Nature Reserve
After filling our bellies, it was on to Elmley, a 20 minute drive away. The Nature Reserve is situated on the Isle of Sheppey. It has a 2 mile driveway habitated by cows and birds before reaching the farm.
We were warmly greeted and shown The Saltbox and were given a short brief on how the hot shower worked. There are 5 Shepherds Huts available to stay in at Elmley. They are all secluded from the other with the most amazing views looking across the reserve.
The Saltbox is one of two shepherds hut that has a complete bathroom and 2 showers. (One outside!). It also has a small kitchen. The bed points towards a floor to ceiling window where you can lie in bed and watch the wildlife across the reserve. On our first night we lit ourselves a fire, sat in the outside chairs and toasted marshmallows under a blanket of stars.*
(*Clouds were covering the stars, but that still counts right?!).
Sunrise from bed followed by an 11km walk
On our first morning, we set our alarm to wake up to watch the sun rise from bed. We were lucky and managed to catch a beautiful one over a clear sky. Snoozing under a blanket of fluffy covers after that was absolutely delightful and we felt so relaxed. We had pre-booked breakfast in bed which was delivered straight to our hut door in the cutest basket. Devouring egg and bacon sandwiches on fresh, thick cut bread alongside freshly brewed coffee whilst watching the wildlife in the distance was the perfect morning.
We spent our first full day going on a walk through the nature reserve. A very long walk. 11km to be exact, amongst cows and sheep. In the middle was a bird watchers hut called ‘Spit End Hide’ where we found blankets and binoculars. Now, neither I nor Mark know much about birds. However, it was a nice place to rest our legs for a while and watch them before we headed on our way.
The Ferry House Inn
On our return to The Saltbox, we were famished and so headed out to The Ferry House Inn for a big pub lunch. The food didn’t disappoint and I definitely recommend a meal there.
We spent our last evening playing cards and listening to music whilst snuggled up in our shepherds hut. What an amazing few days. We loved every minute and are already planning our return.
Have any of you stayed in a Shepherds Hut before? Did you enjoy it?