Swallowtail Hill offers unusual accommodation on a farm in the depths of the country and we want all of our guests to have a comfortable and enjoyable experience when they stay with us. We also want our guests to know that they are staying at a place which we have done our utmost to manage in as sustainable a way as possible. This is what we’ve done and how. We hope you find it interesting and that perhaps it inspires you to believe that sustainable living does not need to be a hardship.
The natural environment
Starting with the farm, 31 of its 40 acres are within something called the Higher Level Environmental Stewardship Scheme. This is awarded by Natural England and is quite rare for farms this size. The remaining 9 acres – one field – is managed similarly but is simply excluded from the scheme and its associated grant in case we ever needed to cultivate food crops. Over 20 years we have developed a small but unique landscape – it has been described as one of the finest conservation areas in south east England. To quote Plantlife International’s then Species Recovery Officer, Dominic Price ‘you won’t see wild flower meadows like this within 100 miles’. Possibly an exaggeration but nonetheless an indication of his enthusiasm for the multitude of grass and flower species discovered here.
We have created 9 acres of traditional flower meadow and are converting a further 8; 5 acres are managed as tussocky grassland to encourage invertebrates and small mammals; a further 9 acres are down to standard hay; no chemicals are used except sparingly and by spot spraying to remove invasive weeds; we have put in nine ponds, two scrapes, one dewpond, and three reed-beds; 8 acres of woodland is managed by rotational coppicing; there is an unusual area of bog; and a small stand of alder, which is left wild. Hedgerows have been planted, and now laid, around most of the fields, providing green lanes along the outside edges, and a dense habitat for wildlife; some years ago 100 bird boxes were put up along with two owl boxes, with the result that the bird population is strong. There is consequently an abundance of wildlife of all kinds.
Our calculations show that we are carbon positive, so you can be sure that the emissions you are responsible for are neutralised while you are here. While we continue to buy our electricity (from Good Energy, so entirely from renewables), we have a 14 panel solar PV installation on a barn roof, and transmit directly to the grid some 3,500 KWh a year. Summer hot water is supplied by another solar array on the farmhouse roof. The loft spaces are insulated with sheep’s wool. Winter heating and hot water is provided by our own timber, from the wood on our land. The woodland and the pasture themselves, especially permanent pasture, act as very effective carbon sinks.
The glamping business has been designed to be as sustainable as possible. The site itself is entirely off-grid; you heat your cabin with a log burner using wood from our own coppice. Your showers are also log fired. You also have use of butane for cooking which is low in emissions. You can also cook outside on a log fired fire pit. If you use charcoal we supply English provenanced charcoal from sustainable sources.