Meet the sisters who have ensured the sustainability of their family’s sheep farm in the Yorkshire Wolds with unique Shepherd’s Huts

The Brader sisters – now Charlotte Russell and Emma Lund – outside a shepherd’s hut on their parents’ Wolds farm

Charlotte Russell and Emma Lund grew up on the 500-acre mansion farm in Thixendale, where Charlotte’s husband, Lee, works alongside their father, Charles Brader. It is a mixed farm of 700 breeding ewes and grain crops plus a herd of Highland cattle.

Charlotte and Emma’s mother, Gilda, ran a farmhouse bed and breakfast accommodation for 36 years and, when she quit, she realized there was an opportunity to continue the accommodation in a different way in what is arguably the most idyllic village in the Yorkshire Wolds.

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Charlotte said it was Gilda’s ideas that led to the creation of Country Huts On The Wolds, which opened this year with two rustic vacation huts made entirely from reclaimed wood and insulated with wool from sheep which overlook the cricket ground of the village of Thixendale and are positioned along one of the six converging valleys of the village.

“Thixendale is very popular with walkers and tourists and has become a destination. The very popular walker’s route, The Wolds Way, also passes through the village and many other walks include it.

“Mum had a lot of ideas and undertook a lot of research, but it was when she and dad stayed in a shepherd’s hut in Northumberland that she knew she had found what she was looking for and that It all started from there.”

Charlotte said the decision on where to locate the huts was another cause for deliberation.

“Mom and Dad’s favorite shepherd is their Sunday night shepherd when they get in the Land Rover and take a tour of the farm to check the sheep and the condition of the corn. The whole time they were doing, Mom was figuring out where the best place would be.

“In the end, this was the most convenient location, close to water pipes and electricity. We now have the Wicket Hut which can accommodate four people and the Wool Hut which can accommodate two people. They are designed and made by a wonderful man from Northumberland.

“Ours were made from wood reclaimed from a flour mill in Chester, a bonded warehouse in Newcastle and Goosehill School in Morpeth. Inside there is a 7 kW wood stove, the windows are double glazed and there is also gas central heating.

“These are really warm places and our guests all mention how thoughtful they are inside, making the most of the space. They also include a Smeg oven, fridge-freezer, power shower and outdoor fireplace. They are so well thought out with shelves in the right places, a place to charge your phone and WiFi is also available.

Emma said the response they had received since opening in May proved their mother was aware of her deliberations.

“Our customers love the view they get when they open the shutters in the morning and can see down to the valley floor. They are also constantly in awe of the wildlife which includes hedgehogs, bats, owls, other birds of prey and, of course, our sheep.

“Every other weekend in the summer or some evenings they even have a village cricket match to watch and some are now reserving for those times so they can enjoy the atmosphere. They can also enjoy our local village pub, The Cross Keys, which is less than 100 yards away and where they not only serve great beers and wines, but also fabulous evening meals.

“Many come simply because of the natural beauty of Thixendale and the Yorkshire Wolds. It’s quaint, tranquil and we get a pretty eclectic mix including lots of young couples booking in local places like York, Leeds and Beverley as they can be here in under an hour feeling great on vacation and relax away from the city life from the moment they arrive.

“They love the really dark nights we get and in August those who were here for the Perseid meteor shower found it absolutely stunning.”

Charlotte said all the preparatory work had been undertaken by her husband Lee and Michael ‘Buffer’ Holmes who worked with Lee and Charles on the farm, but when the huts first arrived on a low loader it turned out to be turned out to be a logistical nightmare.

“The huts were brought down from Northumberland on a low loader and had to be chipped away from the road, but the night before they arrived it had rained a lot and that proved to be far too inconvenient.

“They were parked on the farm about a quarter of a mile away for two weeks until it was dry enough to drag them down. Michael did a fabulous job getting them past the trees and getting them into position.


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