Change is afoot in the Peak District National Park
Historically our National Park counts quarrying, farming and tourism as its main industries. However, the balance of this structure is undergoing a seismic shift and it is essential that we understand and embrace this change if we are to mitigate the risk it brings and maximise on the huge opportunity to the Park’s businesses, community and environment that it presents.
With a total of 70 quarries this industry historically played a hugely important part in the Peak District’s economy. Whilst quarrying is still vital to the area most of them are now disused and improvements in extraction techniques along with efficiencies in production have led to a reduction in jobs in the few that remain. This downward trend can only continue as resources deplete and technologies advance.
Almost 90% of the land in the Peak District is farmed. However, the region is largely classified as a Less Favoured Area by DEFRA and as such is entirely dependent on subsidies to maintain economic viability. Uncertainty around the future of these subsidies* along with a more general decline in the fortunes of farmers has increasingly led to them seeking to diversify in a bid to prop up their failing farms.
* recent announcements from the government suggest that farmers will receive money for landscape and habitat protection rather than the current system based on land quantity
With its hugely diverse landscape, rich fauna and flora, wealth of history and outstanding scope for leisure activities the Peak District is perfectly positioned to offer everything a holiday maker could want. However, the Peak District has failed to capitalise on this potential and the area is performing poorly when compared to its sister parks and other key tourist destinations in the UK. Whist tourists certainly come to the Peak in their droves they spend comparatively little and stay for short periods.
“The boost to domestic tourism follows a record-breaking first quarter that saw overnight visits in England rise 10% to 7.3m and spending on domestic overnight holidays up 23% to £1.8bn, VisitBritain figures show” Isabel Choat, The Guardian.
The scope to develop a thriving tourist economy in the Peak District is huge and exciting. However, this must be achieved in such a way that is sensitive to the ecology, community and landscape which makes our Park so special in the first place.
Peak District Sustainable Growth Strategy
“Our strategic approach to growing the value of tourism needs to focus on increasing numbers at times of the year when there is capacity, encouraging staying visitors to stay longer and finding other ways of encouraging more spending.”
Identifying areas of tourist demand
To meet this growth strategy, it is vital to entice day trippers to lengthen their stay in the Park (which is currently under three hours) and the optimum way to achieve this is to deliver a wider scope of holiday accommodation. This should be environmentally sensitive, deliver local employment, be culturally appropriate and refrain from diverting housing away from the local first-time buyer market as holiday lets are inclined to do.
There has been a change in the way that we holiday as figures increasingly demonstrate a desire for diversity and uniqueness in holiday accommodation along with a tendency towards shorter UK breaks taken more frequently. This corresponds with a desire to unplug and get back to basics. In fact, the World Tourist Organisation forecast that ecotourism will be the fastest growing sector of the tourist industry expanding by 20% to 34% year on year. It is here that we see a fantastic opportunity for the Peak District to achieve its tourism growth objectives sensitively and responsibly.
Ecotourism and Glamping
With its focus on sustainability, conservation and education, ecotourism is defined by the Ecotourism Society Board of Directors as ‘Responsible travel to natural and cultural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the wellbeing of local people’.
When done well glamping fits this model perfectly and provides a diverse holiday solution for both eco-tourists and those looking for a holiday with a difference. A well-considered site will be small scale and cause a minimal amount of environmental disturbance. Accommodation should also be sympathetic to the local surroundings.
Why choose shepherd huts?
When considering what type of accommodation would be best suited to the meet the demand for glamping, satisfy the principles of eco-tourism and fit into our National Park’s landscape we believe that traditional shepherd huts are the perfect fit.
How shepherd huts will encourage visits throughout the year – Constructed in the same way as a timber framed house our shepherd huts are infinitely capable of standing up to the Peak District’s weather in all of it glorious forms. With fully insulated walls, floor and ceiling, double glazed windows and a wood burning stove they are cosy and desirable all year expanding the holiday season through all four seasons.
How shepherd huts will increase visitor spend – Offering shepherd huts as holiday accommodation would allow the Peak District to tap into a pre-existing, proven, expanding and lucrative market that is currently unavailable to it. These holiday makers will not only spend money on the accommodation itself but once in the Peak they will go on to experience the many visitor attractions we have, eat in our cafes, pubs and restaurants and buy from our local shops increasing spend across all quarters.
How shepherd huts will attract new visitors (with potential spending power) – With existing glampsites charging between £70 – £120 per night for their shepherd huts they attract an affluent socio-economic group. They are popular with families with young children looking to introduce them to the great outdoors but with a modicum more comfort and style than experienced in a tent and they are also attractive to couples looking for a romantic escape.
How shepherd huts will encourage best use of existing resources – Whilst our farm land may be considered poor when it comes to farming it is undoubtedly wildlife rich. Packed with a multitude of grasses, flowers and insects, the opportunity to conserve and protect it whilst providing our struggling farmers with an income has been recognised by the National Park Authority and farmers alike and is surely too good to pass by. Equally because shepherd huts are mobile they have very little localised environmental impact.
How shepherd huts will conserve the landscape, including the towns and villages and their special qualities – Taking it a step further and assisting farmers to incorporate wildlife conservation and environmental management not only protects and improves the precious resource that their tourism would be based on but it also allows the farmers to provide an even more attractive destination to tourists.
How shepherd huts will conserve the natural and cultural heritage of the whole area – When considering the types of glamping accommodation available, the humble shepherd hut wins hands down. As part of the Britain’s cultural heritage, shepherd huts are perfectly at home in our landscape and offer the authentic experience that so many holiday makers are seeking.
As recent awardee of the coveted UNSECO world heritage site award, the Lake District has embraced shepherd huts and glamping as part of it offering to tourists with great success. Shepherd huts have been welcomed across the country from Snowdonia National Park to Northumberland, The Yorkshire Dales to Loch Lomond, their value is clear. The National Trust has even purchased several huts to use as information stations to promote their work as they recognise the huts’ cultural significance.
When considering the wider eco-experience, the Peak District and its communities have abundant delights which can be recruited to provide a unique experience that glampers are searching for. For those offering glamping on a working farm, educational tours and basic farming duties such as collecting eggs and milking cows can be offered giving holiday makers an insight into the rural industry so integral to the Peak. Wildlife enthusiasts and Park rangers can provide information on the local flora and fauna, bushcraft experts can offer skills courses, local food producers could provide cookery courses and mountain leaders can offer safe access to the Peak Districts many crags and walks. The possibilities are as wide and varied as the wonderful region we live in.
Introducing White Peak Shepherd Huts!
Why choose us?
Being lucky enough to be based in the Peak District National Park means that we are sensitive to the need to preserve our unique environment and local economy. Therefore, we operate our business according to the ethics of environmental sustainability and we support local business wherever possible.
We provide employment for four local people contributing to both our regional and the wider economy. We also attend local shows such as Hope, Chatsworth’s Horse Trials and Country Fair and Eroica as well as contributing to village events.
When it comes to the huts themselves we build each one on a bespoke basis allowing us maximum flexibility when it comes to choosing our materials and styling. We use a local father and son company to build our chassis and we also source our materials from the area where possible reducing our carbon footprint and supporting regional businesses. We only use FSC approved timber, never tropical hardwoods and the majority of our paints are water based and eco-friendly. In fact we have worked so hard getting sustainability right that we have recently been awarded the prestigious Environmental Quality Mark (EQM) by the Peak District National Park.
To reduce the ongoing environmental impact of our huts still further we ensure that they are well insulated and double glazed to make the most of the heat provided by the wood burning stove provided with each hut. Whilst our huts can be connected to the grid they can also be completely self-sufficient and therefore fully mobile making them an environmentalist’s dream.
And the list of shepherd huts benefits goes on!
• Can be sited almost anywhere
• Mobile buildings
• Family friendly
• Ideal shower block and site office
• Each hut is bespoke built and therefore unique offering a wide and varied visitor experience
• When purchased complete requires minimal set up
• Long lasting investment
There is a saying, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got” however in the case of the Peak District, with its failing farms and depleting industry the truth is more frightening.
If we fail to change and adapt to the region’s changing circumstances the area that we love and the communities within it are bound to suffer. Fortunately, there is a clear answer to the issues facing our National Park, sensitive, sustainable tourism.
When glamping incorporates the principles of ecotourism a low impact, high yield solution to holiday accommodation is revealed. Our shepherd huts take that one step further; from company policy to finished product we deliver an environmentally sensitive product of historic and cultural merit. Which is perfectly placed to assist the Peak District to meet its sustainable growth policy.
We are at an exciting crossroads in the history of our oldest National Park. If we choose to work with the natural and cultural resources we have in abundance we can offer a vibrant holiday destination that tourists will want to linger in, a dynamic and vital community for the people who reside here, a thriving business economy and a diverse habitat that everyone benefits from.