Meet the NHS nurses who ‘begging, stealing and borrowing’ to buy their own eco-friendly campsite in Yorkshire
Now the York couple have taken the plunge and bought a former Christian retreat on the outskirts of Pickering with the aim of turning it into a ‘hidden’ glamping site for those who want to get back to nature.
Clare and Karen admit that they are both new to running a tourism business, but are full of ideas for sustainable camping that fits into its surroundings. They “begging, stealing and borrowing” to get their dream project off the ground.
Rivendell has three acres of land and was once part of an old quarry. The previous owners operated three separate vacation rentals, and Clare and Karen are considering adding just two more cabins to ensure they don’t over-develop the area. The property they will be living in themselves is smaller than the “big houses” that often come with such sites and needs work, meaning they were able to make an offer and get into their new life sooner. than originally planned.
“It’s about getting back to nature. We are both big outdoor enthusiasts – we love romping around with our three dogs, walking, swimming in nature and running on trails. During the pandemic, we have really felt the benefit of being away from devices, just watching the birds. There is now a real market for eco-friendly accommodation, and we will not be rebuilding cabins, but making the most of what is already there,” Clare said.
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“Hot tubs will be wood-fired rather than electric, and there will be no TVs or Wi-Fi, and driving on site will not be permitted,” Karen added.
Their vision includes energy-efficient heating, fire pits, chickens, a playroom for rainy days, and a family atmosphere where kids can “run free.” Dogs will also be welcome, and even provided with biscuits in the welcome pack.
“We were surprised at how much Pickering has changed – we used to drive across to get to the coast, but there’s a lot to do here. There is the castle, the railway and many walks. We will try to support local bars and restaurants, and eventually get bikes for customers as it is only a mile into town,” Clare said.
Although friends and family commented on Rivendell’s potential as soon as they saw him, for Clare and Karen the project is a long-term one and they are in no rush to achieve perfection.
“The biggest challenge will be being eco-friendly while staying within our budget. We’ve looked at things like recycled bed linen – but it’s £100 a sheet! We’ll have to choose our battles. We want to have a large recycling area on site for food waste, and we’ll donate the surplus to the food bank, make our own jam and use the local butcher and grocer.
“It’s a bit of a niche; there are plenty of campsites around, but not many that reflect what we want when holidaying in the UK. Since the pandemic, people are more willing to look at what’s closer to them, and for short stays and long weekends, the location is ideal. It’s a bit of an escape to luxury, with that peace and connection to nature,” added Karen.
“We want to create the type of place where we would like to stay at home.”
Clare adds: “We won’t spoil the philosophy or get greedy!”