Craftsman Stephan Pugh travelled the world before settling near Bainbridge in Wensleydale to make shepherd’s huts. Alison Champion visited his workshop.
Hidden up high behind a very big hill in very beautiful Wensleydale there is a workshop, a workshop surrounded by a rugged landscape, which can be utterly gorgeous on a sunny day or blow you down and soak you through to the skin on another.
In a field sits something different from the dry-stone walls and limestone boulders which surround it. Cows keep watch from over the wall top, sheep graze close by and a flock of near grown chucky hens’ flap about around the tall grass of the shiny black iron wheels.
I have come to see my friend Steph’s new shepherd’s hut, which he has just finished building. I wasn’t expecting to see such a thing of beauty. I immediately wanted one, especially up here where it feels like you are almost closer to the clouds than you are the river.
Having spent various trips recently in modern caravans, I was naively expecting the same veneered MDF, coated aluminum and cardboard feel. Before I had even set foot onto the solid wood porch, these pre-judgements disappeared. I was led through the stable door and into an amazing space. The floor didn’t wobble and most importantly I didn’t need to shrink down.
In front of me was a perfectly proportioned double bunk. Straight away I pictured me and my husband underneath and the two kids up top. Plenty of room for the dogs too. We sat down on a bench in front of the beds, which I was informed could be made up into extra bed space for more people within this little Haven. We sat and enjoyed tea whilst looking out of the window and up towards the hills. Unfortunately I was driving otherwise a gin would have been called upon. To the left of me was a small wood burning stove sat neatly upon a great slab of thick, rough stone. A dresser filled the wall opposite, containing a sink and kettle. What more could you want?
Now, I’m no expert in woodwork, but even I could tell how precise and meticulous the workmanship had been. Not a rough edge in sight, unless intentional. The bed side and steps had kept the natural flow and bark of the wood. I would have no doubt been informed of the origin and type of wood, but that information went over my head as I was too busy coming up with ways to persuade my husband into sacking off tarmacking the drive and investing in a little den for me!
It made total sense. I could probably do with-out the bottom bunk. I had already changed my mind and neither the children nor the dogs would not be allowed in. I could put a desk there, leave the top bunk, so I could nap, maybe offer it to friends who came to stay. I would put a coffee machine on the dresser. I don’t have one but pictured myself in my fancy hut with my fancy coffee.
The hut next door to this one has been fitted with purpose-built shelving, lights and a gorgeous stained-glass window on the rear wall. His solid hand-made desk turns this one into the most calming and exquisite workspace. Ideal for anyone working from home.
Steph has recently finished an interesting commission – a hut on the base of an old farm trailer! He has travelled and worked all around the world, learning new skills and developing his craft. From making cabins high up in the Austrian Alps, to house building down in Australia. He has learnt how to create bamboo domes in Mexico as well as preparing a high-speed trimaran boat for its adventures around the islands of French Polynesia. He now finds himself back in Wensleydale, back in the place he spent his childhood holidays. Back amongst the green fields and streams. Above the lake, in his workshop, at the top of the hill.
If you would like to know more about creating your very own escape room, or guest accommodation tailored exactly to your own needs contact Steph via email Steph@stephscabins.com or visit his website stephscabins.com