Luxury life down on the farm

A PICTURESQUE family farm is venturing into pastures new after converting its cattle barns into luxury eco-friendly holiday cottages.

RENOVATED: Jim's Barn dining area
RENOVATED: Jim’s Barn dining area

Nigel and Abigail Shaw decided to renovate the 1700s buildings, which were underused and unsuitable for modern farming, into something to take Diggle House Farm forward.

After a 12-month renovation project, they have two self-catering cottages, which sleep six as a whole or can be split into one and two bedroomed units, tucked away on the idyllic hillside.

“It has been a massive job,” said Nigel, a self-employed IT consultant whose family has owned the farm for five generations.

“The barns were used for dairy farming, then beef – but as the beef market declined and my parents retired we needed something new to do with the barns.”

Abigail added: “They had become a dumping ground for rubbish – it took a fortnight to clear it all out and we even found old cots and tractor wheels.”

BARN: Before development
BARN: Before development

Problems with bad weather, finding damp in the walls and needing to re-roof the whole barn and add new windows also slowed down the development.

The couple even uncovered a 35ft well that was sealed for 60 years while paving the patio for the cottages, which are named after Nigel’s grandparents, Jim and Jenny.

But with a small grant from DEFRA and a year’s hard work, the transformed barns now boast kitchen and dining areas, lounges with flat-screen televisions, underfloor heating, luxury bathrooms, and have access to a utility room and garden.

With oak staircases, traditional wooden doors and original barn beams still intact, the cottages have plenty of character – as well as pictures of Morris Men and nearby landscapes on the walls.

RENOVATED: Jim's Barn kitchen
RENOVATED: Jim’s Barn kitchen

Nigel and Abigail also insisted on making the cottages environmentally friendly to reduce running costs, and installed a state-of-the-art ground source heat pump run by 600m of pipes, solar panels, and rainwater harvesting.

“We’ve had lots of interest already, we had our first booking in mid-February and already have one for Yanks weekend,” revealed Abigail.

“There is very little self-catering accommodation in Saddleworth. Hotels are so expensive and very few have family rooms. Here you can have the kids right next door.

“It will also bring in money for the area, to the pubs and restaurants, and is ideal for families, business trips or a romantic getaway.”

Find out more about Diggle House Farm and book your stay on their website: http://www.digglehousefarm.co.uk.

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