A new house

Another rare work post on here. This is a new house and campsite office project I have been working on for a very long time. Planning was a bit of a long process on this one but we got there in the end.

The house is on a basic campsite that retains its rustic farm appeal so we didn’t want to plonk a modern house there, it had to be something rustic. With this in mind we set about designing a house that would look a bit like a converted Linhay. Materials and detailing were very important, the darker timber principle structure is Oak and we were lucky to source some great Cedar for the cladding, the roof is natural slate and the rendered gable walls are done in a through coloured self finished render. Although the gables are done in cavity block construction we cut the corners down to give the building soft rounded hand formed edges.




The project was Project Managed by Mark Freeman of Porlock. I can’t recommend Mark highly enough contact Mark on 07773 149298 if you are planning a building project on Exmoor. He provides a very cost effective alternate service to the traditional contractor.

If you are Planning a camping holiday on Exmoor Sparkhayes campsite is ideally located in Porlock. It is run by one of Exmoors true gentlemen Mr Philip Weaver who will definitely add value to your stay with his knowledge and enthusiasm for all things Exmoor. Contact details for the site are here – http://www.porlock.co.uk/members/index.php?id=00075

BarleyView2        BarleyView3



A rare work post

I have been fairly useless at self promotion on this website, mainly because I never need to look for work which is a happy situation to be in.

Anyway here are a few photos of todays work to give you an idea what I get up to.

If you have an old building that needs help or have an interesting idea for something new then given me a call, I may be able to help.

Hoaroak Cottage Works


This morning I have been to a site meeting about Hoaroak Cottage in the wilds of Exmoor. Exmoor National Park have commissioned some consolidation works on the cottage to preserve its structure as much as is practical.

This is very much a ‘suck it and see’ job so this morning we all met on site to discuss exactly how far to take the work. Thankfully we were all singing from the same hymn sheet and works will now progress further in a few weeks time with completion due in late September/early October.

For more information on Hoaroak Cottage visit hoaroakcottage.org


A few Exmoor stary night pictures from a very cold weekends camping in the heart of Exmoor’s Dark Sky Reserve at ExmoorCentre.co.uk

Star trails looking south from the campfire

Making fireworks for little Charlie by bashing the fire logs

Star trails again

Long exposure shot of Gordons Discovery and Ambi-Van, lots of frost on the Disco’ and light spill from the bunkhouse and campfire, fun shot though.


Salamander Firesteel

Salamander Firesteel

I am testing this little Salamander Firesteel by Andy at Feather Forge. Andy kindly offered this prototype as a hand around tester through Bushcraft UK Forum. It has been travelling around the country from person to person, in theory stopping with each for 4 days at a time although this seems to have been abused a bit as it should have been back with Andy by last Christmas! It arrived with me yesterday.

Its a great little gadget for firestarting, a quick strike of the steel on flint results in a strong spark that will take to anything such as the bushcrafters favourites like charcloth or ‘King Alfreds Cakes’ otherwise known as coal fungus (Daldinia concentrica).

The firesteel has a very useful blade that I think would be good for skinning. The Salamanders shape means it fits nicely in the hand and makes the blade easy to control.

Now I just need to talk Andy into letting me buy one of these off him, in fact I’d like to buy lots and offer them to people staying at The Exmoor Centre.


Chilly Dog Walk

A few iPhone pictures from the evening dog walk on the Exmoor coast at The Valley of Rocks, Lynton

On Safari

After many months waiting for consents and conditions to be aligned I had a pleasant morning doing a recce run deep into the heart of Exmoor with Neil and Christel from Experience Exmoor. They will be helping us transport guests of The Friends of Hoaroak Cottage to Hoaroak Cottage as part of the Voices of Hoaroak Project we are working on. The guests are quite elderly but have valuable memories of the cottage and the people who lived there. We are hoping visiting the cottage will bring more memories to the fore.

The cottage is completely cut off from the world, to get there is an offroad adventure driving over open moorland with little more than a sheeptrack marking the way. Obviously taking vehicles over open moorland is very sensitive and we needed consent from the land management company on the day we were intending to travel. We also undertook to assess the conditions as we went to be sure we minimised any environmental damage. We took my Land Rover 110 to inspect the ground conditions and take a view on the logistics of taking Experience Exmoor’s Discovery 4 next time.

After a couple of weeks with no rain the moor was very dry and we had no problems getting to the cottage as the photographs show. Only one section of the drive could present a problem for the Discovery on less aggressive tyres and we can overcome that by winching it up the vulnerable grassy slope.

Hoaroak work starts

Work has started on Hoaroak Cottage. Exmoor National Park are carrying out some stabilisation work on the remains of this important remote farm cottage. Bette and Jim Baldwin and I took a stroll out there yesterday to catch up on progress. We are all founder members of The Friends of Hoaroak Cottage, Bette and I have a family connection with the building as a mutual Ancestor James Maxwell Johnstone (http://www.hoaroakcottage.org/sarahandjamesmaxwell) lived there with his family.

For more information about the cottage and those who lived there visit http://www.hoaroakcottage.org/ the website of The Friends of Hoaroak Cottage


stary night

With the prospect of an amazing night sky we set off for a night at The Exmoor Centre last night. We were rewarded with a spectacular display.