• vimeo
  • instagram
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • linkedin
 

Advertisement

 

Review of The Shepherd's Hut, Brecon Beacons

Posted by at 09:38 on Tuesday 13 July 2010

>> For contact details see the full listing for the Shepherd's Hut, Black Mountains

Review of The Shepherd's Hut, Carmarthenshire, Wales
The accommodation: I can't help smiling to myself, as I am led down to the shepherd’s hut by a jolly little team of lambs. I have never slept in a shepherd's hut before, but this is the real thing, tucked in under an oak tree in a sunny meadow overlooking endless ravishingly rolling hills. Once a practical shelter for a shepherd, this wooden hut on wheels is now a delicious den for visitors. It’s like a playhouse on wheels, with cabin bed at the rear, small kitchen at the front, and a stable door which opens out onto decking and a massive whack of rural Wales. The bed is a cosy double, very comfortable, with good quality bedding and a pretty multicoloured fabric headboard. The wood burning stove keeps it cosy all year round. Although I was there in summer, grab this when the snow next comes, as it has to be pure magic. Love the wood-burning shower and compost loo tucked in behind the trees, with noone to purvey our ablutions save a few ducks and Canadian geese on the pond.  There is mains electricity for lighting,  a solar panel for running gadgets and the gas stove is perfect for holiday cooking - although when you taste this farmer's meat, you won't want to do anything other than barbeque which is, of course, provided. There is now a second hut, known as the ‘roller hut’ which would have been pulled along by a traction engine in the 1920’s or 30’s. It too has a separate wood-burning shower, but has a normal loo (for those who just can’t do compost) and is located on the other side of the farm, so both still retain a feeling of privacy. 
The location: Mandinam is just two miles outside the village of Llangadog http://www.llangadog.com/, Carmarthenshire, in the foothills of the Brecon Beacons National Park The village is very pretty with train station, church, butcher and three pubs. Mandinam itself is a working farm of 450 acres, with stocks of Herefordshire cattle and sheep. You could spend days just walking around the farm, following the river which runs through it, exploring the forests which surround it, or taking in the views from the Iron Age Fort emerging from the heart of it. Its biodiversity is such that it has three areas designated as SSSI (Sites of Special Scientific Interest)  http://www.sssi.naturalengland.org.uk/Special/sssi/. Tree lovers can hug an eclectic collection of Eucalyptus, Balsam poplars, Oak and Hornbeams to name but a few.  Mandinam means two things, both of which ring true: “place of a small stone fort” and “place without blemish”. For me it is, quite simply, a place of true and utter peace. 
The food: The shepherd's hut is self-catering, although the owners, Marcus and Daniella Lampard, sell their own lamb, mutton and beef, and well worth ordering (they need 24 hours' notice). Their meat is top notch, with all beef hung for three weeks, and visitors to the farm often become regular buyers after they leave, as you can have it fed-exed to you when you need it. For the barbeque two supreme sirloin steaks cost about £9 depending on the weight. You can buy vegetables, salad and everything else you need at the village shop in Llangadog, a quick jaunt on the farm bikes which are available to guests.  Stop off at the excellent award-winning Red Lion pub http://www.redlioncoachinginn.co.uk/ for a pint or a meal while you are there. Bailey's butcher in the village is also great, with roasted chicken a speciality. 
Activities: Just walking the Mandinam’s 450 acres will be plenty for one weekend, with a detour to the excellent Red Lion for refreshments.  Or you could fish in the river, and help Marcus stock up the trout supplies in his pond, by transferring a few from the river. Cycling here is glorious, with leafy lanes everywhere you turn. More ambitious cyclists can travel seven miles to the start of the Brecon Beacons (Marcus will also happily drop you with or without your bike to a good starting point in Llanddeusant) and follow the Roman Road nine miles across the moorland to Trecastle.  Or walk from the same point out across rougher hiking  terrain to Llyn y Fan lake, with views en route across the Bristol Channel to Exmoor. 
The Green: When your food comes from farmhouse to fork, your hot shower powered by sustainably managed forest at the end of the lane, your journey by train to the local village, and your lunch a mere cycle away at the nearby award-winning pub, you are definitely entitled to wear a green travel badge. When you do all of this on a farm which values conservation almost as much as its cattle, you are entering gold medal territory. The Lampards don’t preach or convert, as this is how they have always done it at Mandinam.  I stood on top of the Iron Fort with Marcus and he talked me through the layout of the land stretching out below, saying. “Food has disappeared from this picture. Farmers have to find ways of changing the use of their land now. Tourism is not just for fun, it is to provide us with a living wage, enabling us to live and work the land for the next generation”. Walking the land with the flamboyant, warm and welcoming Marcus is however, a lot of fun. 
The Journey: Take the train to Swansea with First Great Western http://www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk/and change onto the picturesque Heart of Wales line, http://www.heart-of-wales.co.uk/index.htm run by Arriva Trains to Llangadog, where Marcus or Daniella will meet you at the station. If you come by train and bike, it is just a quick two mile cycle to Mandinam. Another more ambitious option is to take the train and bike to Swansea, and cycle along the 13 mile off road route to Ystalyfera http://www.sustrans.org.uk/what-we-do/national-cycle-network/route-numbering-system/route-43 and then across the Brecon Beacons for another 18 miles approximately. 
Top tip: Although it sleeps two, the Lampards are more than happy to welcome families who want to put a small tent beside the Shepherd's Huts, so that there is more room for family fun, at no extra cost. My instant reaction was “the kids would love this hut”, but actually it is the most divine place to cosy up with a loved one, watch the stars, and forget the routine of parenting and just rest. 
Verdict:: Marcus originally trained as an artist at Chelsea School of Art, and you will spot his gorgeous work all over. His latest canvas, however,  is the outdoors, which he builds up layer upon layer, with new trees, rose bushes, wildflower meadows, butterflies, bees, and many more, all superimposed onto the exquisite Breconian backdrop. Marcus enjoys nothing more than sharing his love of trees, flowers, animals, history, spirituality, art and, of course, farming. He is proud of Carmarthenshire, and right too. His latest neighbour is none other than HRH Prince Charles, who has bought a rural retreat in nearby Myddfai. Even from our viewpoint as mere shepherds for the weekend, this is definitely a landscape fit for princes.

The Shepherd's Hut at Mandinam. Photo: Catherine MackThe Shepherd's Hut at Mandinam. Photo: Catherine Mack

The rooms: I can't help smiling to myself, as I am led down to the shepherd’s hut by a jolly little team of lambs. I have never slept in a shepherd's hut before, but this is the real thing, tucked in under an oak tree in a sunny meadow overlooking endless ravishingly rolling hills. Once a practical shelter for a shepherd, this wooden hut on wheels is now a delicious den for visitors. It’s like a playhouse on wheels, with cabin bed at the rear, small kitchen at the front, and a stable door which opens out onto decking and a massive whack of rural Wales. The bed is a cosy double, very comfortable, with high quality bedding and a pretty multicoloured fabric headboard. The wood burning stove keeps it cosy all year round. Although I was there in summer, grab this when the snow next comes, as it has to be pure magic.

Love the wood-burning shower and loo tucked in behind the trees, with noone to purvey our ablutions save a few ducks and Canadian geese on the pond.  There is mains electricity for lighting,  a solar panel for running gadgets and the gas stove is perfect for holiday cooking - although when you taste this farmer's meat, you won't want to do anything other than barbeque which is, of course, provided. There is now a second hut, known as the ‘roller hut’ which would have been pulled along by a traction engine in the 1920’s or 30’s. It is a little less green, with propane gas heated hot water and a loo, so both still retain a feeling of privacy. And this one has a wood-burning hot tub, with views of its wood source on all sides too. 

The location: Mandinam is just two miles outside the village of Llangadog, Carmarthenshire, in the foothills of the Brecon Beacons National Park The village is very pretty with train station, church, butcher and three pubs. Mandinam itself is a working farm of 450 acres, with stocks of Herefordshire cattle and sheep. You could spend days just walking around the farm, following the river which runs through it, exploring the forests which surround it, or taking in the views from the Iron Age Fort emerging from the heart of it. Its biodiversity is such that it has three areas designated as SSSI (Sites of Special Scientific Interest). Tree lovers can hug an eclectic collection of Eucalyptus, Balsam poplars, Oak and Hornbeams to name but a few.  Mandinam means two things, both of which ring true: “place of a small stone fort” and “place without blemish”. For me it is, quite simply, a place of true and utter peace.

Marcus Lampard, the real shepherd at MandinamMarcus Lampard, the real shepherd at MandinamThe food: The shepherd's hut is self-catering, although the owners, Marcus and Daniella Lampard, sell their own lamb, mutton and beef, and well worth ordering (they need 24 hours' notice). Their meat is top notch, with all beef hung for three weeks, and visitors to the farm often become regular buyers after they leave, as you can have it fed-exed to you when you need it. For the barbeque two supreme sirloin steaks cost about £9 depending on the weight. You can buy vegetables, salad and everything else you need at the village shop in Llangadog, a quick jaunt on the farm bikes which are available to guests.  Stop off at the excellent award-winning Red Lion pub for a pint or a meal while you are there. Bailey's butcher in the village is also great, with roasted chicken a speciality. 

Activities: Just walking the Mandinam’s 450 acres will be plenty for one weekend, with a detour to the excellent Red Lion for refreshments.  Or you could fish in the river, and help Marcus stock up the trout supplies in his pond, by transferring a few from the river. Cycling here is glorious, with leafy lanes everywhere you turn. More ambitious cyclists can travel seven miles to the start of the Brecon Beacons (Marcus will also happily drop you with or without your bike to a good starting point in Llanddeusant) and follow the Roman Road nine miles across the moorland to Trecastle.  Or walk from the same point out across rougher hiking  terrain to Llyn y Fan lake, with views en route across the Bristol Channel to Exmoor. 

The new Roller Hut at MandinamThe new Roller Hut at MandinamWhat makes it green accommodation: When your food comes from farmhouse to fork, your hot shower and hot tub powered by sustainably managed forest at the end of the lane, your journey by train to the local village, and your lunch a mere cycle away at the nearby award-winning pub, you are definitely entitled to wear a green travel badge. When you do all of this on a farm which values conservation almost as much as its cattle, you are entering gold medal territory. The Lampards don’t preach or convert, as this is how they have always done it at Mandinam.  I stood on top of the Iron Fort with Marcus and he talked me through the layout of the land stretching out below, saying. “Food has disappeared from this picture. Farmers have to find ways of changing the use of their land now. Tourism is not just for fun, it is to provide us with a living wage, enabling us to live and work the land for the next generation”. Walking the land with the flamboyant, warm and welcoming Marcus is, however, a lot of fun. 

Top tip: Although it sleeps two, the Lampards are more than happy to welcome families who want to put a small tent beside the Shepherd's Huts, so that there is more room for family fun, at no extra cost. My instant reaction was “the kids would love this hut”, but actually it is the most divine place to cosy up with a loved one, watch the stars, and forget the routine of parenting and just rest.

Brecon Beacons National Park. Photo: Catherine MackBrecon Beacons National Park. Photo: Catherine MackVerdict: Marcus originally trained as an artist at Chelsea School of Art, and you will spot his gorgeous work all over. His latest canvas, however,  is the outdoors, which he builds up layer upon layer, with new trees, rose bushes, wildflower meadows, butterflies, bees, and more, all superimposed onto the exquisite Breconian backdrop. Marcus enjoys nothing more than sharing his love of trees, flowers, animals, history, spirituality, art and, of course, farming. He is proud of Carmarthenshire, and rightly so. His latest neighbour is none other than HRH Prince Charles, who has bought a rural retreat in nearby Myddfai. Even from our viewpoint as mere shepherds for the weekend, this is definitely a landscape fit for princes. 

Getting there: Take the train to Swansea (with First Great Western) and change onto the picturesque Heart of Wales line (run by Arriva Trains) to Llangadog, where Marcus or Daniella will meet you at the station.

If you come by train and bike, it is just a quick two mile cycle to Mandinam. Another more ambitious option is to take the train and bike to Swansea, and cycle along the 13 mile off road route to Ystalyfera  and then across the Brecon Beacons for another 18 miles approximately.

For contact details see the full listing for the Shepherd's Hut, Black Mountains

Disclosure

Blogs posts categorised as 'Reviews' have been written with the support of one or more of the following: accommodation owner, activity provider, operator, equipment supplier, tourist board, protected landscape authority or other destination-focussed authority. The reviewer retains full editorial control of the work, which has been written in the reviewer's own words based on their experience of the accommodation, activity, equipment or destination.

Green Travel Blog

Read our latest blog posts in the categories below or go to blog home

Our expert contributors

Follow us on twitter