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A Year in Review: 2023 at Hidden Valley Yurts & Lake House

Reflections on the Season’s Challenges

Now that the Christmas and New Year holiday period is over and the children are back in school, it’s time for us at Hidden Valley Yurts & Lake House to pause and take stock of the past twelve months.

Weathering the Storms

From October 2022 to March 2023, unrelenting rain posed a challenge as we dismantled the yurts for winter. Ultimately, we had to leave two of our five yurts standing. We have been regularly lighting the fires to keep them dry. Despite enduring some of the worst storms in the valley’s recent memory, the yurts remarkably survived in good condition, with minimal leaks. However, fixing rain caps in 80mph winds amid driving rain on a Saturday evening wasn’t the most enjoyable task.

Every cloud has a silver lining. When the weather eased, setting up only three yurts in March was a relief. Early storms also delayed setting up the safari tent until May.

Deconstructing yurt

Responding to Economic Uncertainties: Supporting Our Guests

The escalating cost of living and high energy bills have brought uncertainty for families across the UK. We pondered ways to offer support.

In response, we revamped our booking system, transitioning from a minimum three-night weekend and four-night mid-week stay to a more flexible two-night minimum, allowing arrivals and departures any day of the week. This change aimed to provide families with shorter breaks at reduced costs, allowing for more holiday essentials and extra indulgences. Additionally, our collaboration with Airbnb for the Lake House and Yurts 1, 3, and 4 resulted in increased guest numbers.

Easter Delights

The Easter weekend brought an overflow of chocolate eggs for our easter egg hunt, amidst happy children with buckets of chocolate, older kids joined in the hunt, aiding the younger ones. I was still finding the odd foil wrapped egg that had been missed in August). We’re having another Easter Egg hunt this year, so early bookings will help us gauge the needed egg count.

Appreciation and Awards

Throughout 2023, returning and new guests graced the Yurts & Lake House. Their overwhelming positive reviews on TripAdvisor and Google earned us TripAdvisor’s Traveller Choice award for the 7th consecutive year. A heartfelt thank you to all who shared their experiences on various platforms.

Trip Advisor Winner Travelers's Choice 2023

Listening to Feedback

Responding to guest feedback in 2022, we focused on weather protection at the main yurt site. We installed several sails to provide shelter from rain and shade during hot summer months. The feedback has been immensely positive. Hopefully, this will halt the abrupt shower caused by winds dumping collected water in one sail and then onto one poor unsuspecting souls head, much to their families delight.

Embracing Retreats and Enhancements

In 2023, we saw an increase in retreats on the farm, from Women’s Wellbeing to Yoga retreats. To accommodate, we’ve introduced two bell tents for treatments, massages, and We will be extending this option of using the Bell tents as additional accommodation for large group bookings this year – please reach out if interested.

The hot tubs have been a huge success, and we will look at increasing the number of available hot tubs to hire this year if the demand continues.

Competition winners

Last summer, we held a social media competition, granting a wonderful family a weekend break in yurt 1 during August.

Lights, Camera, Action

The excitement persisted deep into the 2023 season with the filming of a S4C television program during its final week. Keep an eye out on S4C for the program airing in April. While I can’t disclose much, it was a thrilling experience being part of the filming. A huge thank you to Little Bird Productions.

New Additions to the Farm

In September we welcomed 10 every friendly North Devonshire calves to the farm (5 girls and 5 boys). A number of our Lake House guests have had the opportunity to meet them, give them a scratch behind their ears and under their chins. The calves are happy to give you a lick in return or to try and nibble your jacket. The calves have had to stay under cover in our barn since arriving, as initially they were too small to go straight out onto the grass. As they have gotten bigger the weather and ground has been far too wet for them to go out. However, it is looking like we will be getting a dry period over the next week or so and they will hopefully get their first day out on the fields soon!

group of calves

Overcoming Hurdles

Those who regularly keep up to date with our social media may have noticed that we didn’t post out yearly update on the TB testing in October. We had the horrid experience of one of our highland cows having an inconclusive result. This meant that the Vet was unable to tell if the cow (now affectionately named Trouble) had TB or not. We now had to wait 60 days for a retest. We really needed Trouble to get a clear result at her 2nd test that was booked in for just before Christmas. We followed the vet’s recommendations of separating Trouble from the other 5 members of her herd and kept the calves isolated in the barn. This led to what we are now calling the “Great Highland Escape,” as during the night Trouble decided to jump 3 gates/fences and broke down a 4th so she could be with her friends. We woke the next morning to find highland cattle at our front door, scratching themselves on the car wing mirrors and generally rampaging through our garden. Once after a bit of running around, everyone was back where they belonged, things settled down.  Trouble was retested just before Christmas and much to everyone’s relief and joy she got the all clear from the vet and was allowed to re-join the herd. Picture a massive Highland cow, weighing a quarter-ton, leaping and bouncing around like an overjoyed puppy when finally let back with its herd after 60 days in quarantine. This was the best Christmas present we could have wished for.

Welcoming 2024

We’re thrilled to announce that our 2024 prices will remain the same. Dates for the 2024 holiday season are available to book here.

We’re gearing up our yurt site to welcome you soon and make your stay at Hidden Valley Yurts & Lake House memorable.

Warm regards,

Mike

Co-owner, Hidden Valley Yurts & Lake House.

Yurt 3 exterior dusk

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