Barn to be wild

Sep 21, 2023

An opportunity to live in the Brecon Beacons

Ten years ago I bought a dilapidated stone barn high on a hill in mid-Wales. I had been visiting the area for several years, staying in my campervan, walking and exploring. I started to look for somewhere to make a more permanent base and converting a tumble down building was appealing for a few reasons, the main one being I could really make it my own and explore traditional and eco materials. On paper I wasn’t too sure that this barn was what I was looking for – it was part of an old farmyard and quite close to the farmhouse, which had been sold separately. 

When I saw it, I knew it was my barn. The view was amazing – up on a hillside above where three valleys and two rivers meet, with ancient woodland, pastures and a view of the Beacons. It’s above the farmhouse, so only the roof and chimney are visible. It came with a second tumble down small barn and 3 acres of land.

Over the next 2 years, working with a local builder and crafts people it was converted – we used reclaimed Welsh slates on the roof, sheep’s wool and recycled bottle insulation, bat friendly sarking board on the roof for extra insulation, hemp and lime plaster and made our own paint from clay and pigments. It was an adventure and there were certainly ups and downs – a big down being when the wind and rain howled for days on end and eventually poured through the pine end, saturating the new plaster and oak window sills. But, as they say, every cloud has a silver lining – driving round the area I realised that all the old farmsteads had slate hung their south west facing walls. The old tricks are often the best – I now have a dry building and lots more space for bats to roost! Being lime based the plaster didn’t blow, it just slowly dried out to its lovely pale honey colour and the oak sills curled a little, but didn’t crack.

Downstairs of the converted barn from the kitchen to the sitting room

With the barn finished I turned to the outside and started to enhance the space for wildlife – I’ve planted hundreds of trees and hedging plants, the bit of farmyard I own I turned over and planted with hazels, hornbeams, willow, dogwood and wildflowers, two ponds have been dug, a small coppice created and there are two veg patches. Growing veg at 1000 ft can be a challenge, but through trial and error I know what thrives – mostly! There are now so many birds, dragonflies, frogs, newts, bees, wasps, the occasional hedgehog …….

There is still a lot more to do. I have just started to create an orchard in one part of the field, I would like many more wildflowers, perhaps another pond. 

Oh, and there are my three rescued rams – Marmaduke, Bryn and Foghorn.

The kitchen and a view from outside of the barn

In 2020 I moved further into working to enhance the environment and bought some land in Cumbria to run a youth led environment project, which this year was set up as a charity – Wild Garsdale Pike. This is why I am in need of some help to keep my mid-Wales project moving forward. I hope this will be an opportunity for a couple who share my ethos, who care for the environment, want to try things out, grow things to eat and support natural regeneration.

You would have free use of the barn, but pay the council tax and fuel bills. There is also the second barn which I have run as an airbnb, you could either continue to run this for me or pay me the equivalent to use it as an office or workshop (£7,000 per year). I would be there for about a week every six weeks, which would be an opportunity for us to catch up, share ideas and plans.

View from above the barn

The barn is just north of Brecon, there are miles of walks, wild swimming in the river and it’s a very friendly area.

This opportunity is available now, for a minimum of 6 months. It would suit someone working from home or running their own small craft business.

If you are interested then please contact Rosey Grandage by email: roseygrandage@gmail.com

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