This is the first in a series of posts where we are going to give a specific location the limelight and see what they are all about. First up is the first ever Nearly Wild location – Underhill Farm.
Nestled beneath the limestone cliffs of Llanymynech rocks Nature Reserve, just a stones throw from the Welsh border lies Underhill Farm. Bought by the Evison family in 2009 it had been empty since 1961 and was in need of quite a bit of TLC. Now five years on, after lots of hard work, it is a quiet smallholding, managed for wildlife and people, following permaculture and ecological principles, where visitors can come and relax and explore. There are four fields, the camping field is pasture with two large ponds, a couple of yurts, a tepee and space for camping, backed by woodland and the Llanymynech rocks, there are often peregrine falcons screaming overhead and in the height of summer there are lots of dragonflies hawking around the ponds and the woodpeckers nesting in the ash tree.
The other main field you would visit is also partly pasture, but with a range of different fruit and nut trees planted on it, a wildflower meadow, a small copse at the bottom and a play and exploration area and fire pit in one corner. Then there is a large and a small pasture field used for grazing the sheep and managed for wildflowers. The small flock of Jacobs sheep, will be roaming one of the fields depending on what other activities are going on at the time.
The beautiful black and white buildings are all functioning now, with some providing accommodation and others providing a dry indoor space for cooking, eating or wet weather activities. There is also a small, but diverse veg patch, growing food for the Evison family and the WWOOFers who come to stay.
There is quite a range of facilities at Underhill Farm and it is right on the edge of Pant village with a pub and a shop, so it is definitely a one star location on the wildness rating, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still feel like a secluded, wild corner. The facilities are purposefully basic, but for those who wouldn’t feel comfortable without them there is a flushing toilet, a shower (made out of an old plastic water mains pipe!), a basic kitchen (although people are encouraged to cook at the fire pit), picnic benches and an indoor seating area. There are also a variety of Nearly Wild experiences on offer to visitors once they are here ranging from making pots from our clay soil, going exploring the cliffs and caves, canoe safari’s, making rugs from our sheeps wool and lots more. Activities are happen fairly informally depending on what visitors or the Evison family are up to.
Underhill Farm was started to provide an alternative for those who wanted a wilder experience, but weren’t willing to head out into the middle of nowhere with no facilities. It has become clear that there are many people looking for this kind of opportunity and that is partly where the idea for Nearly Wild Camping came from.