I recently visited Shepherd’s Croft in the Howardian Hills to meet with owners John and Sally Medforth. They originally moved to High Penhowe (the farm where Shepherd’s Croft resides) in 2009 and have spent blood, sweat and tears transforming this once dilapidated site into a stunning farmhouse and holiday cottage – even living on-site in static caravans for 20 months while the main farmhouse was renovated.
Their aim was to create the perfect holiday home for family (or friends) looking to explore the stunning Yorkshire countryside and with original features, quirky touches and even some home-made Rocky Road they have definitely achieved this.
Here are my top 5 reasons to visit Shepherd’s Croft for yourself:
#01 Experience a working farm
The name High Penhowe literally means High Sheep Pen and parts of the house (and probably outbuildings such as Shepherd’s Croft) date all the way back to 1750. Today it has been restored to a working farm so lives up to its name with plenty of sheep (and pigs) within the grounds.
Children will love seeing the animals up-close and learning about the farm. If you visit during April and May you can even see (and help out with) the new spring lambs and there are also plans to add chickens and ducks very shortly.
Sally and John live on-site in the main farmhouse and are very hospitable hosts who can answer any questions you and the kids may have. You’ll be very warmly greeted with a generous welcome hamper that includes wine, Yorkshire cheese and the home-made Rocky Road.
#02 Distinctive design
The beautiful design of Shepherd’s Croft is largely due to the imagination and hard work of Sally Medforth.
Sally has also cleaned up the original beams, and even sand-blasted and re-pointed the internal stone walls and brick pig arches herself. The stone walls can be seen throughout but I particularly loved the sitting room where a magnificent stone arch houses the log burning fire. The brick pig arches are also used to great effect in one of the downstairs bedrooms where they are a real feature, lit up by colour changing mood lighting.
The master bedroom is upstairs and has a romantic French feel with beautiful dressing table and a double bed that has come all the way from Paris.
I particularly love the ingenious use of re-claimed materials throughout Shepherd’s Croft – it’s very eco-friendly! Salvaged wood has been used in the skirting boards, old fence posts used as staircase rails and above windows and a hearth was created from terracotta tiles that were buried on the grounds.
#03 Lots of outside space
Shepherd’s Croft is certainly far from the madding crowd and the beautiful location in the Howardian Hills means there are stunning views and acres of space to enjoy during your stay.
One particularly nice thing is that Guild Wood (a 10 acre Woodland Trust site) is just a short walk from Shepherd’s Croft. Although the woods are public there is private access to them that can only be reached from High Penhowe.
It’s a great spot for hikers or cyclists to explore the countryside of the North York Moors and Yorkshire Wolds with lots of great routes to try. The undulating hills of the Howardian Hills are particularly good for cyclists and secure bike housing can be provided upon request.
#04 On the cusp of the Moors and the Wolds
Shepherd’s Croft is right on the border of North and East Yorkshire making it easy to explore both the North York Moors and Yorkshire Wolds. Castle Howard and Sledmere House are two stunning country estates that are well worth a visit and family attractions such as Flamingo Land and Eden Camp are also nearby.
Malton is the nearest town to Shepherd’s Croft and it has become a bit of a mecca for foodies with monthly food markets (Antonio Carluccio is among the chefs who have demonstrated there), a selection of artisan producers and a fine food restaurant in the Talbot Hotel.
You’re also in easy reach of York and Helmsley which are both well worth a visit with a mixture of history, shopping, and good food!
#05 A doggie delight
Shepherd’s Croft is very dog-friendly and John and Sally will happily accept up to three of them in the cottage.
The utility room can be accessed directly from outside and makes an ideal place for dogs to rest and get cleaned up – you’ll find both dog towels and blankets provided for you in here.
Dogs will love having a run around the paddock and there is also a fully enclosed courtyard for them to enjoy.
There are a couple of dog-friendly pubs in easy reach of Shepherd’s Croft. The Bay Horse in Burythorpe is a real ale pub which serves food each lunchtime from 12pm – 2pm and has 3 log fires.
The Jolly Farmers in nearby Leavening is a CAMRA pub with a beer garden that serves food from Wednesday to Friday evenings and all day each Saturday and Sunday.
Shepherd’s Croft sleeps up to 6 people within 3 bedrooms and is available to book online or by phone on 01642 263 249.