Press release issued 29.11.19
Mid-Devon couple celebrate glamping success at tourism awards
A couple from mid-Devon are celebrating today after winning bronze at the 2019 Devon Tourism Awards last night. Katie Parsons and Mark Hammond who run Blackdown Yurts near Cullompton, together with their children Mia and Felix, scooped the award in the Glamping and Alternative Accommodation category at a prestigious ceremony held on Thursday at the Riviera Centre in Torquay.
The award is a huge success for the couple, who only moved to the area from Surrey in 2016 and had never worked in the tourism industry before.
‘As anybody in this sector knows, running an establishment like this is incredibly hard work, and it’s something that our whole family mucks in and helps with’ says Katie. ‘To be recognised in this category is such a huge achievement for us and has given us a real boost. We love what we do, but it means even more to know that other people love it too!’
The four Mongolian Yurts are nestled in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in a ‘hidden valley’ on the edge of the Blackdown Hills near Cullompton. Visitors often spot owls, deer and a host of insect and bird life, and Katie also regularly offers bat walks for guests using her bat detectors.
The four yurts, each sleeping up to either four or six people, offer cosy beds and furnishings, wood burning stoves, a cooking area, a composting toilet and a fire pit, and each has its own wooden deck with outstanding views across open fields.
Katie and Mark have also recently refurbished the shared barn area which includes a communal kitchen area seating up to 22, and brand new showers and bathroom facilities.
‘When we moved here we wanted to create a sustainable glamping experience, whilst also recognising that people expect certain levels of comfort and convenience on their holiday’ says Mark. ‘It was really important to us to ensure that it would be somewhere that we would want to stay ourselves, and we often have family and friend sleep-outs once the season has finished so that we can enjoy it too!’ he continues.
The communal barn received a facelift last year along with four brand new, bespoke bathrooms built predominantly from reclaimed and sustainable materials including corrugated iron, pallet wood and local larch. It also contains a spacious kitchen, dining and living area complete with wood burning stove.
Blackdown Yurts are now closed for the winter season, offering the family a chance to enjoy their award success, before the long list of jobs begins to get them ready for 2020. On the list are new decks, camp kitchens and fire areas for Badger and Woodpecker Yurts plus a new tree-planting scheme where guests can adopt a tree at Blackdown Yurts to mark a special occasion or to offset the carbon-cost of their travel to holiday at the site. Katie and Mark can’t wait to get started.
‘Having the chance to live and work somewhere like this is very special indeed, and we often have to pinch ourselves to remind us that this is now home! Spending our winter getting Blackdown Yurts ready is all part and parcel of the job, and we are really looking forward to welcoming our guests in Spring next year’ says Katie.
When announcing the award, the judges said that Blackdown Yurts were ‘secluded, spacious, beautiful and comfortable’.