We’re aiming towards a more holistic approach to life where we blur the edges of work and play.  We describe the project as an experiment in low-impact living and working.

Woodland Hedge Woodland

The idea of Bulworthy Project first started to form when we were traveling around Europe in an old VW campervan and decided that we wanted to find our own piece of land. We both had happy childhood memories of playing in the woods and wanted to play in the woods as adults. After many late night discussions we decided that we would start looking for woodland in the South West when we got back.

We saved everything we could and looked at various plots of land over the next 5 years. All of them were unsuitable for some reason or another. Often they turned out to be so steep that they were practically cliffs. Some had no real access. We looked at one woodland that was under 6 inches of water. Eventually we  found Hensons Wood near Rackenford in Devon.


Bracket Fungus

Culm Grassland

Hensons Wood was fairly level, had good access and although very wet in places, was not actually under water. It was scrubby woodland with no passable paths, lots of bracken and bramble. There was a badly placed deer fence that had trapped in a lot of deer. It hadn’t been well managed and Norway spruce planted as a nursing crop was shading out the planted oak and wild cherry which had been chewed up by the deer.

Peacock Butterfly

It was then that the reality of owning woodland really struck us. Part of that reality was that we needed to learn about woodland management. We read all the books we could find and got advice where we could. Devon Wildlife Trust were very helpful and particularly interested in the areas of the land that had remnants of culm grassland.  The deer fence obviously came down.  Having devoting all of our time and energy into the woods for a number of years, the result of our management was described by Devon Wildlife Trust as “a mosaic of habitats”.

We moved into the woods in 2009 to set up a business as charcoal makers. For the first winter lived in a small touring caravan. Then we attached a second caravan to the side as an extension, which then felt spacious. We gained permanent residential planning permission in September 2012 and then built our own home in the woods. It was an immense task for us but a very enjoyable experience that gave us many new skills. Having lived in caravans in cold winters we were keen to build a well insulated home, allowing us to use a lot less wood for heating. Our home is powered by solar panels, our heating and hot water comes from wood and solar and we love cooking on our charcoal.

After building our home, we built a little cabin in the woods so that other people can stay here in their own woodland glade.  It’s off grid for electricity and the water is heated by a woodburner. We thought that it would be mainly for people on courses and people wanting solitude in nature, but it’s turned out to be the perfect romantic getaway.

We forage for food in the woods and the surrounding area. We eat a lot of wild mushrooms including chantrelle and cep and forage for salad consisting of anything from bittercress and wood sorrel to wild garlic. Our foraging also provides much of the ingredients for the wine that we make.Although we don’t aim to be completely self sufficient, we try to grow food on site where practical. We have a polytunnel and two vegetable patches and have planted a number of fruit trees. We have chickens that roam over an area which is being developed into a forest garden and we have pigs.

We run courses in charcoal making and our friend Matthew runs courses here in bowmaking. All of the courses are fully catered using the fantastic local ingredients that  Devon has to offer.  We’re licensed so we open the bar for our overnight courses and we all sit around the campfire in the evening.  We also run our Barbecue Cafe evenings on the last Saturday of the month from May to August where people can come and spend an evening  in the woods with great food and a little entertainment.

Forest School
Scandanavian Circular Style Wood Stack

This has been a real rollercoaster of learning curves.  We’ve been lucky enough to have the help of people who have shared their skills, knowledge and enthusiasm.  This has enabled the project to evolve.

AnnA and Pete