This is a secret between you and me, OK? I was speaking to a friend recently about a nice place to stay over New Year with some friends. We all like walking and wanted somewhere near the mountains that offered us something unique, natural and cosy — somewhere we could curl up next to the fire and drink hot chocolate or mulled wine after a refreshing day in the great outdoors.
And where should he suggest we stay? The Bivouac near Masham, North Yorkshire. If you want to stay in something a little nicer than a tent or a bothy after a nice long walk, but want something a little different than your average B&B, the Bivouac will suit you down to a tee. Luxury accommodation, glamping, whatever you want to call it; the Bivouac offers its guests a variety of choices from a woodland shack, to a meadow yurt or a bunk barn.
The amount of thought the founders Beth and Sam Hardwick have put into this place is so enticing it makes me want to visit all the more. They’ve put a great deal of effort into creating accommodation distinctly different from your average hostel, hotel or B&B. Much of the wood used to craft the shacks and barns is locally sourced and they’ve purposely used a roundwood timber framing technique, because they wanted to give their guests a refreshing break from the ‘harsh angular structures we’re surrounded by in everyday life’.
A lot of the furniture is handmade or up-cycled. They’ve even been thoughtful enough to put a skylight into the ceiling of every shack to allow top bunkers the pleasure of enjoying the stars on a clear night. And after a long day out in the open, you might want to take some time to admire the stunning views into the surrounding valley from the comfort of your very own verandah.
Sound like the perfect getaway? I spoke to Beth to get a better feel for the place…
How would you describe your accommodation?
“Unique, creative, sustainable and cosy.”
What inspired you to set up Bivouac?
“Bivouac was born from a desire to offer something inspiring, sustainable but very comfortable. Something which offers people a chance to slow down, reconnect with nature, family and friends whilst being really well looked after.”
When did you set it up?
“We’ve been planning and preparing for five years and we opened in April this year.”
Where did the name come from and how do you pronounce it?
“Biv – o – ack… I was in the bath one night thinking of what to call our vision. The name came to me as I loved the idea of creating a home from where you are and where you had need for home to be.”
What are some activities visitors can get involved in while staying with you?
“Gosh, next year’s calendar is looking amazing. It’s published mid January on the website and main flyer. We’ll be doing bush crafts for all stages and ages, outdoor cooking, family music courses where you make your own instruments. You take inspiration from the sounds of nature and compose your own piece! We have busking gigs, secret gigs, bonfire nights, foraging, an amazing Christmas experience through the woodland… And so much more!”
Can people eat there or is it self catering? What kind of food can they expect?
“We have a gorgeous cafe open all day serving local home cooked food. We also offer self catering accommodation and have a licensed bar.”
What’s most special about Bivouac?
“The team matched with location.”
What’s the most popular thing people love to do when they stay at Bivouac?
“Hmm… Good question… A whole mix of things really. The most commented thing is how folks have loved to be in accommodation which forces them to relax.”
So there you have it. A beautiful place complimented by beautiful people. Something to think about for the new year. But… If you just can’t wait, they have a number of activities in the run up to Christmas and New Year, including a family walk on Boxing Day and one on New Year’s Day, an afternoon of board games on 27 and 28 December, as well as a royal knee’s up on 31 December to welcome in the new year.