Elmley Nature Reserve

UK England South East England Kent Isle of Sheppey

01795 664 896   Kingshill Farm, Elmley National Nature Reserve, Kent ME12 3RW

  • Shepherds Huts, Cabins & Bell Tents
  • Eco-Retreat
Unique Shepherds Hut and Bell Tent glamping on a Kent nature reserve, with unbeatable views and wildlife aplenty.

Tucked away in a remote corner of Kent, it would be fair to call Elmley Nature Reserve one of southern England's hidden gems – a seemingly endless expanse of sky and water that's home to reeds and tidal streams, wildfowl and waders, and feels almost entirely untouched by human hand. It's also a farm, and the only family-owned and managed National Nature Reserve in the UK, run by Georgina and Gareth Fulton, which makes it doubly special that you can actually stay overnight, either in Kingshill Farmhouse or Elmley Cottage – or better still, in its very comfortable glamping accommodation that put you right in touch with the Great Outdoors.

The glamping options range from 8 handcrafted shepherd's huts and cabins to 10 bell tents dotted across various woodland and meadow settings during the summer months. These are well spaced out, very cosy, and can comfortably sleep 2-4 people. Each comes with a private fire pit, and the tents share a communal camp kitchen for keen outdoor cooks. Although, it's worth remembering that for both tent- and hut-dwellers, breakfast, lunch and dinner can be delivered to your door – just one of the many benefits of glamping at Elmley!

The huts are available all year round and extremely comfortable: they can easily sleep 2 adults, though some are a bit larger and could accommodate 2 young children too. Some are purpose-built with large and well-positioned windows providing wonderful views over the nature reserve: 'Vanellus' is a tin hut with a long, floor-to-ceiling glass panel, while 'The Roost', 'The Ferryman’s', 'The Saltbox' and 'The Damson' are modern huts with windows that make up the entire reserve-facing wall, so you can lie in bed and take in the surrounding nature while enjoying the lovingly decorated interior and comfy beds. Located loosely around the farm's main buildings, each hut has a cosy, hideaway feel with its own space and everything you need inside to feel wonderfully self-sufficient. The two furthest shepherd's huts ('Little Owl' and 'Samphire') are the most basic, though still very comfy with piping hot, gas-powered en-suite showers, flushing toilets and woodburning stoves, and the others come complete with electricity and outside bathtubs. All huts have simple cooking facilities inside the hut or camp kitchens outside, along with fire pits for barbecues. Hampers can be delivered, and all huts and cabins have tea- and coffee-making facilities.

Just a short walk away is The Linhay, a lovely rustic barn with comfortable seating, games, books and a wood burner. You could chill out here very happily if the weather is bad, but it would be a shame not to take advantage of everything else the location has to offer, such as spotting wading birds from one of the hides. As one of the most significant wildlife sites in the UK, we recommend taking one of their tours or wildlife experiences led by expert guides, either on foot or safari style in a 4x4. Home to one of England's largest lapwing populations, you're also likely to see curlews, short-eared owls, herons and much more. On top of that, the helpful team is on hand to offer recommendations and organise activities, including well-being treatments. Alternatively, simply hide away in the romantic setting of your accommodation as you watch the sun rise through the dawn mist and drift off to sleep as the owls hoot softly across the marshes.

Details

Facilities

The Saltbox, The Ferryman’s and The Damson all have a mini oven and hob inside the hut, while Little Owl and Samphire feature wood-burning stoves with a hot plate top (plus the gas burner). For Little Owl and Samphire, there's a shared outdoor kitchen. For Vanellus, Roost and Martha’s, there’s a handy gas stove just around the side of the hut.  All the huts have all the cutlery and utensils you need. There's a mini fridge in each hut. Each hut has a gas-heated shower and basin. Each hut also has a loo. In the huts, there are cards and books. Binoculars can be hired for £5 per day. A high-powered telescope can also be hired for £15 per day. In the Linhay where the honesty bar can be found, there are more games and books. Extra wool blankets and hot water bottles are also provided in winter and there are fire pits for campfire use. Guests should expect to be truly immersed in the wildlife, with nature all around from dawn till dusk and through the night. As the Reserve is protected for conservation, guests aren't permitted to roam freely across the marsh but must stick to the allocated footpaths (maps provided).

Remote working: our shepherd's huts don’t have WiFi but offer the perfect writer’s retreats. They do have 4G signal, and we have free WiFi available in the barn or farmhouse if you want a communal workspace or to meet those deadlines.

The Linhay has WiFi and complimentary tea and coffee, and you’ll also find an honesty bar for snacks and drinks, comfy sofas, books, games, a wood burner, and even a swing!

Outside of June to September, medium to long-term stays are welcome too for longer work breaks.

Suitable For

Glampers only; couples and families – yes. Tents, campervans, caravans and pets – no.

Nearby

There is plenty to keep guests busy on the Nature Reserve. Wildlife trails lead to four different bird watching hides and a collection of other footpaths lead you to the old Victorian ruins of a former village where the remains of cottages, hay-lofts and barns can still be seen. Walk to the furthest hide with a hamper to rest and refresh yourself before the walk back! There are also organised tours, walks and wildlife photography should you choose. Off the Reserve, there is sailing and watersports available at nearby Barton's Point Coastal Park (07909 994196), or for more nature and walks watch raptors from RSPB Capel Fleet (01227 464898). It's a 25-minute drive to the historic town of Faversham and the same journey time to wonderfully well-preserved Leeds Castle (01622 765400). Canterbury is around half an hour in the car and makes for an excellent and full day-trip. Closer to home, Sheppey is a historic island and has some fascinating places to visit, including Bluetown with its splendid Georgian Naval Terrace in Sheerness, Queenborough Harbour (01795 662051) and several excellent and secluded beaches.

Food & Drink

Tea, coffee and fresh milk are provided. Breakfast can be delivered straight to your hut. Dinner can also be booked to be delivered to your hut. During the day, hot drinks and snacks are available from the Linhay which has an honesty bar. You can also order a picnic to enjoy on the Reserve. Special occasions and surprises can be catered for, too.

Brambledown Farmshop (01795 877977) is a 10-minute drive away – a proper rural farm shop, great fruit, veg and meat. For fresh fish visit Queenborough Harbour in the early morning to get the catch of the day. Pub-wise, the 2-mile gravel entrance means everywhere is at least 10 minutes in the car! The Ship (01795 520881) in Conyer is the closest. This delightful pub with good food overlooks a pretty marina. It's located just over the water from the campsite but is a 20-minute drive around the Swale. A little further away is The Three Mariners in Oare (01795 533 633), which is a 25-minute drive away. Located near Oare Marshes Nature Reserve, this cosy pub has excellent food – booking is recommended.

Open

Shepherds Huts & Cabins available all year, Bell Tents June–September.

Family Friendly

Elmley is a wonderful wildlife experience for children but please be aware that the ponds are very deep and can be dangerous. Parents must be aware of the risks and be with their children at all times. Life rings are located with the huts.

Pricing

Bell Tents £125 a night, £135 with electricity.

Location

Contact Website  01795 664 896  Elmley Nature Reserve, Kingshill Farm, Elmley National Nature Reserve, Kent ME12 3RW

Show Map

Getting There

From north: Take the M2 south and turn off at Junction 5 onto the A249 toward Sheernes. Take the turnoff signed Iwade, Lower halstow before the large bridge – there is also a brown sign for Elmley Reserve. Go straight over the roundabout off the exit and carry on over a low bridge for another mile. Turn right at the brown sign for Elmley Reserve. 50m on turn left on to a gravel road and go straight on. The Reserve starts at the top and the farm is 2 miles further down. The nearest station (3 miles) is Swale Halt (train to Sittingbourne from London Victoria, Sittingbourne connection to Sheerness, stopping at Swale Halt) and the nearest bus stop is 2 miles away, at the entrance to the Reserve. Taxi’s can be booked to take you from Swale Halt to Elmley, or if departing from Sittingbourne, there’s a taxi rank outside the station. Please note, that during the months of and, walking and cycling is not permitted down the 2 mile entrance track, due to the disturbance that can be caused to over-wintering and breeding birds.

Facilities

  • Campfires allowed
  • Beaches
  • Walking
  • Beaches nearby
  • Good walks nearby

Related Guides

See Glamping in Isle of Sheppey

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