The Ploughman’s Retreat
- Sleeps 2 (max 2 adults, 0 children)
- Cooking facilities
- Beds Provided
- Bed Linen Provided
- Towels Provided
- Private Bathroom
- Authentic, antique living wagon built in the early 1900s
- Modern luxuries include a king-sized bed, en-suite shower room and well-equipped kitchen
- Hilltop views across the Alkham Valley and Kent Downs
It’s not clear who originally manufactured The Ploughman’s Retreat, an antique living van built in the early 1900s. It might have been steam engineers Clayton & Shuttleworth or their competitors at Garrett, but one thing is for certain today: The more recent designers who have renovated and restored the van and given it a new lease of life are masters of their craft.
Originally used as living quarters for a gang of ploughmen, who would take their steam traction engines from farm to farm each year, the dilapidated wagon was discovered in an East Sussex field before being restored by Wendy and Neil Burrows in 2018. Despite the wood root and the rust, some of the original features could still be restored, such as the curved roof frame and the sprung axles with wrought iron wheels.
Inside, meanwhile, the abode has been kitted out for 21st-century glampers – think king-sized bed, en-suite shower room and compact kitchen area – but all with sympathy for its history. Whether it’s the lantern-style lighting above the bed or the antique wooden chairs, it’s all been thought out in the context of the wagon’s past.
Set atop a slope on Greenhill Farm in Kent, the living van has wonderful views across the Kent Downs and a stable door that you can swing open and perch beside to enjoy it all. Just below, railway sleepers have been dug into the bank to provide a rustic bench where you can sit and watch the sun go down. Or you can take the opportunity to get up and go, with a walk in the local area. Footpaths lead straight from the farm and down into the Alkham Valley, while the nearby coast (it’s three miles to the sea) offers cliff-top walking opportunities – not least the famous white cliffs of Dover.
If the history of the living van has got you thinking, then you’re in the right spot. As well as the white cliffs and Dover Castle, this stretch of UK coast has seen more battles, skirmishes and occupations than anywhere else in the UK and has plenty of monuments to show for it. The streets of Canterbury are a good place to start – home to a cathedral, a castle and history tours by punt along the waterway – and there’s also a good tourist information centre there where you can get your bearings for other attractions.
The Owner Says
Ploughman's Retreat is an authentic beautifully restored cosy early 20th century living wagon nestled into the hillside with stunning views across our farm and the Kent Downs.
We have sympathetically restored the wagon re-using as many of the original materials as possible whilst also bringing it up to the 21st century.
This has included stylish decoration using Farrow and Ball paints, luxury additions including a home-from-home en-suite shower, heated towel rail and also a handmade luxury king size bed with goose down duvet and pillows. We want your stay to be as relaxing as possible so we have added lots of little extra touches to give a real feeling of luxury.
Features & Facilities
Each of the huts at Greenhill Glamping is completely unique but both feature a kingsize bed (all bedding provided), antique table and chairs, wood-burning stove (with ample wood stored undercover) and a large ensuite bathroom with a shower, basin, and flushing toilet, plus towels and toiletries provided. There is an electric 2 ring hob, fridge, mini butler sink, china, cutlery, pans, BBQ tools, toaster, kettle and Nespresso coffee machine. Outside table and chairs, a wood store and outdoor firepit with BBQ grill are also provided. A welcome tray awaits your arrival. The farm is part of a national environmental stewardship scheme, so expect plenty of wildlife, and it's a short walk down to the stables to see the ponies.
ActivitiesGreenhill Glamping is in the heart of the Alkham Valley with its network of footpaths and bridleways. Horse riding at the Alkham Valley Community Project (07472910009) is a 15-minute walk away, while Port Lympne Safari Park (01303 264647) is a 10 minutes drive and also has great views across Romney Marsh. Walk the white cliffs after a visit to nearby Dover Castle (01304 211067) or explore the Folkstone seafront. This stretch of UK coast has seen more battles, skirmishes and occupations than anywhere else in the UK and has a bucket load of castles and abbeys to show for it. A day exploring the streets of Canterbury isn't a bad place to start for history – pop into the cathedral (01227 762862), nose around the castle (01227 378100) and, if the weather's good, rent a punt (07786 332666) for an hour on the water.
Food & DrinkYou can order generously sized breakfast hampers (£15 for 2 people) with local and homemade produce delivered to the hut in the evening. Wendy can also provide excellent packed lunches if you decide to stay local (£7.50 per person). Canterbury Farmers Market runs 6 days a week in the city centre and there's also great farm shop (01304 212040) in Farthingloe. On weekends, the Folkestone Harbour Arm opens up with pop-up restaurants and live music. It's seasonal but, when running, highly recommended.
From the ferry: On leaving the Port of Dover follow signs to London M20. After the last roundabout continue along the A20 (M20) towards London, then take the 2nd exit (signed Canterbury/ Folkestone to A260) and at the roundabout follow signs to Alkham. After 2 miles Meggett Lane is 2nd on the right and Alkham Court is on the right just before the top of the hill.
From the M20, follow signs towards Dover past Junction 13 where the M20 joins the A20. Drive through the tunnels and then immediate exit direction A260 Canterbury/Folkestone. Turn left at roundabout, back over the motorway, then turn left again following signs to Alkham. Proceed down the Alkham Valley road for approximately 2 miles, turn right into Meggett Lane and Alkham Court is on the right just before the top of the hill.From the M2/A2, follow signs for Dover. When you reach a roundabout with McDonald’s on your left, take the 4th exit (Dover North/ River and Temple Ewell). At the next roundabout take 2nd exit (River, Temple Ewell) then after 100 metres turn left to Alkham. Go through the village of Alkham then turn left after the garden centre into Meggett Lane and Alkham Court is on the right before the top of the hill.
Trains from London Charing Cross – Folkestone Central are every 30 minutes at peak times and, with the high speed train from St Pancras International Station to Folkestone Central, journey times are now only 55 minutes. At Folkestone Central Station there is a taxi rank just outside the main entrance or a short walk towards Kingsnorth Garden where there is also another taxi rank.