Couple who left old life for Peak District holiday farm up for national awards

A couple who left their suburban family home five years ago for a new life on a Peak District farm are in the running for the national Visit England Awards for Excellence in recognition of their luxury holiday cottages.

By Ed Dingwall
Friday, 6th May 2022, 4:44 pm

John and Julia Hackett, owners of Manor House Farm Cottages in Sheldon have been entered into the national contest after winning gold and silver at the Peak District and Derbyshire Tourism Awards in March.

Before moving to the 50-acre property with its sheep, pigs and chickens, they had never lived on a farm nor reared any animal other than a dog, and they have since had to contend with the pandemic and the ‘Beast from the East’ snowstorm of 2018 while carrying out ambitious renovations.

Julia said: “We are proud and delighted, and somewhat surprised, to have won these awards, especially since we are still relatively new to running a holiday business and very much finding our feet running a farm.

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John and Julia Hackett, owners of Manor House Farm Cottages in Sheldon.

“It is a wonderful reward after all of the hard work and a lovely endorsement of what we are trying to do, which is to create the kind of holiday experience that we would enjoy ourselves, right down to creating the luxury feel of the barns and making the most of the beautiful views that we’re so lucky to enjoy.”

The Hacketts moved to Sheldon from Burton Joyce, near Nottingham, where they had raised their children Oliver, Alice and Emma.

It took two years to transform a derelict former farmhouse, milking parlour, hayloft and cowshed into four stone cottages for two to 12 people, with John designing the layouts and Julia the interiors, along with a games room and outdoor facilities.

John said: “We have learned so many lessons, not least the challenges of rearing livestock, which can be both rewarding and demanding in equal measure.

“The results are worth it, though. We gave up our former lives because we wanted to do something different. It’s changed the way we see the world.

“It’s a real pleasure to be able to share our farm with visitors and we have lots of plans that we want to put in place for the future, which is very exciting and will certainly keep us busy.”

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