Tucked away in the sheep-dotted hills of the North Yorkshire Moors, The Forge and neighbouring Seaview Cottage had fallen into disrepair when purchased by Cottage Escapes in 2016, but a whirlwind few years of hard work have resulted in a total transformation.
Here, owners The Durbin family talks about the inspiration and determination behind bringing a former blacksmith forge and lodge near the picturesque village of Staithes back from near dilapidation and what lead them to turn a series of stunning stone-built cottages into two marvellously welcoming homes for four, complete with spectacular views overlooking the rolling countryside and out to sea.
What lead you to The Forge and Seaview Cottage?
Happy co-incidence. Our builder lived next door, so logistically it seemed the ideal development for us – mainly because of the stunning views out over Staithes and across the Yorkshire coast. The Cottage had previously been occupied, albeit untouched for some 40 years, and the Forge was an open vacant space full of old tools and materials. Effectively, it was a blank canvas, so we could completely start from scratch, creating two characterful and modern properties inside a very old stone skin.
What did the restoration entail?
Both properties needed completely stripping, a new roof, flooring and major wall repairs – and that was just to get the basic shell in good order. New water, electric and sewerage systems and drains were needed, on top of the creation of the outside terraces and building new external stonewalling to match the properties.
Was this your first cottage restoration?
Since 2007, we’ve been building our unique portfolio of holiday cottages, which began to take shape when we purchased a very sad and dilapidated flat in central Keswick. With the help of our loyal team of skilled tradesmen, we fully refurbished the flat and transformed it into our very own Marley’s Den.
Today, we have built a collection of luxury self-catering cottages that’ll provide you with anything but ordinary. Every property is owned by Cottage Escapes and has undergone extensive development and refurbishment to a create fabulous retreat with every convenience for our guests.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking of taking on a similar restoration?
Work with an architect and builder who are used to doing that type of development work. Make sure the property plans show all the right boundaries and ownership and rights of way and alike are all fully understood. Make sure the infrastructure can be delivered to the site if not already in situ. Prepare for a lengthy project – costing more than you had expected, if you want a superb job at the end of it all. But don’t skimp towards the final stages and spoil all the hard work that’s been done.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
We are very excited to be completing three additional barn conversions at Thirley Cotes Farm, near Scarborough later this year. These will complement our five existing properties at the farm, which are already proving very popular. When complete, we will have the capacity to accommodate 42 guests across the site.
All the cottages at Thirley Cotes Farm are conversions of 1850s old stone barns and have been furnished to a very high standard, complete with outside terraces and private hot tubs in a beautifully peaceful location just a stone’s throw from Harwood Dale.
Tell us a little bit about Cottage Escapes
Cottage Escapes is not a holiday cottage agency, nor a cottage listing website; at Cottage Escapes we do things very differently. We bridge the gap between traditional and modern; purchasing and restoring beautiful period properties to their former glory, with the addition of the latest amenities and facilities, and the style and privacy of English countryside and coastal living.
Each of our properties is brought back to its original beauty and taken to the next level by our team of architects, designers and talented professionals, who are involved at every stage. After all, who wants to settle for off-the-shelf, when you can experience off-the-charts. From cosy Lake District hideaways suitable for couples, groups and families to Thirley Cotes Farm in the North Yorkshire Moors; accommodating up to 28 people, across five cottages, with five private hot tubs to match, Cottage Escapes have something for everyone.
It was a long to-do list, but The Forge and Seaview Cottage are open for bookings for 2020 and 2o21! Another of our recent restorations, Pear Tree Cottage is also open for bookings, as well as brand new Mulberry and Walnut Cottage.
If you’re interested in booking a stay at one of these stunning self-catering holiday cottages and would like to find out more, browse our North Yorkshire cottages collection or call 01723 871782 to speak to a member of the Cottage Escapes team who can assist you.