Spending many happy boyhood days in the remote Northumbrian countryside forged a bond with the landscape for Robert Hersey.
Then living in the south of England, Robert’s family would spend holidays with relatives in Rededsale.
“I had a great time growing up on those holidays and we couldn’t bear to be away from Northumberland,” says Robert.
Eventually the family moved to Northumberland permanently and set up home 30 years ago at Thorneyburn Rectory in Tarset in the upper North Tyne valley.
Robert now lives near the rectory with his own family.
Although trained as a violinist and a teacher of drama, theatre and music, he wanted to share his love of the Northumbrian landscape with others.
Now he has set up Wild Northumbrian, a venture based in 22 acres surrounding the rectory to enable visitors to take a break and live close to the land.
Robert has installed four Mongolian yurts at different, secluded spots.
Three are 20ft wide and the other 16ft, They have hand-made wooden beds and wood burning stoves on which visitors can cook.
The stars are visible through a wooden crown at the top of the yurt.
Visitors can also stay in a 24ft wide North American tipi, or wigwam, with a traditional fire pit, or a 16ft Scandinavian tipi with wood stove.
Another accommodation option is a wheeled shepherd’s hut facing the fells.
In the past, these would be used by shepherds staying overnight away from home during busy lambing times.
Another shepherd’s hut is used as a dining area and gathering spot for craft activities, There is also an outside kitchen with wood oven for cooking for groups.
An Aussie-style canvas bag outdoor shower and compost loos are available, although indoor showers and toilets in a former stable block with air source underfloor heating are on offer.
A 30ft rope bridge spans the site’s Briar Hill Burn and the village of Greenhaugh, with its pub, is a 15-minute walk away.
“It is about getting out into the landscape and experiencing it in different ways,” says Robert.
“I want to give people a unique experience of living in and understanding a very quiet, beautiful landscape, with a lot of wildlife.
“The accommodation is very comfortable but it is more than just a holiday. It is a place where people can connect with the land and natural systems, and the local community.”
Craftspeople call and there are workshops in activities such as wild food foraging, pottery, bush craft and archery.
“We wanted to create something which is very alternative,” says Robert.
“People can enjoy the wind in the trees and hear the birds, and the dark starry skies. Visitors are blown away when they see the Milky Way.
“The yurts, tipis and shepherd’s hut are well insulated but they also feel very much part of the landscape.
“There are some lovely walks and access to the fells.
“We are getting visitors from all over the UK and parents who want to get their children away from their machines .
“It is a place to retreat to get back to something we have lost.
“The Northumbrian landscape is very dear to me and I want to share that experience with other people.”
The rectory is listed and dates from 1815. It, and the church of St Aidan, were built by the Admiralty for rectors leaving ships after the Napoleonic wars.
The rectory is also home to Unison Colour, which was set up by Robert’s parents in the early 1980s.
Robert’s father, artist John Hersey, found that mass-produced, factory made pastels did not offer the qualities he was looking for, and so he decided to make his own.
Today Unison Colour makes over a quarter of a million hand-rolled sticks a year, based on unique recipes created by John Hersey.
In some recipes there can be up to seven pigments combining to create a colour.
More details on www.wildnorthumbrian.co.uk or 01434 240 902