The river Usk – spanned by a handsome 17th-century bridge – splits the 2,000-acre estate of Penpont in two, with the manor house, majestic lawns, Green Man maze, kitchen garden and farm shop on one side, and the rose garden, campsite and grazing meadows on the other.
Abigail Whyte tells of her long love of the estate and what makes it a great eco getaway.
Penpont has been a very special place for me and my two daughters for a few years now. It’s only an hour away from where we live, so whenever I feel the urge for a mini-adventure, I pack up our little tent, swimsuits and a bottle of wine and head to this magical spot on the banks of the Usk.
Green living at Penpont
While Penpont is very much a family home (owned by the same family since 1666) and beautiful place to stay, it’s also a working estate, producing its own organic fruit and veg, meat, dairy and charcoal.
Low-impact living is key to its ethos, with the land fed entirely on home-produced green manure and garden compost, fuel sourced from the estate’s own woodland, and rainwater harvested from the stable roof for the hot showers and loos. Up to 35 people are allowed
to camp at a time and are encouraged to minimise their waste on site.
You can’t help but notice an atmosphere of openness and generosity at Penpont, too, with local artists and crafters invited to use their workshop space, WWOOF volunteers mucking in in the kitchen garden and, in the largest youth-led project of its kind, Action for Conservation is working with young people from a range of backgrounds teaching them about wildlife, habitat restoration, sustainable farming and forestry. Vital projects like these will keep our countryside thriving for all to enjoy in the future.
While all this activity may make Penpont sound like a busy place, it feels far from it. When the tent is pitched and my girls and I go for a wander, we feel as though Penpont is our own. The girls play tag barefoot in the orchard, climb trees and paddle in the Usk. I, meanwhile, recline on the grass and watch the magic happen – glass of wine in hand, of course.
Camping at Penpont
Campers can pitch their tents wherever they like in the rose garden and orchard, or choose from two stunning pitches by the river. Showers and toilets are in the stable block. The manor house offers self-catering accommodation for up to 14 people. While the gardens aren’t open to the general public, guests and farm shop customers are welcome to explore. The farm shop reopens in June. penpont.com
Words: Abigail Whyte