Travel and Culture

Photo Journal: The Shepherds Hut on The Hill

After four hours of driving, the hills begin to rise on the horizon, each growing larger and craggier than the one preceding it. Sheep and young lambs with a spring in their step climb the uneven ground with mouthfuls of lush green grass.

The ewes look shaggy with their fleece hanging away from their necks, it is matted and has picked up layer upon layer of dirt the closer it hangs to the ground. The lambs, in comparison with short fleeces and brightly coloured numbers sprayed freshly onto their coats, look positively white and gleaming, yet to be tarnished by their environment. I always find it hard to associate these cute fluffy animals with cuts of meat, bloody and laced with fat displayed at the butchers counter. Little do these creatures know their fate, they are too busy living their placid lives, one minute at a time.


I steer off the main road and begin following a slow moving tractor that is pulling a large metal trailer, a double decker bus for sheep. The road is winding and the surrounding green rolling hills lead up to thick forests and glades. The trees have a soft misty appearance, as if swirled on a canvas in diluted watercolours by a paintbrush dipped in vivid greens, pale oranges, dusky purples and earthy browns. At one point, tall thick trees enclose us on either side, the light fading, the road narrowing to a single twisting track. At the end of the tunnel of trees is an opening through which light shines brightly. 


After following the track and passing through a metal gate, our accommodation for the night comes into view. On first glance it is a funny looking building, more of a hut. It is taller than it is wide, at a guess six foot wide by thirteen foot tall, with a curving metal roof made of corrugated iron. It is not often I hope for rain but I can predict it would be a beautiful sound echoing on this rustic roof. Heavy rain on a metal roof is one of my favourite sounds. A large circular window is positioned above the door, fitting in just below the highest angle of the roof.

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Our hut is called Cabin Copa, Copa meaning apex in Welsh. Aptly named as we balance on the slopes of this picturesque valley. Designed and constructed by the owner Dafydd Thomas, an architect, our cabin has everything we need. Dafydd’s family still live on the land on which Cabin Copa is located, his mother further up the track. Dafyyd, his wife Ceri (responsible for the stunning  interior design of the cabins) and five children live near the entrance in a beautiful blue and grey farmhouse reflecting the tones of the plethora of slate found in the locality.

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The main area of the cabin has been utilised as a kitchen and living space. Although the cabin looks small on the outside the interior is deceptively spacious. White wooden walls, the high roof, the large rectangular windows all combine to give the illusion of space. There is a retro, upcycled tone to the cabin with seventies stone wear plates, ceramic swans in repose and bright white vases with splashes of lime green, azure and sunshine yellow. It is clear a lot of thought and effort has gone into the interior design. The large comfortable patchwork cushions are handmade and little touches such as a Polaroid camera toilet roll dispenser and local antique cottons reels for light pulls make the cabin unique, and were some of the features I immediately fell in love with.

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The main feature of the lower area is a gorgeous locally sourced wood burning stove, in a shade of stormy blue. It provides waves of heat which hit the ceiling and roll back down warming the cabin on chilly nights. Manufactured by Chilli Penguin, the little stove is described as “The little stove with a big heart, stof fach gyda chalon fawr”, small but mighty, a flaming wood rocket, a tree fuelled engine”

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There is a distinctively Welsh theme throughout the cabin. A large ordnance survey map depicting the Dyfi Valley hangs on one wall, a hand sewn welcome sign, in Welsh, is displayed on the bathroom door and a frame containing the Welsh alphabet is cheerfully resting on a shelf running the length of the cabin.

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Sitting looking out of the long rectangular window is like being in front of a stunning landscape scene in an art gallery. The gentle swaying of the trees and a sheep, a pheasant or even a rabbit intruding into the frame is the only clue that you are not, in fact, in front of a painting. A mezzanine level bed, with views across the valley to the front and into the forest behind, is reached by climbing a small ladder which also doubles as a seat for the dining table. As a child I loved reading the novel Heidi by Swiss author Johanna Spyri, I used to dream about having a room in the roof with a little ladder to climb and a round window looking out to the mountains. For me bedtime at Cabin Copa was the actualisation of that dream. Needless to say that drifting to sleep on the comfortable mattress, to the sound of the crackling fire and the babbling brook outside the window, resulted in one of the best nights sleep I’ve ever had.

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Outside the cabin is a dusty firepit comprised of large slabs of local slate arranged into a circle. Large sections of twisted tree trunks are placed around the pit to use as seats. Behind the cabin is a woodland glade that leads down to a gentle bubbling stream. With instructions to collect wood for the firepit from the glade I set off down the steep earth bank gathering handfuls of sticks and fallen branches.

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The stream flows over fallen trees, rotten branches, leaf mould and mossy declines. A mottled moss green and khaki toned frog pokes his head out from under a piece of bright blue tarpaulin that has set sail further up the hill and has become entangled and trapped amongst the debris lining the stream bed.


Ferns,  just starting to stretch their curling limbs, are just visible above the ground, shaped like hairy hearts they are everywhere.Wild yellow primroses peek through winding roots of trees which cling onto the banks, trying not to slip and fall into the stream. The ground seems to be covered in sticks and wood which have been broken off in the recent stormy weather.

Arms heavily laden with sticks I take a different route back to the cabin, and come across a rope swing, dangling temptingly over the water. It is too tempting to resist and I drop the firewood and sit astride the wooden ‘seat’ and swing back and forth over the stream, my hair spilling backwards over my shoulders and the cool breeze blowing against my cheeks. Closing my eyes I can hear the birdsong, the distant calling of sheep and the hypnotic sound of the stream, it is a moment of pure tranquility and peace.

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Only a ten minute drive from Machynlleth, Cabin Copa and the other cabins located at Beudy Banc are the perfect destination for those looking for a rural escape, without being lost in the middle of nowhere. There are beautiful beaches, walks, towns and everything you need within driving distance. But when you are sat, in the cabin, overlooking the valley you feel like you are miles away from the hustle and bustle of modern society and it is hard not to let the peace infiltrate your body and mind.


Book your stay at Cabin Copa through Canopy and Stars by clicking here

Words and pictures copyright of Andrea Macmillan @dreamacmillan

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