Big Sky Hideaway Solar and Trees

by Dave Cornthwaite in Boston, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom

We did it
On 12th December 2021 we successfully raised £11,299 with 101 supporters in 28 days

We're raising funds to help our campsite become fully renewables-powered and also to protect over 1000 trees in our new tiny forest

by Dave Cornthwaite in Boston, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom

New stretch target

Every little extra makes a big difference here. We reinvest everything into Big Sky and we're always inviting local community groups to spend some time enjoying our site. Those days mean a whole lot to visitors who wouldn't ordinarily get their countryside time, and the more we raise the more events we can afford to offer for free, or subsidised.


Hi! We're Dave & Emms and this time last year we launched a crowdfunder to help bring a dream to reality. Your support gave us the confidence to jump into a new life and we've spent the last year creating a renewables-powered countryside escape in Lincolnshire offering unique glamping, camping, alpacas and fireside events that harness the magic of nature.

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We've voluntarily run communities for years and our dream has always been to pair a love for bringing like-minded people together with a little business that makes the outdoors accessible to all.

Our main aim with the Big Sky Hideaway was to create an escape where people feel comfortable pausing in nature for a while, making memories and find new friends around the campfire, at the same time as offering adventurous and sustainable ideas, messages and inspiration which guests can take home with them.

A year of lessons!

Since we arrived at Big Sky in December 2019 it has been a year of learning! Thanks to a healthy dose of YouTube and creativity we've learned how to hold tools properly and have created a site using recycled, up-cycled and sustainable materials, building compost loo blocks, rainwater harvesting systems and starting the conversion of our barn (which used to be an aeroplane hanger!) into a cool community basecamp and events venue. 

We've planted over 400 trees so far with the help of many of you who supported our campaign last year, and there's space for a few hundred more to find homes in the ground over the next six months.

Although a planning permission application to become a campsite experienced lengthy delays and held us back from a full first year open to guests. we've gladly had a few weeks to test out the site, enjoy the smiling faces of friendly visitors and at least start to work out how we can best share our amazing corner of the planet with you.

Oh, and we've also become mama and papa to a small herd of fluffy alpacas and a roaming tribe of friendly hens, and in addition we're proud guardians of a site that offers homes and habitats to hooting owls, hovering birds of prey, digging rabbits, scurrying mice, trotting fox and curious deer.

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In reality, so much has happened this year that it would take a book to share it all (watch this space!), but we're happy with the knowledge that although this first year has been one of so many little actions that nobody will ever notice, they have laid an amazing foundation for the future. Oh, and we're also delighted that when people drive in along our track they won't get stuck in the mud like our buses did upon arrival in December (gosh we've moved a lot of stone by wheelbarrow!).

Here we go again

So here we are again, we've decided to run another crowdfunder for a couple of reasons:

Firstly, we wanted to offer discounted stays to those of you who supported us in our first year. Honestly, we're still figuring out the best way to juggle all the ideas we have for the site alongside the responsibilities and cost of running a place like this, but we do know that people are at the heart of this and we want to get to share our journey with guests who want to return because they enjoy and believe in what we're doing.

Secondly, we're excited to have been selected for support by the M&S Energy Community Fund Competition 2021, who wanted to support projects committed to being environmentally conscious, who were installing renewable technology and actively taking part in carbon saving initiatives such as tree planting.

This means that if we reach our target we'll receive match funding for the first £5000, which we pledge to use on two main projects:

1) Purchasing new batteries to replace the old ones in our buses. These batteries store the sun's power generated by solar panels next to (or on top of) each bus, and the more efficient they are the more energy can be re-used. This is great for guests, but also when the buses are empty we use their solar power to charge up other items that we use all over the site; lights, tool batteries, projectors for events and more.

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2) Protecting our new trees. With 400+ already planted this year and plenty more to go in the ground before the end of Spring 2022, the main job now is ensuring the young trees reach maturity.Young saplings are vulnerable for the first two or three years of their life and while they're small they're a delicious snack for deer and rabbits, and are also prone to damage in high winds. Depending on where the new trees are planted we want to protect them with a combination of fencing, stakes and tubes, which we know will give them a better chance of surviving to maturity. 

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We're out on our land every single day and honestly, hadn't quite factored in the time it would take to look after everything we've already created on site. We know that the match funding offered by the M&S grant will help to protect our trees and store more solar energy, ensuring that we have a little more time to focus on the other good stuff around site.

A Meaningful Gift

At the heart of our project is that spending time in nature, having the courage to try new things and reminding ourselves that if we all take little steps to lessen the impact on our planet then good changes are possible.

We know from this year's feedback that guests absolutely love visiting Big Sky. Campers have enjoyed the privacy of spaced-out mown pitches surrounded by long grass. Visitors to our buses and Landpods have revelled in the comfort and privacy of such a unique temporary home. And for everyone who visits, a wander in the woodland, reading the thoughtfully-placed signs, showering with a heated bag and feeding time with the alpacas have all left their mark.

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And we're planning new experiences for 2022, including furnished Scandinavian tipis AND...we're excited about this one...a hammock village where you can learn about hammocking and spend a few nights floating between the trees.

Every 'reward' bought through this crowdfunder campaign will receive a digital certificate containing the details of your donation and the reward so that you can print it at home or send it to a loved one as a gift.

Sleeping options

We're offering a few options for discounted stays at Big Sky.

Our American School Bus can sleep six (super king + four single pods), boasts a lovely kitchen and breakfast bar, super comfy seating and will live in its own little private garden at Big Sky.

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The YesBus double decker is SayYesMore's community basecamp. In between community weekends the bus will be available for sleeps with proceeds helping to support the ongoing running of the YesTribe community, who organise free events nationwide to bring people together in the great outdoors. 

We have two Landpods, the 2-bed Woodland Lodge hidden away surrounded by fir trees, and the Cosy Cocoon with its parachute lounge in a woodland garden. 

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(Now and then, the Cosy Cocoon will also move around site for brief, unique stays. One will even be in the Alpaca paddock, so you can enjoy your very own Alpackage Holiday!)

In 2022 we'll be furnishing at least one glorious Scandinavian tipi on site, allowing a comfy canvas break where you won't have to put up your own tent!

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And as we mentioned above, a section of our woodland will be dedicated to hanging between trees. A colourful hammock village will be available for guests to try out for a relaxing chat or reading hour, and we'll be running workshops and offering hammocks for overnight stays. If you haven't tried it, you must!

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Our little herd of Alpacas are an awesome bonus. Enjoy the cria's evening zoomies and the curious calming influence of their gentle grazing. We challenge you to not smile when you see them!

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This is Only The Beginning...

Big Sky has been a long time coming for us and we're still excited to have the opportunity to continue creating this incredible space. 

We care about the environment and believe strongly in taking care of our own little corner of the planet, with minimal impact from our buildings and guests. We operate a 'Leave No Trace' policy and are actively planning ways to protect and promote conservation of wildlife and the local environment - think owl boxes, local litter picks and hosting youth groups to share with them our planet-friendly choices.

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Thank you so much for your support in helping our unique dream grow some wings, we can't wait to keep you posted on developments and whether you've managed to visit us this year or not, we hope to be able to welcome you to Big Sky in person in 2022.

Ooh, and ps. Full terms and conditions and FAQs can be found on www.bigskyhideaway.com

And pps. we always try to be flexible so if you ever want to add nights to your crowdfunding reward, pitch a tent next to a bus or Landpod to be close to your friends, or anything else (within reason!) send us an email through our website, anytime.

Thanks so much for your support, with the biggest hugs

Dave & Emms

Rewards

This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£50 or more

13 of 20 claimed

Cosy Cocoon

Enjoy two nights in our little Landpod which enjoys its own woodland garden with sheltered parachute lounge, picnic table, firepit and field kitchen. Stay between March 14th and May 30th 2022, weekends are included but bank and school holidays are not. Dates are first comes first served so let us know your choice as soon as you can :)

£10 or more

27 of 100 claimed

Sponsor a Tree

Help us to grow and protect a growing tiny forest. By sponsoring a tree you'll contribute to an ongoing tree planting project at Big Sky. Your support will help us to to plant new saplings and protect all growing trees on site from threats like nibbling deer and inclement weather. We've already planted several hundred trees on site and plan to finish planting by the end of April 2022. Then the big job is ensuring that the saplings reach maturity.

£15 or more

45 of 100 claimed

A signed copy of Dave's book, BoardFree!

Did you know our Dave is an author and adventurer?! Here's a copy of his first book, BoardFree! It's an amazing tale of his bonkers record-breaking skateboard journey across Australia. Seriously, he skateboarded across Australia! Dave will personally sign your copy in time for Christmas (what a cool gift!) and the reward includes UK postage (if you're overseas we'll send you details for any extra postage). PS. His right calf is still massive!

£30 or more

6 of 50 claimed

Hammock nights!

Treat yourself to two nights in a hammock in our brand new hammock village. Valid for one adult and includes hire of hammock and rainfly so you'll float happily whatever the weather. Dry store for bags and access to our woodland hammock village with field kitchen and campfire included. (Additional paid hammocking workshop available on request). Dates subject to availability between March 14th and June 27th 2022

£30 or more

16 of 25 claimed

Sponsor an Alpaca

If you like cute photos and videos this is for you! Our little herd of furry friends continue to entertain and with three cria (alpaca babies) due in late Spring/ early Summer 2022 we've plenty to look forward to. In return for your support we'll send a digital certificate and adoption pack with fact sheet & biography for each of our pacas, invite you to a one-way whatsapp group for regular updates and live streams when the babies are born.

£50 or more

5 of 50 claimed

Five nights of camping!

Treat yourself to one of our camping pitches for 5 consecutive nights between March 14th and May 30th 2022. Valid for 2 adults and subject to availability (we have ten pitches available per day so it's first come, first served)

£50 or more

Alpaca Zoom Party!

Surprise your team with a video call appearance from our alpacas. Dave or Em will join your call (whichever platform you choose) for 15-20 minutes (so we don't disturb your entire meeting!), introduce you to our pacas (including the babies!) & if you like, chat about Big Sky and answer questions. This reward also includes a year-long adoption of our herd, which means regular cute updates from the Alpaddock & a free feeding session if you visit!

£80 or more

4 of 10 claimed

Tipsy Tipi

Enjoy two nights in a furnished Scandinavian tipi and we'll throw in a bottle of Prosecco as a welcome treat. Valid for up to two people on stays between April 19th and June 26th 2022, weekends included but bank and school holidays are not. Dates are first comes first served, get in touch to check availability and reserve your spot!

£100 or more

2 of 4 claimed

Woodland Lodge Spring Weekend

Enjoy a Spring weekend in our Woodland Lodge Landpod for up to 4 people. Arrive Friday afternoon and leave Sunday late morning. Valid for one of these 2022 spring weekends: March 18-20, March 25-27. April 22-24, April 29-May 1. Availability first come first served (for peace of mind feel free to message us on [email protected] to ensure your favourite date is available before you book). Upgrades for different dates, £25 per night...

£100 or more

0 of 10 claimed

Smallholding Workshop Weekend

Ever thought of owning a smallholding or running a campsite? We have learned so much in our first year at Big Sky but know we would have jumped at the chance for a headstart in knowledge and ideas. Join us for a working weekend on the ranch. Get a feel for how big an acre is, what you need to cut grass, build fencing and, design a site and plant trees. Price is for one person over two days. Food and accommodation (at a discount) is an extra cost.

£200 or more

0 of 5 claimed

Alpackage Holiday

Enjoy a unique stay with our alpacas, sleeping in our Cosy Cocoon Landpod in the Alpaddock. Wake up and lift the roof and relax as the fluffballs go about their morning. Spend hours with the alpacas including a long meet & greet, feeding time & even get involved with their general care if you like. Price is for one 2022 night and up to two people. Three meals and drinks included. What a treat!

£250 or more

2 of 5 claimed

Four nights on a bus!

Enjoy a midweek stay on our American Schoolbus for four nights in Spring. Valid for for up to six people between March 14th and May 30th 2022, arrive on a Monday afternoon and stay through to the Friday morning. Subject to availability, dates first come first served.

£1,250 or more

1 of 3 claimed

Spring weekend site hire!

Hire our entire site exclusively including accommodation for a weekend between March 18th and April 25th 2022. Ideal for a birthday party, celebration or team retreat. Valid for a Friday 2pm to Sunday 1pm stay, dates are subject to availability. Deal for a maximum of 25 people, food not included. (Nb. not for weddings, we have separate and affordable wedding packages, please ask!)

£2,000 or more

0 of 2 claimed

Big Sky ROYALTY!

Make our little slice of paradise your go-to Summer Holiday destination for the next three years. This reward gives you three different holidays for up to four people: one week (seven nights) on our American Schoolbus, one week (seven nights) on the YesBus Double Decker and one week (seven nights) in our Woodland Lodge Landpod. You choose the order and your preferred dates, we'll treat you like family :)

£180 or more

5 of 5 claimed

Early Bird Weekender School Bus Stay

A great deal for a weekend break in our American School Bus for up to 6 people with this early bird package. Valid for one stay of two consecutive weekend nights (Friday to Sunday), dates subject to availability between March 18th & May 1st 2022 first come first served * extra £20 per night upgrade for bank and school holidays ** drop us a line before you buy to check dates, or follow up your reward to reserve your weekend.

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