How a dairy farmer turned a derelict cottage into a popular and luxurious holiday let

When Steve Pendlebury, a dairy farmer from Bolton, bought 160-acre Lipley Farm near Market Drayton in 1983, the land also had a derelict cottage in need of urgent repair.

The Shooting Folly. Photo: Sykes Holiday Cottages.
The Shooting Folly. Photo: Sykes Holiday Cottages.

Despite the cottage’s rough exterior, after two decades of living at the Cheswardine farm, Steve decided to embark on a renovation project and transform the property into a charming holiday home for guests to enjoy.

Now, The Shooting Folly is a popular holiday let which is almost always fully booked and generates just under £30,000 a year.

Steve uses this money to reinvest in the cottage, most recently installing a luxurious cedar hot tub to help guests relax while enjoying their stay.

The Shooting Folly's cedar hot tub. Photo: Sykes Holiday Cottages.

The cottage is a unique holiday home, with a crenelated mock church tower at one end, a stepped gable at the other, and in between a simple, timber thatched cottage.

However, Steve’s renovation journey was not without its challenges. When he initially approached the local council in 2004 to secure planning permission, it was rejected.

He reapproached the council in 2008 with photographs of the original property, showing how the property’s tower had been used as a duck shooting folly many years ago, and the council then decided this was something worth preserving.

The Shooting Folly: the garden has romantic views of rolling Shropshire countryside, and even some cows. Photo: Sykes Holiday Cottages.

Determined to restore it to its former glory, in 2009 Steve started on an 18-month renovation, spending over £120,000.

Two local builders were employed to complete the project, which required huge skill to ensure the tower and other features were designed to match the building that was once there.

The 61-year-old dairy farmer said: “When we bought Lipley Farm in 1980, we had no idea what an exciting project it would turn out to be.

“I’m delighted that we’ve been able to rebuild The Shooting Folly to its original specification, complete with the unique tower, comfortable furnishings, and modern amenities.

“Our guests can enjoy our 160-acre farm, including its countryside views and new cedar hot tub, while feeling reassured that we are close by if there are any issues.

“We’ve loved sharing the property with guests over the last ten years and hearing their feedback – sleeping in the original tower is often their favourite part about their stay!

“Partnering with Sykes Holiday Cottages to manage The Shooting Folly has been fantastic – it’s taken all the stress out of holiday letting for us and their marketing is second to none. We’ve been thrilled with the number of bookings we have received – particularly in recent years.”

Since opening The Shooting Folly in 2011 as a one-bedroom holiday let, Steve and his wife Tracey have welcomed hundreds of guests.

Since the pandemic prompted a staycation boom, the property has been almost fully booked, securing over 60 bookings in 2022 alone.

To view The Shooting Folly, go to sykescottages.co.uk.

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