Gary and Linda Kellaway opened Lower Keates Glamping in Devon in May 2017. In 2013 they bought their ‘forever home’; a smallholding of 14 acres in the beautiful Axe Valley near the Jurassic Coastline, to give their sons a country childhood complete with pigs, lambs and chickens, plus a meadow full of wildflowers.
They quickly recognised that the site was perfect for a glamping business. Four years later they have six safari tents, each sleeping up to six in great comfort, with a wood burning stove and an ensuite bathroom. Three were ready for the May half term and completely sold out; the other three will open in time for the summer holidays.
Gary Kellaway still works as an animal health officer, so Linda is in charge of meeting and greeting guests, which dovetails neatly with her work at a local school.
The lodges are named after local coastal places of interest: ‘The Cobb’, ‘Golden Cap’ and ‘Beer’ and local animals ‘Stag’, ‘Deer’ and ‘Pheasant’.
Green power is used to heat and light the tents and locally produced body care products are supplied, adding a unique touch.
The area has outstanding walking, not least to the local pub which serves great food. In addition the local pizza and Indian restaurants will deliver and an honesty shop on site has home-cooked frozen meals plus local supplies.
To navigate planning permission Gary and Linda hired an expert who ensured it passed first time. Then they set out to apply for a grant from Defra, which required three quotes. They were nervous that Brexit might have a negative effect on grants and were keen to get their application in as soon as possible. They set about finding three tent suppliers and were initially swayed by price. However, once they saw Boldscan’s tents they were impressed by the quality as well as replaceable sides. They liked the fact that they were made in the UK and offered on-going maintenance. The grant was approved giving them 40% of the costs to do the whole project – this covered all six tents.
When it came to marketing they invested in an excellent website, as well as promoting through Airbnb and the local tourist sites such as the Jurassic Coast Trust and Lyme Regis.org.