Foxtwood Cottages was a self-build project started in 1995. It took us about four years to complete the shell, finish all the internal work in three cottages, our house and the workrooms.
At this point we decided that we needed to concentrate on getting the gardens and grounds into shape and in the meantime we would see how the business developed.
2011 saw the last cottages finished just in time to start again with some refurbishment and improvement work on the first three. Then we might have time to look at finishing our own house!
We own about 30 acres (11 hectares) of land, roughly 16 on this side of Foxt road and 14 on the other on which we keep our small herd of Dexter cattle. We manage this as our own personal nature conservation area.
In 2003 we entered all of the land into the Countryside Stewardship Scheme overseen by the Department of Natural England. This scheme was active over a ten-year period, designed to restore and enhance the unique landscape of the English countryside while maintaining and enhancing the wildlife habitats that abound on our land. In 2012 we continued into the Higher Level Stewardship. In the last ten years our ground has been steadily reclaimed from over grown scrub to the more traditionally managed way of farming and we hope to continue in this way for the foreseeable future.
The HLS continues with projects like controlled grazing of our important species rich wild flower meadows, cutting for hay, rebuilding dry stone walls reinstating old field boundaries, managing the spread of scrub and bracken, laying hedges or simply replacing steel gates with traditional wooden ones. The new scheme now includes our woodland where we will be coppicing and creating woodland clearings, develop woodland bird habitat and control invasive dominant trees and shrubs. We will use the felled timber for firewood. We would only be too pleased to take you for a guided walk.
We would like to encourage schools and wildlife groups to visit Foxtwood by making a round the estate walk enabling the more difficult places to be accessible. This in turn will hopefully benefit you our guests who might wish to see more of our special place. Please feel free to explore the paths that you can find but young children must be kept on a lead at all times. If you would like to see our Dexter cattle do ask.
Because of our values we explained earlier, you will not be surprised that Foxtwood Cottages is committed to minimising its environmental impacts; we strongly believe that we can make a difference. This may all sound a bit worthy, but it matters to us- and we hope it does to you too. Action is being taking in the following areas:
- Glass, paper, tins, cardboard, carrier bags and plastic bottles are recycled
- Sturdy bag are supplied in the cottages for guests to easily recycle these products
- Email and telephone is used, where appropriate, rather than paper-based communication
- Compostable waste is put on the compost heap
- Recycled products are used where possible e.g. toilet rolls and stationery
- Items are bought in bulk to reduce packaging waste
- Electricity and gas use is monitored. From 2007 – 2008 the Cottages used 11,876 kWh of electricity and approximately 80,149 kWh of gas. Targets have been set to reduce this amount going forward
- Energy efficient bulbs are used where possible, saving 5,642kg of carbon dioxide
- Insulation has been fitted between the floors, in the roof space and in the walls
- Windows are double glazed and draft free
- The hot water tanks and pipes are insulated
- New white goods are energy ‘A’ rated
- The kettles have a water gauge to avoid the need to boil more water than is required
- Efficient underfloor heating has been installed
- Radiators where fitted have thermostatic valves to reduce the heat in rooms as required
- Hot water is part heated by solar water panels
- Showers are available as a water saving option to a bath
- Dripping taps are repaired promptly
- Kettles have a water gauge to avoid using more water than is required
- Most toilets are fitted with low flush cisterns
- Wherever possible we use local suppliers and seek to use goods and services which do not have a negative environmental impact
- Our fields are managed using traditional farming methods under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme
- We have a small heard of Dexter cattle for conservation grazing of our grasslands
- Our own free range chickens provide us with eggs
- We raise trout for eating in our pond
- Growing our own fruit and vegetables is especially enjoyable
- We can offer plenty of organic blackberry picking to our guests in season!
- We are members of the Caldon and Uttoxeter Canal society, which aims in the long term to restore a further length of the canal, the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, FWAG (Farming and Wildlife Group), the RSPB and two local accommodation groups, who meet up to swap ideas, support each other, purchase and advertise together
- We always try use local craftsmen for maintenance and other jobs
- We recommend guest to local attractions, restaurant and pubs, within walking distance if possible
- We always welcome ideas and suggestions from our guests on ways we can reduce our environmental impact further