Willow Springs Campsite Blog

Everything you need to know about the annual Neath Real Ale and Cider Festival

Everything you need to know about the annual Neath Real Ale and Cider Festival

The annual Neath Real Ale and Cider Festival will kick off in the town centre this weekend. Organisers hope the event will be the best yet with more than 35 varieties of real ales and ciders from local brewers to sample, as well as live music from local acts.

The event is now in its fourth year and celebrates local breweries producing top quality real ale and ciders. Up to six local breweries will be showcasing their products in Neath Town Hall and in a marquee on Angel Square on Saturday. There will be more than ale and cider to keep guests entertained, with a variety of food on offer and performances from local favourites including Neath Male Voice Choir, Like a Lion, Santa Cruz, Neath Ukulele Band, the Steve WIlliams Trio, Jeff Wiltshire, Lloyd John, Moongazer and Afternoon In Paris.

There will also be a live stand-up performance on Saturday evening in Angel Square. The festival has a strong emphasis on showcasing locally produced ciders and ales. This year, they will feature the likes of Gower Brewery, Grey Trees, Borough Arms, Gwynt Y Ddraig, Neath Ales and Mumbles Brewery.

An ale and cider list which will be available in the town hall has been published on the Neath Real Ale and Cider Festival Facebook Page. The list includes:

Iron Runner, Borough IPA, Pelenna Valley Ale, Full Blast and Nut Red Coke from the Borough Brewery. Deliverance, Welsh Amber, Dewi Sant, Cherry Bomb and Platinum from Neath Ales. Mumbles Gold, Mumbles Mile, Lifesaver, Hop Kick and Weisse from Mumbles Brewery. Caradog’s Bitter, Digger’s Gold, Drummer Boy, Chinookan VPA and Mosaic Pale Ale from Grey Trees. Happy Daze, Farmhouse Scrumpy, Fiery Fox, Welsh Warrior, Dog Dancer and Two Trees Perry from Gwynt-Y-Ddraig Ciders. Gower Gold, Gower Power, Brew and Sunrise from Gower Brewery.

Back by popular demand will be the Ale Trail, where punters will be able to buy guest ales or ciders in at least four of several venues across the town.Those tipped to take part include the Ambassador, Cross Keys, Presidents, Morruzi’s, Charlie’s Bar and Grill, Gwyn Hall, Borough Arms and the Canterbury Arms.

It starts at noon on Friday and Saturday, ending at 11pm on both days.

Entry is £4.50 per person but, if you pay the entry fee on Friday, you can return for free on Saturday as long as you are still wearing your wristband. Everyone who attends will also receive a free 2017 festival tankard while stocks last.

Posted in Events, News

Shepherds Hut – the inside story!

I quickly put this slide show together to give you all an idea of what went into the interior finish. I haven’t included any of the solar power equipment because I’ve been asked loads of questions regarding it – hence I’ll give it’s own post at a later date 🙂

In essence the inside could be broken down into , insulation, paneling, Varnishing/painting, Stove install, Solar/Electrics and decor/furniture. The little vid suggests I had this kicked in a couple of days…..errrr nope, a few months would be more accurate. I never really considered the merits of a summer type house, but whilst completing the interior – I found myself spending more and more time sitting in the hut (technically not working – don’t tell Mrs Willow Springs!) ,just being there- in that moment. Taking time to appreciate the same amazing views but from a different angle and place, whilst feeling almost comforted by that sweet timber aroma. I can see why people have summer houses. This Hut however, was built for something greater – to share with other people, and for those people to have ‘Their own moment’.



Posted in Ye Olde Shepherds Hut

Shepherds Hut is ready!!!!

Ladies and gentlefolk…we’re really excited to announce….. Our Shepherds Hut is ready to rent!! Visit the Shepherds Hut page on the website or click here for all the details!

Shepherds Hut

Posted in Ye Olde Shepherds Hut

ye olde shepherds hut video #blog

Hi all, It’s been so busy that writing a blog has unfortunately had to take a back seat….so here’s a short video, from the workshop to the pitch…and some serious erecting! You’l notice it says part 2 – I figured that it made sense to actually put some videos together of the whole progress – I’m still planning on finishing the written blog – but some people just prefer less reading and more watching. Hopefully I’ll have pleased everyone in the end!!!

Part 1 is probably going to be all the base construction in the workshop and part 3 will be all the interior – including soft furnishings…who knows maybe part 4 will be your blog from our hut! I have my head full of solar panels and controllers – because we need to put basic power in…enough for lights, phone and laptop charging, I’m toying with idea of a small fridge, just big enough for some milk, bacon, butter and beer!..or wine…maybe both!!! But power consumption is a big factor in designing a simple solar arrangement.. we’ll have to see how it develops.

feel free to either email via the website or tweet via @WillowSpringsUK or a Facebook message @WillowSpringsUK with your thoughts on what you’d expect when staying in a shepherds hut, how would you want to cook? would you prefer to bring your own bedding and towels? Would you ever consider staying in a 4 berth hut with friends? We value your opinions and points of view and love to chat, so get typing!!

Posted in Ye Olde Shepherds Hut

More trails than you can shake a stick at!!

Mountain ( and road) biking is big in our neck of the woods (pardon the pun!), If you know how varied and beautiful our area is you’d wholly understand why people come from all over the world to ride here. As far as I know we are the only valley or borough that has 2 visitor centres linking both walking and cycling trails. Obviously the majority of visitors will only ever see the more advertised routes, trails and places….and amazing as they are, its tip of the iceberg stuff!  You can’t get bored here, as for the trails well if you think you’ve done them all, think again – try hopping over to the Garw and Llnfi valleys which are only minutes away in the Borough of Bridgend – have a look at the youtube video from our friends at BridgendBytes.com courtesy of Brent Davies.

Posted in Wales

#blog Shepherds hut cosy adjustments…

The most eco-friendly action you can do these days is insulate, insulate, insulate. Here’s how we insulated the floor section of the hut which wasn’t initially designed to accommodate insulation.

The front and rear sections are joined by butting together 2 ends and then flat bracing, these load bearers (7 in all) end up around 5m long.

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Basic geometry ( measuring corner to corner diagonally) helped to ensure we were able to square the hut. Mrs Willow Springs insisted on shin pads and safety goggles on account my spring loaded tape measure would give Arkwrights till drawer a run for its money!


As we are fitting a rather shnazzy stove, I decided it wouldnt hurt to add some noggins between the bearers to give extra strength where the stove will be sitting.

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The kit comes with good quality ironmongery – probably over the top for its intended use, unusually pleasant feeling that you haven’t been short changed!!

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We can’t have daylight between the bearers – as all the insulation will fall out of the bottom, so we panelled the bottom with a good quality plywood, and of course treated it.

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Then once it was treated all the joints were sealed with a mould resistant flexible filler.

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Time to get itchy ,eeeew!!! Recycled glass fibre insulation left over from when I did the loft was perfect for this, good tip when using this stuff is buy some disposeable overalls, cheap gloves and an old cap and face mask .Use some electrical tape to tape the joint between your gloves and the cuffs on your sleeves, and when you are finished take a cool shower ( preferably without the overalls on!)

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When you are finished with the itchy stuff…its time to lay the boards! A welcome change from looking like an extra from Silent Witness!

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Oooh I had to use a paintbrush…again! 15 square meters means lots of floor varnish to seal the wood… after I’d sanded the higher sitting edges.

Mrs Willow Springs was a bit worried that the hut was too small, so I suggested she lay down on the floor where one of the beds will be. The hut sits about 3ft off the ground and Mrs Willow Springs doesn’t like heights, so much so she gets airsick if she wears 3 inch heels. Mans ingenuity knows no bounds, so, with the use of a blindfold, 2 fire blankets , some scaffold, 4 asthma pumps and a life size cut out of Justin Bieber we did indeed elevate Mrs Willow Springs onto the dizzy heights of the hut floor (albeit in the prone position!)

‘wow’ she said, ‘this is huge!’ ….I contemplated whether my life could indeed get any better!


So the floor is completed!…and that was the easy bit!!

Next It’s time to roll her out of the workshop and onto the pitch. That way I can use the space in the workshop for yet more painting – the sides, door and roof. Although before that, I need to put some carefully positioned slabs on the pitch so that levelling the hut will be the perverbial lemon squeezy thang!


Vic Reeves would get just as much pleasure rubbing my floor as he does his knees!! ooooh lovely Bob!

Just out of interest, these huts date back to the 1500’s and were initially a reasonable investment on farms, towed by horses usually to remote areas where the shepherd, having worked all day and far from home would then settle down for the night with nothing but the very basics…and absolutely no added insulation! Not unlike the difference between camping and glamping, for some 😉


Posted in Ye Olde Shepherds Hut

#blog Camping rallies…what’s it like?

Ever wondered what it’s like to ‘takeover’ a campsite?… this short video will give you an idea, and yes, everyone loved the slip ‘n slide. Thank you Port Talbot Town girls under 12’s football team (and parents of course!!), we had a blast!

Keep an eye on our youtube channel for more videos 🙂


Posted in Events, News

#blog Shepherds hut… how many coats?

Ok, guess what – there’s no miracle product!… and everyone tells you something different – sometimes the internet gives you too much info.

This week has been seemingly slow progress. mainly because I’ve been waiting for return calls or emails regarding the right wood treatment. As a result of that, I had to bite the bullet and get a general wood treatment product that would protect all the underside and internal floor area – nothing that will be really visible so the level of protection the treatment gave was more important than the colour or finish.

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As it happens the finish is top quality…. I can tell none of you are surprised by that…Aherm…..

This is the underside – the kit doesn’t allow for a cavity in which to insulate…this is part of the additional work I need to carry out. Going back to the ‘it’s been slow progress’ remark – the treatment on this is at least 4 coats, with a 4 hour drying time… minimum…with good weather….no humidity (rain!…errr this is Wales!)…consequently with panelling the bottom, I’ve just about managed 4 coats this week!

The actual treatment I’ll be using is called Carefree protectant, containing no solvents and it’s waterbased – about as environmentally friendly as I could get….the cost is painful, approx £40 per 2.5l of clear, or just over £60 for the same size with a colour pigment…they didn’t have clear! Other cutting edge products were even more expensive and required so much preparation.

Next I’ll turn them over and do it all again…. Mrs Willow Springs has openly admitted that her painting technique is more akin to a 5-year-old on a sugar rush! I’m fresh out of bibs so I’m doing this part on my own.



Posted in Ye Olde Shepherds Hut

#blog #ShepherdsHut front & rear sections..

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When they say kit form… they really mean kit form! No parts are formally marked and the inventory list has no illustrative pictures – we measured everything in order to identify it – then labelled it ourselves. When it comes to the actual assembly, the only parts that are pre-drilled are the ironmongery. Consequently, I spent ages looking for an old steel rule and square!! In truth, that’s part of the charm ,we really are building this hut, piece by piece. It will be unique, and as special to us as we hope it will be for you.

The plan was to (chemically) protect/preserve the wood in manageable stages. It was also important to us to find an environmentally safe way to do this – this sadly limits your choices, and so far we’ve been a tad disappointed with the lack of help and return emails. If anyone has any product recommendations please get in touch via the website, facebook page or twitter, and I’ll research it further.

The pictures above shows the front and back sections – next will be the timber floor structure which joins both sections, at this point we have a little extra work to do. Firstly ensuring there is extra support where the log burning stove will be placed, and also to super-insulate the entire floor section. For now, I’m back to the web to research preservatives :/  bye for now 🙂

Posted in Ye Olde Shepherds Hut

Ye Olde Shepherds Hut….in pieces !

Last month, February 1/2 term to be prezact! We had a delivery…..

shepherds hut delivery

shepherds hut delivery

No…not a forklift!… a nicely packaged German/Netherlands product via Tuin in Norfolk. Our glamping option. Consequently I’ve been clearing out space in the workshop so as to have room to check the inventory, store and start to build it all safely undercover….yer right!!


This picture only shows 1/2 the workshop… it took 4 hours to unload and identify all the various parts. Mrs Willow Springs was in her element, wandering around with a clipboard and pen!


The metalwork is really quite impressive, I was a little worried that it would be flimsy, not so – Mrs Willow Springs was on the hotline to the GP ordering a handful of Asthma pumps having only carried one wheel into the workshop…


This beauty has double doors and three windows… perfect for capturing our 360 degree views!! …..  Imagine snuggling into a large comfy bucket chair with the orange glow of the fire genuinely making you look more attractive than you are, your partner is similarly seated holding a glass containing a fine *Prosecco (*please insert preferred beverage!). The country air you are both breathing is additionally filtered by the wood surrounding you that makes up the shepherds hut construction. little needs to be said as the logs crackle gently – your partner shoots you special smiles that would warm the room (if I hadn’t already fitted a log fire!!) , It’s these glances that say so much – how amazingly wonderful you are for not only booking this very special and niche getaway but also for choosing one that can’t show match of the day in the evening. Maybe I should be a life guru too! Oh and if they did shoot you a puzzled look don’t worry they are trying to work out why you look more attractive – they’ll soon realise its the fire glow!!!


So now that everything is unpacked and marked ready to go…Mrs Willow Springs has got no excuses for not donning her bib ‘n braces – with tape measure and screwdriver to boot!… This hubby and wiffy project has the right ingredients to give gogglebox a run for its money!… Stay tuned… I need to look up some info on environmentally friendly wood treatments. next post will be Axles, base…and divorce!

Posted in Ye Olde Shepherds Hut

Welcome to Our Blog

Hello! Willow Springs Campsite is a family business which is located in the beautiful Afan valley in South Wales, UK.

This is our blog where we share latest news and updates from our small holding.

Best wishes
Marc, Jude and Liberty