We found Burmieston 5 years ago, marketed as the Wreck of the Week - and that was referring to the house. The Steading was very derelict. However the magic of the setting, the space, the peace was unquestionable. In the last five years it hasn't really been clear which side of the narrow line between stupidity and bravery we have favoured, yet we have created a space that welcomes visitors from all over the world and particularly from all over Scotland.
In its simplest, the Steading is a five bedroom self catering property. Yet in practice it has been a yoga studio, an art space, a party venue, a gathering space, a place to be quiet and a haven for local fauna and flora.
The build and interiors have been very carefully designed to minimise the impact on the environment and save carbon through reuse of materials and minimising resource use. The heating comes initially from solar thermal that is then heated further if required by local biomass. The rainwater is collected to flush the loo's, reducing the requirement from the bore hole as well as minimising discharge into the burn. The electricity is from a 100% green supplier and all lights are LEDs.
The insulation is a mix of sheeps wool and recycled plastic, the furniture is from a local upcycler, the paint is VOC free, the art is from a local artist. The Steading courtyard has been planted with a plethora of pollinating herbs and flowers. Last summer it was described as "Provence like". Every element has been considered for both our guests and the planet. We understand that luxury is more than fluffy towels and slippers, it is the possibility to breathe beautifully clean air, drink crystal clean water, spend time with your loved ones and be in silence if you choose. Because of our efforts the building was awarded the 2018 Historic Environment Scotland/RIBA award for Climate Change and Conservation and we have a Gold award from Green Tourism.
Since opening 2 years ago we have welcomed nearly 1000 residential guests, 26 residential volunteers, hosted 2 community dinners, 1 supper club, 6 Escape Barns, 5 day retreats and hosted a diverse range of workshops. The idea is to have a space to relax, learn a new skill and connect with different people, so that you can leave with a smile. We have also welcomed interested rural development professionals from Sweden, Estonia, the Perthshire Tourism Partnership and Scottish Enterprise. We work closely with local businesses such as the local pub, where we source our coffee and soaps. We continue to improve the amenities offered by building (and planning) further communal spaces as well as expanding our network of local activity providers and teachers both on and offsite.
Around the Steading there is a small smallholding with Jacob sheep and free ranging poultry and a new orchard with plums, apples and nuts. We manage the grassland organically and are encouraging the growth of wild flowers. We are planting trees around the property too - often with our guests involvement. The curlews, tawny owls, lapwings, oyster catchers, buzzards, kestrels, bull finches, chaffinches, tits, robins, wrens, starlings, swallows, house martins, thrushes bumble bees, bees and more provide quite the orchestral backdrop.
The Scottish rural landscape is something to be celebrated and experiencing it is good for the soul. We hope that the way we have designed and operate Burmieston Steading and smallholding allows our guests that joy by being a space to be…whatever you need it to be.