Huf Haus at Cleveley Mere

Amanda Griffiths takes a look inside a Huf Haus at Cleveley Mere and discovers it is the only one in England available for holiday hire<br/>Photography by Glynn Ward

When Roger and Gillian Burnside were looking for a new house they never imagined they would end up with one of Europe's most distinctive designs or a 24-acre lake.If all that wasn't enough, there was the small matter of a blossoming 34-acre nature reserve and exclusive holiday lodge business.

'We actually came here to view another house up the road and we drove past this one,' says Gillian. 'I loved it, but it wasn't for sale.'

Six months later they discovered this Huf Haus, near Forton, was on the market. 'We were the first to view it,' she adds. 'The Huf Haus following and the location meant there was a lot of interest, so it was a big decision especially as it was only then we were told we would have to take the lake and business on as well.

'We weren't looking for a business. I'd sold my interior design company in Kirkham, Roger had given up work and we'd sold the various properties and interests we owned with the intention of semi-retiring. But there are only so many holidays you can take.'

They had already sold their Georgian home and rented a modern property and that gave them a taste for contemporary living. 'We were ready for a change,' says Gillian.

The German glass and timber construction makes it an eye-catching addition to the countryside but, from the other side of the lake, it's amazing how well it fits into its landscape.

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'The house was built in 2003, since we've been here we have really just upgraded things, like putting in a new breakfast bar in the kitchen, new worktops and a new oven and hob,' says Gillian. 'The d�cor has changed quite drastically, too.

'We were lucky all of our furniture was already very modern and just slotted into the space. The bubble chair, for example, was a birthday present to me from Roger when we were living in the rented house.

'The colours I've used are very much our corporate colours,' she says. 'If you look at our website,, you'll see lime green, greys and blacks feature and I've tried to incorporate this in the part of the house we live and the apartment downstairs which makes up part of our luxury boutique lodge business. 'We've got lots of ideas of what we'd like to do with our space, but since we came here in December last year we've spent much more time working on the business and the lodges.

'This is the only Huf Haus in England where people can stay and they come for a variety of reasons. Some are building their own and want to experience it, others are Huf fanatics. It doesn't matter if either of the other lodges are available, it has to be the Huf Haus apartment they stay in!

'The apartment is very contemporary and it sleeps six, has its own private entrance and driveway and, of course, the view of the lake is breathtaking.But it's not just the properties the Burnside's took over in 2008.

They've also planted about 2.500 trees including 250 laurels and 200 firs to encourage the wildlife in the nature reserve which, located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Roger says: 'We've also rebuilt the 14 piers. We've done that over the top of the old ones so the ducks love it because they have some great shelter.

'We've got otters, birds like osprey, streams, waterfalls, ponds and part of the River Wyre in addition to all the fish in the lake. We've got bird boxes and hides on the edge of the lake so the twitchers can watch the birds close up.

'The lake has an exclusive membership of 50, some of whom have been here for 30 years and the lodges are really popular with families. As well as the fishing we have quad bikes, clay pigeon shooting and lots of other activities. We've just finished writing a nature walk that visitors can take through the grounds.'

With all this work at a time they were looking to semi-retire are Gillian and Roger glad they made the decision to buy this place? The answer seems to be a definite 'yes'.

'It takes a while to get used to open-plan living,' says Gillian, 'but now I am, I'd never go back. The worst thing about living in a glass house is cleaning the windows! You think you've done it and then on a sunny day you realise you need to start all over again. Ironically, the glass is also my favourite thing about the house!'

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