Tucked away next to the River Hamble, in the quaint rural village of Botley, you’ll find River Rose; a stunningly crafted Shepherd’s Hut. Handmade by Hampshire carpenter and business owner, Luke Beirne, the accommodation boasts the unique characteristics of historical shepherd’s hut, with added twists of luxury. The picture-perfect rural setting is a haven for peace and tranquillity; guests have horses for neighbours and can hear only the soothing sounds of water when drifting to sleep.

Early publications mention shepherd’s huts as early as the 15th and 16th century, when they were a common feature of English and French agriculture, reflecting the importance of the wool economy during this period.

Historically, they were mobile structures on four iron wheels, and could be moved around fields to help shepherd’s stay with their flock during lambing season. They would house the shepherds during the harsher winter months, when the weather was too cold to live outdoors.

Earthy tones bring warmth to the small spaceEarthy tones bring warmth to the small space (Image: Mattea McKinnon)

Fast forward to the present day and the shepherd’s hut has been revolutionised as a multi-purpose, luxurious facility, with a thriving industry developing alongside. They are now created as outside offices for homeworkers, holiday lets or in this case, for Airbnb weekend retreats for those seeking some minimalistic solitude.

Luke says: ‘It was a spontaneous idea I had. I saw one and thought - one day I’ll build one. I love challenging myself, making things a little bit different. I always used to admire them at the Dorset Steam Fayre we’d go to each year.’

Luke started his carpentry journey over 15 years ago, embarking on a carpentry and joinery apprenticeship straight out of school, aged 16. Since graduating in 2008 with a distinction, Luke has worked on countless properties and projects which has further fuelled his creativity. Now, he lives with wife, Jamie and three children, Patrick (7), Percy (5) and Beatrice (2).

Luke's simple design is calming and encourages you to embrace the nature around youLuke's simple design is calming and encourages you to embrace the nature around you (Image: Mattea McKinnon)

He continues: ‘Before this I was always tinkering in my mum’s garage and annoying the neighbours, making surfboards and driftwood furniture. I always had such a passion for making things.

‘I built my first hut in 2016 after our first baby entered the world. We used it as a spare room when friends were visiting as we didn’t have much space at the time. In 2019, I decided it was time for an upgrade and sold the first hut to make a new one.’

To maintain the aesthetic of a traditional shepherd’s hut, Luke says he chose to use ‘a tin roof and a stable door’ as well as ‘cast iron wheels, handmade timber windows and doors and old timber mouldings’. He explains: ‘I tried to keep the rustic feel of the hut within the bathroom but the shower tray is galvanised though!

A hearth is perfect for chillier nightsA hearth is perfect for chillier nights (Image: Mattea McKinnon)

‘After the lockdown restrictions had lifted and people were allowed to go on staycations, we decided it was the perfect time to put the hut down on the river at a friend’s farm to earn some money, but also allow others to appreciate the beautiful place we live. It’s only down the road from us too. I used my father-in-law’s dumper truck to tow the hut through the village down to the farm.’

The river Hamble is a place Luke holds a special soft spot for, having spent a lot of time fishing here over the years. He remembers: ‘I spent a lot of time here with my dog Bell when my wife was working evenings. I just knew it would be the ideal place. Jamie fell in love with the spot too and we both just knew it was the right location for the hut.’

River Rose is in walking of Botley village and train station, is surrounded by trees, and boasts its own garden with hot tub, seating area and fire pit.

The fire pit is lovely for enjoying balmy summer evenings by the riverThe fire pit is lovely for enjoying balmy summer evenings by the river (Image: Mattea McKinnon)

Luke recruited Jamie and his two boys to help with getting the site ready for guests, sharing: ‘My whole family were in on the process. Our boys were only 4 and 2 at the time and helped dig the trench for the water to get down to the hut from the farm.

‘I just thrive off people enjoying their time there. People that just get it and its spectacular simplicity. We’ve had some celebrate birthdays and anniversaries there and even a few proposals now which is lovely. It’s so secluded so a good place for romance. One couple even stayed on their wedding night! A lot of people bring their paddleboards as you can paddle round to the mill. If you ring the bell that hangs down into the river from the hidden tap pub, they send your order down in a bucket to the river which is fun.’

Being outdoors and exploring nature is paramount to the Beirne family. Luke says they like to enjoy ‘the simple things in life’ and ‘being in nature, making the most of everything around us’. He continues: ‘We love the country and taking our horse out but also really like being by the sea too. We’ve got a little Dory boat that we take up the Hamble all the time. The kids love getting involved with all outdoor activities- making adventures out of everything.’

Luke has now launched his own business, creating huts for othersLuke has now launched his own business, creating huts for others (Image: Mattea McKinnon)

Since the creation of River Rose, Luke has now launched his own business, LB Shepherd’s Huts, where he tailor makes premium, bespoke huts for his customers, each suited to their individual needs.

When he’s not busy with that side of the business, he says he’s often found working on ‘garden rooms for creative purposes’ and ‘bespoke kitchens’ and ‘oak porches.’ He adds: ‘I do love a camper conversion too; I’ve done plenty of them. It sounds cliché but this year it will be more of working hard so we can play hard!’ lbshepherdshuts.co.uk