The Tall Pines Yurt
Meet The Owners
Hello and welcome to our page. Paul and I moved to Helmsdale from Manchester in August 2016, with our son and daughter, to get away from the hussle and bussle of city life. Helmsdale was a perfect place to wind down and take life at a calmer pace. The village is picturesque with a harbour and meandering river and only 3 minutes away by car. The views from the house are breath-taking and look out over the Moray Firth.
I have a job at the local shop whilst Paul, my partner, continues to develop the land. We have 1/2 an acre, surrounded by pine trees, hence the name of the yurt. We have always loved camping and the outdoors and wanted a self-catering business that allowed our guests to experience living under canvas but without the disadvantages and compromises that are associated with camping. A yurt was the obvious answer as it not only provides all the luxuries of a home let but with the romantic feel of a Mongolian nomadic dwelling.
We selected a supplier who sold only traditional ethnic Mongolian imported yurts and we built the insulated wooden base ourselves in fact all the land it sits on and also that surrounding it was transformed by us (by hand and hard work) from an overgrown forest into the beautiful grounds, garden, outside amenities and dwelling that is The Tall Pines Yurt today.
We love it and are so proud of what we have created. We hope that you will love it too.
Jackie and Paul
Once we decided where the yurt was to be constructed we got on with clearing 50 years or so of debris and growth! We then dug out the area, levelled the ground and put in the concrete foundations which were to support the outer floor bearers. These bearers where constructed into an octagonal shape and strengthened by horizontal and vertical posts. Each bearer meets in the centre and to give the yurt base structual intergety, the central concrete foundation was laid to a depth of 4 foot and reinforced with steel rods which were attached to the end of each bearer. Pictures 2 and 3 show the spot where we hit hard granit rock which was directly in the way of the last 2 outer floor timbers - time for a brew before we chop out the rock with chisel and hammer!
Once the frame was constructed, 4-inch thick polystyrene thermal insulation was laid in each 'cell' of the frame and the floor panels laid on top until the whole floor was completed. A skirt was then attached to the edge. This provision acts as a draft excluder and also prevents the yurt's lattice inner frame from moving out of place.(see yurt construction below).
Our yurt was sorced from a supplier of genuine traditional Mongolian-made yurts. These yurts are constructed without using permanent fixings in order to be erected and removed easily, as is their original intention as a nomadic dwelling. The pictures below show us putting up the 4 concetinaed latticed frames and attaching both frames and door to each other using silk twine. Two bands of plaited strapping encircle the whole of the latticed frame in order to both stablise and strengthen it. These are attached at the door frame. The top of the wall frames are slightly curved in order to further strengthen the overall construction once the roof poles go on. The crown was the next thing to go up and was one of the most trickiest. Four of the poles are inserted into the holes around the crown at right-angles to each other. The crown is then lifted into place and the poles are supported on the edge of the framework. The rest of the poles are then inserted and supported in the same way until they are all in place.
A layer of insulated wadding is wrapped around the framework and also over the roof poles. This has an inner white polyfabric lining to reflect light around the inside of the yurt. The thick outer canvas cover is then wrapped around and held into place with horse-hair rope. The canvas roof skirt is laid down and held down by twine threaded in a zig-zag manner down through islets in the canvas and then up under the top rope. The final addition is the square crown cover. We chose to use the one which has a circular see-through perspex window in the centre so that more light can enter and also allows you to look up at the stars at night. Rope is threaded through the eyelets on each of its corner and secured firmly into place on the ground providing downward pressure to stablise the entire yurt.
And now for the outside........
Our next job was to construct the floor for the shower and toilet shed. In the same manner as the yurt, the bearers for this were also laid on supports which were concreted into a 4 foot foundation. The ground here tapers down which was perfect for our water filtering idea. The floor was laid and the shed erected. We then plumbed in the compost toilet which was basically a pipe from the toilet which takes the liquid waste down into the ground through a pebbled filtering system. The toilet also has a fan to eliminate any odours. Both the fan and the shower pump are connected to a solar panel on the roof of the shed.
The shower is an outdoor version heated by propane gas. The water comes from a 350 litre water butt on the outside of the shower and is pumped in using an electrical pump hooked up to the solar panel, as mentioned earlier.
We cut out the floor of the shed on the shower side and constructed a pebble filter box underneath which filters the dirty water before it soaks into the ground in the same way as the toilet. The floor was then replaced by 6 inch wide wooden slats which were first water-proofed and sealed.
This side of the shed is also used for washing up etc. We added a hinged shelf for this purpose which can be clipped back against the wall when not needed. A fresh cold water tap and feed were then fixed above the shelf which provides drinking water etc.
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