Beauty and the Beef
Campston Farm - in a land of opportunity forged by 5000 years of unique history.
A West-Norfolk couple have realised their dream and moved to Orkney for a new life of farming and holiday letting. Jack Schmollmann (you may know him from Jack’s Gentlemen’s Barbers in Hunstanton) and Veterinary Surgeon Rhiannon Jones (formerly at Millhouse Vets in King’s Lynn) were married last year and their island adventure in the archipelago off the north-eastern coast of Scotland has begun.
On 1st February the couple took over Campston Farm which is on the largest of the islands known as Mainland. Rhiannon said: “As you may already know we ditched our well paid jobs, sold our sports cars and departed the country, after we tied the knot back in September.
“We relocated to the small wilds of Orkney in search of aurora, orcas, puffins and peace. The plan was to buy a farm, which is something Jack has dreamed of since we got together 13 years ago.
“We very nearly didn’t make it to this day, with our buyers dropping out at the last minute from our house sale leaving us well and truly up the creek without a paddle… the dream farm seemed to be slipping through our fingers.
“Just when the farm was about to go back on the open market we had a pair of heroes step in to save the day.
“We have put in all our money and more, in order to finance this venture and the hard graft really starts here as we embark on ensuring our business grows.
“Campston Farm is to be a beef farm with holiday lets, for everyone to enjoy this beautiful, wild and unspoilt haven.”
The first cows (in-calf) arrived at Campston in February; these are Aberdeen Angus cross and March has seen the calves arriving, at today's date two bulls and one heifer.
Jack is keen to add another breed to the herd. Stabiliser cattle are a specialised suckler beef breed with the added bonus of hybrid vigour. Jack said: “Stabilisers are relatively new, they were officially recognised as a breed in 2014; they are docile, easy to calve and produce very high quality beef.”
Looking ahead to next month, these ladies (pictured below) in the Orkney sunset will be lambing.
Sitting on the Gulf Stream, Orkney’s climate is much milder than other areas on the same latitude and there is less than 10 deg C difference between the average summer and winter temperatures. However winter is the coolest and wettest season, just like the rest of the UK, so cattle come in and are fed silage and barley that are also produced on the farm.
Jack and Rhiannon have been busy preparing their holiday lets and are now open for business. Perfect for lovers of wildlife, it is closer to the Arctic Circle than it is to London and fifteen percent of the world’s seal population can be found there, along with the orcas, puffins, otters and so much more amazing wildlife, which can all be viewed from the shore. The landscape is stunning and you can see part of the 500 mile coastline from practically anywhere.
Campston Farm is a cottage that faces north, and with no light pollution it offers unrivalled views of the milky way and the iconic aurora. The cottage is within walking distance to a small beach down the private farm track, with another larger beach one mile away.
The accommodation is ideally situated for people who want to explore an area with a 5000 year history and wonderfully preserved sites that are easily accessible. Definitely not to be missed and less than a half hour away is the Ring of Brodgar, a Neolithic henge and stone circle. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Heart of Neolithic Orkney.
More recent history might lead you to the sheltered natural harbour of Scapa Flow which was the Royal Navy’s main Fleet base during both World Wars, its strategic importance can be discovered at the museum on Hoy which is a short ferry trip from Mainland.
Just six miles from Campston is Kirkwall - The city is described as a vibrant capital with a Viking heart. It is the administrative centre for Orkney and has high street banks, a wealth of independent shops, restaurants, distilleries a busy harbour and a magnificent Cathedral founded in 1137.
We visited Orkney in late February – the blue skies you see in the photos have not been enhanced! The views were magnificent, the food was lovely and the welcome was very warm.
Getting there: We drove via A1 and A9 - 659 miles (taking in part of the Scottish 500) then by Northlink Ferries from Scrabster to Stromness. You can also fly from Norwich via Aberdeen. Kirkwall Airport to Campston is about 10 minutes.
Book your escape to Orkney:
Enquiries: 07590 927817
Jack pictured muck spreading on another fine spring day.
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