Keer Falls Forest Farm

A Shaky Start

I write this almost exactly thirty years to the day from the time we first saw Keer Falls.
It was love at first sight.
It all started with me making Heather a promise on that May day, back in 1986.
"I'm going to build you a house here!"
So I did.
"Oh you're so lucky!" I hear you say, as countless others have.
You think?
Was it luck? Or was it shear bloody-minded stupidity? Because I tell you what, no one believed I could do it when I started, and I really do mean NO ONE!
Building the house was the easy part, the hard part was getting planning permission. It cost me far more than you could possibly imagine, and I'm not talking about financially either, but that's another story!

The Cottage in 2016

The River Keer

Building the cottage

Getting planning permission was an impossible mountain to climb, but having done it, the next question was how were we going to build it? So, we got quotes from several sources and discovered that that was going to be very expensive! We started to save and look at increasing the mortgage, but we were surviving from hand to mouth on very little and we were just too scared to commit to a loan.
Then one morning, I woke up and decided that I would just start digging and we'd see where that took us. A couple of weeks later, listening to the radio as I dug with pick and shovel, I heard on the radio that the Chancellor was going to put interest rates up to 15% to try and keep the pound at a constant level to the Euro. I knew then, that if we'd taken out the mortgage that we'd been looking at, that would have been the day that put us out of business. Of course, the Chancellor then took the pound out of the rigid constraints that he'd put it in and economy picked up. But while the rest of the UK was talking about the consequences, I knew, that I had to do this thing myself; I had to build the house, paying for it as we went and if we couldn't afford something, we didn't do it!

Once the footings  were in, the block work  was relatively straight forward. I took my time and measured everything carefully and checked levels with the spirit level at each stage.
Insulation was built into the cavity as I went and polythene kept the insulation dry from the rain.

Lifting the purlins was a bit difficult, because I was on my own and had no mechanical means in those days to do it. So I had to lift one end at a time and rest it on my scaffolding. Then, I lifted the other end onto the other half of the scaffolding tower, climbing up a level with each lift.
When I got to the load bearing walls, I walked each end up the wall, one at a time!
The purlins were a lot heavy than blocks or even the concrete lintels, but I managed it and felt a great sense of achievement once they were all up in position!
Having taken the time to keep each layer of blocks as level as I could while making progress with the build, it was quite gratifying to find that the purlins rested fairly level and didn't need much faffing to set perfectly level. I then blocked them into the walls and strapped them down with ties to stop the wind lifting the roof. The roof could then be strapped, bolted and nailed to the purlins.

The next step then, was to raise the roof.

One Step at a Time

Raising the Roof

With the block work done, the next stage was to set out joists first for the first floor and then for the loft. This made it easier to get about in the structure.
Then  I was able to put the timber for the roof on, felt over and add slating lathes so that I could put the slates on.
I used second hand Westmorland Green Slate.  We paid for the slates, which were not Cheap, by selling some "free and matching" shares we got when Heather's employers were privatised, we turned 400 into 2,000 and bought the slates for the house!

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Tel.: 015242 21019

Keer Falls.

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