A simple all purpose shelter

One of the most loved spots on the farm is our fire pit, but given our Northern Irish climate, there aren’t a huge number of days when people can sit around the fire. We really needed a space where visitors could sit out of the rain.

The solution came in the form of this Mike Abbott designed shelter, which is beautifully simple and yet wonderfully stable and effective. It is high enough to maintain a fire under (within reason) and yet keeps the worst of the weather off. We’ve also transported it to craft fairs for pole lathe turning demonstrations, so it is genuinely all purpose.


It consists of 8 poles – we have used birch, as it grows plentifully on site – but any straight poles will do. Two pairs of poles are bolted or tied together and support a ridge pole. A tarpaulin then passes over this ridge, and is attached to an A frame.


The tarp can be attached to the frame with rope, or (as in this case) ball bungees, which stretch to keep the cover tight, and are easy to attach.


We also pin the feet to stop the shelter moving around. It has stayed up in the worst of winds, and remained rock steady.


The secret of this stability is two ropes, fastened diagonally across the back of the shelter, which prevent it from moving from side to side. We have drilled holes in the poles to pass the rope through and to secure it.


Visitors love it, and it gives the feeling of being undercover and yet still very much outdoors.

This article first appeared on the Permaculture Magazine website