Cosy winter in the wild central Balkan mountains of Bulgaria



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  • Description


    Dear workawayers,

    Set amongst a forested and mountainous back drop with glorious summers and frozen powdery winters, in a land where the horse and cart are still common place and the lands in many places have been left to grow wild for 30 years.

    Your goals and your life are just as important as our goals so come and help and we will be very grateful. In exchange for your help we will accommodate you well and ensure you have an exciting new experience.

    Dan and Lorna have just purchased a new small holding in the foothills of the Central Balkan Mountains in Bulgaria, Eastern Europe. Its too much for two people. We need to share the abundance and a little work!

    Dan and Lorna are a young couple with a cheeky Border Collie, the family is small but we hope now we have the space to grow. Long term team members and short term volunteers wanted!

    Only two years ago they were workaway volunteers trying to learn the skills to live sustainably with nature. Now having saved up they have bought a bit of land in a secluded valley with a forested mountain back drop. There is extensive shrub, old growth forest and meadow and also streams and springs and lots of wildlife. There are no walls or fences in this countryside you can walk straight into the wilderness to find bears and wolves.

    There are three separate dwellings at the small holding, with land on either side of a little gurgling stream /( torrenting river in the spring). The houses are accessible only by 4x4 for the last 1km. The patch of land is only 3.5 acres but it is set in a 200 acre valley largely abandoned and wild. There is great potential to be wonderfully productive. That means growing food, keeping livestock and engaging in all manner of fun sustainable homesteading activities, living life to the max whilst saving the earth.

    Its early days but in the dream of the future we will have a busy community of permanent residents, and a steady flow of volunteers. Starting soon there will be many animals, horses, pigs, geese and bees.
    There will be horse riding and archery and eventually many traditional skills to learn from experts.
    The permaculture gardens will be thick with fruiting trees and shrubs and the workshop will be full of inventions we are aiming for a steam punk blend of traditional and technological.

    If you want a long term home to keep your own horses or run a blacksmithing forge or to study herbs and mushrooms whilst maintaining a communal food garden. If you want to live off grid sustainably in an exciting and wild environment look no further.

    Sounds great but what can you expect in general?...

    It's very early days, so all ideas and experiments are welcome. Dan and Lorna don't have years of homestead experience but hope to share what they do know and to provide space for everyone to develop skills of all aspects. They like to build things with natural materials, built to last and with thorough research and planning. They will illustrate to you the bigger picture and the ever improving plan to maximise the diversity of life and the environment. Together they are in charge and will provide direction and make the call on decisions. There will be plenty of idleness but only once the days work is done!

    Food gardens are just for practice for now and keeping animals will happen in spring 2020. So there is time now to plan ideas, prepare for winter and explore. They need help preserving summer fruits and nuts, cooking, cleaning , researching and planning and improving the accomodation, in the winter they will be clearing some shrubland to replace with food forests the following spring.
    Current priorities include learning to preserve the summer produce, building a pizza oven, installing water and electrical systems and maintenance of the buildings. Cutting and stacking firewood. And preparing accomodation for visitors and volunteers.

    If you think you can help with any of those things, they want you. Food and accomodation provided. 2 days off minimum. Enjoy trips out together.
    Get a flight to Sofia then take the bus to Yablanitsa and Dan will collect you.

    For fun we will hike through the ancient beech and oak forests to the monastery with breathtaking views, or visit the many limestone caverns and gorges. Or join the experienced and competent Dan and Lorna rock climbing, caving, river swimming, fishing and back country skiing/ snow shoeing.

    All the food and water will come from the valley eventually but on birthdays and special occasions a team trip out to the simple but incredibly affordable restaurants will be enjoyed.

    So please come and help make the dream reality.

    Perhaps in reality hard work and frustration will teach us to savour the good bits. Health and money may one day be difficult but together we will share in and enjoy lifes richness.

  • Type of help

    Type of help

    General Maintenance
    Cooking / shopping
    Help with Eco project
    Help in the house
    Animal care
    Language practice
    Art project
    Help with Computers / internet

  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Having been frantically moving in for the last few months we haven't travelled much of Bulgaria yet.
    In brief Bulgaria has a rich history which shows through as soon as you step out from the airport. This is an ex soviet union communist country, the old women still use pitchforks in the heat of the day to load hay onto horse drawn wagons. There is a completely different way of life to what we are used to in UK and France. Bulgaria was occupied by the Ottoman empire, the Turkish influence and the Roma communities will surprise you the first time. We try to learn from the old ways, and the old ways can still be seen. We speak English. We are new to Bulgaria but we can explore the country together.

  • Help


    If you can't do physical tasks there may be tasks in photography and digital media, websites and project management. Physical jobs will be plentiful. Your hosts will teach you what they know wherever possible from permaculture and preserving to Bushcraft and HVAC engineering and we will all learn new skills from books and the internet in the heat of the day or during evenings. If you don't know already you will learn here to use an axe. Trees will be needed to be chopped and split for firewood and building. Trenches need to be dug for irrigation systems. Tools will need to be sharpened and maintained, new handles made. Large projects currently under way include water piping and storage. Clay which must be collected and wheel Barrowed. We need a Pizza oven built along with a pretty bridge or two over the stream. The dirt track needs to be maintained. Indoor and outdoor furniture needs to be crafted. Natural soap needs to be made and lots of preserving must be done. Pine resin collected, mushrooms, berries and herbs foraged , grass and meadow scythed. Gardens weeded, green houses built. Roofs repaired, chimneys swept, delicious dinners cooked, pots and dishes cleaned, animals fed.

  • Languages spoken

    Languages spoken

    English, passable French, American and English southern dialect.

  • Accommodation


    We have an entire guest house. At the entrance to the property And a pine clad guest cabin above the stream along with a spare bedroom in the main house. The water needs to be plumbed in to the guest accommodations at present There is also lights and powers throughout the guest buildings.

    There are brick walls and heavy doors to seperate all rooms except the cabin which is entirely open plan and very quaint.

    Individuals may be given the choice some bedrooms will suit some more than others.

    The guest house is a pretty building but the interior needs redesigning. There are wood stoves in each of the two twin rooms and in the kitchen living room. The beds are all comfy but basic and rustic as with all the furniture at present.

    You can eat with us or cook for yourself with ingredients from the market, since there is a fridge a freezer a gas hob and a sink. We will also share meals cooked in the main house Lorna makes some great vegan and veggie dishes.

    There are delightful garden solar showers and there is a toilet and shower in an out building, it's pretty rough and ready still. But there is an indoor bathroom being built in the main house. If like us you would like a clean and odorless sawdust toilet in the corner of the bedroom behind a screen that's easy. And water can be heated on a stove for a quick wash with soap and flannel in the bedroom.

    We have 4 separate bedrooms for workawayers. It's likely you will have your own room!
    Each room has two single beds. Which means easy capacity of 8 workawayers.

    There are also sofa beds and our double room which makes that 12 comfy beds give or take. There is of course fairly unlimited camping and campervan accommodation. Two wheel drives can make it to meadow on the other side of the stream but may need 4x4 towing in wet conditions.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    In this valley below the mountain it's hard to get bored. The landscape and wilderness is diverse if you know what to look for. If you wish to join us on adventure Wednesdays we may visit the limestone caverns and gorges for rock climbing or the rivers for swimming and fishing or the forest and highlands for hiking and camping. We have a 4x4 and in Bulgaria you can go really really off road.

    Or if you want to see the city of Sofia it's only an hour away and there are regular buses.
    Bring your own vehicle and you will be greatly appreciated.

    In the winter we will be skiing and mountaineering.

    I think our ethos is pretty easy going let's have fun mostly and keep things fair. We aren't making any money here so what we provide will mostly come from savings and produce from the land we share and a little bit of extra food and fuel paid for with Lorna's freelance job. Helping kids in Africa (which doesn't pay well). If we all agree to go on extended adventures perhaps we can can share the costs. We are at the beginning so we have boundless enthusiasm and a little bit of money left. So come now!

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • ...

    Hours expected

    Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week

20minutes drive away, cold springs from Limestone crags
Guest cabin
The beginnings of the workshop. A simple bench with simple tools
Old growth and fungi. In the woods next to the camping area.
Guest bedroom
Summer solar shower
Dan and Lorna
Volunteer accomodation 1

Host ref number: 991538658362