Quiet Earth, a Straw Bale Retreat in the Beautiful Welsh Hills.


Rachel lived off-grid in a shed in her woodland in Wales, carrying water from a local spring, using candlelight, a gas stove and a compost loo. She loved it, but the shed was small, so she built a straw bale extension onto it with the help of some friends. From this humble start she has built what has become an iconic home winning the 2009 Grand Designs eco-house award.


Rachel's straw bale home in Pembrokeshire, Wales has no timber frame. The structure is made from straw bales alone pegged with hazel sticks. Her home was the first two storey load bearing straw bale house in the UK.

The home stands on a hill up a narrow path above the 12th century St Dogmaels Abbey with a view over the estuary once a lookout spot for pirates.

The partition wall behind Rachel's wood burning stove stands on blue bottles (right) where, in the winter, sunlight shines through them lighting up the room. 

With such a narrow path through Rachel's woodland the best way to bring materials to the site was by mule. Monty (below) is Susanna Powell's shire mule. Monty needed a little encouragement to haul the heavy oak logs up the hill so Susanna rigged up a carrot that dangled in front of Monty's nose which was given to Monty as a reward at the top of the hill. 


Rachel's home is full of curves, soft colours and filtered light as the sunlight weaves its way through the woodland trees. Take a tour of the house with Rachel in this short video.


Rachel holds workshops at her home throughout the year. She has held events with well known natural builders like Barbara Jones of Straw Works, Simon Dale and Tony Wrench.


Women's Natural Building Retreat

Nourishing time in nature learning how to build with natural materials on the new low impact forest dwelling. 30 May 2014, cost around £300, booking via Fiona on quietearthinfo@gmail.com