John Maddy: Joint founder and owner of Long Valley Yurts
John Maddy is the co-founder and co-owner of Long Valley Yurts, based in the Lake District. From the very beginning, John and his business partner Rich Coulter were determined to create a business run on sound values and ethics. They were pioneers in glamping and the use of yurts, trail-blazing in what now is a much bigger market. John is proud that they set the standards for quality and safety and that they continue to do so through their consultancy work, which includes working with the insurance industry. I asked John about how his business has grown whilst maintaining its values.
“I stayed in a yurt at university, which is probably where the seed of the idea came. I also recognised that groups participating in personal development programmes benefitted from staying in mountain refuges and camping. Rich and I thought hey! This will bring families and friendship groups closer together, enjoying the basics of living and cooking together in beautiful locations.
We started in Langdale with two yurts. At this point it was a new venture for everyone, including the National Trust. At times it has felt like a mountain to climb. We hadn’t anticipated the challenge of creating excellent accommodation in the middle of a Lake District field in all weathers!
We were pretty much the first commercial company to put a fire in a tent. It was uncharted territory in modern UK-based tourism. We were committed to keeping ethics and sustainability at the heart of our operations, minimising waste and keeping things as local as possible. The circular economy is critical to our business model.”
After years of successful growth, Covid hit hard and once again John and Rich found themselves leading the way, setting standards for safely operating in a covid context. Thanks to this, their business was 100% open while many others remained shut. John wrote a paper for the industry, advising how to open up safely. John shared with me his plans for the future of the business:
“Local partnerships and collaborators are key for us and we always have to consider our ecosystem of land-owners, farmers, customers and partners. Recently, Long Valley has been shortlisted for an ethical, responsible and sustainability in tourism award. We want to be vocal about responsible business, and being shortlisted for this award really helps us get our message across.
Long Valley is now offering sustainable weddings, aimed at removing the single-use aspects of weddings, making them not only better for the environment but also more affordable.
Long Valley are proud of our Green Tourism status; we have silver and we are working hard for gold. We are also working towards being a B Corp. All of these awards and accreditations help consumers to make decisions and help us to clearly position ourselves as a business that cares about its effect on society and the planet.
I love the Lakes and feel strongly that our impact must be as minimal as possible. The change in the landscape over the seasons is beautiful and each season brings a different experience for visitors. Rich and I feel strongly about leaving a positive legacy, and we will always prioritise promoting responsible business.”
During lockdown, John started an MBA, studying the carbon impact of his customers. The biggest part of the carbon footprint in Cumbria is tourist traffic. Another large contributor is the footprint of food, which is why he is very keen on local produce.
I’m struck by John’s passion for the business, the Lakes and his commitment to making a real difference. John and Rich are working on a variety of projects and positive actions, planting trees, and implementing water filtration systems, solar panels, and batteries. With Long Valley Yurts, I feel I am definitely in the presence of a Force for Good.