Down on the farm: 5 perfect family countryside stays around the UK
For centuries farms have played an important role in British culture, and scenes of cultivated fields stacked with hay bales sum up our image of the countryside.
Spending time on a working farm is an easy way to reconnect with a simple way of living and there’s an earthy sense of satisfaction gained from watching cows milked in the early morning or helping farmers collect clutches of chicken eggs.
But more than anything, being surrounded by animals and lush landscapes is a joy for children, making a holiday down on the farm one of the best options for a family staycation once lockdown restrictions lift.
From cool campsites to converted barns, these are a few of the top choices for a bucolic break.
1. The Forest of Bowland, Lancashire
Often referred to as the Switzerland of England, the Forest of Bowland on the western edge of the Pennines, is recognised as an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Owned by the Gorst family, who have lived here for 70 years, this former goat farm has canvas lodges with indoor and outdoor showers and a wood stove. For extra indulgence, hot tubs can also be booked.
It’s a fully functioning property, supplying supermarkets with free range eggs, and has herds of cattle and sheep on site. An outdoor play area with zip wire is popular with children, while the River Wyre and nearby beaches are recommended for summer dips. The historical city of Lancaster is within easy reach, along with the promenades of Morecambe.
How: Feather Down (featherdown.co.uk; 01420 80804) offers a four-night stay in a lodge sleeping up to six from £455.
2. Wheatacre Hall, Suffolk
Sleeping between hay bales doesn’t have to be basic. Eight luxury converted barns offer high end facilities in the surrounds of a dairy and arable farm on the Suffolk/Norfolk border in the Waveney Valley. Furnished in a bucolic style, the homes have hot tubs and a games rooms with pool, table tennis and table football. A further play barn is available for children, while adults can work out in a fitness barn or go swimming at the nearby Waveney River Centre.
Guests can watch cows being milked or explore the property on fishing trips, birdwatching walks and bike rides. Local attractions include Africa Alive, a 100-acre safari and adventure park, featuring zip wires, tree houses and boat rides. The Norfolk Broads and seaside resort of Southwold are a short drive away.
How: Farm Stay (farmstay.co.uk) offers a week’s stay from £465.
3. Tintagel Duck Farm Campsite, Cornwall
Hundreds of pop-up camping stays are expected to appear this summer as farmers take advantage of ‘permitted development rights’ to set up site for up to 56 days in the year without the need for formal planning permission.
Guests are invited to pitch their tents on the laid-back coastal farm, where feathered friends are the main entertainment. Gaggles of friendly ducks (including several rare breeds) waddle around the farmland foraging for food, along with groups of turkeys and chickens.
The site offers car-free pitches, portaloos, two hot outdoor showers, and an on-site food truck for easy dinners. Tintagel, home to King Arthur’s legendary castle ruins, is a five-minute drive away.
How: Pitchup.com (pitchup.com) offers a non-electric grass tent pitch from £20 per night.
4. Scrogg House Farm, Yorkshire Dales
There’s a long history of farming at this idyllic site in the Rawthey Valley, near Sedbergh. The area has been used since 1568 and the current farmhouse was built by the Dover Family in 1895.
Surrounded by free range chickens, donkeys and Highland Cattle, Boskins Cottage (sleeps four) was once the lower section of an old threshing barn and takes its name from the old dividers used in the lower section of the barn, which have been retained as a feature in the property. Exposed stonework and high-beamed ceilings create a rustic atmosphere, and a secluded patio overlooking the countryside is perfect for private dinners and drinks.
Hikes from the doorstep include a path alongside the River Rawthey to England’s highest above ground waterfall Cautley Spout. The cottage also has direct access to the river with fishing rights and a deep-water pool for swims.
How: Two-night stays from £218. Visit scrogghouse.farm.
5. Northumberland Farm, Northumberland
A traditional farm with grassland supporting cattle and sheep alongside cereals such as wheat and barley, this is the place for guests eager to get a hands-on feel for rural living. Join the farmer on a tour of the farm or help him on his early morning rounds to check the animals.
By adopting a traditional approach to farming and working alongside nature, the owners have created a biodiverse wildlife haven of hares, badgers, roe deer, owls, yellowhammers, merlins, kestrels, geese, swans and buntings. In the absence of light pollution, this is also a fantastic place for star gazing. Admire the night sky from the veranda of en-suite canvas lodges.
For dining, the owners host supper clubs or provide ingredients and recipes for guests to cook themselves. Food comes from a range of local suppliers, including line-caught wild salmon, Lindisfarne oysters, and lamb and beef reared on the farm. Less than a mile from the sandy beaches of the Northumbrian coastline and a 15-minute walk into the pretty seaside village of Seahouses, the farm is ideally located for long, dramatic hikes.
How: Feather Down (featherdown.co.uk; 01420 80804) offers a four-night stay in a lodge sleeping up to six from £485.