North Hayne Farm Cottages, North Devon: The ideal multi-generational holiday
A rural retreat in Devon... is this the ideal 3-G holiday setting? We sent Jo Mackie and her family (of six adults, two year old twins and a newborn baby) for a mid-week visit to get the lowdown.
North Hayne Farm Cottages in North Devon a unique holiday location offering 8 self-catering character stone cottages named after Beatrix Potter characters in an idyllic location on the edge of Exmoor National Park and near the traditional market town of South Molton. With a relatively new purpose-built accessible farm for families and children offering on-site twice daily farm activities that support learning within the Early Years (EYFS) and Key Stage 1 curriculum there is something for everyone.
North Hayne Farm Cottages is ideally located within easy reach of many of North Devon's best attractions and award winning beaches - and, is known for its repeat guest rate which is always a great sign of approval. After our multi-generation or 3-G family trip there in May, it’s not hard to see why!
Here's what we all thought...
We stayed in the luxurious Jeremy Fisher self-catering cottage, which sleeps 10. The large building, which before its redevelopment was an old barn, is only 18 months old and everything in this new build has been designed to high spec. With five spacious rooms spread across two floors and two accessible en suite bathrooms downstairs, the cottage was more than big enough for our group. With three young children it couldn’t have been a better set up for us. There were stair gates installed, a wide range of options for sleeping (twin beds, wooden cots and extendable travel cots), as well as booster seats, highchairs and a range of child-friendly dinnerware and cutlery. The toy box in the bunk bed room upstairs was a really nice touch and kept the twins entertained when they woke up a bit earlier than the rest of the group on a morning.
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We loved the log burner in the main living space, which made it feel really cosy on cooler evenings. The kitchen was well equipped for self-catering with household basics, a wide range of utensils and cleaning products; there was nothing it lacked! The farm has eight cottages in total, sleeping from four to 10. The other seven are smaller and more rustic (part of the original farm buildings), though each cottage also has a hot tub – something that the owners said they added due to popular demand.
There is so much to see and do in North Devon, from beautiful beaches at Saunton Sands and Woolacombe to quaint villages like Mortehoe and rock pools at Lee. There are also many activities for kids including Diggerland, Exmoor Zoo and Quince Honey Farm. We loved the beautiful scenery, it felt so calm and peaceful with lots of space for the children to run around. It took half an hour or so to get to the beaches but there is plenty to do in and around the farm too.
WHAT TO TAKE
On the farm, you’ll spend your time in wellies but it might also be useful to take sandals in summer. Given it’s the UK, the weather is always unpredictable so pack for all seasons! Raincoats and umbrellas are essentials (just in case!) but you may also find you need swimwear and beach towels on a sunny day too! Don’t forget your camera for memorable moments, such as your little one’s first donkey ride or their delighted face when feeding the animals!
WHAT TO EAT
As self-catering cottage we ordered an online food shop, which we had delivered to the farm ahead of our arrival. Cheryl had kindly unloaded this and packed it away in our cottage so it was all ready waiting for us when we arrived! This was such a nice touch and one less thing for us to think about (always helpful when you have children!) The cottages all have BBQs - a great option during the summer months.
FOR THE KIDS
The children are invited to help the farmer feed the animals (lambs, goats, chickens, alpacas, pigs, rabbits and ducks) at several different times, which the twins absolutely loved. Everything is run to a fixed schedule, which is perfect for toddlers who like a routine and has been designed to suit children with autism or special needs too. Each day, the twins grew in confidence and my son was particularly pleased that he could pick an egg fresh from the hen house for his breakfast!
First, the lambs were fed each morning at 8.30am, followed by the rest of the farm animals at 9.15am. The children were given a little bucket of food to take to each animal and feeding ended with a donkey ride, to their delight! For those that were on the farm in the middle of the day, the lambs were fed at 1pm and again at 5.30pm, finishing with the rest of the animals at 6.15pm.
We loved the nature trails set up around the farm and the indoor play barn that was full of toys for all ages. There was also a ping pong table in the room next door for older children or adults who fancied having a game while they watched the children play next door. The twins also had great fun playing on the mini tractors, which were lined up in the main courtyard for little ones to try out. The owners Cheryl and Roger have really thought of everything! Our children had fun looking for bugs in the ‘Mini Beast Mansion’ while out on a walk round the farm and they were also excited to discover swings and a slide in the playground behind the other cottages.
Jeremy Fisher is spacious, clean and beautifully designed, with a top of the range hot tub and BBQ that were very much enjoyed by the grown ups. As well as a long table indoors to seat 10, there was also a stylish outdoor dining table and chairs for al fresco lunches or meals in the evening sun. The outlook is stunning from Jeremy Fisher, overlooking the duck pond and the rolling green hills beyond.
The ladies in our group enjoyed a massage with Lisa, the farm’s recommended therapist, who offers a range of services for guests at North Hayne. Lisa set up in one of the downstairs rooms, which worked really well. I enjoyed a half hour postnatal massage, while my mum and sister opted for an hour’s aromatherapy massage. The men in our group spent one day golfing at the beautiful Bovey Castle, which they said was an excellent course with breathtakingly beautiful scenery. They also stopped at a nearby village, North Bovey, which they said was well worth a visit, for a post-golf beer at The Ring of Bells pub.
I asked our group what their highlights were and the grandparents said theirs was the animals, which delighted them as much as the children, while my sister and her boyfriend, who are in their twenties, said theirs was the hot tub…even in the rain! We said our goodbyes feeling totally relaxed and sad to go, with the twins proudly clutching their certificates and photos of their donkey rides. In North Hayne Farm Cottages, the owners have created the perfect blend of simple luxury that appeals to grown ups and the stuff that childhood memories are made of!
A week’s stay in a self-catering holiday cottage at North Hayne Farm Cottages in North Devon with a private hot tub and purpose built on-site children's farm costs from £1,104. Price is based on a group of up to 10 sharing the five bedroom cottage ‘Jeremy Fisher’. Cottages for smaller groups are also available, with prices starting from £423. For more information visit North Hayne Farm Cottages or call 01769 550807.
A three-night weekend stay in a self-catering holiday cottage at North Hayne Farm Cottages in North Devon with a private hot tub and purpose built on-site children's farm costs from £718. Price is based on a group of up to 10 sharing the five bedroom cottage ‘Jeremy Fisher’. Cottages for smaller groups are also available, with prices starting from £275. For more information visit North Hayne Farm Cottages or call 01769 550807.