Sue Kittow visit an oasis of rural charm on a UK glamping holiday in East Devon
Arriving at Cuckoo Down Farm on a beautifully sunny evening was like stepping into the Darling Buds of May, accompanied by the sounds of farm animals and the countryside around us, bursting with spring.
We met John Sheaves at the reception area and followed him to the huge field housing the Safari tents and yurts, all spaced far apart. We unloaded the van, then took it back to the parking area, where there is a barn housing washing machines and dryers, fridge freezers and charging points for mobile phones.
Our tent was palatial with a good size kitchen, dining table and living area with sofa – and a bookcase stuffed full of novels.
We also had a double bedroom, a room with twin beds and another sleeping area for two more. Out the back of the tent was a shower and a compost toilet, and even a hot tub just outside the tent.
Sitting outside with a glass of red wine, thoughtfully provided by John and Becky, I felt utterly relaxed and peaceful, listening to the birds singing and the chickens clucking next door.
The following day we drove down to Teignmouth and Shaldon, where I had spent my childhood.
The sun came out and we had a wonderful day exploring my old haunts, eating fresh crab sandwiches and saw the old beach hut where I used to have ballet lessons.
We then took the historic passenger ferry over to Shaldon and walked along to Ness Beach, through Smugglers’ Tunnel.
We didn’t have time to visit the zoo there, but heard the animals shouting as their teatime approached.
The next morning we were woken by the dawn chorus – I’ve never heard so many birds singing so loudly!
And our little UK glamping holiday also included a trip round the farm (in spring you might see a lamb being born) plus a ride on Ebony the pony, and MollieDog was fascinated by the resident goat.
We explored the three acre wood where you can see badgers, foxes, deer and owls, and there is plenty of room in the field to fly kites, ride bikes, play football, rounders or cricket. There are several areas for camp fires, and the stars at night were spectacular.
You can even book a massage: trained practitioners will visit the farm.
Sadly we had to head home from our fabulous UK glamping holiday, but I felt so refreshed after just two nights of this rural idyll.
I loved lying in the very comfy bed listening to the persistent pigeons cooing outside, to the elusive hoot of a pair of owls, and the startled squawk of a pheasant. Sidmouth, Beer and Branscombe beaches are near, as is Dartmoor, so there is a wealth of places to visit if you wish.
I’d go back like a shot!
How to have a UK glamping holiday at Cuckoo Down Farm without flying:
At the M5 near Exeter, join the A30 East, signposted Honiton. Follow the A30 past the airport, then take the next exit marked Daisymount, Ottery St Mary.
At the mini roundabout take the last exit under the bridge and at the next mini roundabout take the exit marked West Hill. After about half a mile, take the first left – Bendarroch Road, then third right which is School Lane. At the end, turn right and immediately left into Elsdon Lane. At the end of this cross over onto an unmade track and after half a mile, where the lane divides, take a right fork along a bumpy lane.
At the bottom is the yard for Cuckoo Down Farm.
Words: Sue Kittow for Feet on the Ground
Pictures: Cuckoo Down farm
If you’re looking for a UK glamping holiday you might also like Linda Harrison’s piece on Long Valley Yurts Camping in the Lake District.