Picture this: beautiful stone cottage, warm & toastie, welcome box on the table full of goodies, hot tub bubbling in the distance. That was what greeted us when we turned up to our little staycation recently. It was amazing. We arrived late on a Friday night after a long drive and it was so welcomed. We then spent the rest of the weekend tending to animals, exploring, adventures and socialising. If you are looking for a family holiday in the UK this year then this is the place for you, North Hayne Farm Cottages, in Devon.
Our stay at North Hayne Farm Cottages?
The days were broken up into sections, which made them go very quickly. First thing the animals need their breakfast, so all the kiddies (and their grown ups) get ready and head on down to the farm. Here they are given animal feed in order from chickens, guinea pigs & rabbits, goats, pigs, ducks, llamas & sheep and then donkey. Cheryl and Roger (the owners) give each child the right amount of feed for that animal too. So the children have to go back after they’ve fed every animal to get the feed for the next etc. It was so cute watching the children all lining up for their feeds. I thought it was funny as you had the children lining up to get their buckets of feed and the grown ups all lined up with their cups of tea!
Following the animal feed, the animals get a short ride on the donkeys. It was lovely watching the children on the donkeys, Isla looked absolutely amazed and I can really see her enjoying riding when she’s a little older.
The next animal feed is 4pm (in Winter) for the animals bed time. The children do the same again, but instead of donkey rides they get to cuddle the little guinea pigs or rabbits. Sometimes you get to take the goats for a little walk. We were lucky enough to do this on the Sunday and I fell in love with them. They are very mischievous little creatures but so very entertaining. You can see our walk in the video below. This was by far my favourite part of the weekend.
When you ask the kiddies what their favourite part was, they both shouted out the “hot tub”. That was also Daddy’s favourite. We made the most out of it for the weekend too. Day and night we were relaxing in the hot tub for the recommended time periods. Roger comes round daily and makes sure the hot tubs are at the right levels in terms of cleanliness and temperature, so they are always looked after. We sat there in the dark with a (plastic) glass of Prosecco on the first night and then sat in the rain with the kiddies the next day. We had a great time enjoying the hot tub.
In-between the feeds there are activities to do that Cheryl and Roger have designed, from treasure hunts to quizzes. You win a prize when you take your completed activities back to reception. The children obviously loved this part. They also loved the tractor park outside the cottage and the play barn. It was full of toys, including a piano for the children to play on, a pool table and lots of vehicles/bricks/puzzles/dolls. Something for everyone. Because there will only ever be a small group of children at the farm at once, I would say no more than 15, the play barn is never hugely busy. It was nice as the grown ups got to socialise whilst the children were playing.
There are special weekends where Cheryl and Roger make a special effort for their guests and we were lucky enough to experience this for Bonfire night. But they also cater for Christmas, New Year, Easter, seasonal activities and Halloween. You may need to book a little in advance for these though as they are very very popular!
Watch our video
This is a little snippet of our weekend at North Hayne Farm Cottages, including our favourite bits: hot tub, walking the goats and the wonderful bonfire. There was just so much to capture, I hope the video does it all justice.
Bookings for 2018
Because the place is amazing, there is limited availability in the school holidays for this year but I have it on good authority that a weekend break this Feb half term is still available, the 24th March (Good Friday) and New Year breaks (have 4 left) are available. There are still many spaces available in the shoulder weeks in June. Also, if you have younger children then why not look through the cottages and book something for any other time in the year!
The wonderful owners
Now, I am one of those people who likes to go on holiday and be left to it. When you holiday near the owners it can be a bit daunting. But not with this place, the owners are amazing people and they made the entire weekend. Cheryl and Roger work really hard to make this farm the perfect place for families to holiday. Including helping Hubby out of the pond after he got stuck in the mud! That was quite a moment. They are fully committed to families who have children with additional needs (particularly Autism), there is literally something for everyone.
Cheryl had these words to add:
As a qualified Early year practitioner, and always having worked with young children, it was always our dream to provide uk breaks and holidays that truly welcomed children and acknowledged parents needs for their children to feel safe, valued (the farm animals do this so well 😊 ), to enjoy outdoor learning experiences and to feel independent .
Our passion however has always been to be as inclusive as we can. In particular we recognise the need for children on the ASD spectrum to have a holiday destination that really ‘works for them’ and their families and by adapting our provision and providing ‘farm feeding’ and ‘animal handling’ routines and also by understanding some of the challenges families face, we have been able to achieve this.
We went on Bonfire weekend and not only do you get the special treatment around the farm, feeding the animals, quizzes etc. You also get the bonus bonfire, where everyone gathered around a huge bonfire with sparklers. Then back to the play barn for mulled wine and a selection of hot food. All part of the price. It was amazing. We socialised with the other families, the children played and we spent the evening filling ourselves up. It was lovely. We have never done anything like that before, it was really nice to be included and the children loved it.
Weekend in photos
Here are some of my favourite photos from our weekend. I had to chose my favourites from the hundreds that I took, it was a really hard choice but I rounded it down to these:
If you would like to book a family holiday at North Hayne Farm Cottages then please do visit their website and check out the availability, they have properties for all family sizes and their newest “energy saving” property looks absolutely stunning: Jeremy Fisher.