A couple of weeks ago, we spent our first night camping this year. We were so lucky with the weather as it was glorious, instead of the chilly cloudy days that were forecast. We are lucky that we have our own private campsite, the land, that was an old farm orchard is owned my a friend’s Mum, and said friend has just purchased a motor home, so were able to borrow their caravan, instead of sleeping under canvas. Pure luxury!
So after a relaxing Saturday round the campfire, with the older kids building a den in the nearby woods, we awoke on Sunday morning to warm, radiant sunshine and enjoyed the obligatory breakfast cooked over the campfire.
After breakfast we decided to stretch our legs with a walk. As the campsite is located on the edge of Paignton near the Ring Road, we decided to visit Occombe Farm. The Farm is owned by Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust. The trust own 1700 acres of green and coastal land including Cockington Court, set in the picturesque thatched village and Berry Head in Brixham. The trust relies on public donations and events such as the annual Occombe Beer Festival for funding. You can find more information on the trust at www.countryside-trust.org.uk
The farm has animals, a cafe, shop, nature trail, cookery school and children’s play area and hosts many events including Meet the Animals, Cookery Courses – make pizza in a wood fired oven for families, or Middle Eastern or Rustic French cooking amongst others for adults, meet the Occombe Bees and the Annual locally famous 2 day Beer and Cider Festival. You can hire parts of the farm for events.
Although we were regular visitors to the farm when the children were younger it was great to see how it developed, as its been 3-4 years since my last visit.
We began exploring a new section of the farm with Bees and some animals. I must admit to laughing as we entered as a young family were going in too, who were obviously city dwelling tourists. When I heard the Mum say “Oh look! There are bees but they’re not in a cage!” No, but there were hives and a big insect hotel (pictured above). Next the path took us through an area of fruit bushes to a replica world war 2 bomb shelter, which the kids found really interesting.
The area was also home to some rare breed lambs and piglets who are being hand reared by volunteers, as they had been neglected by their mothers. My daughter Victoria (otherwise known as the blog photographer for this post) was trying to get a good shot of the animals for this post and got her foot nibbled by a piglet which we all found quite amusing too. Lastly we walked through some beds of produce and polytunnels, past a yurt, which looked like it was played host to a family gathering.
We headed to the start of the nature trail, past the duck pond and sun catching sculpture, down the slope where sheep were grazing. The trail takes you through woodland, which was stunning with swathes of bluebells and carpets of primroses. The children (and one of the adults) found lots of opportunities to climb trees. The woodland gives way to meadow/pasture land. It was fabulous to see all the different shades of green against the clear blue sky and the majestic English Oak trees standing proud. There is a shortcut but we chose the longer route through the meadows back up to the entrance.
We stopped by the paddocks to see the rest of the animals including the Alpacas, goats and chickens, which again was great, although the Alpacas were a little shy to start with, but they did come out to say Hello in the end.
Having worked up an appetite for lunch with our nice walk, we thought we would get some nice organic meat and produce from the shop to take back to the campsite for lunch, we were however disappointed to find that although the cafe is open on a Sunday, the shop is closed.
The farm is a good venue for family groups and older people who enjoy a walk, even those with mobility problems could enjoy the shop, cafe and maybe a short walk around the Bee section of the farm. There is a large car park and a bus service that stops outside so perfect for those with bus passes. As I mentioned the only down side was the shop being closed on Sundays. I have been to the farm in all the seasons, and as long as its not raining it is a good year-round attraction. I think smaller groups would also enjoy the coking classes, which have to be pre-booked and you can find information on the website address given above. I’m looking forward to going back later in the year, to see how much the piglets and lambs have grown.