Home Holidays A tooting time – owl-spotting in north Devon

A tooting time – owl-spotting in north Devon

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What is it? A country farm barn conversion in beautiful countryside.

Where? Pattards Farm is situated in the parish of Hartland North Devon at Pattard, a 90-acre farm.

Description: [phil_and_owl.jpg]Abbie and Phil Sheridan took a family holiday relaxing in the North Devon countryside along with children, Bethany, five and Jacob, almost two. From owl-spotting to feeding sheep, this was something different for everyone…

A place to relax and unwind in sunny Devon while taking in all nature has to offer.

Various attractions were nearby. The accommodation itself had a toy box and table football, but we took our own outside games: football, racket and ball, and swing ball.

A TV and DVD player were provided. To really get into the country feel of things we decided to partake in a spot of owl-spotting, which kicked off every evening at 6pm onwards. It was amazing to see the barn owls resting on site.

None were available, but we didn’t mind.

No pampering products here, but being away in the peace and quite of the country is pampering in itself.

Local activities: We went to nearby Hartland Quay, three miles away, which has lovely coastal walks, meaning that we were even able to spot a seal in the sea. Clovelly historical village was a bit steep for children still in buggies, but we all loved the animal attraction The BIG Sheep, two miles west of Bideford, which has many farm animals to visit, as well as The Milky Way Adventure Park, also nearby, which had so many activities we could have stayed all day.

Wish we had known: That there was a barbeque for our use, but unfortunately we didn’t find this until putting the rubbish out. Future visitors: it is located in the small shed.

Our top tip: Be patient when waiting for the owls to appear, it is worth the wait.

Kids say: On our last day Bethany turned to her mum and said, “Do we have to go home?” Throughout the holiday she would also call The Granary “Our new home”. If only!

Getting There: Visit www.pattard.co.uk for complete directions, depending on which part of the country you are coming from, as well as a booking form. Prices range from L240 for a cottage sleeping four people for one week in low season to L1,060 per week in high season for The Granary, which sleeps up to eight.

About our stay: This kind of holiday was just what we always talked about doing: staying in a farmhouse in a country setting, with wildlife all around. We were, however, a little unsure of what exactly to expect. Would we wake up to tractor noises and farmyard smells every morning, and would we be chased by the resident bull if we went too far into the fields? Did we need to take our wellies in case our car got stuck in the mud and we had to push it out? Well, as it turned out, the holiday was far from this. We awoke each morning to the birds chirping and the natural wood of the overhead beams. The only bull chasing around the field was our son Jacob, who absolutely thrived on the country air, and as for the car getting stuck in mud, that was highly unlikely seeming a nice gravelled parking area was on offer. The accommodation itself was finished to the highest specifications. Everything was clean and tidy, inside and out. Three conversions sleeping from four to eight people are on site, and although each of the buildings are different in size, they all boasted a dishwasher, washing machine, tumble dryer, TV, and DVD player. All the equipment inside seemed to fit in with the country cottage style. We stayed in The Granary, which had a real “home from home” feel inside. We were met by a warm welcome, and to our surprise opened the fridge to find a few complimentary products including clotted cream, butter, milk and orange juice. There were also tea/coffee and cleaning materials for use, and even fresh chicken eggs complimentary of the resident farm hens. [the_granary.jpg] Our first little stroll to get acquainted with the area ended up being an hour-long trek with all of us gasping for drinks when we got in. It was worth it though, as there are lovely walks all around. And with hardly any traffic passing, it felt nice and safe for the children to explore. With the two meadows attached to The Granary there was plenty of space for the children to play games, or just run around. At night we walked around the fields searching for wildlife – and there were certainly a lot of different species to spot. During our stay we saw barn owls, buzzards, blue jays, magpies, pheasants, swallows, foxes, hares, crows and kingfishers. The farmyard itself is just down the track, so you have your privacy but know that someone is on site, just in case you need them. At one point we were invited to the farmhouse to visit the four-week-old chicks. We also saw ducks and farm dogs. We didn’t want to do a lot of driving around visiting places on this holiday, like we have done in the past, so decided on just a couple of places nearby. We had heard about Clovelly, the historical fishing village, which has a pebble cove and is very pretty. But we had to brace ourselves for the steep slope down to the bottom – not ideal for young children in pushchairs. Our children were not phased by the uphill climb back up to the top, unlike mum and dad who needed that drink at the top. Your certainly wouldn’t enjoy being a postman in this place! Although we were surrounded by wildlife, the children were more interested in farm animals. So we took a trip to The BIG Sheep. This was pushchair-friendly and had a baby changing area behind the duck race arena. There was plenty going on here, different shows every 30 minutes or so. We watched the duck race and sheepdog trials and took a lovely 20-minute tractor ride. We also took a short and sweet train ride and played a live laser game. Children are charged entrance according to height rather than age, so be aware if you have a tall child! The other day trip was to the Milky Way Adventure Park, which is also pushchair-friendly with baby-changing facilities. This all-weather attraction has been designed to allow both children and adults to partake in all activities, so everyone has a good time. The farm animals on show (sheep and goats) were bottle-fed by the children, and they also watched chicks hatching in incubators right in front of them. There was an indoor soft play and slide area, and I am not sure who was having more fun on the vertical slide: the adults or the kids. The Birds of Prey display was fantastic, although a little scary when birds are flying within an inch of your head at 100 mph. There are two food outlets, and space is provided if you prefer to bring your own picnic. [at_the_beach.jpg] On our last full day we decided to go to the local Hartland Quay, which boasts picturesque views. We were delighted to spot a seal in the sea. There is a lovely coastal walk here but be aware of the toll charge to park your car here. It only costs L1, so don’t forget some change!

Created: 2007-06-26 13:46:01.730

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