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Introducing: Feather Down Farms

Features
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Posted by Richard Hammond at 12:22 on Friday 13 January 2012

Heard of Feather Down Farms, but not sure what they're all about? Here's our guide to what you can expect:

The basic idea is that they're luxury campsites for families (or groups) to get back to nature by staying in comfortable safari-style tents on working farms in secluded, beautiful areas of the countryside.

There are 28 sites in total... some are close to London, others are as far west as Penzance, as far north as the Lake District and as far east as Norfolk, plus there are several in Wales and one in Northern Ireland...

A Feather Down tent on the 370-acre Park Farm on the outskirts of the village of Littleworth, OxfordshireA Feather Down tent on the 370-acre Park Farm on the outskirts of the village of Littleworth, Oxfordshire

The Tents
They're large, safari-style structures made of thick, protective canvas, whose aim "is to keep the warmth in without shutting the sounds of nature out".

Here's the likely morning scenario: Jump out of bed to fire up the stove > unzip and roll up the front of the tent to let the view in > lay the table for your family breakfast feast; ;> take a trip to the Farm Larder for bacon and milk…then cook it all up! The day’s start (and the general ethos of Feather Down Farms) is about gathering, cooking and eating, together. 

For Families and Groups: The number of tents is kept to a minimum at each farm, so it’s easy to take over the whole place – indeed for single sex parties the owners insist on it. The tents are spaced both for easy interaction and a sense of privacy, so groups can be together without being on top of one another.

The large interior of a Feather Down Farm canopy tentThe large interior of a Feather Down Farm canopy tent
Under the Feathers. Cosy camping in Feather Down Farm's safari style tentsUnder the Feathers. Cosy camping in Feather Down Farm's safari style tents >> View all Feather Down Farms

The Food
All the farms have an on-site Farm Larder, where the farmer and his family stock a range of produce and products for you to make use of during your stay. It may not be as extensive as your local supermarket, but because the offering is usually from the farm or its neighbours, a great many less food milesare gobbled up to stock it up. And by shopping here, you’re helping the local economy to flourish.

The Farm Larders are operated on an ‘honesty’ basis, ie they're unmanned, so you take what you need, sign for it, and tally up the total at the end of your stay, paying the farmer with cash or a cheque.
Pre-ordered suppers: you can order from the farmers at the time of booking. These are a popular option for the day of arrival, when you may be weary and wanting to get everyone fed and settled.  Additionally, in 2012 some farms are offering a hamper service, where you can order vegetable, salad, breakfast, brunch, picnic or barbecue hampers to be delivered straight to your canvas door. These can be ordered prior to arrival or early on during your stay.
Soup or Stew: To experience true al fresco dining – and cooking! – you can take delivery of everything to prepare and cook from scratch, an extremely hearty soup or stew for four to six hungry people. Receive the firewood, ingredients, cast iron pot, and every utensil required – all direct to your tent.
Smoke Barrel Hire: Set up with the ingredients, fire wood, recipe, instructions and the smoke barrel itself, you’ll soon be smoking enough fish or chicken at your tent to feed four to six hungry people.

All the farms have an on-site Farm Larder, where the farmer and his family stock a range of produce and products for you to make use of during your stay. The Farm Larders are operated on an ‘honesty’ basis, ie they're unmanned, so you take what you need, sign for it, and tally up the total at the end of your stay, paying the farmer with cash or a cheque. It may not be as extensive as your local supermarket, but because the offering is usually from the farm or its neighbours, a great many less food milesare gobbled up to stock it up. And by shopping here, you’re helping the local economy to flourish.

Start the day collecting eggs from the chicken coopStart the day collecting eggs from the chicken coopPre-ordered suppers: you can order from the farmers at the time of booking. These are a popular option for the day of arrival, when you may be weary and wanting to get everyone fed and settled.  Additionally, in 2012 some farms are offering a hamper service, where you can order vegetable, salad, breakfast, brunch, picnic or barbecue hampers to be delivered straight to your canvas door. These can be ordered prior to arrival or early on during your stay.

Soup or Stew: To experience true al fresco dining – and cooking! – you can take delivery of everything to prepare and cook from scratch, an extremely hearty soup or stew for four to six hungry people. Receive the firewood, ingredients, cast iron pot, and every utensil required – all direct to your tent.

Smoke Barrel Hire: Set up with the ingredients, fire wood, recipe, instructions and the smoke barrel itself, you’ll soon be smoking enough fish or chicken at your tent to feed four to six hungry people.  

Amenities
Some of the farms, such as Hollings Hill Farm in Herefordshire have outdoor, wood-fired hot tubs. If you fancy a change from traipsing past the milking parlour to the showers to look your best in the morning, you can book a 'Feather Down with Frills package' where a private hot tub and a rustic shower are set up right outside your tent – the latter complete with hot running water fetched by your children in a barrel on wheels! Later on, as darkness falls, you can enjoy a family soak in your open-air hot tub. You’ll be gazing at the stars, while the cows gaze at you! For more info, see the 'frills' packages at Manor Farm, Hampshire and Billingsmoor Farm, Devon.

Some of the farms have outdoor wood-fired hot tubs, otherwise known as the 'field spa'Some of the farms have outdoor wood-fired hot tubs, otherwise known as the 'field spa'

The farmers can provide as much or as little as you need, from lighting the wood-fired oven for starlit pizza suppers, to taking delivery of a case of your favourite tipple. They can bring to your canvas door, everything from farmer-style feasts to simple eggs and bacon for the freshest of morning fry-ups. Once you’ve fully paid for your booking, you're put you in touch to hatch the plans together.

Groups: Many of the farms are equipped to host weddings, corporate events and team-building weekends that are all a little different from the norm. Several have specially set up group dining areas, catering options and activities that can be arranged.

Prices: A stay at a Feather Down Farm costs from £405 for a weekend, from £465 for a midweek break, and from £635 for an entire week. NB. A weekend runs from 4pm Friday to 10.30am Monday. Midweek is 4pm Monday to 10.30am Friday. A week runs from 4pm to 10.30am, Friday to Friday, or Monday to Monday. The most up-to-date prices for accommodation and extras can be found on each farm’s page on the Feather Down Farm website.The price includes:

  • accommodation for a family of up to six (or five adults)
  • bed and kitchen linen
  • one crate of firewood per day

What others say about Feather Down Farms:

Camping for yummy mummies, Guardian  
How to make happy campers out of townies, The Telegraph 

It's also worth having a look at the reviews on mumsnet, who gives it a resounding 8.6/10 for Facilities; Quality Of Pitch; Things To Do and Value For Money: Mumsnet Reviews of Featherdown Farms.

By Richard Hammond.

Here's a list of all the Feather Down Farms featured on Greentraveller:

England
Park Farm, Feather Down Farm, Oxfordshire 
New Barn Farm, Feather Down Farm, Carlton, Bedfordshire 
Manor Farm, Feather Down Farms, Hampshire 
Readyfields Farm, Feather Down Farm, Nottinghamshire
Lipley Farm, Feather Down Farm, Shropshire
Dolphinholme House Farm, Feather Down Farm, Lancashire
Howbeck Lodge, Feather Down Farm, Lake District 
Hollings Hill Farm, Feather Down Farm, Herefordshire 
College Farm, Feather Down Farm, Norfolk
Midgham Farm, Feather Down Farm, New Forest 
East Shilvinghampton Farm, Feather Down Farm, Dorset
Mount Pleasant Farm, Feather Down Farm, Dorset 
Lunsford Farm, Feather Down Farm, Sussex
Canfields Farm, Feather Down Farm, Sussex
Warren Farm, Feather Down Farm, Somerset 
Aller Farm, Feather Down Farm, Devon
Billingsmoor Farm, Feather Down Farm, Devon
Boswarthen Farm, Feather Down Farm, Cornwall

Wales
Glanmor Isaf Farm, Feather Down Farm, Talybont
Pant yr Hwch Farm, Feather Down Farm, Lampeter
Pant y March, Feather Down Farm, Snowdonia National Park

Northern Ireland
Ash Park Farm, Feather Down Farm, County Derry 

The wood-fired ovens are popular with young families.The wood-fired ovens are popular with young families.

Combined Rail & Ferry tickets to Ireland

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