Introducing: Feather Down Farms
Heard of Feather Down Farms, but not sure what they're all about? Here's our guide to what you can expect at these holidays billed as 'luxury camping'.
The 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 34 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, one in Ireland and one in Scotland.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: Mumsnet Reviews of Featherdown Farms
Here's an alphabetical list of all the Feather Down Farms featured on Greentraveller:
Acton Scott Lodge, Church Stretton, Shropshire
Billingsmoor Farm, Devon
Boswarthen Country Retreat, Cornwall
Canfields Farm, Sussex
Coach House, Castle Cary, Somerset
College Farm, Norfolk
Dolphinholme House Farm, Lancashire
East Shilvinghampton Farm, Dorset
Gambledown, Salisbury, Hampshire
Hidcote Manor, Chipping Campden The Cotswolds
Hollings Hill Farm, Herefordshire
Howbeck Lodge, Lake District
Layer Marney, Colchester, Essex
Lower Rodhuish, Minehead, Somerset
Lunsford Farm, Sussex
Manor Farm, Hampshire
Midgham Farm, New Forest
Mill Farm, Petworth, West Sussex
Moor Farm, Gloucester
Mount Pleasant Farm, Dorset
New Barn Farm, Carlton, Bedfordshire
Readyfields Farm, Nottinghamshire
Sunninglye Farm, Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Treganhoe Farm, Penzance, Cornwall
Upper Shadymoor Farm, Shropshire
Wambrook Farm, Cheddar Gorge, Somerset
Warren Farm, Somerset
Wyresdale Park (Country Retreat), Preston, Lancashire
Loop Head Co. Clare, Querrin
This feature was first written in 2012 and was updated on 11 Juy 2016 to reflect any changes, such as the increased number of Featherdown Farms now available.