If your idea of a good holiday is a a big dose of peace and quiet, but you want to give the kids something to get excited about too, a farm stay could be your golden ticket.
Nestled in the pretty village of Chapel Amble in North Cornwall, The Olde House is a collection of charming, self-catering cottages, on a 550 acre working farm. Whichever of the 30 cottages you choose, you’ll be surrounded by picturesque countryside – less than a one minute’s walk to the farm's facilities, but still close enough to the barns and fields to throw open your front door and enjoy a big lungful of earthy country air.
Penpot Farm has been in the Hawkey family for three generations. Our host Andrew Hawkey was born here over 60 years ago, and his sons Olly and Shaun have now stepped up to help run the farm. The family take great pride in their heritage, and are also keen to show off the farm’s green credentials. With an impressive army of solar panels and a clever biomass boiler that heats some of the cottages and the swimming pool, the Hawkeys are serious about taking care of the environment that sustains them.
The family have worked hard to provide enough activities on the farm to keep families busy for days, but you’re also only an eight-minute drive from the sandy beaches of north Cornish coast, and a stone’s throw from a scattering of charming seaside towns, where you'll find endless opportunities for outdoor activities and water sports.
Cornwall remains one of the UK’s most popular holiday destinations for families and, armed with a car, a self-catering farm stay is the perfect base for exploring.
The farm has 30 cottages, the smallest of which sleeps two. There Several sleep 8 and the largest property, The Barn, sleeps 10 in five bedrooms and is ideal for a multi-family holiday.
Some of the cottages have been converted from farm buildings, whereas others are more modern, purpose-built. All but one of the farm cottages are dog-friendly too, so our pooch, Flint, didn't have to miss out on the fun.
We stayed in Primrose Cottage, a two bedroomed, one storey cottage that's cosy, comfortable and warm - and happily only a short walk from the lambing shed.
The Olde House is less than 10 minutes drive from some of the UK’s best beaches – famous surfspot Polzeath, sandy Watergate Bay, and Rock beach, which is a popular spot for watersports. Each beach has its own rules about dogs, lifeguards and parking – so check before setting off.
The area surrounding the farm is bursting with family activities. Camel Ski School offers a host of watersports, while Cornish Coast Adventures is great for beginners to get to grips with surfing or sit-on kayaking. Cyclists will want to head for The Camel Trail. The long stretch of perfectly flat disused railway line makes for an easy pedal.
During school holidays and half-terms, The Olde House Surf Club runs in partnership with Wavehunters Surf Academyon Polzeath Beach. Polzeath is a safe spot with good surf, ideal for beginners. Sessions are suitable for children over six years.
Price: £20 per person, which includes a £10 discount for guests of The Olde House. To book, call 01208 880 617.
The Olde House is situated in the pretty village of Chapel Amble, with the River Amble running through the village. A short walk from the farm in The Maltsters pub, where landlady Claire is guaranteed to give you a warm welcome, serve you up delicious grub and spoil any four-legged friends rotten.
There are a number of charming towns near The Olde House. The closest is Wadebridge, known for its thriving crafts scene. The historic fishing town of Padstow, home to four of Rick Stein’s restaurants, is a 15 minute drive away and is a must for any foodies. The big date on the Padstow calendar is the Padstow Christmas festival, where you’ll find twinkling Christmas markets, demos from famous chefs and plenty of friendly locals. Animals aren't allowed in the market tents, so leave the dog back at the cottage for this one.
During peak time, holidays at The Olde House are for seven nights and start on a Friday or Saturday.
Price: For a Friday changeover, a cottage that sleeps 4 costs approximatley £500 in February half term, £955 over Easter and £1,395 during the summer holidays. For Christmas, the cottage is £110 per night, with a minimum booking of 5 nights, from 18 December.
By car: 5 hour drive from London
By train: 30 min taxi ride from Bodmin Parkway station. Book your tickets at thetrainline.com
By air: Flybe offers flights to Newquay from Heathrow, Gatwick, Edinburgh, Belfast and a host of other UK cities. The Scilly Skybus will fly you from the Isles of Scilly to Newquay in 30 minutes. Once at Newquay Airport, you'll easily find a taxi for the 20 minute drive to The Olde House.