Regular readers and followers on Twitter will know that we recently reviewed a weekend away at one of Feather Down Farm’s superb locations. I’ve already written about the accommodation and facilities, and also about one of the attractions local to where we stayed, the World of Beatrix Potter. Today’s review is focused on the specific farm we visited: Howbeck Lodge Farm.
Howbeck Lodge Farm is the closest location for us, and we were pleased to be able to get there within two hours. Check in time is between 4 and 6pm so we were able to wait for The Big One to finish school before we set off. It is situated in Hesket Newmarket in the Lake District, right in the middle of lots of lovely touristy attractions- making it a really great location for a family break.
As we drove into Hesket Newmarket, the sun began to peek out through the clouds- surely a sign that we were on our way to, as it has been rightly described, a “little piece of heaven”. We were not disappointed as we pulled into the grounds. We were met by Farmer John, our fabulous host for the weekend, and shown where to park. Then we were shown around the grounds, before being given a wheelbarrow to transport our luggage to our tent! The kids loved this and it really marked the start of our wonderful farm adventure!
Our first night at Howbeck Lodge Farm really was magical. Yes, it rained, but the sounds of the rain on the canvas roof was almost mesmerising. We were warm (the wood burning stove really does provide a lot of warmth) and cosy inside, with candle lights flickering to add to the atmosphere. We could hear the distant sounds of the animals on the farm, and the not so distant sound of the stream that ran just below our tent. It was all really lovely and we slept really well.
The next morning it was cold, and we didn’t anticipate how long it would take us to get the woodburning stove up to a decent heat. It was also still raining- fat, heavy rainfall that looked as though it might wash us away at any moment. It didn’t, of course! But it did mean that we weren’t tempted in the slightest to hang around the farm much. This is my only regret of the whole weekend- that we missed a day we could have spent with Farmer John!
Sunday was a lot better for the weather and we decided early on that this would be our ‘Farm Day’. And what a farm day it was!
It started early, with Farmer John popping round to see whether the kids wanted to feed the lambs. He also mentioned we might be able to see one of the last lambs being born, but by the time we were ready the birth had been and gone! We weren’t deterred though. The Big One, the preschooler and I popped up to the chicken coop to collect some eggs for breakfast, stopping by to pet the rabbit and to say good morning to the goats and sheep in the field.
Once back, we were ready for the feed run!
The Big One and I very bravely fed the baby goats and tried to persuade the preschooler to do the same, but he wasn’t so keen. We also fed the lambs and Farmer John proudly showed us the rest of the animals- pigs, cows, horses, puppies and Highland Cows. The Highland Cows are homed in fields across the road from the main farm and to bring them closer Farmer John shouted “COME ON!” at the top of his voice. The kids thought this was hilarious!
After we’d said good morning to all the animals, Farmer John attached a trailer to his quad bike and took the children at the farm off to feed the sheep. They loved this and returned covered with mud splashes!
After the excitement of the morning, the children played happily outside on the fields for a while, before we took a walk down into the village. It was obvious we were in real farming country- only one shop, one pub and one little play area that was funded through donations and had a little donation box for visitors to contribute towards the upkeep.
On our way back, Farmer John met us with the quad bike and trailer once more so that the children could help him to feed the rest of the sheep. They were absolutely buzzing when they got back. Farmer John really took them under his wing and they loved being with him, helping with the animals. It was so lovely and an experience I know that they will remember for a long time.
The little honesty shop beside our tent sold fishing nets and of course the children wanted to try their luck in the stream. They took a couple of tumbles into the water but it’s not deep and they didn’t mind. It was nice that they could just play and get muddy without having to worry about getting changed.
At 5pm, Farmer John invited all the guests on the farm to come down to the field near the stream to eat pizza that he was cooking in the large oven. There was a natural climbing frame made up of logs and chopped wood that the children all clambered on to. The adults sat around picnic tables and were able to chat together. One of the guests had brought a birthday cake and we all shared food and laughter together. It was lovely- a perfect way to end our wonderful weekend.
Farmer John, for us, made the whole weekend was it was. He is an excellent host- incredibly kind and patient with the children and very passionate about his farm. He really took a shine to the preschooler and it was really lovely seeing him finally overcome his fears and feed the goats himself, with Farmer John at his side. I do not know whether the weekend would have been as much fun without him and we cannot wait to go back and visit him again!
Howbeck Lodge Farm really is as beautiful as the Feather Down Farms site says it is- even in the rain! The grounds are massive (each tent has lots of space between it and the next) and the area is so peaceful. It really is a haven and a lovely place to escape to for some peace and quiet. There is very limited internet access too so don’t bother about taking your phones or your lap tops. The tents have no electricity anyway so once your battery is gone, that’s that! Take the opportunity to really switch off and enjoy a small part of farm life- that’s what we did and we are so glad we did!
We were sent to Howbeck Loge Farm for review purposes. All opinions are my own!