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Camping may be the coolest way to get reacquainted with Mother Nature, but there’s no denying it can sometimes be challenging. If your last experience includes pitching up in the pouring rain only to realise you’ve forgotten to pack the pegs, or tossing and turning through the night tormented by the metal drain you unintentionally pitched on (yes, this actually happened), then perhaps it’s time to add a touch of comfort to your camping. And we know just the place.....
Secret Valley is situated on the lush hilly landscape of Cobbs Cross, a 400 acre organic farm and vineyard that teems with rural charm and livestock. The animals here are not just for show, the chickens lay eggs, the cows graze and the reindeer’s… well, okay, maybe the miniature donkeys and alpacas are for show, but what a lovely treat (especially for the kids) to sleep a stone's throw from them!
As for the details; suffice to say the facilities are excellent. However, glampers do have the arduous task of choosing which form of accommodation to go for. Yurt? Shepherds Hut? Tipi? Wigwam? Reindeer Lodge? They are all here, with each thoughtfully furnished, both on the inside and out. Guests are invited to use the site's many facilities at their leisure, with excellent hot showers, proper flushing toilets, a fully equipped kitchen, hand made Scandinavian wood-fired hot tubs, two look-out huts providing stunning views and Wi-Fi all nice little touches that makes your stay extra comfortable.
The beauty that can be found in Somerset is no secret. Every year thousands of tourists come to walk the hills, breathe the fresh air and take in the exceptional views. Secret Valley sits high in the Quantock Hills, a diverse region with a healthy mix of narrow valleys, steep moors and ancient oak woodlands. These hills offer truly inspirational views across the Bristol Channel, and when the weather's fine, the Gower coastline. Though designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Quantocks receive far fewer visitors than neighbouring Dartmoor and Exmoor, making them ideal for bikers and hikers in search of deserted trails.
After an exhilarating day exploring Somerset's hidden treasures you will no doubt be looking for a tranquil setting to watch the world go by. And as luck would have it the relaxed atmosphere at Secret Valley fits the bill. So sit back, unwind, and watch the sunset whilst asking yourself why you don't go glamping more often.
Facilities3 Reindeer lodges (sleeping five) with supporting mattresses and sleeping platforms. Each lodge contains: electric radiator, kettle, electric sockets, lighting, larder fridges, microwave, picnic table and BBQ fire pit. 1 Shepherds Hut (sleeping 2 adults, no children please) with double bed, electric lighting and heating (or wood-burning stove), double bed, microwave, kettle, toaster and fridge. Outside there is a BBQ, fire pit and a picnic table. 1 fully waterproof Tipi (sleeps 5) with futons, rugs and candle lanterns. 3 Yurts (sleeping 2, 4, and 5) with futons, ground sheet, coir matting, decorative rugs and lighting by candle lanterns. 1 empty “big” Yurt for large parties (sleeping 20.) 9 heated Wigwams (sleeping 5) with: foam mattresses, kettle, microwave, toaster, fridge with a small freezer compartment. Outside, there is a picnic table, barbecue and fire pit. For all accommodation guests need to bring their own pillows and bedding. Shower block with male & female toilets, wash-hand basins and electric showers. There is another toilet & shower in a wet-room. Scandinavian wood-fired Hot tubs, two lookout huts. Fully fitted kitchen and dining room, with TV, picnic tables on the patio and a high chair for young children. Covered barn (where football, cricket and other ball games can be played), 1 acre fishing lake and the Secret Valley Vineyard.
Glampers, couples, families, large groups and dogs – yes. Tents, campervans and caravans – no.
The Maunsel Lock Canal Centre (01278 663160) is one way of seeing the local countryside, though train buffs should make a beeline for the West Somerset Railway (01643 704996) at Bishop’s Lydeard, from where steam trains chug back and forth to Minehead on the coast. The beautiful Quantock Hills (9 miles), is an 'Area of Outstanding Beauty' and offers a range of outdoor activities, including walking, horse riding, climbing and fishing. The fossils and freshwater ponds of Kilve Beach, on the north Somerset coast is only a 30 minute drive. Nearby Blackrock Outdoors (07860 586655) will take you mountain biking, kayaking, climbing, caving or let you loose with a bow and arrow at their archery course. Hestercombe Gardens (01823 413923) contains a fabulous collection of gardens spanning three centuries of history and design, with a play area and café too, while Fyne Court (01823 451587) offers courtyard games and nature trails through woodland and meadows. Further afield, the pretty village of Dunster (20 miles) with its castle (01643 823004) makes a lovely day-trip, and from there it’s not far to the resort of Lynton & Lynmouth, with its craggy cliff-top walks.
Food & Drink
Visitors can purchase locally made cider, ice creams and a selection of wines from Secret Valley's vineyard. Offsite, chomp on juicy burgers at the Pines Restaurant & Diner (01823 451245) in Broomfield (3 miles south), or homemade venison and stilton pies at the Lamb Inn (01278 671350, 4 miles north in Spaxton.) No trip to Somerset is complete without a sip of cider or apple juice; luckily you’re not far from Sheppy’s Cider Farm (01823 461233) with its museum and farm shop. Pick your own fruit and veg at nearby Thurloxton Fruit Growers (01823 413413), or for a gourmet meal out, head to the Monkton Inn (01823 412414) for a spot of homemade cottage pie. For more culinary treats, try the Spice Gallery (01278 662982), a contemporary Indian restaurant in North Petherton, or the more upmarket Bird in Hand (01823 490248), just 5 miles down the road in North Curry.
OpenMid March - End of October
Bridgwater railway station is only 4 miles away with passenger services operated by First Great Western (08457 000 125.) The basic service pattern comprises of one train in each direction each hour between Cardiff Central and Taunton, with a few peak services to and from London Paddington also available.
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