If you’re the type of person who first tried camping as a child, setting up a tent one sunny evening in your parents’ back garden, then prepare for a trip down memory lane. For nowhere can match that experience quite like Sweet Meadows Campsite on the north-eastern edge of Dartmoor. Sliding past the corner of a family house, you have to brush aside flowers competing for space in order to make it on to the back lawn. It is here that the very best camping pitches are found, scattered around the elegant cast-aluminium table and chairs in the centre.
The garden pitches, crowded by colourful flowerbeds on either side, give way to a small field for camping on the other side of the hedge. It’s a fantastic spot for small groups or those with larger tents. Beyond the main lawn, meanwhile, an arch in the hedge reveals a tree-swing and the wilder regions of the garden where less clearly defined pitches take on an altogether more rustic feel. Birds flitter along the hedgerows and wrens dart in and out of the house’s thatched roof – the woods of the Teign Valley ensure there’s plenty of wildlife around. Even the owners add to the proceedings, with a pair of Rum ponies grazing the adjacent meadow.
Back-garden camping isn’t complete, of course, without a trip indoors to the bathroom and here that is precisely where the facilities are found. A homely downstairs toilet inside the house has a loo and shower for use and, though there is only one, an extra compost toilet out in the meadow helps cater for those desperately in need. The site is small enough that the single shower is easily enough to cope and if you want to go really wild you could always take a dip in the River Teign that runs nearby. It all adds to the rustic feel of this camping home from home and if it’s a tiny site you’re after, they don’t come much cosier than Sweet Meadows. It’s simple, back garden camping in the loveliest garden of them all.
The Owner Says
Welcome to the beautiful Teign Valley in the Dartmoor National Park, where there is something to interest everyone. There are forests, rivers, lakes, moors Tors, and china clay pits giving a moonscape view.
We are experienced campers and aim to be friendly and approachable in order to cater for your needs.
For wild swimmers, there is the river Teign (1/4 mile) and the best pool in the river is about 3/4 mile.
Fishing in the River Teign-Permits available locally.
For keen walkers/cyclists, there are miles of woodland glades and you can walk westwards along the river to Fingle Bridge, or Eastwards to Steps Bridge, through Dunsford nature reserve - ½ mile or simply wander through the forests.
Stargazing / bird watching there are no street lights and light pollution is low. There are many varieties of flora and fauna, so don't forget to bring your camera, binoculars or telescope.
The Miniature Pony Centre is great for children.
Finch Foundry England's last working water-powered forge; adult f4.20, child f2.10; open mid March to October Wed-Mon 11 am-5pm; 01837 840046; NT site.While at Finch Foundry, visit the Taw River Inn opposite. Excellent home cooking at very reasonable prices.
The scenery driving across Dartmoor is very beautiful. Here are some suggestions: -
Dartmoor ponies on Dartmoor you will find Dartmoor ponies and there is the Newtake scheme to preserve the traditional Dartmoor breed. There is the Dartmoor breed show in early August, Moretonhampstead Carnival also in August and Widecombe Fair in September.
The highest pub on the moor is the Warren House Inn, with beautiful views across the moor. There's also Postbridge, where there is a prehistoric clapper bridge. Why not take a picnic to Bellever?
At Widecombe the Dartmoor ponies wander through the village. Visit the church "The Cathedral Of the Moor". In the church, look for the Dartmoor fable of what happens to members of the congregation who fall asleep during the sermon!
Swimming. As well as wild swimming in the River Teign 3/4 mile from us, there is bathing in the river at Huccaby 21 miles or in south-west Dartmoor at Cadover 25 miles, or sea and sand at Dawlish, Slapton or Exmouth, the start of the Jurassic Coast.
Prince Hall Hotel (17 miles) Where Conan Doyle wrote the Hound of the Baskervilles.
Two Bridges Hotel (15 miles) has a bar and does cream teas.
At Princetown, 17 miles there is the High Moor visitor centre. Be careful not to be clapped in irons in Dartmoor prison!
Trago Mills 14 miles-is a large out-of-town shopping centre near Newton Abbot. Everything you can imagine and then some! Children and parents will love the miniature railway. Beware the beautiful peacocks which have been known to attack their reflection they see as a rival in in the polished surface of your car!
Sparkwell Zoo Tigers! (35 miles.)
Burgh Island with tidal causeway, Sea Tractor, Art Deco 'Agatha Christie' style hotel and bar 39 miles.
Last minute availability? Telephone 01647-24331.
ReviewsAdd Your Review
Real Camping at its Best
Awesome back to basics campsite
The warmth of company and the freedom of natural space
Amazing family wild camping experience
Wild Camping vibes
Comfy and cosy place
We will be back!
We stayed at Sweet Meadows last month and we loved our time at this site, lovely walks, a couple of pubs with great food, campfires allowed and the wild woods is amazing. This campsite is small but that's what we loved, secret gardens, we have a motorhome Fiat Ducato and we managed to drive down the country lane with no problem and pitch our motorhome for 3 nights. Yes there is only one toilet and shower facility, the water was hot and we managed to survive it was no big deal to us, I enjoyed the fact it is basic but you get a lot in return with the setting and the surroundings, we will visit again.
This is a thoroughly perfect little campsite with secret walkways, places to have a campfire, proper swings and a seesaw, birds, animals and if you are lucky and get a clear sky, millions and millions of stars. It is peaceful, with lots of walks to explore. We are going again in a couple of weeks with our family of children and grandchildren and it's definitely the sort of place you would go back to time and time again. It's not sophisticated -there is a camping and caravan club CL very nearby if you prefer perfectly manicured grass, lights and a proper shower block - but that is the charm of this place, it's totally unlike that. I have to say the content of the negative reviews made us think it was our sort of place and we were right. We walked to the swimming place in the river, it's a bit of a trek but as a very unfit person I can say it's not too difficult and wild swimming in the river is fun, if a bit cold! On a practical note for access, we have a LWB transit conversion and you wouldn't really want anything much bigger but to say it's inaccessible is totally inaccurate. Finally the owners, Roger and his wife, are just lovely. This is now going to be our campsite of choice for weekends away and the only thing I regret is liking it so much I wanted to give it a good review, and it might entice more people to come!
Amazing retreat !
We have just been back to Sweet Meadows for our second visit.Once again,we were warmly greeted by the kind and extremely hospitable owners.We found them on both occasions to be friendly,kind and accommodating.Our children were even sought out to come and ride one of the ponies-much to their delight.
We camped in one of the garden pitches and you couldn't wish for a more idyllic setting.You are surrounded by trees,flowers and nature and the only sound is that of the numerous birds singing.For us,it is a heavenly break from all of the bustle and noise of everyday life.There is no phone signal at all-which worried us at first.After the first peaceful and uninterrupted hour,we began to forget all about phone-calls,work,obligations....it was lovely !.
This is one of the rare campsites where you are allowed to have campfires.In fact,the owners gave us some paper to help us get ours started and then stayed with us for a glass of wine and some toasted marshmallows.The next day,we were invited to drink tea with them under the apple tree.These are the little things that make this place so unique and why we love it so much.
The facilities are basic-glamping this aint ! However,the price absolutely reflects this and actually for true campers,running water,a shower and a loo are a luxury !.They are also kept clean.Of course overnight the floor becomes muddy-but it is always cleaned up.You are living outside so leaves and mud really are to be expected.The addition of more loos or showers would totally spoil the simple charm of this site.It is a working farm that welcomes campers.
To conclude,I was considering (for entirely selfish reasons) leaving a rotten review-to dissuade others from finding what is truly a hidden gem.Very naughty.Of course,I couldn't do that to the lovely owners.This place truly is one of a kind and I couldn't recommend it highly enough.We will definitely go back,for as many visits as we can and I just pray that this beautiful place never changes as it's perfect as it is.
Took a while to get hold of the owners to make a booking (think they were away) but glad we persisted, it was lovely. The negative reviews on here made us even more keen to visit and it was everything we hoped and expected! We camped in the garden which was peaceful and pretty, had a campfire, and got visited by a friendly horse in the morning. Yes its basic but its natural and being a stones throw from Fingle Woods is also a plus. Cant wait to go back and camp in the woods.
I've just spent an idyllic four days at Sweet Meadows. Roger and Wendy were lovely hosts and couldn't be more helpful. Facilities were basic but that's the sort of campsite I like! It's the location that is stunning - a stone's throw from the river Teign and Fingle Woods. I camped in one of the woodland pitches which was totally secluded with my own stream, birds and deer - 360 degree birdsong (owls included). I just can't wait for my next visit.
Quirky and very basic
The campsite is set in the gardens and grounds of a property, which is quirky but very basic! They have a den for the children with a table and tree stumps for seats, the den also made a place to go in the pouring rain. When we arrived it was very wet and the meadow part where we were based was mainly covered in water! Electric hook up is by extension leads, we did wonder how this would work when the ground was under so much water!
There is one shower and one toilet! The shower was broken and the toilet facilities were smelly and dirty. There are no washing up facilities and the drinking water was brown! Good job we had plenty of bottled water! I did ask the owner (male) why he hadn't mentioned that there was no shower when we phoned to book, his reply was 'oh dear it must of slipped my mind'!! he did however offer his bath for us to use... I declined!!!!
They also make you sign a health and safety form, I assume this is because there are so many hazards around that they cover their backs by making you sign a form to say that any accidents can't be their fault!
Response from Sweet Meadows & Wild Woods Country Holidays
After an extremely wet winter in which we were subjected to a wall of water, there was another cloud-burst at the weekend when Chel arrived. This even caused the Devon County Show to be cancelled for the first time in history. Yes on Dartmoor it gets wet when it rains hard. One side effect of extremely wet weather on Dartmoor is that the aquifers pick up iron from the Dartmoor strata. This causes our Bore Hole water temporarily to turn brown. This is a common phenomenon on Dartmoor. The shower room is frequently cleaned but the wet conditions caused mud to be brought in from outside.
There are washing up facilities in a cupboard, but many campers bring their own. There is also compost loo in a woodland chalet, which we commission on request. The old shower tray has taken a beating and had to be replaced. No doubt Chel would have complained if we had left it in a damaged state. We do try to help our campers in all sorts of ways, but our offer of help was rejected. It was clear that she was not going to make any adjustments or allowances for the situation.
We do explain to our campers that this is a working stud and coupled with the wild woods this creates some risks. While we take every precaution to reduce hazards there is a need to take care.
Most of our campus enjoy the wild countryside as can be seen from the many positive reviews, but if you want concrete and glass, traffic wardens and pollution this would not be for you.
This being said, we regret that Chel's stay was not up to her expectations.
Camper vans beware!!
I am sure this place could be delightful in the summer if staying in a tent but do not try to attempt it in early autumn with a camper van ... a very big mistake. There is a difficult access up a slippery slope into a sort of yard which can only be described as rural. The site we could have parked on was past a couple of muck heaps, through a gateway and then we would have been surrounded by electric fencing.. There was no way to turn round so had to back out, back through the rural yard ... apologies for running over some marrows and for the wheel marks in the muck heap ... There is a lovely camp site with fabulous views, clean water, hook ups just up the road which was cheaper than Sweet Meadows...
Response from Sweet Meadows & Wild Woods Country Holidays
Rod, if you are going to write a critique, please try to get your facts right.
First of all that is only one compost heap and our write ups and notices explain that this is a working stud as well as a campsite. It should not therefore come as a culture shock that being in the beautiful Dartmoor National Park, the surroundings are rural! Nor is there a dual carriageway past our door.
Have I forgotten anything ? Oh yes Rod, you made an appointment for us to show you round. In the event, you arrived 2 hours late. We were waiting for your arrival, but by then I had to attend a prior appointment to go out and see a business client as I explained to you. As a result the pleasure of showing you round was managed by my wife. You had already crunched and damaged your vehicle before you arrived. She does not have the same driving skills as the men on our staff to advise you.
Before I departed, you had already driven up the steepest part, which I would not have recommended, but without any problems. Had you kept your appointment, I could have explained to you that there are alternative exits. Although there are electric fences, you would not have been surrounded and there are also alternative sites here, where there are no fences.
As for clean water, you did not have any water before you departed, so please see our reply to the previous article. No doubt the campsite up the road is pleasant, but up there they are very exposed to the wind and you do not have the proximity to Fingle Woods-the forest which is being acquired by the Woodland Trust with stunningly beautiful walks and wild swimming. We have beautiful sylvan views across the valley and also offer electrical hookups.
We have also had camper vans of all descriptions here throughout the year including January.
As for destroying our marrows / courgettes, we normally give our surplus vegetables to our campers, so please do not be concerned about them.
Pleasant and very basic
The site does have only one toilet and shower, shared with the owner's house. At peak times (i.e. the bank holiday weekend mornings) there can be a queue but overall we didn't find the contention a problem and managed to wash/shower reasonably promptly most days.
Approximately half-way through our stay the drinking water supply became unreliable and ran brown inconsistently. We were informed by the owners that this is normal and has been like this for many years without any reported effects.
Our concerns led us to leave the site and find accommodation elsewhere. We were disappointed with his attitude over our departure (we were refused a partial refund) though we must repeat that up to this point the owners had been very pleasant and exceedingly helpful.
If visiting this site we would strongly recommend that you view it as 'wild' camping and prepare to provide your own water and washing facilities. If viewed as wild camping this is a very pleasant site with very pleasant and accommodating owners. If you wish for fresh drinking water, shower blocks or lit paths to toilets then this site isn't for you. If you are in doubt I would recommend booking for one or two nights, experience the site for yourself and allow yourself the option to change campsites later. The environment itself is worth the stay and the low site cost allows you to bring bottled water if you're appropriately prepared.
Response from Sweet Meadows & Wild Woods Country Holidays
Thanks for your feedback Stuart.
The reason why the water supply became inconsistent is that one of our pumps failed and on restarting it the supply picked up some pipe sediment.
This will happen even in the middle of town. While our water supply is normally clear, there is iron in the Dartmoor water, but unlike town supplies, our supply has not been recycled several times or contaminated with Chlorine or Fluorine, which research shows might be carcinogenic, or have other unpleasant side effects. It makes delicious tea and coffee. We offered you bottled water but you were determined to depart without prior notice and not to accept our assistance.
Notices explain that there are alternative compost loo facilities in our Woodland chalet if requested and no, we do not do lit paths as we do not go in for light pollution in the beautiful Dartmoor National Park, which is why some people come here to view the night sky.
Wonderful bank holiday weekend stay at this tiny site where we stayed in the garden itself. Yes the facilities are basic but that is clear in the description. For us the fact it was back to basics is what made the break special. The owners are very friendly and go out of their way to help. My tent had a damaged pole which they helped do a temp repair on, had tea under the apple tree and we were given produce from their gardens. The highlight was being able to sit round a camp fire every evening. One thing to remember is take some marshmallows we couldn't get any in the local town.
We will be going back there in the future.
Sweet Meadows & Wild Woods Country Holidays
I just stayed there, and had a wonderful time, very friendly and welcoming owners, will definitely be going back. We where even treated to morning coffee underneath the apple tree. I like fact that the facilities are basic, its part of the places charm, anything more would seem out of place the pitch by the summer house was lovely, with a little tree swing on it to keep me entertained. And with a 3 mile riverside stroll to the pub at Fingles Bridge, there was no better way to spend an evening. Thanks for a lovely time.
This place is absolutely stunning. I have been lucky enough to make several visits to this quaint campsite over the years. It has a warm atmosphere and is set in the beautiful Devon countryside. Lush evergreen forests walks beautiful rivers it's the perfect place for someone looking for a campsite that has an intimate feel.
I couldn't disagree more with the other review. The owners are truely honest and kind people. They are offering something rather special and unique. Most campsites wont allow you to make a fire in the traditional sense, these guys do. Not only that but you won't be among hundreds of other campers. You have the option of camping in their beautiful overgrown garden full of wild flowers. In fact the only feeling I got was they genuinely wanted to offer their campers a pleasant experience. If you want to experience the outdoors with the comfort of the indoors then don't go camping! Anyone will tell you that is not the point of camping. It seems to me that the person who wrote the bad review is clearly decided he/she would invest their energy into being as negative as they can. Either way I would recommend it over most campsites it has a wonderful natural feel, not sterile and tacky like the majority of sites.
The facilities are simple. Having a shower, sink and a toilet are a luxury to any real camper. I hadn't planned to spend the day in the bathroom so I see no need for extravagant fittings. It's all very functional, I am sure the owners would be more then happy to heat the water in the evening if a shower was needed so what if its a whole extra £1. Its very cheap. It cost us £11 for one night which I think is an absolute steal for such a wonderful experience. I may seem that I am going slightly over the top about this place but I feel it is such a shame someone would write such a negative review on it. You should at the very least go and see it for yourself and make your own opinions.
If you're the kind of person that enjoys simple places like this then you will not be disappointed. It's quite literally a breath of fresh air.
Avoid this run down back garden
Response from Sweet Meadows & Wild Woods Country Holidays
Many of our campers speak to us in very positive terms and have often returned to us or extended their stay (see above). As for access and narrow lanes, we are in the beautiful Teign Valley of the Dartmoor National Park. It may be that this is not for you, but would you really want a motorway or dual carriageway next to the campsite in the National Park? They have already done that near Ashburton and Okehampton, cutting through important ancient woodland! The weather at the time of your visit was exceptionally wet making the ground slippery.
Yes, Sweet Meadows is more than 600 years old and dates to before Christopher Columbus. This is the beauty of it – a sort of distressed antique like us (although we are not that old and like to think that we are approachable)! There is a notice requesting you to please let us know if cleaning is required. No such request was received from you. The loo and washing facilities are cleaned frequently. There is also a notice regarding an extra Scandinavian style compost loo available in the picturesque wild woodland chalet. There is a separate washing up bowl in the cupboard. We normally explain that we share hot water with our campers in the morning, so that it is free, whereas many other more expensive campsites will charge you for a hot shower. We would have ensured that you would have had hot water if you had requested it. There is the old adage that you can't please all of the people all of the time, but we do take constructive criticism seriously.
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