Hittisleigh, Exeter, EX6 6LP
Passion. It either burns within you, or it doesn’t. Enthusiasm can be faked, but a true passion for something can’t. And Ben has passion. For the animals on the farm he rents from the Soil Association, for organic agriculture, and for sharing his beautiful surroundings with those in need of an escape to the countryside. He currently tends the 90-acre organic farm alone, when his wife Alice is in work; lovingly rearing his 500 hens, 200 geese, flock of sheep, and herd of pure-bred Red Ruby cows. So when folk come to stay in one of the three yurts or the bell tent recently set up on the farm, he’s only too happy to stop for a chat and ask if they’re enjoying their stay. The answer is a resounding 'Yes!'.
Not only are the views down the valley from each tent stunning, but every possible care has gone into furnishing them too. Each comes stocked with tea, coffee, sugar, milk, bread, butter, and eggs (courtesy of Ben’s Hens) to make settling in a breeze after your journey down to Devon. Charcoal and kindling are also provided for the fire pits, stove, and chimenea free of charge; as are candles, a torth, bedding, and towels.
You don’t even need to go food shopping; it’s all here – in the converted barn next to the comfy campers’ lounge with wood-burning stove, games, pool table, and info is a huge kitchen with an honesty fridge and larder. All the food on offer has a price sticker and you leave the cash in a box. If you’re lucky there’ll be a bowl of delicious, free home-grown veg that needs eating up. Each abode has its own large fridge in the kitchen so you can fill it with organic goodies to your heart’s content. Or even pre-order one of the Hampers for Campers on offer here, stocked with as much produce as the farm can provide, and other food and drink produced from the local area.
Each of the three yurts sits atop insulating wooden decking and looks down the valley and across to the hills opposite. Two are large Mongolian yurts that sleep up to six and the other is a smaller structure sleeping four or five. The bell tent has its own private corner in a separate field with vistas out to Exmoor, behind. It’s smaller than the yurts and has fewer furnishings, but still comes with a bed and futon mattresses for comfort.
Campers are welcome to help out on the farm if they wish –collecting eggs from the hens, picking vegetables from the polytunnel and colourful beds, or learning about the animals. This is Soil Association land and various eco-friendly measures have been implemented as a salute to the beautiful surrounding scenery. Not only is the farming here of the sustainable variety, but Summerhill’s hot water is produced through solar thermal energy collected from panels on the barn’s roof; and electricity is powered through a photovoltaic system (more panels), which cuts CO2 emissions and often provides surplus electricity that’s put on to the national grid. Impressive stuff.
For a start-up site and means of diversification for an organic farmer, Summerhill Farm strikes the perfect balance between working farm, campsite, environmental caretaker, and lovely holiday. And if some of Ben’s passion hasn’t rubbed off on you by the time you leave, you’ll definitely need to come again.
The Owner SaysSummerhill Farm lies in the heart of the beautiful mid Devon countryside, 2 miles from the village of Yeoford, on the Two Moors Way near Crediton. As the name suggests the farm is perched on a hillside below which the river Yeo flows through the farm's species-rich meadows and woodland. Three spacious Mongolian yurts provide comfortable accommodation, all of which are furnished to a mid-range specification. Sleeping up to 6 people, they are perfect for families, but are equally suitable for couples or groups of friends. Relax and enjoy our quiet and peaceful slice of Devon countryside in our special, tucked away location, providing stunning views by day and stargazing at night.
Wonderful family holiday
We keep coming back to Summerhill Farm because it's just a great family holiday. Our children, 8 and 6 years old, love the open space and "helping" with the animals. Egg collecting is a big favourite, but they also loved sitting in Ben's tractor - for city kids this was very exciting. For us adults it's been lovely to meet other families and to see children of all ages all playing together and running off loads of energy outside. It's also nice to be able to have an open fire outside the yurt and to cook and eat outdoors (weather permitting). But even if the weather isn't great, the communal kitchen and family activity room are brilliant - the log burning stove really makes it cosy on colder days. We've had some great day trips to the north Devon coast and the Eden Project was a big success too. But if you want to just spend a relaxing day in a beautiful corner of the world, I can't think of anywhere better than just staying at Summerhill Farm and going on local walks. We'll be back very soon I'm sure.
The perfect place to stay with kids!
An extended weekend at the Summerhill Farm once a year has become a bit of a tradition with our family and is by far the most relaxing holiday destination with kids. Our 4,5-year old son loves exploring the farm, helping out with collecting the eggs and seeing what all the animals are up to. My husband and I enjoy the comfy beds, the beautiful scenery and the fresh countryside air. Alice and Ben are great welcoming hosts and the farm is the perfect place to have a breather from our busy London lives.