Our equine family have just enjoyed their annual winter break!

Devenish Pitt poniesOur  horses and ponies have just had their annual 4 week break after another busy year.  As well as our holiday cottages, we have a superb family of reliable mounts to suit all sizes and abilities of rider.  Our riding school was established in the early 1960s and we offer hacks and lessons from a friendly team of very experienced instructors.  You can also hack out in the beautiful surrounding countryside and have numerous routes over our 260 acre farm and common, local bridleways and forestry to choose from.  We can offer quiet family rides in the valley or faster rides across our field and common.  Come and meet our equine family!

Alison

www.devenishpitt.com

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Pancake Day at Beeson Farm

 

Pancake Day is a firm favourite with our family – especially the dog, who waits expectantly for any failed flips and pancakes falling from the heavens! Although we love a good, fluffy, American-style pancake for breakfast, we think for pancake day you’ve got to go traditional.

Here is our fool-proof Beeson Farm Pancake Recipe (just make sure you have a really good flat bottomed pancake pan)

Ingredients:

100g plain flour

2 large eggs

300ml milk

1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil, plus a little extra for frying

lemon wedges, to serve (optional)

caster sugar, to serve (optional)

Put the flour, eggs, milk, 1 tbsp oil and a pinch of salt into a bowl or large jug, then whisk to a smooth batter. Set aside for 30 mins to rest if you have time, or start cooking straight away.

Set a medium frying/crepe pan over a medium heat and lightly wipe it with some oiled kitchen paper. When hot, cook your pancakes for 1 min on each side until golden, keeping them warm in a low oven as you go.

Serve with lemon wedges and sugar, or your favourite filling. Beeson pancake

For all your pancake day ingredients (including delicious fillings) head down to Stokeley Farm Shop (between Stokenham and Torcross).

For a savoury twist, check out the recipes on the Riverford Organic website here https://www.riverford.co.uk/blog/2018/02/09/live-life-veg-pancake-day/

If you prefer to go out for pancakes we can recommend The Seabreeze Cafe at Torcross for big American fluffy style pancakes, The Tower Inn at Slapton (Kids all you can eat pancakes for £5) and Valley View Cafe at Aune Valley near Loddiswell.

www.beesonhols.co.uk

Posted in Member Farms, Recipes

Plenty of half term options nearby to Orchard Meadow…

If you’re wondering what to do over half term, with so much in close proximity in East Devon, we can always point you in the right direction.

Local activities include:

Pecorama – set on the hillside above the picturesque village of Beer, this popular tourist venue includes a display of model railways, pretty gardens, a shop, and you can take a ride on the Beer Heights Light Railway. (20 minutes away)Pecorama

Seaton Tramway – Seaton Tramway operates narrow gauge heritage trams between Seaton, Colyford and Colyton in the glorious Axe Valley.  Travelling alongside the River Axe estuary through two nature reserves, you get an unrivalled view of the abundant wading bird life. (20 minutes away)

Seaton Jurassic centre – Share the excitement of the discoveries made by local fossil hunters, geologists and evolutionary-thinkers as they uncovered the stories of life on Earth. With loads of hands-on activities and a fun garden to explore you’ll have a great day out whatever the weather! (20 minutes away)

Seaton Wetlands – A must for those twitchers amongst you as you enjoy beautiful marshland and reedbeds alongside the River Axe.  There are five bird hides and nearly 4km of level trails and boardwalks suitable for wheelchair, bike and pushchairs.  It’s a countryside haven and home to an abundance of wildlife.   Seaton Wetlands is made up of four main sites – Seaton Marshes, Black Hole Marsh, Colyford Common and Stafford Marsh. (20 minutes away)

Bicton Gardens  – Award Winning World Heritage Botanical Gardens open to the public all year.  Wander at your leisure around this stunning site or let the small gauge train service take the strain.  Shop, café and a wonderful children’s play area. (20 minutes away)

Crealy Adventure Park – Over 100 acres of beautiful countryside to explore, 60 rides and attractions (plenty of undercover areas in case the weather is inclement) to get the heart pumping and the kids squealing with delight.  There’s also a wide range of cute and cuddly animal residents. (25 minutes away)

Radway Cinema in Sidmouth – This lovely old fashioned cinema is a delight to visit, with lovely décor, comfy seats with tables for your drinks and friendly and accommodating staff. Currently showing the latest Wallace and Gromit film, ‘Early Man’. (20 minutes away)

Ruth

http://www.stubbhayne-farm-cottage-devon.co.uk/holiday-cottage.html 20180101_144504

 

 

 

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Half Term options in South Devon…

There is plenty of fun to be found to suit all ages and budgets this Half Term in South Devon.

Here is our pick of whats on locally:

Woodlands Family Theme Park, near Dartmouth (approximately 20 minutes from Beeson Farm). During half term it’s Superhero and Princess Week, with winter prices of only £7.50 per person.  When children dress up as a superhero or a princess they will get a free child return ticket to visit the park again before 25th March 2018. There will be live entertainment 13th, 14th and 15th February 2018. https://www.woodlandspark.com/

Pennywell Farm (approximately 45 mins from Beeson Farm). Become a Pennywell VIP with a February Half Term return ticket. A full price day admission ticket gives you a FREE return for the rest of half term so you can visit as many times as you like! With a full day of hands-on animal action, a different activity, show or display every half hour, hundreds of friendly animals (including some you can bottle feed and the world famous Pennywell Farm miniature pigs). There is also an indoor play space and four free outdoor rides. https://www.pennywellfarm.co.uk/

Paignton Zoo (approximately 50 minutes from Beeson Farm). With over 2,000 animals across 80 acres, you’re in for a really wild time at Paignton Zoo! Head down to the zoo for a week full of fun activities and the launch of their year of Nearby Nature. As well as finding out about all the animals in the zoo guests can learn about, and get closer to, the fantastic native species we have around us. There will be lots to do including special talks, trails and more. https://www.paigntonzoo.org.uk/

National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth (approx. 60 minutes from Beeson Farm). The UK’s largest aquarium, with over 4000 animals.  2018 is their 20th birthday year! During February Half Term visitors can join in with ‘Sea the Difference: Ocean Adventures’ celebrating all the wonderful marine animals and habitats found here in the UK. Meet scientists, conservationists and marine heroes and take part in activities, games and adventures! http://www.national-aquarium.co.uk/

As if that all wasn’t enough to fill your Half Term we would also recommend the Art Café in Kingsbridge, The Kidz and Co play café in Salcombe, PaperBird Island in Salcombe, Clip and Climb in Plymouth, iBounce in Newton Abbott, the South Devon Steam Railway in Buckfastleigh and Start Point Lighthouse.

www.beesonhols.co.uk

Posted in Calves, chickens, Lambs, Member Farms, pets

Spotlight on Mothecombe Beach…

Mothecombe Beach lies at the mouth of the River Erme. The beach is part of the privately owned Flete Estate and is only open to the public on Wednesdays and weekends. With its soft golden sand, a little stream, rock pools and small secluded coves revealed at low tide, the beach slopes gently into the sea and is safe for bathing. On either side there are rocks which are perfect for climbing and exploring.  Mothecombe has remained completely unspoilt, with the only buildings being an old boathouse and the lime kiln.Mothecombe beach 2

Nearby Coastguards Beach is open every day, year round. It is reached via a narrow road and slipway with bollards, giving access for wheelchairs, horse riders, wind surfers, canoes and surfboards, but there is only turning room and no parking available at the slipway. There is half a mile of firm sand at low tide, but a small beach at high tide.

Wonwell beach, on the opposite side of the Erme, is reached by driving through Kingston, and is especially popular with dog owners. There is limited free parking on the road, but it becomes congested at peak times.

 

Posted in Beach, Member Farms

Quench your thirst in Devon!

South Devon has some hidden gems of breweries, distilleries and vineyards.  Whether you want to take a tour or just sample what’s on offer you can make some great holiday memories whilst quenching your thirst.

Salcombe Gin

Salcombe is South Devon’s yachting haven and what better ritual to adopt than that of the “sundowner”- a refreshing gin and tonic – after a day on the water!  Salcombe Gin opened the doors of its distillery in 2016.  Located on Island Street, Salcombe Gin has since scooped numerous national and international awards. Their gin is hand-distilled from 13 carefully selected botanicals and blended with pure Dartmoor water in a 450 litre copper still using a traditional “one shot” method. Visit the Distillery for a drink in the bar or book in to the gin school to create your own unique blend of gin and take home the ultimate 70cl souvenir of your holiday!Salcombe-Gin-930x620

Salcombe gin is available at many of our local pubs, including the Cricket Inn, and is for sale locally at Stokeley Farm Shop, Chillington Post Office and Kingsbridge Wine Rooms. https://www.salcombegin.com/

Salcombe Brewery

Salcombe brewery is located in the countryside near Kingsbridge, looking towards the Salcombe estuary.  The site has its own borehole which supplies the brewery with its own source of pure Devonian water, perfect for the brewing process.  The Brewery has 4 fermenting vessels capable of making 350 casks every week.  Visitors are welcome for tours or brew days.  The Brewery Shop is open during the week from 10am to 4pm, on some Saturdays 10am -2pm (seasonally), and sells beer, gift packs and branded merchandise. https://www.salcombebrewery.com/

South Hams Brewery

This 10 barrel plant is run by the Brooking family on the site at Stokeley Farm Shop, overlooking beautiful Start Bay.  The family have a real love for real ale and are the small brewery that’s very big on taste!  Popular classic ales, such as Eddystone, Wild Blonde and Devon Pride, can be found alongside seasonal ales for sale in Stokeley Farm Shop and many local establishments.  http://southhamsbrewery.co.uk/

Sharpham Vineyard

Just two miles from Totnes, The Sharpham vineyard overlooks the River Dart where the soil, climate and grape variety combine to make a unique regional wine.   Sharpham are at the forefront of vine-growing and winemaking in the UK and have won numerous Regional, National and International medals.  Visit the vineyard to sample their wine and take a tour of the vineyard.  Sharpham wine is available to buy at Stokely Farm Shop and Kingsbridge Wine Rooms. http://www.sharpham.com/ Sharpham vineyard

Beeson Farmhouse Cider

Beeson Farm has always produced its own cider from the apples that grow in our orchard. Each year the apples are harvested, pressed and fermented on site.  Guests are very welcome to join in with the process – especially the tasting!  We work closely with Orchard Link, a south Devon organisation set up in 1998 by apple and cider enthusiasts concerned about the disappearance of traditional orchards in the area.  Our traditional farmhouse cider is available to buy from the farmhouse door.  Enjoy a cold glass of cider whilst sitting in the courtyard in which the traditional stone cider press is now a decorative focal point.

Louise

www.beesonhols.co.uk

 

Posted in Member Farms, Recipes, Retail

“Wake up to Spring 2018” at The Garden House

The Garden House at Buckland Monachorum, Yelverton. PL20 7LQ will be open every weekend in February to enjoy the wonderful snowdrop collection, and the Tea Room will be serving a winter warmer menu.

Snowdrops-at-The-Garden-HouseThe Garden House is the elegant former home of the vicars of Buckland Monachorum. Built in the early 19th century, the house accommodates the tearooms and offices.

The history of this 10-acre garden is closely entwined with that of Buckland Abbey and the local church. In 1305 the Bishop instructed the Abbot to build a house for the parish priest and this site was chosen. At the dissolution of the monasteries, the Abbot became the vicar of Buckland Monachorum and by the early 1700s, the vicarage consisted of a substantial 3-storey dwelling. The remains of this building, a tower with spiral staircase and a thatched barn, formerly the kitchen, are now the romantic ruins on the lower terrace in the walled garden.

A modern vicarage was built in the 1920s and The Garden House was sold as a private dwelling. The house came onto the market again just after the Second World War and was purchased by Lionel Fortescue, a retiring master at Eton, and his wife Katharine.

Lionel was the son of a Newlyn school painter and had a good eye for colour as well as being an exacting plantsman. Lionel and Katharine set about renovating and developing their garden whilst running a thriving market garden business, providing stock plants for growers in the Tamar Valley, and managing a herd of Jersey dairy cattle.  Over the next 40 years the Fortescues created a garden which was – and continues to be – viewed as one of the finest in Britain.

By 1961 they had established the Fortescue Garden Trust, an independent registered charity, to which they bequeathed the house and garden to ensure the survival of this beautiful place for future generations. After their deaths in the 1980s ownership passed to the charity, which maintains the Fortescues’ lovely legacy.

You could stay nearby at: www.easthook-holiday-cottages.co.uk

 

Posted in gardens, Member Farms, Restaurants

Christmas traditions cause a near miss at Harton Farm!

IMG_0661Christmas Days for farming families are full of traditions and are normally spent on the farm – animals still need to be fed and watered, even on Christmas day.  Here at Harton one of our favourite treats is roasting home grown chestnuts on the fire.  Nearly 40 years ago we planted some chestnut trees up our lane and, every so often, we get a crop with nuts that are actually big enough to roast!IMG_0665

 

Another, and rather odd, tradition is to have the farm dogs in the house on Christmas morning for as long as it takes before the strong doggy smell becomes overwhelming.  Bruce, our sheepdog, Barley and Holly, the Clumber spaniels, and Teazle, the Springer, all live outside in their dog boxes during the year, so being allowed into the house involves great excitement, especially for the spaniels.  Bruce is not so sure, as his flat-eared look in the picture demonstrates.

IMG_20171225_104802This period on Christmas morning is fraught with challenges.  The Christmas tree has to be defended against Bruce and Barley using it for the wrong purposes. Chocolates, glasses and various other things have to be moved to safety, as the Clumbers challenge Teazle to a circuit round the sitting room without touching the floor.  She normally wins as the Clumbers are a bit more earth-bound. Then there is the spaniel instinct to smell out, and flush, birds.  All three go beating at various shoots so finding and retrieving a dead pheasant is second nature.  However, picking up our turkey was not on the agenda and we only just stopped Barley doing just that, as shown in the photo.  Probably the biggest pheasant he had ever seen! www.hartonfarm.co.ukIMG_0825

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Spotlight on Lydford………

Hidden away on the edge of Dartmoor you’ll find the picturesque village of Lydford. The charming village inn is a great place from which to start your tour of the village, situated, as it is, by one of the two castles. Lydford Castle was a medieval courtroom and prison built in around 1195. There is a small car park opposite the pub and from here you can stroll over to the castle and the earlier Norman ringwork fortification. You can also explore the ancient spring, an important source of water for the village from Saxon times.Lydford pub

The history of the village begins in the Dark Ages. The Saxon kings of Wessex established a fort here by the 9th century to protect the area both from Viking and Cornish raids. Fortified during the reign of King Alfred, in Saxon times Lydford was considered equal in importance to Exeter and Totnes. As well as a stronghold, a mint was established at Lydford in the late 10th century. Some of the coins minted here have been found in Scandinavia, possibly having formed part of Danegeld payments – or protection money – made to the Vikings by the Saxons.

The Normans made their mark here soon after the conquest in 1066. They built castles at strategic sites and towns, and here at Lydford they built a small ringwork in about 1087-8, which was abandoned by the middle of the 12th century.  The ringwork was a roughly triangular enclosure with a high rampart and deep ditch which surrounded a small group of wattle and daub buildings, possibly including granaries for storing grain.  Archaeology suggests that it was only inhabited until the mid-12th century.

Lydford Castle had a reputation for rough justice, as described in the 1640 poem Lydford Law by the Tavistock poet William Browne:

‘I oft have heard of Lydford law,
How in the morn they hang and draw,
And sit in judgment after’

During the Civil War the Lydford Castle tower was used as a military prison by the Royalists, but had fallen into disrepair by the mid 1600s and, although later partially restored, by the early 19th century it had been abandoned. Today the castle is managed by the National Trust in co-operation with English Heritage.

The Middle Ages saw Lydford flourish and become the administrative centre for the Royal Forest or royal hunting ground of Dartmoor.  It also oversaw the administration of the tin-mining districts or ‘stanneries’ of Dartmoor.

As well as the castles, Lydford boasts a very fine stone church, St Petrock’s Church. The intricate wood carvings on the ends of the pews are of particular interest: each one different, they show a saint or holy man surrounded by a border of animals, plants or words.St Petrocs church Lydford

Lydford Gorge

Nearby Lydford Gorge (National Trust) is also well worth a visit. Here the River Lyd flows through a narrow gorge 1.5 miles long. One of the main features of the gorge is the 90-foot high White Lady Waterfall.  The waterfall is the highest in the south west of England. Depending on the weather it can be a gentle flow of water over the cliff face or turn into a raging torrent.  It is an amazing experience standing at the base where it hits the river after periods of heavy rain when it is in full flow.  On the ‘long and easy’ path keep an eye out for the entrance to some of the old mine workings that can be found in the gorge. There’s no public access into the workings however that doesn’t stop another mammal species, bats, making use of this man-made cave.

Lydford gorgeWildlife

Keep your eyes peeled as you walk around, the area is teeming with wildlife. There is a bird hide at the end of the old railway line path where you can see a host of woodland birds on the feeding station.  There are also dippers, recognisable medium sized brown birds with white chests that ‘bob’ on stones in the river.  Jays, a colourful member of the crow family, make good use of the acorns produced by the large number of Oak trees in the gorge.

Getting here
Just 8½ miles south of Okehampton, Lydford is easily accessible by road.

Posted in Church, Pubs, walks, Wildlife

Discover the ghoulish tales surrounding some romantic ruins……

Tucked away in a deep wooded valley near Totnes, Berry Pomeroy Castle is the perfect romantic ruin with a colourful history of intrigue.

Within the 15th-century defences of the Pomeroy family castle, looms the dramatic ruined shell of its successor, the great Elizabethan mansion of the Seymours. Begun in around 1560 and ambitiously enlarged from around 1600, their mansion was intended to become the most spectacular house in Devon.Berry Pomeroy Castle

In the 16th century, Sir Edward, Lord Seymour, whose father had bought the castle, developed it into a fine house. With large windows offering stunning views from the four floors, it was typical of Elizabethan hunting lodges. Ornate mouldings over the windows can still be seen along with fragments of carving which now lie in the courtyard surrounded by the ruins of this once lavish mansion.  You can also still spot the remains of the arched loggia which lead from the main courtyard to the Great Hall. This was once the most magnificent room in the castle with an extravagant plaster ceiling, marble fireplace and wall tapestries. Now you can only imagine the grandeur of the room from the ruined walls and window openings.

Climb the steps to the first floor of the medieval gatehouse to the high roofed chamber and you will be rewarded with a beautiful 15th century wall painting. It depicts the adoration of the Magi – one of the earliest showing a black wise man in England. You can also see the Dominican altarpiece before crossing to the only medieval wall walk to survive almost to its original height.

Never completed, and abandoned by 1700, the house became the focus of blood-curdling ghost stories, recounted in the audio tour.

The location of the castle makes it ideal for walkers, who can explore the beautiful grounds and woodland views. Follow the John Musgrave Trail to enjoy beautiful views up to the castle from the lake. It’s a great place to spot wildlife and birds as well as wild flowers and dogs on leads are welcome too on the woodland walks.

In the Castle Café you can enjoy a light lunch, home-made cake or restorative cup of tea.   It’s open daily 10am – 5pm from June-October, then on Saturdays and Sundays from November-March.   Enquiries: 01803 849473.

 

 

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