How about a bird of prey experience?

YarakYarak is the most unique falconry centre for birds of prey in the Southwest and is set in the heart of the countryside in a beautiful tranquil setting near Cullompton.  Yarak birds of prey offers hands on falconry experience days for those who want to experience handling and flying birds of prey in a totally private falconry centre environment. Yarak is the place to go for complete hands on experiences.

Whether you like Owls, Hawks, Falcons or Eagles there is something for everyone,

Hot/cold food and refreshments are available from the cafe – only food purchased there may be consumed on the premises.

All hands on birds of prey experiences are strictly by appointment only.  Renowned for the quality of the falconry experiences, they are just as well known for customer care. yarak-birds-of-prey

Yarak Birds Of Prey was moved from Oxfordshire to Devon in 2002.  The site that Yarak now occupies was a near derelict property.  John and Di, the owners, have developed the property to its current state with sheer hard work and thousands of pounds of personal investment.  Yarak is, and always will be, about the welfare of its birds, who are treated as family.   Many of the birds have come from unsuitable backgrounds, such as being kept by the inexperienced, resulting in psychological and physical trauma.  A lot of these birds have been integrated into the flying team, whilst others prefer the safety of their aviary environment as they have lost all trust for people.  For them, Yarak is like a retirement home where they can live a fruitful and peaceful life with plenty of stimulation.

The birds have amazing personalities and are treated like family, not tools of the trade.  The reason the birds are so content is that they are working in their natural environment and, unlike birds kept at theme parks and other attractions, do not have to cope with excessive noise and disruption.  Yarak has resisted many offers to join other locations with the promise of increased profits, but the owners have always refused as their bird’s welfare remains the number one priority.

Yarak is the place for bird of prey enthusiasts of all ages to go and enjoy close up encounters in a natural, rural environment.  Enthusiasts can book half or full day experiences, an owl encounter or phone for a quote for a group visit.

Definition of “Yarak”

A state of complete focus on the hunt, usually referring to Accipiters.  An Eastern term referencing when the bird’s training, weight, and mental focus all comes together in the field. The hawk is riding the fist in anticipation of the hunt and is ready to go.


Posted in Wildlife

Farm shop – keeping it local…….

Lower Campscott local shoppingThey say we are a nation of shopkeepers and here at Lower Campscott we certainly enjoy keeping the farm shop well stocked with all sorts of essential groceries, as well as our succulent meat and some delicious treats as well.  Part of our winter planning is a stock take and review of last year’s best sellers.

The meat freezers have been filled with tasty beef cuts from our own Dexter cattle including top quality steaks, burgers, roasting joints and tender braising steak too.  Last year’s pigs are this year’s sausages and they are delicious!  That may sound harsh, but we believe that if you’re going to eat meat then it should be produced to the highest welfare standards.  Our pigs enjoy a good life on the farm with plenty of space, food, shelter and opportunities to wallow and root around in their paddock.  There’s also locally produced chicken and bacon too.

dexter cattleOur chickens are semi-retired, living out their days happily on the farm, and their egg production is dwindling.  Luckily our neighbours at Borough Farm have several large flocks of hens and can supply us with beautiful, organic eggs, ensuring we don’t run out in the shop.

Kathy’s home cooked meals, made with our own farm-produced meat, are always popular – simply reheat them, then serve and enjoy; ideal after a day exploring or on the beach.  Why not finish your meal with some scrummy Farmer Tom’s ice cream?  Another Devon treat made on Dunstaple Farm using their own fresh, whole milk, clotted and double cream sourced from local dairies.  We stock one litre tubs and small theatre tubs, which are ideal for when the family can’t agree on just one flavour!  Everyone loves a treat while they’re on holiday and we’re really excited to have found Cupcakin Around and the lovely Theresa who bakes in her Ilfracombe cottage kitchen.  We’ve tried some of her bakes and they’re wonderful so we’re thinking some farmyard animal themed cupcakes would go down well in the shop.  Theresa’s lemon drizzle cake is sublime and her chocolate cakes are heavenly too.  For anyone celebrating at Lower Campscott – birthday, anniversaries or friends getting together – Theresa can bake you a fabulous celebration cake and deliver it to your cottage or lodge.  Take a look at her Facebook page for ideas and inspiration Cupcakin Around.

Cupcakin aroundThanks to a bumper crop last year we have lots of our own lovely farm produced apple juice to put on the shelves and we’ve just harvested a load more.  Brendon Hill Crafts will continue to supply us with jams, jellies and chutneys; all made in nearby Barnstaple and we’re keeping it local with sustainably and locally produced charcoal too.

Add to that freshly baked pasties, bread, lots of grocery essentials such as pasta, tinned tomatoes, coffee, tea, sugar, fresh milk, cheese, butter and cereals and you should be able to get pretty much everything you need for your self-catering holiday.  No need to shop before you set off for your break – simply let us know what you need for your first few meals and we can make sure everything is waiting for you in your cottage or lodge when you arrive.

How’s that for a very local shopping service?!

Posted in Beach, chickens, Cows, Member Farms, Recipes, Retail, Shopping

Visit the countryside………it’s idyllic!

The telephone rings.

“Good morning, Yellingham Farm”

“Oh, hello, do you take single women?” Oh no not another one!

‘Yes of course”. I replied.

What ensued was the life history of a single lady called Christine.

“Well you see Mrs. East, I am on my own, been married, but he was not a good man and after many years of work, work, work, I have decided I need to live my life”. Oh heck, another one who wants to find them self. She continues…

“I was in the dentist this week and picked up a glossy country magazine and I was smitten. It was amazing, the photographs were so good, there was bunting everywhere in the orchards, ladies sat under parasols at tables dressed with linen tablecloths, drinking elderflower cordial, making floral table decorations, sheep and cattle grazing in the background. I thought… I need some of this idyllic country life – what better place than a farm”.

This lady sounded so lovely. You know what it is like, you have this vision of what a person looks like from the tone of their voice. Christine spoke in a very soft Yorkshire accent. I imagined her to be in her 60’s, shy, but someone who had dedicated her life to others. There was a hint of her being slightly old fashioned but totally unselfish with sound morals. I was to be proved right.

I tried to explain that we were a working farm and whilst in my eyes it is beautiful and idyllic, magazines often depict life in the countryside as a dream to be realised, but things are not always so perfect. Oh my goodness, she even asked me if I made embroidered linen pot covers for my homemade jam. Heavens… I haven’t even made any homemade jam this year, let alone made linen jam pot covers! I was not put off and was so keen to welcome this lovely lady to Yellingham Farm and try to match her expectations and let her experience our wonderful, yet hard working life. She booked there and then. As I put the phone down, I began to worry to death that I could not live up to the image that these glossy magazines portray. Yes, I have a beautiful orchard, but it does not have lovely tables, tablecloths, beautiful rose filled bowls, scones, jam and clotted cream and chickens meandering through the undergrowth.  Too many flies around for that and stinging nettles.cream tea

The day dawned. Christine arrived. Small car, dark blue, immaculately clean and as I was soon to appreciate, just like it’s owner (not blue though!). Christine was in her 60’s, very grey hair, bordering on white, nice bob haircut, glasses, traditional “A” line linen skirt and floral short sleeved cotton top and sandals. At this time of the year the entrance to the farm does look lovely with huge colourful hanging baskets everywhere, pots of begonias and fuchsias, intermingled with my favourite gorgeous smelling roses. It is a real picture. Christine’s first impression of the farm was good and she was smiling from ear to ear, like a young child experiencing her first holiday.

When making the booking she made it very clear that she wanted to participate in farm life and be involved as much as possible but, having met her, I was not sure how easy this was going to be as her constitution, both mental and physical, was unlikely to hold up to the tasks I had in mind. The weather was good and the shearer was booked and the hay was nearly ready to bale. Two hot, sweaty, long jobs. Oh dear, maybe, I need to re-think and consider the benefits of making bunting in the orchard after all.

After checking in, a lovely cup of tea, and a general chat, I asked Christine if she would like a quick walk around the farm with me to get her bearings and understand what we farm and what was planned for the week. She was so excited. The first hurdle was that she didn’t own a pair of welly boots and had certainly never wore trousers. Wellies I could sort, trousers, not a hope in hell.  A good job her skirts met the top of the wellies otherwise there were going to be a few leg issues. We walked along the River Tale which borders the farm with 4 border collies and Tilly, my beautiful jet black sprocker, the Swallows following us, dipping up and down and it was pretty “idyllic”.  I daren’t break this magical moment for Christine by telling her that tomorrow was going to be hard, smelly work – we were shearing.

Shearing JacobsThe morning was beautiful – not a cloud in the sky. The shearers were setting up and my guest told me how excited she was to be watching shearing for the first time in her life – perhaps she thought once it was over, I would be sat spinning in the evening and then knitting a beautiful jumper. I told myself not to worry and broke the news that it was all hands on deck and that she would be rolling wool with me – it fell on deaf ears as she had no idea what was in store. Still dressed in a skirt and pretty blouse we made our way down to the barn which was extremely noisy with every sheep baaing as loud as they could. She was clearly deafened by the sound. I quickly showed her how to roll a fleece and by the horrified look on her face this was not something she was not going to take to easily. The 2 shearers were working fast, it was hot, and it wasn’t long before the fleeces were coming off the sheep quicker than we could roll them. Christine was trying hard, but she was rolling 1 fleece to my  4 and rather than being nice and tight, they were huge and loose. There was also another problem, she started to scratch her arms and soon they were very red and looked sore. I quickly recognised she had a problem – she was allergic to wool and particularly lanolin. I had to limit the damage so I suggested that I carried on rolling wool on my own and would she just like to go indoors, wash and change and then keep the shearers plied with cold drinks. With a great big smile on her face, she returned to the yard with a tray of cold drinks and for the next hour pestered the shearers every 10 seconds to see if they wanted more drinks. Bless her, she was so concerned for their welfare as the sweat dripped from their faces onto the sheep – even if they were fed up with her concerns, they never showed it. In the quiet of the evening, I saw her sat in the orchard, doing nothing, totally content with all my dogs sat at her feet, no tables with linen tablecloths, floral china tea service and homemade cakes… Just total peace and quiet.

Over the next couple of days, the hay got made, the bales stacked onto trailers and brought in and another hard, long farming task was completed successfully in beautiful weather. Given it was impossible to think that Christine could even lift one small hay bale, she relished the task once more of supplying drinks to the lads as the heat of the sun took its toll. That evening I joined her and sat watching the sun set over our pond below the orchard. Christine’s week on the farm was drawing to a close. Had she enjoyed it? Did the expectations she dreamed of when she was reading the glossy magazine in the dentists come to fruition? I wanted to ask her, but at that moment down at the pond, something special was going on in her mind which I didn’t want to disturb. We sat in silence for a while longer before she said in her quiet soft voice:

“Thank you Janet for sharing a tiny part of your life with me”.

A pause. Oh no here comes the truth – she’s disappointed. I have shattered her image of the “idyllic countryside” she had set her heart on experiencing.

“It has been more beautiful and fulfilling than I could have imagined. I may not have been much help to you, but letting me be the drinks monitor made me feel useful and wanted. I now realise the magazine was selling a dream. You have let me share in what the countryside is really all about”.

I felt humbled as this dear lady was putting her old suitcase into the boot of her car, dressed in yet another “A” line skirt and pretty blouse. The dogs had come to love her and were fussing around her feet and I felt that she had formed a real bond with them and with us. I had a little present for her, no, not bunting or homemade jam, but the wellies she had worn all week. She was delighted – again like a child receiving a wonderful Christmas present.

Maybe I need to write to that glossy and tell them what it’s really like at the sharp end – probably wouldn’t get printed and it wouldn’t attract lovely people like Christine. I wonder if she ever wore those wellies again?

PS A week later I received a beautiful David Austin rose called the Shepherdess. The card just said Thank You. C x



Posted in chickens, Farm Dogs, gardens, Member Farms, Sheep, Shepherd

Step back in time and watch the heavy horses……… time!

On the weekend of 12th & 13th August Jonathan and Fiona Waterer kindly hosted a Working Heavy Horse event at Higher Bidacott Farm in North Devon.   The event was held in aid of the Addington Fund and Chittlehampton Church.



Many horses of all different sizes came to demonstrate different working  skills in the fields.  The 6 horse ploughing team provided a dramatic display and there was also dung spreading with shire horses, hauling logs and wagon rides, while the younger riders showed their skills in the arena.   A farrier was demonstrating shoeing a horse and there were stalls, food and much, much more.  On the Sunday a dog show also took place.



We were also able to have a stand to promote farm accommodation locally, countywide and nationally.

I would recommend you watch for the event next year so you can go along and enjoy a step back in time!

 Higher Biddacott Farm


Bampfield Farm

Posted in Uncategorized

Fossil fans should flock here…..

Last month, Lyme Regis Museum reopened its doors to the public, following the completion of its new £1.5million Mary Anning Wing extension.

Lyme Regis Museum - The Mary Anning WingThanks to National Lottery investors and other funding, the museum can now offer a new interactive fossil gallery and Fine Foundation Learning Centre, as well as a larger shop and improved visitor facilities, including a lift.  The new extension is contemporary in feel and constructed in glass and zinc, robust materials ideally suited to the museum’s exposed position on Lyme’s seafront. The first floor of the extension has magnificent sea views across Lyme Bay – the only public building in Lyme Regis to offer this. The original museum building has been repainted and refreshed throughout, and retains its Edwardian charm.

Museum Director David Tucker said “The Mary Anning Wing will enable our museum to do much more to make Lyme’s fascinating history accessible to very many more people, as well as ensuring that we are better able to protect the town’s exceptional heritage for future generations. It will enable the museum to host more events, improve the offer to the town’s many tourists as well as work with larger museums and universities to encourage the study of Lyme’s unique geology. Lyme Regis is the birthplace of the science of palaeontology, and our museum is built on the site of the home of the world’s first, and greatest, fossil hunter, Mary Anning.”

David added “We are very grateful to all our funders for their help. The range of support we have received has been amazing. Our sister-charity, the Friends of Lyme Regis Museum raised £68,000, the National Lottery contributed £79,000 and we received many smaller but equally valuable gifts, including £10.00 from a fifteen year old who donated her pocket money after visiting us”.

The Mary Anning Wing provides the 113 year old museum with the services it needs to bring it into the 21st century and includes:

  • A new accessible geology gallery telling the story of Mary Anning and Lyme’s fantastic fossils
  • A state-of-the-art Learning Space, where they can welcome schools, run exhibitions and events
  • A lift, ensuring all their visitors can visit the museum’s first floor
  • An extended shop
  • Visitor toilets – so they no longer have to send people across the road to the public loos!


Posted in Fossils, Museum

West Middlewick goes unpasteurised!

West Middlewick Farm has been granted a licence by the Food Standards Agency to sell milk straight from the cow!  Guests staying at the farm, near Witheridge, already enjoy their fresh beef, pork and eggs from the farm shop and naturally wanted to buy the milk as well.

John and Jo Gibson have a 72-strong herd of British Friesian cows and will be serving up their raw milk to meet customer demand.  One litre bottles are available from the farm at £1.20 each. Holidaymakers staying at the farm enjoy seeing the cows in the fields and drinking quality, tasty milk. West Middlewick

Meanwhile the majority of the milk produced at West Middlewick is collected by Arla Foods and used by the nearby Taw Valley Creamery in North Tawton to make Taw Valley Cheddar.

Posted in Calves, Cows, Member Farms, Retail

Do you fancy giving a hen a home?

If you stay at Knowle Farm you can meet some of the hens who are now enjoying a new lease of life and freedom to roam where they like.  These six had to get used to their surroundings before being let out to be fully free range.  For the first time they were able to walk on and eat grass (yes, they like eating grass!), socialise properly with other chickens and explore the ground for bugs and other treasures.Battery hens

In just a few weeks their feathers re-grew and they were completely unrecognisable. They also continued to lay eggs, except these were far tastier than any they laid in their old cages thanks to the natural diet they now enjoy.

If you have a garden with a little bit of space, and fancy giving some of these girls an amazing new home (and if you like the idea of being thanked with delicious, free eggs), then visit the website of the brilliant British Hen Welfare Trust.



Posted in chickens, insects, Member Farms, pets

The history of Hot Penny day……

Honiton Hot Pennies Ceremony dates back to the 13th Century, when Honiton was granted a Royal Charter, the ceremony remained unbroken for several hundred years, and to this day has always taken place on the first Tuesday after July 19th.

Hot penniesThe proceedings begin at 12 noon from the Old Pannier Market, with The Town Cryer (accompanied by The Mayor and local dignitaries) hoisting up a garlanded pole with a gloved hand at the top, proclaiming that “No man may be arrested so long as this glove is up.” This was done to ensure that everyone would come to Honiton for the fair which followed the ceremony, without fear of being arrested for their debts; they would otherwise have stayed away.

The first pennies are thrown from the balcony of the former Assembly Rooms above The Old Pannier Market and then a procession follows the garlanded pole to a number of Public Houses from which “hot pennies” are thrown to hundreds of scrabbling children. The pole is kept on show for the remainder of “fair week” at the last Public House.

The reason behind the pennies being thrown hot was that the affluent people who threw out the pennies took great delight in seeing the peasants burn their fingers whilst collecting them.  Nowadays the pennies are merely warm!

Hot pennies 2This tradition has also been adopted by the nearby village of Sidbury, where the local primary school pupils enjoy scrabbling for the coins as their ancestors did before them.




Posted in Uncategorized

A novel place to eat!


River exe cafeDevon is famous for its fresh local food and I love finding a new restaurant to try.  My daughter recently organised a trip to a restaurant for our wedding anniversary and it proved truly memorable.  We drove down to Exmouth seafront and parked.  My husband and I started to eye up a lovely looking seafood restaurant, but were told “We’re not eating here – follow me!”  My daughter is a school teacher so we did as we were told and duly followed.  We ended up on the marina without the sign of anywhere yummy to eat.  Then a little boat pulled alongside with ‘Water taxi’ scribed on the side.  We hopped on board and were soon bobbing along.

It was enchanting.  There was barely a cloud in the sky and the sea looked so blue I was nearly tempted to jump in.  After a few minutes in the taxi I spied something in the middle of the Exe Estuary and guessed we were heading for it.  I was right.  Floating in the middle of the Exe Estuary is a pontoon on which the River Exe Café is located.  The location is really picturesque and the rustic café is delightful.  The menu did not disappoint as it changes daily, depending on what seafood has been caught that morning.

We chose the seafood platter to share.  The prawns had a light lemon aioli dressing and the Lyme Bay scallops and Dorset clams were my favourite.  After lunch we sat and enjoyed the view before heading back to the coast on the water taxi.

river-exe-cafeI would recommend this to anyone, particularly to seafood lovers, although there are a selection of other foods.  Remember it is very popular, so it is advisable to call ahead and book a table.  Enjoy!

Go to: 



Posted in Beach, Boats, Ferry, Member Farms, Restaurants, Sailing

The Red Arrows AND the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight!

Not only have Sidmouth Town Council secured a booking for another spectacular aerial display by the Red Arrows in Sidmouth this year, but they are delighted to be able to host the historic Memorial Flight (BBMF) consisting of Spitfire and Hurricane fighters and a Lancaster bomber.  The RAF aerobatic team returns on Friday 25 August 2017.

Battle of Britain flightExact times are to be confirmed but the two displays will take place between 6 and 7pm on Friday 25 August 2017 as a prelude to Sidmouth Regatta that weekend.

Flown by regular serving RAF Aircrew, the BBMF Flight operates six Spitfires, two Hurricane Mk 2Cs, a Lancaster, a C47 Dakota and two Chipmunk aircraft (primarily used for training). Three of these aircraft will perform a display together and individually before the nine jets of the ever popular Red Arrows arrive to thrill the crowds.

Red arrows 22016 saw huge crowds in the popular seaside town and thanks to the generous donations of the public, the return of the display team was secured for another year. The Chairman of Sidmouth Town Council, Jeff Turner commented: “I am delighted to welcome not just the Red Arrows but also the Battle of Britain Flight to display over what must be one the most perfect arenas in the country for an air display, our beautiful seafront.

Don’t miss it!
Display subject to weather conditions.


Posted in Uncategorized