We have lots of Pre-school families staying in our cottages at Robin Hill Farm and this week, one family are raving about their fantastic day out at Watermouth Castle. This got me thinking about all the North Devon attractions that our guests with young children and toddlers have been telling us about during September.
Watermouth Castle near Berrynarbour on the North Devon coast (24 miles drive) IS a Victorian Castle full of Victorian curios and slot machines which are a bit bizarre and can be quite loud and a bit intimidating. But as our guests said, keep going and you’ll discover a fantastic theme park set in absolutely stunning gardens. Ella aged 1 absolutely loved Gnome Land where the Gnomes come to life going about their daily chores and 3 year old Cody made the most of the rides, especially as there was only one ride he was not quite tall enough to go on. What’s really good is the return ticket.
North Devon seems to attract Gnomes. In fact, 1000+ Gnomes and Pixies hang out in 4 acres of wild flower meadows and gardens at The Gnome Reserve in rural countryside near Bradworthy (8 miles drive). This is one of the regions’ quirkiest days out – it’s particularly recommended ‘For adults whose sophistication can have robbed them of a freshness of vision’!! Two of this week’s families have had a magical time fishing in the pond alongside the Gnomes! So take your sense of humour with you, be sure to wear the Gnome hat provided free to every visitor and come home with some wonderful family pictures. (Just across the road from The Gnome Reserve is the fabulous West Art Gallery showcasing North Devon arts and crafts and well worth a grown up browse).
Devon has a strong agricultural heritage which is evident when visiting The Big Sheep (ONLY 3 miles drive from Robin Hill Farm and much loved by our guests!). As you’d expect there are plenty of sheep to see – Lambs to pet; a Sheep Dog trial; Sheep Shearing; Sheep Breeds Show; and to end the day a Sheep Race (you bet on the woollen jockey’s strapped to the back of each sheep!). In between times ride in the Piggy Pull Along, bounce on the junior ‘Jumping Pillows’, ride round the lake on Ewston Train or take the tractor and trailer Farm Safari. The Vintage Pony Carousel is strictly for juniors but there are plenty of other activities for older brothers and sisters. Penny (4) and her brother Reuben (2) had ‘so much fun’ at The Big Sheep this week. The Big Sheep lay on a schedule of special events throughout the year and open for weekends in Winter months. Look out for our spring time toddler promotion with The Big Sheep or Pre-book for cheaper entry and make the most of reduced Winter rates.
For a traditional farm experience, head 12 miles inland to Blackberry Farm, nr Holsworthy where Lizzy takes you on a tour to meet the animals. Last week, Noah’s Grandparents and Mum took him to Blackberry Farm which they all loved and highly recommended. Noah (aged 2) had a great time with the animals while the grown-ups appreciated the homemade food in the Tea room and award winning Farm Shop.
Continuing on the animal theme, Exmoor Zoo (23 miles drive) hits the spot. It is small, friendly and contact orientated so you can handle animals and watch & learn during feeding times. Nicky and Damien took baby Finn this week and were pleasantly surprised at the collection of unusual creatures – one of my favourites is the Red River Hog. Like most modern zoos, Exmoor is heavily engaged in conservation programmes and is a Visit Devon’s Visitor Attraction Gold Award winner.
Of course, North Devon’s best attraction is the wonderful range of beaches and small coves around the rugged coastline. This morning, Penny (4) said the best think she’d done this week was go to the beach and build BIG sandcastles! September is a great time to get onto the beach – the sea is still warm and the days long enough for playing in the sand. Our nearest beach is the Blue Flag (for cleanliness) beach at Westward Ho! – just 4 miles drive away and a vast expanse of sand which gently slopes into the water. And if you can’t get onto the beach with your water-babies we’ve got a lovely warm indoor swimming pool at Robin Hill Farm Cottages which is always a big hit with our junior guests!