Rob and Chantal Powell are on a mission to bring beautiful wild flower meadows back to the rolling Dorset countryside and their passion for conservation makes Hogchester Cottage the perfect bolthole for nature and wildlife lovers.
The couple bought the 60-acres of low input agricultural land in 2015 and are in the process of reseeding the meadows and doing their bit to conserve their woodlands, fields, ponds and streams. Rob and Chantal live in the farmhouse next door to Hogchester Cottage, with their two children, and the family happily provide tips for exploring their land, discovering the wildlife and finding the best spots for picnics. Even little ones can lead the way on nature trails with the Hogchester picture map and little adventurers can take a stream navigation challenge, with prizes for solving the clues. Children will have fun collecting eggs from the free range hens and are sure to squeal with delight at the comical pair of nosey guinea fowl, Hilary and Fenton, who come to say hello at the kitchen window. There are four friendly resident pygmy goats in the field opposite the cottage – Mrs Tumnus, Ella, Biscuit and Bumble. Children can interact with them and even take over the morning goat feeding duty if they wish. When the sun goes down, families can light up hurricane lanterns and head off on a twilight stroll to spot bats and owls, and for a special treat, the owners can arrange an early evening campfire, with sparklers, hot chocolate and marshmallows, or a stargazers night, where families can snuggle down by a campfire under blankets to gaze up at the Milky Way and watch for shooting stars (with a bottle of wine thrown in for parents).
Besides enjoying the Hogchester grounds, families can gaze over the countryside to the sea from an outside terrace and peaceful garden just across from the cottage. There is a private guests garden at the back of the cottage with a trampoline, BBQ, picnic table and chimnea. Children are also welcome to play on the tyre swing and rope ladder hung from “The Big Oak” or go exploring for the natural climbing frame created by a large fallen tree branch.
If the weather holds up the outdoor fun, families will be perfectly happy to haul up in the cosy cottage, curled up by the wood burner to watch children’s’ classic DVDs, or play with board games, jigsaws, wooden toys and educational toys for babies and toddlers. The cottage has a dual docking speaker/charger for all generations of iPhones, iPods and iPads, and there is free WiFi for streaming and staying in touch. An oil-fired AGA makes the country kitchen lovely and cosy and, while eating at the table, families can look out over fields to the sea. The cottage has two beautiful bedrooms, tucked under the eaves and both have space for a cot – with an eco-friendly birch cot and a travel cot available.
Hogchester Cottage is a traditional, red-brick cottage, adjacent to the owner’s farmhouse which dates back to the 17th century. The cottage is ideal for a family of 4 (plus 1 or 2 babies), having one double bedroom and one twin bedroom tucked under the eaves on the first floor. Both have space for a cot and the owners provide an eco-friendly birch cot and/or a travel cot. The cottage has a family shower room, with a heated towel rail, washbasin and WC, plus there’s a separate loo downstairs. The lounge is very cosy, with a comfy sofa, log burner and logs, TV and DVD player, iPod dock and bookshelves stacked with novels, maps, games, jigsaws and DVD’s. The country style dining kitchen is nice and toasty thanks to a traditional oil-fired Aga and there are lovely views, over the fields to the sea, from the farmhouse table. A wooden high chair, bottle steriliser, baby monitors, plastic crockery and cutlery are provided. The cottage has free WiFi. Babysitting can be arranged on request.
Hogchester boasts a prime location in the rolling countryside of the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and just 5 minutes’ drive to the pretty beaches of Charmouth. Immediately surrounding the cottage are 60 acres of fields, woodland, streams and ponds which the owners are passionate about conserving and especially restoring swathes of wildflower meadows.
Charmouth (1 mile) is an unspoilt village by the sea with beaches of sand, shingle and rocky pools that are perfect for families. The beach is divided into two by the River Char and a sand bar often forms a lagoon that’s great for toddlers to splash in the shallows and paddle around in dinghies. The East Beach has the most dry sand, as well as a grassy picnic area and beach cafe, while the West Beach is a mile-long stretch of the Jurassic Coast, with the promise of exciting finds for keen-eyed fossil hunters.
Just a couple of miles down the Jurassic Coast is the thriving seaside town of Lyme Regis (10 mins), with its historic harbour known as the Cobb and more great beaches for building sand castles, crabbing in rock pools and hunting for fossils. Quaint old streets wend their way around the seafront, crammed with interesting shops, sea-view inns and foodie temptations, from Dorset ice creams and fish and chips to the finest fresh-caught seafood at Mark Hix Oyster & Fish House. At the end of the Cobb in Lyme Regis, is a Marine Aquarium where children can have close encounters with the fishy locals by hand feeding mullet, holding a starfish and stroking a lobster. Dinosaurland Fossil Museum is home to some of the most amazing finds and a series of dino scenes and sets.
The historic market town of Axminster (5 miles) may be most famous for its carpets but more recently the celeb Chef, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstalls, has put it on the foodie trail by opening the River Cottage Canteen & Deli here. The original River Cottage HQ is also only 10 minutes’ drive from Hogchester but booking is a must for dinner or Sunday Lunch.
The weekly street market in Axminster takes place on Thursdays and families could also pay a visit to the quirky Axe Valley Wildlife Park to see Meerkats, Zebra, Lemurs and scramble around the outdoor play areas. Bridport (8 miles) has a street market on Wednesdays and Saturdays as well as a good variety of shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs.
Nearest medical services: Axminster Hospital, 8.4 miles.