Glamping doesn’t come more glam than the three amazing safari lodges at Middle Stone Farm in Somerset, plus two holiday cottages are brimming with cosy, contemporary charm.
Technically families will be sleeping under canvas in the 2/3-bedroom lodges but these are a world away from any tent, being fully furnished and featuring an insulated wooden floor, a wood-burning range cooker, partitioned bedrooms and an ensuite shower with a flushing loo. Add to this, electric lights and sockets for charging mobiles or iPads and even the most reluctant campers will be perfectly happy, especially watching sunsets over the rolling countryside from the lodge’s big decked veranda. For children, of course, the lodges are cool as cool can be, from the hidey-hole cabin bed that makes the perfect den, to spilling outside to play in the 3-acre field with a climbing tower and slide.
There might not be wild animals roaming around the safari lodges but there could be a free-ranging chicken or two from the 100-strong flock and little ones will also love meeting other animals including alpacas, rare breed sheep and pigs, Welsh ponies, geese, a dog and a tortoise! Owners of the farm, Patrick and Catherine, moved here to realise their dream of living a sustainable lifestyle and are passionate about growing and rearing their own food, some of which is available at their new onsite farm shop, along with other local, artisan produce.
Besides the safari lodges, the couple have converted a stable into a lovely 2-bedroom cottage and created a 2-bedroom Deckhouse cabin, which both have airy, open-plan living areas with high beamed-ceilings and wood-burning stoves. The Cottage and the Cabin have been furnished and finished to the highest standards, with all mod cons and cosy home comforts, and boxes of toys are provided for children, along with practical baby and toddler essentials.
Middle Stone Farm comprises three large, ‘glamping’ Safari Lodges (6+ baby), The Cottage (4+baby) and The Deckhouse (4+baby).
The Deckhouse is a boutique, 2-bedroom holiday cabin, with whitewashed timber walls inside and out, in the style of a cool beach house. From the gingham tablecloth to patchwork bedspreads, there’s a vintage twist to the decor and various eclectic finds add to the homely charm. High, beamed ceilings make the open plan living area feel spacious and airy while a large wood burning stove keeps the whole place nice and cosy. In one corner of the living area is a two-seater sofa, flatscreen TV and DVD player, while the other half of the room comprises a central dining table and fitted kitchen. The Deckhouse is all one level and has a bedroom at either end, plus a shower room/wc. One bedroom has a king-size bed and space for a travel cot, which can be provided. The second has funky bespoke bunk beds which are only 80cm wide so best suited to children. The Deckhouse opens onto a south facing, American style ‘porch’ with lovely views over the surrounding farmland, to watch the animals grazing in the fields and geese paddling around a little pond.
Middle Stone Farm is at the end of a private lane, approximately 1 mile from the little village of Brompton Ralph in West Somerset. The farm is set in 32 acres of farmland and surrounded by rolling countryside, just a few miles from Exmoor National Park.
The onsite farm shop stocks everything families need for breakfast, as well as local meat, cheese, artisan produce and wine. There is also a small village shop in Brompton Ralph and, for other essentials, there’s a Co-Op in the small market town of Wiveliscombe (4 miles). Locally known as ‘Wivey’, the town also has a good butchers and The Wivey Larder, the family friendly Bear Inn with a play area in the beer garden, and even the heated outdoor, ‘Wivey Pool’. To take the hassle out of shopping, the owners will happily take delivery of online orders from Tesco, Ocado or Cook.
Exmoor National Park is 267 square miles of stunning landscapes for families to explore, from ancient woodlands and wild moors to rugged cliffs that plunge into the sea along its Heritage Coastline. Dunster Castle makes a lovely day out and families can even book a picnic to be ready for collection on arrival. The Exmoor coast includes the pretty little harbour hamlet of Porlock Weir and the historic Linton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway that links the two popular seaside towns. At the far side of Exmoor National Park, other top family attractions include Exmoor Zoo, the award-winning Big Sheep activity park and Crealy Adventure Park (45mins).
Besides enjoying the Somerset countryside and Exmoor National Park, families can have days at the beach at Blue Anchor Bay only 25 minutes drive from Middlestone Farm (13 miles). The Bay is a long sweep of sand and shingle beach, which is great for peering in rockpools at low tide and finding fossils that have crumbled to the shores from alabaster cliffs. After all that sea air, it’s time for ice cream or fish and chips from the Driftwood Cafe.
Nearest medical services: GP 3 miles. A&E Taunton (11 miles)