A few months ago we were fortunate enough to be able to grab a last minute break at one of my favourite holiday destinations in the UK; Coombe Mill. The family run and family friendly farm holiday is nestled in a valley near Bodmin, deep in the heart of the beautiful Cornish countryside. Standing on the verandah of one of the Scandinavian lodges, listening to the fledgling River Camel slowly babbling it's way through the woodland while the donkeys bray gently in the dusk light, is my happy place.
Seeing my son flourish and thrive, developing confidence and being happy in his surroundings, is my happy place.
Coombe Mill has a range of accommodation available, catering for different tastes and budgets. We've been three times now and every time have stayed in one of the newer Scandinavian lodges, however there are also stone cottages and 1960s style wooden chalets flanking the river's edge.
The 'Riverside Lodges' are the cheapest of the three styles and this reflects the size and quality of the accommodation, they are clearly marked as budget on the website. However as a base to sleep and eat, then enjoy all the wonders of the farm, and indeed further afield in Cornwall, then they work perfectly well. Pricewise the stone cottages are on a par with the Scandinavian lodges, it's very much down to personal taste which you opt for. I always go for the Scandinavian lodges because I like the layout, the light, the space, the open-plan living, the location on the farm, and the smell of them.
And inside these lodges there is everything you could possible need in a holiday cottage; a generous but not obtrusive kitchen, a large living area, comfortable sofas, a woodburner fire, large bedrooms with comfortable beds and plenty of storage, amazing showers and clean bathrooms, the list goes on. For me, there are added bonuses which make the properties stand out above other places. The smaller Scandinavian lodges have a play den equipped with a range of toys in the loft space and stairgates. In the kitchen there is a dishwasher (who wants to deal with dirty dishes), and a washing machine and separate tumble dryer; this means I take home no dirty clothes! How wonderful is that to not have to deal with the dreaded washing aspect after a week away?
For our recent February break we stayed in Heligan, one of the larger lodges, as we were going on holiday with my brother and his family. Situated to the far end of the Coombe Mill property, there is a large open space in front for the children to play on, and a large and fenced-in play park to the side of the property (with a zipwire).
Heligan is a two-storey and four-bedroomed lodge which has an extremely large master bedroom with a king-size bed and en-suite shower room on the first floor, two twin bedrooms and a single bedroom at the rear of the ground floor, along with the family bathroom. There is a very large open plan living room, dining area (for 8 people) and kitchen at the front. The double doors at the entrance lead onto a very large and enclosed verandah with a large picnic bench.
Extras can be hired out (some are free of charge) and include cots, bed-guards, black-out blinds, high-chairs or booster seats. The owner really has thought of everything a family would need to make their holiday easier, including stair-gates at the top and bottom of the stairs.
The accommodation is wonderful in itself, let alone the facilities offered on the farm. There are two play-park areas (one with a zipwire as mentioned, medium wooden fortress and slide, the other is a pirate ship), an indoor soft-play barn, a ride-along car selection with a road system (enclosed), a gym for adults, and various barbeque stations including an indoor barbeque hut. There is also a daily train ride around the main lawn.
However, the biggest draw has to be the daily feed-run! Every morning (from Sunday – Friday) the guests gather in the car park and the children board the trailer pulled by a tractor. Farmer Nick enlists the help of the children in turn to drive the tractor through the woods, the ford and the mud to the animals, where everyone disembarks and feeds the chickens, Indian runner ducks, wallabies, pigs, goats, sheep, donkeys, horses and deer. The deer field is one of the most magnificent sights I've ever seen.
Coombe Mill is a family farm holiday, that means both for families and run by a family. The Coombe Mill family are incredibly welcoming and helpful, the children are an asset to the way that the farm runs and are always welcoming to new play mates.
There is a reason why we have stayed at Coombe Mill three times and have a fourth trip booked in August; it is one of the most magical places we've ever been to.
Tips for staying at Coombe Mill
- Towels will need to be taken.
- Electricity is on a meter-system which takes £1 coins.
- The log-burner can be hired out for a week's use and is a complete bonus! We would light it late afternoon for a few hours, and it was enough to heat the entire lodge for the evening and night, we didn't use the heaters in each room.
- Take wellies, no matter what time of year you go. If it rains then obviously the farmland where the animals live gets muddy, not to mention the pigsty is a bit squelchy at the best of times.
- Take beach/surfy shoes which can get wet so that you can wade in the river (if it's an appropriate depth!). There's a tiny little island in the middle of the river which is fun to explore.
- Go on a nightwalk around the farm. Take a torch to cross the ford, and then turn it off and use the amazing and unpolluted starlight to guide you. Listen to the animals, smell the air, breathe in and then exhale all of your stresses.
- Embrace the 'Swallows and Amazons' or 'Famous Five' aspect to Coombe Mill and just enjoy your family and life.
- Asda and Tesco both deliver groceries to the site; I highly recommend booking a slot for late Saturday afternoon and relaxing in the knowledge that you don't need to spend an hour of your life in the supermarket while on holiday!
- Treat yourself to a fish and chip supper from Peckish in nearby Camelford on the first night, the onion rings are to die for!