EXMOOR COTTAGE HOLIDAYS
The delightful grounds are what first attracted us to Exmoor Cottage Holidays. We were enchanted by the atmosphere here and knew that it was the kind of place where we would like to stay for our UK holidays.
The three acre grounds lie in a sheltered valley within the Exmoor National Park and are a haven for wildlife and wild flowers. The grounds are varied and interesting to explore, with several small wildflower meadows enclosed by mature trees; a charming wildlife pond with a small island; a Delve, where stone was quarried for the Farmhouse years ago and a lovely circular walk up and around Humphrey's Hill, a children’s play area and excellent views of the surrounding countryside.
The hillside has banks of ferns, primroses, daffodils, cyclamen, snowdrops and azaleas, and there are lots of trees in the grounds, including beech, oak, sycamore, chestnut, rowan, whitebeam, pine, fir, birch, hawthorn, etc., which add interest to the grounds all year round. There are several fruit trees (plum, apple & sweet chestnut) and bushes (gooseberry, raspberry and blackberry) which you are welcome to sample when they are in season. You may also help yourself to the mint, bay, fennel and asparagus that grows in some of the cottage gardens (not everything on site is edible, please ask if unsure). There are several picnic tables and benches throughout the grounds, ideal for alfresco dining, taking in the views, watching the wildlife and overlooking the pond.
A bird feeder is provided for each cottage (filled daily) and there are some tame ducks on the pond - meet Colin the aylesbury and the very funny kharki campells – a noisy gaggle of ‘girls’ who look really comical running towards you for food, and lay delicious eggs in the summer which you are welcome to try.
We are lucky to have very little light pollution at night and Exmoor was designated as the first International Dark Skies Reserve in Europe. There is no street lighting in Challacombe and you can setup your telescope right outside your cottage, or even better, at the top of Humphrey’s Hill, which is a great place for star-gazing.
We welcome children and encourage them (at parental discretion) to explore Humphrey's Hill and the Delve, build dens and play hide and seek in the long grass. Children will be especially thrilled by new play equipment installed in 2014, which includes two linked towers, a slide and swing, a picnic table, a climbing wall, climbing ropes, a periscope and a fireman’s pole. The play equipment is daily inspected for safety, and is overlooked by a bench with a sheltered arbour ideal for grown-ups. Children also like to explore around the pond, where they can find dragonflies, newts, frogs and sometimes a lizard or slow worm.
There is lots of wildlife on site, which we encourage. We regularly see rabbits, squirrels, and many wild birds including pheasants, swallows, cuckoos, robins, blackbirds, blue tits, chaffinches, song thrushes, doves and particularly sparrows, which live in the many nesting boxes in the courtyard. Sometimes you see a woodpecker, and birds of prey overhead (we have seen buzzard, peregrine falcon, red kite, and sparrow hawk), and mallards and moorhens have visited the pond to nest. The grounds are a haven for butterflies and we have seen tortoiseshell, red admiral, painted lady, peacock, coma and fritillary butterflies on the buddleias. We occasionally have even more exotic visitors and have seen a stoat, deer, and hedgehogs (once we found five in our compost heap).