East Shilvinghampton Farm Feather Down Farms

UK England

  • Dogs welcome
  • Groups welcome
A working farm with the opportunity to learn more about farm life

Situated halfway along a valley that stretches from Portesham to Upwey, East Shilvinghampton enjoys far-reaching views in either direction. Both sea and sun are within grasp as nearby Weymouth beach has one of the sunniest climates in the UK.

The farm has been in the Bartlett family for almost 70 years. Current owners, Martin and Joby, work in partnership with the their parents Tom and Sheila, running a beef suckler herd, raising dairy cattle for a neighbouring farmer and growing wheat, barley, maize and grass. It's a inclusive operation and the owners are keen to answer questions as guests take the opportunity to learn more about farm life.

To get your bearings, take Martin's farm tour and meet the animals, including: chickens; Labradors Tess and Ora; goats Trit and Trot; Pit, Pat and Paddle the ducks; and Pippin and Chase, the ponies. The Bartlett's non-intensive method of farming means that deer, hares, foxes, rabbits, buzzards and a wide assortment of birds can be spotted from the site. Check the hedgerows during autumn; there's an abundance of sloe berries which campers are free to pick and take home to make delicious sloe gin.

If you're planning to stay onsite, then tuck into Joby's famed home cooking. The farm larder is well stocked, with a tempting array of soups, cakes and desserts on offer, plus hearty ready meals made using beef and pork from the farm. Her puddings are a particular speciality – for a sumptuous after-dinner treat, try the meringue roulade. You can also pick up any extra goodies, most of which are sourced within a 20-mile radius, even beer, wine, coffee and tea.

The tents are arranged in the pasture close to the farmyard. Back up at the farmhouse, there are three homely guest rooms, in case any of your group aren't as keen to get stuck in to camping. Not that this is just any camping, of course. This is Feather Down Farms camping. So expect real wood-burning stoves in luxury safari tents, with separate bedrooms, a kitchen table, running water and a flushing toilet in each tent. Once you've fired up the stove, all that's left is to pop open a bottle of something cold, huddle around the campfire and spot the stars emerge as the sun goes down.

Details

Facilities

Suitable For

Dogs (on leads and booked in advance) – Yes. Big groups, single-sex groups – By arrangement only, please call 01420 80804 to discuss your requirements.

Nearby

The Jubilee Trail is close by – we'd recommend taking a circular route out along the South Dorset Ridgeway, which takes in the Hardy Monument and the Hell Stone burial chamber.

Weymouth is just 5 miles away and still has all the charm of an old-fashioned seaside resort. Its lovely crescent-shaped beach is great for kids and you can hop on a mackerel-fishing trip straight from the harbour. Weymouth is at the heart of the Jurassic Coast – the beaches along this stretch are great for fossil hunting, particularly those around Lyme Regis. You can easily get to Chesil Beach, a 17-mile stretch of coastline, renamed ‘Dead Man’s Cove’ by Thomas Hardy as so many ships were lost here.

The very pretty village of Abbotsbury is just four miles from the farm and boasts a 600-swan strong Swannery (01305 871858), where lucky visitors can see cygnets hatching during May and June. The village also has a fantastic Subtropical Gardens (01305 871387), and a children's farm (01305 871817) which has a soft play area.

The historic market town of Dorchester is another highlight and is home to numerous museums including the Dorset County Museum (01305 262735); Tutankhamen Exhibition (01305 269571); Dinosaur Museum (01305 269880) and the Keep Military Museum (01305 264066).

Food & Drink

The King's Arms (01305 871342) in the village of Portesham is a traditional boozer, with an expansive garden to the rear. For something a little more indulgent, satisfy your sweet tooth with a cream tea at Abbotsbury Tea Rooms (01305 871143), which has a beautiful garden behind the 16th-century thatched cottage.

The award-winning Hive Beach Cafe (01308 897070), in Burton Bradstock, serves up some of the best seafood in the area, and guests can enjoy spectacular views across Lyme bay.

Opening Times

Easter-end October.

The Owner Says

Location

East Shilvinghampton Farm, East Shilvinghampton Farm, Portesham Weymouth, Dorset DT3 4HN

Show Map

Getting There

From Dorchester A35 towards Bridport and Yeovil, at the first roundabout take first left towards Martinstown. At the T-junction, turn left towards Upway (B3159) for 4 miles, then turn right on to Friar Waddon Road. Continue for  2 miles, then bear left to Coryates for 1 mile. On a very sharp right bend, go straight up the lane through post and rail fencing. Follow the signs at the top of the lane to the car park.

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