Middle Ruckham Farm
If you’re looking to get back to nature then nowhere better represents England’s “green and pleasant land” than the quaint smallholdings of rural Devon. Where broadleaf woodland merges into the long grass of wildflower meadows, one farmstead in particular can lay claim to a truly idyllic location and, with just 48 acres to tend, the petite eco-farm at Middle Ruckham is a wonderfully hidden gem. Secluded but not remote, relaxed but not unkempt, timeless but not out-dated – Middle Ruckham Farm is camping as it should be and, indeed, camping as you choose it.
Through the gates to a pleasant grassy field, guests arrive to no designated pitches so its up to you to find that perfect space. Follow your ears to the trickle of water and pop a tent beside the stream, flowing quietly through the farm, ultimately bound for the River Dart. Or nestle against the trees that skirt the main wildflower meadow. Sociable campers will find plenty of room to pitch a group of tents or you can hire a furnished yurt or bell tent. Ablutions here fit the eco-friendly bill, with natural composting loos and a charming rustic wood-fired bathtub.
And when it comes to cooking there’s plenty of produce on hand. Middle Ruckham is still very much a working farm and uses traditional practices to grow their fresh organic goods. Fruit and vegetables come straight from the garden, where friendly owner Rosie has plenty of surplus for hungry campers and local markets alike, while herbs and wildflowers cultivated in the fields are used to create natural oils and remedies. Not only are these for healthy homo-sapiens, but Middle Ruckham is also renowned for its equine treatments and their zoopharmacognosy sessions (try saying that after a few organic ales) make the campsite an ideal getaway for travellers on horseback looking for a place where every species can relax.
While the horse is put out to graze, head back along the deep lanes and high hedgerows towards Tiverton, five miles away. With no fewer than 11 churches, one of which is considered the finest in the county (St. George's), there is certainly an air of history to the place and the sandstone castle in the north boasts origins that trace to 1106. Further south the picturesque village of Bickleigh makes an attractive stop en route to Exeter, a historic city that retains plenty of medieval heritage despite its bombardment during the Second World War. Lovers of the outdoors will also be pleased to find both Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks less than 45 minutes away in the car.
Whether you return to the campsite on foot, horse or by car, its rural beauty will reinstall the sense of calm that accompanies any night in such a charming natural setting. A peaceful, natural and thoroughly laid-back place, with everything required for a back-to-nature getaway.
The yurt and bell tents have rugs and camping/sofa beds inside. Bring your own bedding and linen. If you're taking your own tent then chose anywhere from a secluded stream-side spot for small tents to an open space with room for up to 6 large tents. Compost toilets are provided along with a quirky wood-fueled bath, and campfire cooking is positively encouraged. Woodland for den building, streams to splash in, and wildflower meadows to run through, provide an idyllic countryside setting. Zoopharmacognosy and natural remedies provide therapy for animals and horses with emotional and behavioural imbalances, while massage treatments and yoga sessions are also available. See website for details.
Walk to the neighbouring village of Pennymoor with its traditional old pub (01363 866662) or follow paths in the opposite direction that offer great local walks along the Dart river valley. It's just over a ten minute drive to Tiverton with a central museum (01884 256295) on St Andrew Street and hilltop Tiverton Castle (01884 255200) in the north of the town. There are also 11 different churches dotted around the town, St George's (01884 252526) and St Peter's (01884 242991) church being perhaps the most notable. Bickleigh and Bickleigh Castle (01884 855 363) lie to the south, preceeding Killerton House (01392 881345) which is also en route to Exeter. Walkers and mountain bikers should make a beeline for Dartmoor (01626 832093) and Exmoor (01398 323841) National Parks with endless excellent trails and footpaths.
Food & Drink
Fruit and veg from the garden and orchard are always on hand, just ask Rosie, who also has bee-hives providing plenty of honey. A basic, old-style local pub, The Cruwys Arms (01363 866662), is within 15 minute walking distance across the fields.
May-September. Advance booking is essential.
The Owner Says
At Middle Ruckham Farm, visitors can experience a closeness to nature and an opportunity to get away from the bustle and stress of everyday life, unwinding in this idyllic setting. Nestled into the Mid Devon countryside, this is a place that time forgot, relatively untouched by modern farming practices. No big machinery, flight paths or large roads here! Peace and tranquility abound, as do starry skies and lots of wildlife. We feel very lucky to have been able to develop this beautiful place into a sustainable family holding using materials from the land, and love sharing it with people who appreciate natural surroundings. Great for kids too, with rope swings, trees to climb and streams to splash in whilst you relax in the sun soaked wildflower meadows. Help feed the chickens and collect the eggs or treat yourself to a jar of our own honey. Our garden and polytunnels have an abundance of organic produce from salad to strawberries, and we also have home produced charcoal available for your barbeque.
We have a beautiful Mongolian yurt with a wood burner as well as a couple of bell tents for hire. We know what it is like to camp with kids so take out the stress of packing by providing ready to use camping accommodation at a price affordable to families, Rather than being a canvas hotel, the camping experience at Middle Ruckham is very cosy and down to earth, and the facilities reflect the low impact nature of the place. Having said that, 4G is available in some parts of the farm for those that don't want to completely disconnect from the modern world!
Travelling to us by public transport is positively encouraged, and cyclists and horse riders are especially welcome, as are well behaved dogs. There are lovely walks around the farm and a small mountain bike track in the woods, although the farm is ideally situated if you should want to explore Devon further. We can escort you on some of the local horse trails or you could head up to Exmoor or the north Devon beaches for more of a run.
We have had some lovely visitors come to stay with us so far, and look forward to welcoming lots more!
A yurt and bell tents for rent, along with a choice of grassy camping spots for those bringing their own tent.
No availability showing at Middle Ruckham Farm.
Nearest station is Tiverton Parkway (0845 748 4950) about 12 miles (2 buses or £25-30 taxi) and the nearest bus stop is 1 mile from Middle Ruckham at Cruwys Morchard which is on route 155 between Exeter/Tiverton and Barnstaple.
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