New Barn Farm Feather Down Farms
It's less than 30 minutes from the M1, but New Barn Farm is a world away from the hustle and bustle of the capital. Set just outside of Carlton, among the rolling pastures of the Ouse Valley, New Barn Farm feels surprisingly remote. To the North lie the vales of Northamptonshire and to the south lies the Greensand Ridge, a distinctive sandstone escarpment that runs in a horseshoe shape around Surrey, Sussex and Kent.
The eight tents are scattered along the margins of Blackwell Spinney, in a secluded valley just down from the farmstead and more than a mile away from the nearest stretch of tarmac. Since no cars are allowed on site, the kids are free to roll around in the field, make dens in the woods, play on the Tarzan swings and make the most of being young and carefree.
If you're unfamiliar with Feather Down Farms experience, imagine rustic glamour, with a homely twist. There is more than a nod to the self-sufficiencies of camping, but with the luxury of some added creature comforts, such as wood-burning stoves, real beds, running water and a dining table fit for a banquet. These are extremely comfortable, spacious tents, which means they are suitable for longer holidays as well as short breaks.
One of the main draws of Feather Down Farms is that kids can get stuck in to farm life. There are ponies to groom, sheep to pet, goats to herd, lambs to feed and chickens to gather. At night, you're likely to hear badgers snuffling around the trees, a variety of owls hunting in the fields, woodpeckers rattling the trees and small stocky Muntjac deer from your tent. Younger campers can even 'adopt' a guinea pig as part of their stay. With so much to explore, there's one thing for certain – kids will leave with plenty more friends than they arrived with, and not just those on two legs.
Owners Will and Hannah are truly passionate about the business of farming; in his spare time, Will advises other farmers. So if you're feeling inquisitive and want to learn more about the food and farming industry, Will can provide some valuable insights and is happy to share his knowledge of farming.
As well as being a lover of all things furry, Hannah is a secret foodie, so look out for her delicious home-made dishes in the honesty shop – we'd recommend the lasagne. On Saturday nights, she'll fire up the wood-burning oven so hungry campers can cook their own pizzas. Don't expect to leave with anything less than a new perspective on farm life, and a satisfyingly full stomach.
Eight safari tents onsite. Each tent has three rooms and can sleep up to six: there's a double bed, two bunk beds a living/dining space and a kitchen. Outside, there's a picnic table and a fire pit. A small supply of wood is included in the welcome pack (additional wood £5 per box). Each tent has a flushing toilet and there are clean showers in a separate block.
Dogs – No. Big groups, single-sex groups – By arrangement only, please call 01420 80804 to discuss your requirements.
Learn more about farm life and see cows being milked with a trip to a local dairy farm (Hannah will happily arrange this for you.)
The gentle undulations of the Ouse Valley provide extensive opportunities for walking and cycling and you can start both right outside your tent. (Bikes are available to hire from the honesty shop.) The bustling market town of Olney is nearby, with its medley of independent shops and boutiques.
Food & Drink
A great selection of local produce and home-cooked meals can be bought from the onsite honesty shop. For any extras, head to the Crossways Vegetable Stall or the Hill Farm Shop (01234 781405), both in nearby Sharnbrook. While here, stop off for a delicious slice of victoria sponge at The Cake Shop (01234 781021). Meanwhile, back in Carlton, The Fox (01234 720235) is a pretty thatched village pub that is popular with locals.
New Barn Farm, New Barn Farm, Carlton, Bedfordshire MK43 7LX
From the M1 northbound:
Leave at junction 14 and take A509 towards Newport Pagnell. Follow the signs for Olney A509, once you pass through Olney, turn right at a roundabout on the B565. Continue until the A428, then turn right towards Bedford. After 1 mile, take the first left after the Three Cranes pub, then left again past the shop. Follow this road to Carlton. The farm is opposite the playing field and bus stop, on the right-hand side. The farm is one mile up the hill.
From the M1 southbound:
Leave at junction 15, turning left onto the A45. Follow for 2 miles until you reach the turn off for the A428, Bedford. Once you reach Turvey, follow the directions above.
Leave Bedford on the A428 to Northampton. At Turvey, take the first right to Carlton, then follow directions above.
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