Gilcombe

UK England South West England Somerset Shepton Mallet

  • Campfires allowed
  • Dogs welcome
  • Groups welcome
This beautiful 300-acre organic farm is home to several summer festivals

Anyone who has ever read Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie books has probably dreamed of staying somewhere just like Gilcombe. In many ways, this feels like wild camping: you're off-grid, you're surrounded by 30 acres of woodland and there's a herd of 100 Friesians hoofing about the place. But there's nothing basic about flushing toilets and double beds. Thanks to the enormously-popular Feather Down Farms franchise, you can enjoy your camping experience with the kind of touches you'd expect to find in a luxury cottage, such as a wood-burning stove and a large dining table which provides the perfect setting for gorging on home-cooked pizzas and sickly-sweet s'mores.

If you're a regular on the UK festival circuit, then you may already recognise the name 'Gilcombe'. This beautiful 300-acre organic farm is home to several summer festivals, including Sunrise (winner of the Guardian Ethical Travel Award in 2011) and Farmfestival. It's also a stone's throw from Glastonbury, and maintains the laid back, free-spirited vibe throughout the year.

Whether you're here for a festival, or here for some R&R, you can enjoy panoramic views straight from your tent. Look out across the rolling Somerset Hills towards King Alfred's Tower; an 18th-century folly at the north-western edge of the Stourhead Estate.

Adventurous kids will be in their element; there's 30 acres of woodlands to explore, and winding streams to paddle in. But some of the best experiences can be had right on site – this is a working organic dairy farm, so there are lots of furry, feathery and four-legged friends to meet. The cows are a big attraction – you'll be able to see them being milked at least once during your stay, and if you come between June and October then you may even witness a calf being born. Pottering about the site, you'll also find free-range geese, ducks and turkeys.

If you like your camping to be stripped back and rustic, then Feather Down Farms probably isn't for you. But if you want to feel a little spoilt, yet keep that wild sense of adventure, then you'd be hard pressed to find a more restorative retreat.

Details

Facilities

Each tent has a BBQ, chairs and outdoor heater for colder nights. Firewood can be collected from the woodland. Pizza nights using the wood-fired oven can be organised upon request. There's a well-stocked farm store doubles as a 24-hour honesty shop selling an array of local produce and basic provisions. All tents have their own campfire as well as a communal one to gather around.

Suitable For

Dogs – yes (max two per tent and must be kept on a lead at all times). Groups – yes, the owners can even arrange a hog roast and a bar/music if given enough notice.

Nearby

Sherbourne Castle (01935 812072) in Dorset is a beautiful 12th-century Historic House and is home to an outstanding collection of art and furniture.

It's less than one hour to Weymouth, Weston and the breathtaking Jurassic Coast; a 95-mile long stretch of coastline running from east Devon to Dorset that became England's first Natural World Heritage Site.

For more exotic creatures, Longleat Safari Park (01985 844400) is just 20 minutes away, and you can get up close to lions, rhinos and penguins. Don't expect to leave with your windscreen wipers in tact.

Cheddar Gorge and Wooky Hole Caves (01749 672243) are two of Somerset's most popular attractions and are both within easy reach of the campsite.

Food & Drink

You can pick up lots of great produce from the on-site honesty shop. Their meat here is so good that several local pubs serve it to droves of satisfied customers. Two of the best pubs in the village are The Sun Inn (01749 813493) and The Castle Inn, which has a log-burning stove and a diverse live music schedule. Matt's Kitchen, also in the village, serves delicious 'no nonsense' homely food and has a relaxed BYO policy.

Open

Easter-end October.

Location

Gilcombe, Gilcombe Farm, Bruton, Somerset BA10 0QE

Show Map

Getting There

From the M25:
Exit the M3 at Junction 12. Follow the signs for M3 (South West/Southampton) and continue on the M3 until junction 8. Turn onto the A303 (South West). After around 1 hour, exit off
the dual carriageway and follow the signs for Bruton. At the end of this road turn left, then turn right just after the Hunters Lodge Pub. At the end of this road turn right and follow the road all the way into Bruton. Follow the one way system, past the church. At the end of the road, turn right. Continue round the one way system and up the high street. When the road forks, bear left and follow the road up the hill (signposted Frome). Follow this road to the top of the hill. The farm is on the right.

From Bristol/M5:
Exit the M5 at junction 15 for the M4 eastbound. Exit the M4 at junction 19 for the M32. Follow the M32 into Bristol which changes to the A4032 and then the A4044. Follow the signs for Bristol station. Once past the station, follow the signs for Shepton Mallet on the A5/A37. Pass through Shepton Mallet exit at the round about A371 (signposted Castle Cary/ Bath). Turn left at the signpost for Evercreech and Burton, and follow the road until you get into Bruton. When you get to the end of the road turn left and follow the road up the hill out of Bruton. The farm is at the top of the hill on the right-hand side.

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