In this article, our editor Kiri Nowak shares details of her recent trip away in Devon…
Well, what a year it has been.
Just as lockdown 2.0 ended, we grabbed the chance to escape on a much-needed getaway. I say getaway, I mean staycation in Devon. Thankfully, due to our tier allocation, and after confirming with our accommodation, we were able to go.
After everything that’s happened and feeling stuck in our own home without the prospect of going anywhere or doing anything for a VERY long time, I certainly appreciated being able to venture to lands unknown. It meant so much to our family to be able to get some quality time together and try to forget about the events of this year.
I found a place to stay by searching for dog-friendly properties with a pool across the whole of the UK. This may have been a bit of a stretch, but I managed to find somewhere.
The reason we wanted a pool was because our one-year-old daughter hasn’t been able to go swimming yet because of Covid, and it was high time she got the chance to. Plus, the hubby and I fancied a bit of luxury too. Nethway Farm, the place where we stayed, had so many things to do on-site, we mainly just relaxed and enjoy the facilities without needing to venture out much.
I’m almost reluctant to share this little gem with you all, because I want to keep it our little secret! However, it’s too good not to share, so let me tell you all about our stay.
Dog-friendly cottages with a pool in Devon
Nethway Farm is located near Kingswear, Dartmouth. Before I start on a long and detailed account of our stay, let me kick things off by pointing out some very compelling reasons to book a stay here.
- It has an indoor pool that is not only heated but feels close to a slightly warm bath.
- It’s on a farm with ducks, hens, goats, sheep, ponies and a legendary pig called Magnum.
- There’s a soft playroom for under 5’s, a play area outside for older kids, and a games room for big kids (a.k.a. adults).
- The farm is on 38 acres of picturesque Devonshireland which you can walk around, including a lake.
- It’s very close to the local fishing town of Brixham, which has lovely local shops and fantastic foodie options! You can also get the ferry to Dartmouth.
You can choose from five cottages dotted around the farm. There’s a mix of family and dog-friendly places that sleep four to seven people. When you walk up to the building, they look like old farmhouses. It’s certainly a cosy place to turn up to in the midst of winter. The cottages were converted from old farm buildings, and they’ve definitely retained their character and charm. They used to be part of grade 2 listed Nethway House. Apparently, William of Orange stayed there once.
We ended up picking ‘Meadowsweet Cottage’ to stay in. The main reason being we wanted a corner sofa. I definitely feel like crashing out on a large corner sofa is a must on family holidays. There’s nothing more annoying than staying in a place where you can’t all fit on the sofa comfortably. Meadowsweet is also very child friendly, with stair gates, a cot, a high chair and the lounge is pretty safe for littluns. Though there is a lovely open fireplace – a fireguard is provided under the stairs.
When we walked inside it instantly felt homely, and we liked the open plan feel of the lounge and kitchen. Although it was difficult trying to stop our one-year-old from opening all the kitchen cupboards all the time! There’s a large bathroom with a sizeable bath (another must) and three bedrooms. The master bedroom is huge and the downstairs bedroom was lovely too.
I can’t say there was anything that the cottage didn’t have that we needed. The kitchen came fully equipped and we were even welcomed with local fudge, milk and eggs from the farm. I always think it’s these little things that make the difference between an average place to stay and an exceptional one. I just love it when you turn up and there are some treats awaiting you. After a long 4.5 hour journey, milk in the fridge and fresh eggs for the morning is very much appreciated.
Staying on a farm
It was certainly a unique experience to stay on a farm. You really get to know the animals and you can get close to them. There’s feed for the birds for visitors to give to the ducks and hens. When you’re walking around trying to see the other animals, the hens sort of follow you around wherever you go, hoping for more food! Our little girl loved watching them run and around, and we were even allowed to go inside the field with them.
The owners encourage guests to save leftover vegetables to feed the goats and the extremely large and old pig, Magnum. Now he’s quite a character. I’m sure many people come and stay at Nethway Farm just for him, and I wouldn’t blame them! He’s super friendly and rather funny looking, but completely charming. We very much enjoyed giving him leftover veg every morning.
There are some lovely walks around the farm you can go on. Get some fresh air amongst the rolling hills and enjoy being surrounded by nothing but countryside. I think you can also go on tractor rides with the littluns, although this was understandably not happening due to Covid. But we did meet the farmer as he was about to go out and do his rounds on his big green tractor. Oh, and thanks to their shed full of little car toys for kids, our girl got to ride around on her very own kids tractor.
The owners were brilliant. They greeted us at 9.30 pm at night to welcome us (socially distanced of course). They bumped into us several times and were always on hand if we needed anything. We even borrowed a snowsuit for our daughter which they kindly lent us for the duration of our trip. We felt extremely well looked after the entire time.
The phone signal isn’t great at the farm, in fact, neither of us had any and we had to rely on the Wifi. However, isn’t that the perfect reason to properly switch off from the world? I don’t know about you, but I always feel using your phone too much whilst on holiday sort of ruins the vibe, and it prevents you from relaxing properly.
We definitely ended up with a soft spot for Brixham. Whenever we go on holiday, we spend most of our time (and money) on enjoying good food. Due to Covid, we weren’t able to eat out like we usually do (or we chose not to), thankfully there were lots of excellent takeaway options. We were also delighted to find a cafe that did an AMAZING brunch (The Curious Kitchen), probably the best we’ve ever had. Brisket eggs benedict anyone? Oh, and they do epic doughnuts which are absolutely to die for. We also tried their turkey club sandwich with cranberry sauce and gravy and what can I say, wow!
The images below are from their Facebook page (permission given).
There are a couple of decent coffee shops which passed the ‘mocha test’, including Port Espresso. We also got takeaway food from Rockfish and a local pub in nearby Kingswear that did delicious pizza and chicken wings.
It was our third wedding anniversary during our stay, and we ended up (after a HUGE lunch from The Curious Kitchen) having some light bites from a cheese and wine shop. You can order tapas bits such as cured meat, cheese, olives and snacks to be delivered. Oh and tons of wine of course. We treated ourselves to a bottle of sparkling rose wine that the owner recommended which was excellent – and it certainly was.
There’s a nice selection of local shops including home shops, clothes shops and gift shops (we picked up some lovely local jam from Brixham Maid.
Now usually when we go on holiday we spend most of our time out walking amongst beautiful scenery. But with a one-year-old, this just wasn’t possible. One of our walks ended in me carrying a screaming (nearly) toddler for a mile until we got back to the car! However, we did manage two nice walks during our trip. And if you don’t feel like going off the grounds, you can simply walk around some of the fields that make up the farmland.
One was to Scabbacombe Sands, a gorgeous little beach which isn’t exactly easy to reach. You have to walk up and down a few steep hills to get there, but it’s well worth the effort to set foot upon an untouched beach with no one around. It’s sandy, there are little coves you can walk into and the sea is a vibrant aquamarine colour. This is literally just around the corner from Nethway Farm.
The other walk you can do which is only a few minutes further away from the farm is from Brownstone Car Park. As I mentioned above, this was the walk where our daughter threw a bit of a tantrum so we didn’t manage to get that far. We did however walk past the Daymark, a large eyecatching navigational structure. It was built in 1864 and it’s 80 feet high. We made it along the coastal walk for a little while, passing the coastguard station and got just far enough to see a tiny pretty beach below. I think if we continued walking further we would have eventually ended up in Kingswear.
You can obviously travel further afield for a larger variety of walks, but it’s handy having these two scenic routes on your doorstep.
In terms of facilities, this has got to be one of the best places we’ve stayed in the UK. It’s hard to find dog-friendly accommodation that has special qualities because it definitely limits your choice. I doubt you’ll find many quality places to stay that have a heated pool, games room, soft playroom, outdoor play area and access to farm animals that you can interact with. This holiday has given us some unforgettable memories that we will cherish for years to come. From our little girl launching herself off the side of the pool to running round in a field with chickens and feeding pigs and goats. Thank you Nethway Farm for having us to stay. We will be back!
So if you’re looking for a UK getaway with a difference, I’d highly recommend staying here. But also maybe don’t, because I don’t want it to get booked up!!! Let’s keep it our little secret shall we???