Farm-stays: There's more lying in than mucking out

The farm-stay experience now comes with a host of extras, from comfortable beds and home-cooked meals to spa treatments and champagne

What's the attraction?

A farm stay is now as likely to involve homemade ready-meals and hot tubs as it is hands-on farm activities. Increasing numbers of smallholdings and bigger agricultural operations are offering the chance to stay the night and experience life on the farm, either by getting stuck in or just renting a room. Farm Stay UK (, a collection of over 1,200 farm-based accommodation providers, is a good place to start. Members include Wheatacre Hall Barns (01502 677208;, self-catering cottages in south Norfolk that share a games room, gym and 1,100 acres of farmland. Rates start at £400 per week, or £300 for a short break.


Field to fork

You don't have to worry about food miles at Habton House Farm in North Yorkshire (01653 669707;, where breakfasts include sausages from the farm's own rare-breed pigs. Double rooms start at £170, B&B.

Or head to Sherbourne Lodge Cottages, in Suffolk (01787 210885; This year, guests renting a cottage on this working crop and livestock farm can book their children in for a session to learn about foods grown on the farm. Cottage rental starts from £300 per week.


Who said that?

"Farming looks mighty easy when your plough is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field." – Dwight D Eisenhower

"If a farmer fills his barn with grain, he gets mice. If he leaves it empty, he gets actors." – Sir Walter Scott, Scottish novelist, playwright and poet

"I saw something nasty in the woodshed." – from Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons


Added indulgence

At Llwyndyrus Farm (01766 810859; in North Wales, a working beef and sheep farm, guests staying in one of five luxurious cottages can also book a slot in the hot tub or treat themselves to a spa treatment. Rental starts at £295 per week; treatments from £24. Meanwhile, Caradoc of Tregardock (01840 213300; in Cornwall, is home to two self-catering properties and three camping pods (cottage rental starts at £495 per week for four, camping pods from £35 per night for two). The farm also hosts yoga retreats and painting holidays, costing from £250 per person for three nights.


Into the wild

If you want the farm-stay experience with a free-range edge, Brick House Farm (01233 850221; near Tenterden in Kent offers gypsy caravans, a timber fishing shack and a showman's wagon for hire. For romance, book the fishing shack, complete with wood-burning stove and rowing boat; the cost is £70 per night for two. The owners can also provide picnic hampers (from £12), sell home-grown provisions for a campfire supper or deliver a three-course meal (from £30) to eat on the deck. Farm animals include rare-breed pigs, sheep, lambs, hens, chickens and cob horses.


Family friendly farm stays

Featherdown Farms (01420 80804; manages luxury safari-style stays at 28 farms in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. At Hollings Hill Farm in Herefordshire, guests can pay extra for a "Retreat with Treats" and have their beds made and candles lit when they arrive. Rates start at £415 for four nights, standard rates from £265. Mill Farm Glamping (01380 828351; in Wiltshire, has recently left the Featherdown fold to go it alone. Rates for its six-man tents start at £350 for a three-night stay and activities for children include donkey rides and cycling.

At Cronkshaw Farm Fold (01706 218614; in Lancashire, the emphasis is on the surrounding sheep farm. Guests at the site's self-catering cottage can join the farmer on his morning rounds, feed the hens, collect eggs and more. The cottage sleeps six and costs £380 per week. The Old Barn (01872 864599; is a self-catering cottage on a small farm in Cornwall sleeping four. Guests can help as much or as little as they like with collecting eggs, looking after ponies, feeding pigs and helping out with lambing. Rates start from £650 per week.

In Scotland, children staying in cottages at Galloway House Estate, a dairy and cattle farm, can take advantage of a games room and the beach. Rentals from £380 per week (01988 600694;


Get stuck in

Muck in planting vegetables, feeding animals or mending fences on a farm and you'll be rewarded with a bed for the night and plenty of food to keep your energy levels up. Two sources of information for volunteer placements are World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms ( and Help Exchange (, but there are plenty of independent projects that also take volunteers. The Magdalen Project (01460 30144;, in Somerset, for example, runs a well-established volunteer programme on its organic farm. Help dig up marrows and you'll get meals and a bed.


A honeymoon hideaway

Bluebells at The Dandelion Hideaway (01455 292888; is a luxury tent for two at Osbaston House Farm in Leicestershire. A roll-top bath, "proper" loo, sleigh bed, rocking chair-bedecked veranda and gramophone help set a romantic tone and a tandem bicycle is provided for pedalling à deux around the countryside. All guests are given sparkling wine and breakfast supplies but honeymooners also get a supper and champagne thrown in. The farm raises goats, hens and cultivates wheat and maize – farmer John will take guests on tours. Rates start at £348 per couple for three nights.


Insider information

"Most farm hosts are delighted to tell you about the goings-on on the farm. Even if their website doesn't specifically offer one, most will happily give you a tour, let children collect eggs or watch milking. This all helps to create a bond with the countryside and the link between food and farming." Sue Prince, Beechenhill Farm B&B (01335 310274;

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Suggested Topics
Polly Borgen at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2012
peopleThe Emmy award-winner starred in Cape Fear, the Sopranos and Desperate House Wives
people'I hated him during those times'
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning: The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier leaguePlus all the build-up to Man City vs Chelsea and Everton vs Palace
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam