Hidden away in the rolling hills of North Devon, Upcott Farm is the escape-to-the-country dream come true of Ben and Sarah Lambert and their two children. The family have carefully and considerately renovated the crumbling farmhouse and its outbuildings to create a beautiful home, sharing their rural idyll with guests staying in the converted calf and lamb sheds.
Arriving road weary and ready for a break, the farm’s glowing lights were a welcome sight indeed. We stayed in the Calfshed, a stunning two-bedroom luxury holiday home with the most beautiful interiors. It’s easy to see why the place has been used as the backdrop for a White Company catalogue, as well as many other location shoots. The whole place is beautifully light and calming, featuring whitewashed walls, huge windows, wood and polished concrete floors and soft grey furnishings. The effect is instantly soothing and relaxing, everything you could wish for in an escape from your everyday.
Remaining loyal to the Calfshed’s original layout, the ground floor is largely open plan, housing a kitchen and lounge, all flooded with natural light. Upstairs, the bedrooms are the perfect retreat after a busy day exploring, featuring huge, comfy beds, gorgeous en-suite bathrooms and the barn’s original beam ceilings. There’s also a lot to fall in love with outside. The gardens were largely dormant during our stay but Sarah is a professional gardener and I can imagine the kitchen garden is stunning during the summer months. They’ve also restored the farm’s original apple press and host apple pressing days in autumn.
In every respect, it is a place to switch off and enjoy the good life for a few days. Every requirement is catered for (dishwasher, washing machine, underfloor heating, the best self-catering kitchen I’ve ever come across) along with many thoughtful touches such as some basic supplies, fresh flowers and plenty of kids toys. We loved gathering around the large farmhouse-style dining table and taking our time over breakfasts, then curling up on the large corner sofa in front of the fire at the end of each day. It was seriously hard to leave.
We headed straight for the beach on our first morning, opting for nearby Saunton Sands. Emerging over the sand dunes we were presented with a wide-open, seemingly endless stretch of sand. Breathing in the sea air and buffeted by the wind, it was the perfect, refreshing start we all needed.
From here we headed into Croyde for lunch and a wander around. The village of Croyde has an olde-worlde charm that is kept fresh by the local surf community, and there are plenty of little shops to browse.
The afternoon was spent exploring Baggy Point, a stunning, National-Trust-owned headland that juts out into the sea beyond Croyde. At the top of the cliffs, we climbed the look out post, before heading down towards to very tip of the headland, a beautiful place to stop and admire the far-reaching views and sea-ravaged rock-scape below. All along our way, we discovered hidden fairy doors with fun facts, a great way to keep little legs going, and on our return route, we dropped down to the craggy rocks for a spot of rock pooling before the tide rolled its way in.
After a slow start and a pub lunch in Georgeham on our final day, we drove twenty minutes on to Ilfracombe. It’s a buzzy little town centered around a lovely harbour, but what we really wanted to see was Damien Hirst’s Verity, a 60ft bronze statue of a pregnant lady wielding a sword. Towering over the harbour wall, the scale is magnificent. It really is something to be seen and I highly recommend a visit if you’re in the area.
On our first day, we visited The Stores in Croyde on Ben and Sarah’s recommendation and it certainly didn’t disappoint. It’s a cosy, friendly place with great décor and delicious food. We settled for tasty lunch of eggs on toast, with rounds of hot chocolate and mochas. We also stocked up on some fresh bread, fruit, veg and deli items to enjoy back at the farm.
Returning from Baggy Point later that afternoon we discovered the lovely National Trust Sandleigh Tea Room and just had to stop in for a warming cuppa. The walled kitchen garden is gorgeous and there’s also a lovely little homewares and gift shop called The Oyster Catcher that’s worth looking in at.
After bidding a reluctant farewell to Upcott Farm on our last day, we headed to the nearby village of Georgham, again on the recommendation of Ben and Sarah. There are two great classic village pubs here serving excellent local homemade food. We opted for the Rock Inn and had a particularly good Sunday roast before our final stop in Ilfracombe on route home. Great food, stunning beach walks, magnificent art and the most beautiful home-from-home; North Devon spoilt us and we wouldn’t hesitate to go back.
Images by Sarah-Lou Francis