On my way back to London from the Westcountry Wildlife Photography Centre, I stayed overnight in a Shepherd’s Hut at Coombeshead Farm in the very heart of Devon.
Coombershead farm is being rewilded by the farmer and ecologist Derek Gow, whose efforts help reintroduce rare animals to Britain’s countryside.
It was amazing to spend a day immersed in nature in the middle of the woods for someone like myself who comes from a bustling city.
All I could see were woods and meadows all around me. It was an oasis of stillness.
I will never forget waking up to the sight of wild ponies, sheep, and boars grazing freely around the meadows just a few meters in front of me.
Or having a cup of tea at the picnic table next to my hut, viewing the woodland in the early mist, and catching a glimpse of a massive water buffalo. It was surreal.
These lovely rural landscapes beckon you to take a break from your daily life and do nothing but reflect and relax.
The fact that I was the only visitor on that particular day was thrilling. All I could hear were the noises of nature.
Even if all of Shepherd’s Huts were full of visitors, you would still feel isolated. The Huts are spaced out so that everyone can enjoy their privacy.
My Shepherd’s Hut was not only cosy but also beautifully crafted. It looked like something out of a fairy tale at night when it was all illuminated.
When I arrived, it was pouring down, so I took some time to relax over a cup of tea inside the hut and edit some photos until my laptop died. The Hut has no electricity sockets, although you can charge your phone in the public area (which I discovered later) unless you’re on a digital detox and want to be entirely off the grid. If that’s the case, there’s no better place to do it than here!
The Hut was compact but perfectly organised. The seating area doubled up as a large bed (each Hut sleeps two people), and I was surprised by how comfortable it was. The bedding and towels were provided and located underneath the seats.
On chilly days, you can use a small log burner to keep you warm (it will make your stay even more adventurous).
Each Hut has a pretty large and fully-equipped adjacent kitchen. So you can cook your meals here unless you prefer making your own pizza in the communal area or eating out (there are three pubs serving meals nearby: The Pint and Post, Arscott Arms, and Ashwater Village Inn).
There were two gas heated showers and two composting, eco-friendly and very tidy toilets located on-site. I didn’t bring a torch with me, so I was petrified trying to find my way to the toilet at night (it was pitch dark and the only sounds you could hear were animal noises). Don’t make the same mistake and bring a powerful led torch with you! 🙂
There is also a lovely communal area where you can relax on a comfy sofa, cook your pizza in a real pizza oven, record your wildlife sightings, or take some shots in front of the most instaworthy (in my personal opinion 🙂 ) caravan in Devon.
The whole area around the Shepherd’s Hut is very picturesque, and if you are an animal lover, you will be in for a treat.
I went for a nice walk around with my camera and found many landscape and wildlife photography opportunities. You can also stop at one of the two platforms that overlook the whole area and offer a stunning vista over Bodmin Moore.
Tours and Activities
If you are curious to know more, you can read my article about it here:
Other exciting activities to choose from are, for example, animal encounter tours, beaver or bat watching tours or walks with an ecologist. You can read more about each activity and find their complete list here.
Attractions to Explore in the Area
If the tours don’t keep you busy enough, you can visit some more attractions in the area. Here is a list of the places worth considering:
- Dingles Fairground Heritage Centre which houses the National Fairground Collection
- Lydford Castle, Fort, and Saxon Town – an English heritage site
- Lydford Gorge which is the deepest river gorge in the south-west with a impressive 30m high warerfall.
- Dartmoor National Park (the nearest visitor’s centre is at Princeton)