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Farm Hide-Out

Jeff and Jennie Cooper escape to Bottle Farm for the night near Axminster

Bottle Farm View

“I wonder where that leads,” I’ve asked myself countless times when spotting tracks and paths on walks around Devon. Well, on this occasion, Jeff and I were lucky enough to find out. This particular path is the driveway to Bottle Farm, near Axminster. Standing square and proud as it has done since the 17th century, this cared-for farmhouse with its five acres of land is now joined by a pair of stylish, self-catering barns – a sanctuary for adults only.

Meadow Barn (where we stayed) and Horseshoe Barn are luxurious and understated, and sit happily beneath Lambert’s Castle hill fort. Owners Hugo and Alice Shuttleworth built the barns over the past three years to add to their farm and other businesses.

Meadow Barn, the slightly smaller of the two, faces a magical East Devon valley, and is perfectly framed by a huge ash tree. Absorbing the view of undulating, irregular-shaped fields and hedgerows connected by walking paths and tracks, it’s like this tiny part of Devon is telling its own story. We’ve hopped off our world’s fast-paced connectivity and into a tranquil corner of nature.

The barn’s open-plan layout includes a large (very comfortable) king-size bed at the far end, with a door to the left leading to the free-standing bath and roomy rainfall shower. In front of the bed is a sofa, and running along the left side is a neat, fully equipped kitchen. A dining room table to the right sits in front of large floor-to-ceiling windows. The ‘kitchen’ window overlooks the patio – complete with a table, seating and fire pit. We relaxed outside until the sun went down – struck by this valley’s sense of timelessness.

Our farmhouse breakfast hamper included farm eggs, bread, muesli and milk. Hugo and Alice also run Bottle Farm Charcuterie and we were presented with a selection of their delicious meats – fine slices of velvety, fennel flavours were soon devoured, along with some pork chops and burgers – also produced from their own animals. The thick-cut chops had a rind of white fat that bolstered the meat’s taste and texture, crisping when grilled. We enjoyed the burgers with an accompaniment of steamed vegetables – no need for buns when the meat is this flavoursome. And for an added touch, we counted four fresh bunches of homegrown flowers in the barn.

Hugo and Alice take a gentle approach to farming, the emphasis is on growing quality food, raising traditional breeds of pigs, sheep and chickens, breeding Maran hens for eggs and Bresse Gauloise chickens for meat. Local apple varieties have been planted in the orchard for cidermaking and eating, as well as nut trees, plums and pears. Gyle 59 brews beer across the valley – the premises which can be seen from Meadow Barn are within easy walking distance. Alice is a keen walker and leads all manner of adventures from the farm’s doorstep.

We felt recharged and reset after just one night here, and can recommend Bottle Farm for a healthy dose of natural medicine.


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