Mention a holiday in the West Country and it conjures up pictures of locally made ice cream, clotted cream scones, farm-produced ciders, tasty organic meats and unusual cheeses. They all start life on Devon's farms, some of which are open to the public and offer a great family day out for those enjoying a self-catering holiday in the area.
This top attraction is a real working dairy farm near Newquay and offers the full works in terms of understanding farming and country life. Start with the nostalgic stroll through the museum of farm implements before moving on to the more touchy-feely activities. There are always some creatures which need bottle-feeding ‐ a great experience for all ages and a golden photo opportunity. The farm has a menagerie of lambs, pigs, rabbits, goats and chinchillas where you can “pat a pet”, enjoy a pony ride or ride on a haycart.
The attraction has a huge sand pit with mini diggers which happily occupy would-be farmers for a while. Youngsters can run off their energy in the Bull Pen, a huge indoor activity area with fireman's poles, slides, tumble towers and the like, while parents enjoy a visit to the tea room and gift shop.
In the late afternoon, head over to the milking parlour where viewing platforms give everyone a chance to see how a modern-day dairy farm operates as the 120 cows are milked and fed. At the end of the day everyone will have picked up a few fun facts about farming.
The Big Sheep in Bideford is one of Devon's wackiest attractions. Shows include the World Famous Sheep Racing, Dog and Duck demonstrations, Horse Whispering and 10 different breeds of sheep which strut their stuff on stage. The attraction also packs in plenty of rides and slides and there is a massive “Ewetopia” indoor play area, if you encounter a rainy day during your holiday in the West Country. Older visitors can try out the Laser Games, go beer tasting, enjoy a safari ride or lend a hand feeding baby lambs.
Pennywell Farm and Wildlife Centre
Pennywell Farm near Buckfastleigh is probably the most animal-orientated farm experience with around 200 animals. It offers a nice balance between education and fun with animals, shows, rides and activities. The mini pigs are one of the most endearing animals on the farm and are just the size of a dog when fully grown. In case you were wondering, the pigs are for sale, but it may be wiser to remember the day with a painting of them ‐ by Pigasso of course!