Ten Places - Down on the farm

By Natalie Leal

Fruit trees blossoming, bees buzzing and baby animals in the fields… spring sees the countryside bursting back into life, and nowhere more so than on our farms. Enjoy a springtime walk at one of these rambler-friendly locations and immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the season.


1.Thorneythwaite Farm, Keswick, Lake District


The joy of walking through this upland farming landscape in Borrowdale in the Lake District is the rich patchwork of habitats you traverse along the way. Aside from flocks of Herdwick sheep grazing the Lakeland slopes, there are hay meadows, pasture, woodland and scree, all in the shadow of Castle Crag.

Thorneythwaite Farm is now owned and managed by The National Trust, which has created a walking trail allowing visitors to explore the three levels of a traditional Cumbrian hill farm: the in-bye land, the in-take land and the open fell. This short but interesting route leads you through the rugged landscape and up to see a waterfall in a hidden valley.

Find out more at nationaltrust.org.uk


2. Bath City Farm, Whiteway, Bath

Bath City Farm

There has been a farm perched on this hillside overlooking Bath for at least 1,000 years, and possibly much longer. Still a working estate, these days it’s one of the largest city farms in the UK, with animals, a children’s playground, shop and café, as well as 700 species of flowers, plants, insects and wildlife to discover.

Waymarked trails lead you around the 37-acre site, with an emphasis on enjoyment for children. A 1.5km/1-mile circular nature trail takes you past grazing Shetland ponies, through wildflower meadows and bluebell woodland, and alongside a pond teeming with wildlife. Kids can even try to spot the dinosaur hidden in the grass before arriving back at the farmyard.

Find out more at bathcityfarm.org.uk 


3. Chain Bridge Honey Farm, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland

chain bridge

Chain Bridge Honey Farm has about 1,500 beehives producing honey and beeswax, which is made into beauty products, candles and soaps. In spring and early summer, the bees forage on hawthorn blossom, willowherb, borage and phacelia, while later in the year they’re moved to buzz among the bracken and purple bell heather. The farm sits by the England-Scotland border, where a striking 200-year-old suspension bridge straddles the River Tweed, allowing walkers to cross between the two countries on foot.

This farm is a great starting point for walks exploring the local borderland countryside or visiting the historic chain bridge. Public footpaths weave their way through the farm, past the bridge and along the banks of the River Tweed.

Find out more at unionchainbridge.org


4. Greystones Farm, Bourton-on-the- Water, Gloucestershire

greystones farm

People have been producing food from the land around Greystones Farm for 6,000 years, and it was once the site of the Neolithic Salmonsbury Camp. Today, it’s a working dairy farm and nature reserve owned by the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust. Cattle graze in wildflower meadows, while otters and water voles dwell in the rivers. There’s a visitor centre, replica Iron Age roundhouse, café, shop and Discovery Barn, so plenty to keep kids entertained.

Follow the signed Wildlife Walk or Time Travel Trail around the site. The Oxfordshire Way – a 106km/66-mile route from Bourton-on-the-Water to Henley – also passes through the farm.

Find out more at gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk


5. Burrow Hill Cider Farm, Kingsbury Episcopi, Somerset

burrow hill farm

Orchards smother the Somerset landscape around Burrow Hill Cider Farm, which has been pressing cider for the past 200 years. Each May, the apple and pear trees burst into flower, and one of the best places to view this spectacle is Burrow Hill. As well as views over the blossoming orchards below, a short climb to the summit provides panoramic views of the Somerset Levels and towards Glastonbury Tor. Visitors are welcome on the farm, and can sample the cider and Somerset Cider Brandy made here.

An 8km/5-mile loop from the nearby village of East Lambrook takes you past the cider farm and to the top of Burrow Hill to enjoy those spectacular views.

Find out more at somersetciderbrandy.com; ratedtrips.com/walking/lambrooks-apple-orchards


6. Courtyard Farm, Ringstead, Norfolk

courtyard farm

In spring and summer, the fields and woodland of Courtyard Farm are brimming with bees, butterflies and wildflowers. This sprawling organic farm lies a few miles from the Norfolk coast in a National Landscape (formerly AONB), and has become a haven for wildlife. It’s also very welcoming of walkers, which is unsurprising when you learn it used to be owned by an ex-Ramblers president, the late Lord Peter Melchett, who created many of the farm’s paths and trails.

Permissive paths and waymarked circular trails of up to 10km/6 miles guide walkers around Courtyard Farm. The routes pass farm animals and land art, and lead you through the woodland and flower-rich fields blooming in late spring.

Find out more at courtyardfarm.co.uk


7. Yr Ysgwrn, Snowdonia, Wales


Yr Ysgwrn was the childhood home of renowned Welsh-language poet Hedd Wyn, who lost his life on the Passchendaele battlefield during the First World War. The traditional farmhouse and working sheep and cattle farm are now preserved and managed by the Snowdonia National Park Authority, and have become a symbol of Welsh culture and early 20th-century rural life.

Plaques inscribed with Hedd Wyn’s poetry are positioned within the stunning Eryri (Snowdonia) landscape that once inspired them, and can be read along the way as walkers follow the waymarked trails around the ffridd (the site’s farmland). Further afield, multiple routes allow you to explore the Eryri National Park.

Find out more at snowdonia.gov.wales/walk/ yr-ysgwrn-long-route 


8. Swanston Farm, Edinburgh, Scotland

swanston farm

Swanston Farm is a great place to visit for stunning views and to see Scotland’s famous Highland cows. In the Pentland Hills Regional Park, just 10km/ 6 miles outside Edinburgh, the farm’s land extends to the peaks of Caerketton and Allermuir hills, which makes for a dramatic backdrop and fantastic views over the nearby capital city. Highland cattle roam freely on the slopes and walkers are welcome to explore this rugged landscape at their leisure.

There are walks suitable for every ability at Swanston, with accessible paths around the farm and hillside tracks up to see the Highland cows (or ‘hairy coos’!). Those feeling more adventurous can explore the nearby Pentland Way, a 32km/20-mile long-distance path that ends at Swanston.

Find out more at swanston.co.uk


9. Denbies Wine Estate, Dorking, Surrey


Denbies, a centuries-old farm at the foot of Box Hill in the heart of the Surrey Hills, is now one of the largest single wine estates in England. Grape farming began in earnest here in the 1980s and vineyards cover almost half of the sprawling 627-acre estate on the slopes of the North Downs. Within easy reach of London (direct trains to Dorking from Waterloo or Victoria take less than an hour), it’s worth visiting for the stunning location alone, but you can also find a visitor centre, farm shop, restaurant and hotel should you wish to make a day (or even a night) of it.

A series of footpaths and a section of the North Downs Way weave their way around Denbies and through the rows of vines. Or climb Box Hill for breathtaking views across Surrey and beyond.

Find out more at denbies.co.uk


10. Darts Farm, Topsham, Devon

darts farm

Not only does Darts Farm have an extensive food hall with a wide selection of artisan shops, but it also occupies a stunning wetland landscape close to the Exe Estuary and the River Clyst. Native Red Ruby Devon cattle graze along the riverbank, while birds such as skylarks, kingfishers and greenfinches are all regular visitors to the tranquil ponds.

A track takes you around this working farm, where you can visit the herds of cows, as well as bird spot from a hide that overlooks the wetlands. Further afield, there are footpaths from the farm along the river and the Exe Estuary, and through the nearby RSPB nature reserve of Bowling Green Marsh.

Find out more at dartsfarm.co.uk

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