If like me, you love the idea of embracing the great outdoors, but when it actually comes to it, the reality of pitching a tent in a muddy field and sharing a bathroom with strangers makes you suddenly feel somewhat queasy, then you should consider The Orchard Retreat in Devon. You still get the whole ‘camping’ experience as you stay in a canvas yurt in a field, well in this case an orchard, but it’s so much more civilised with incredibly spacious accommodation, proper beds and bedding and even your own private bathroom!
The Orchard Retreat is a family (and dog) friendly holiday site featuring three locally handcrafted yurts dotted around a large four acre apple orchard surrounded by fields and streams. The retreat is family run by Nick, Vicky, Maddy and Moon-dog (the dog), who meet you on arrival, bringing along with them a small wooden cart that’s perfectly designed to carry your bags to your spacious 18ft diameter yurt. Each yurt comfortably sleeps up to four people and features a luxury pocket sprung double bed and a twin or double sofa/day bed with duvets, pillows, linen and towels provided (a travel cot and high chair are available on request). Adding to the cosy-homely feel, the yurts also feature details like sheep skin rugs, a cafetiere coffee maker, lanterns, torches and candles and you can even bring your four-legged companion along with you as two of the yurts are dog friendly too. To make you feel even more welcome, there are extra touches such as: a welcome basket packed with lovely local produce like bread, milk and wine; a complimentary basket of logs for the wood burning stove and even hot water bottles for chillier nights. A very important perk for me is the private bathroom that’s just a short stroll from your yurt (lit by solar lanterns at night). Each bathroom comes with a shower, heated towel rail, fluffy towels and local cosmetic items as well as a hairdryer and shaving light. For those that can’t go a day without checking emails, there’s access to wifi in the barn if needed as well as rainy day board games and books. If you’re still not convinced by life in the great-outdoors though, The Orchard Retreat also offers two beautifully renovated holiday cottages: The Cider Barn which sleeps 6 and Apple Tree Cottage which sleeps 4.
In terms of cooking, each yurt comes with a two ring gas burner with a grill for toast and access to pots, pans, crockery, cutlery and utensils, toasting fork, cool box and water caddy. The retreat also has a communal fire pit, great for a sociable evening of drinks and eats around the fire, as well as a shared kitchen area for washing up and additional cooking. Outside the yurts you’ll find an outdoor seating area with BBQ and picnic table and if you want to do your laundry before you return home there is a laundry room as well. You can buy provisions at the supermarket, just a 10 minute drive towards Exeter, or simply pop next door to Thornes Farm Shop which has great local produce and an in-house café. Dining Tip: If you fancy a meal out during your stay, you’ll be warmly welcomed (dogs and all!) at The Ring of Bells pub in Cheriton Fitzpaine which serves some seriously delicious home-cooked meals.
Finally, you also get a few hidden extras at The Orchard Retreat that I’m sure you wouldn’t normally get on any other yurt stay and these include: the on-site (cash only) shop that sells a small selection of local items from those you’d expect like: BBQ charcoal, fire lighters and baskets of wood to the more unusual items like Holistix skincare products (which include a divine Neroli Body Butter as well as moisturising creams, balms and muscle rubs – perfect to help you recover from a long walk in the country), frozen meals and freshly ground and roasted coffee. In addition to the shop, The Orchard Retreat offers a unique hand built cob pizza oven available to hire for just £10, and a masseuse who can come to your yurt to give you a hot stone or Swedish massage – not many other camping grounds can boast that! All these little extra touches make your stay even more enjoyable and memorable.
Whether you want to explore the Devonshire countryside, take a short drive to the coast, have a picnic in a meadow or simply wander through the woods and streams, The Orchard Retreat really is a fantastic get-away-from-it-all escape and best of all, it requires very little of the roughing-it and getting muddy that your usual camping holiday entails!
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