Cornwall for families: Red tractors, homely meals and blissful sleep in beautiful Bodmin
“Any claim that the ‘under-fives will sleep soundly all night’ deserves to be taken seriously.
“My two children – Mia, four, and two-year-old Max – rarely make it through the whole night, and never sleep beyond 6am. So we book ourselves in to Higher Lank Farm, near Bodmin – a dedicated family holiday set-up that you can stay in only if you have at least one child under six.
“Bodmin bliss: Higher Lank Farm sits amid pristine Cornish countryside
It’s a 500-year-old working beef farm offering B&B in the farmhouse or self-catering in a converted barn with private garden. We opt for a ‘Special Break’ in the 15th-century farmhouse, which includes nursery teas and adult suppers.
The owners, Lucy and Andrew Finnemore, live in half the house with their four children, so they know just how to occupy an energetic brood. Our room, which overlooks the farmyard and orchard, has a large bathroom, king-size bed and miniature bunkbeds. And there’s no need to stuff the car full – everything is provided, from cot bedding and changing mats to potties, baby carriers and buggies.
“Lucy will even lend you reusable nappies for free. Mia and Max quickly make themselves at home in the two large playrooms full of books, games, puzzles, dolls and videos. In the garden, there are even more toys. This is better than a theme park. Max takes to the red tractor slide in the farmyard, while Mia is smitten by the fluffy week-old chicks. In the nearby orchard, we find lambs, goats, chicks, ducks, geese and pigs. There’s a mini-playhouse, sandpit and diggers, climbing frames and tiny ride-on tractors. The children are entranced.
“But the tractor ride alongside Farmer Andrew proves the biggest hit. We pile into the trailer and set off across the fields on a bumpy journey to see the beef herd. This is undoubtedly a highlight for tractor-mad Max, but for us grown-ups it’s the Cornish high-tea served afterwards, with mouth-watering hot cheese scones and sticky chocolate cake.
“We had ordered breakfast for 7.30 the following morning, but Mia and Max didn’t wake until after eight. Bliss. After breakfast, our two new farm enthusiasts disappear to help bottle-feed the orphan lambs, kids, piglets, chickens, geese and guinea fowl. They are even allowed to collect the eggs.
“In the red: The farm’s junior tractor is a big hit with children
Andrew remains impressively calm when Max handles the eggs less than gently. There are chicks to stroke, geese to giggle over and a pony to ride. What’s more, the farm is just seven miles from the coast, so when the children have visited the animals several times, we hit the beach.
“Had the weather been less favourable, we would have visited some of the many attractions. There are heaps nearby, including the Lappa Valley Steam Railway with miniature trains, the Eden Project and the Monkey Sanctuary in Looe. But there’s nothing nicer than arriving back at the farmhouse, sand between our toes, to find the children’s tea on the table. The children are spoilt by delicious home cooking (Lucy is a wonderful chef), all made with local produce. Our meals are served when the children are tucked up in bed. One night, Lucy babysits so we can enjoy a rare treat – a night out at a restaurant. Happy, exhausted children; happy, contented parents.
“Mia is no longer after a pet guinea pig – only a goat will do. Max assures me he’d be satisfied with a tractor. We’d simply be happy to return next year.”