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“Farm Stay in Devon at Holwell Farm”

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Holwell Holiday Cottages
Reviewed April 28, 2012

We are recently back from a wonderful stay at Holwell Farm, located in Dartmoor National Park in Devon. Our week at Holwell Farm more than met our expectations and we hope to someday return for another stay on the farm.

When I started planning our Devon trip, I had a vision of what I wanted it to be like. I think I read somewhere or heard from someone about a farm stay in Devon, then I saw the movie Warhorse, and I decided that we were going to stay on a farm in Devon. I could just picture the kids feeding the animals, learning to ride a pony, milking the cows, and gathering eggs from the chickens, all while we weren’t too far from the coast. That’s what I looked for when I planned our Devon trip. I didn’t have to search for long before I found Holwell Farm in Dartmoor National Park. As soon as I read that they filmed scenes for Warhorse on the farm, I was sold. It also didn’t hurt that the cottages looked really, really nice. Holwell Farm is an organic meat farm, so unfortunately that meant no milking cows like I had envisioned, but that also meant that there would be plenty of animals (and an onsite butcher for some of the freshest meat we’ve tasted!)

We actually wound up spending much more time on the farm and in the cottage (or farmer’s house according to son) than we had expected we would. We had a few nice days in the beginning of the week when we explored the Moor and climbed some of the rocks a bit, watched a foxhunt, traveled down to the coast to go fossil hunting, visited Becky Falls and hiked the nature trails, and went to Woodlands Amusement Park. Then the weather got cold and wet towards the end of the week and all we wanted to do was stay in by the fire.

We got to feed the pigs, which was quite an experience. Walking into a pigpen with two young kids, where there are about 30 hungry pigs trying to get food (though they all were quite young – the oldest being about 6 months), was a little disconcerting at first, but fun once you get used to it. The kids also fed the new Dartmoor ponies, which had just been brought in from the Moor. Dartmoor ponies are born in the Moor and aren’t necessarily wild, but rather untamed until they are handled the right way. They live on open land, but they each have an owner. The ponies on the farm seemed rather tame, but were a little skittish around people. However, once they are handled for a bit, they are sold as a companion for other horses. To round out the animals on the farm, there were two very friendly donkeys, doves, some very angry geese, horses, and some dogs.

The cottage had no phone, wifi, or cell service, which took a little while to get used to at first, but actually it was very nice to be disconnected by the end of the week. The farm is powered by generators which they shutoff between the hours of midnight and 6 am to conserve power, so we learned to sleep with flashlights next to our beds. We watched very little TV and couldn’t get on the internet, but rather sat by the fire, read books, and played games together. I say all this and it sounds like we were roughing it, but we weren’t, the cottage was actually very luxurious and comfortable with some the of most comfortable beds we've encountered on our travels.

I highly recommend this farm for anyone - families, couples, groups of friends, family reunions.

  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled with family
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Thank Joyce F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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19 - 25 of 66 reviews

Reviewed April 25, 2012

Thank you!
We had an amazing time at Holwell Farm.
We spent one week in paradise :))

  • Stayed: April 2012, traveled with family
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Thank vonseydlitz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 4, 2012

We have stayed at Holwell Cottages for the last 3 years now, our continued re-visits are testiment to our love of the area & beautiful accommodation. Renovated to an extremely high standard the cottages really have that "extra something", we struggled to find anything to find fault with!!! Even the welcome pack had home produced bacon & eggs!!!!!
We have two young children who love the animals ( ponies, donkeys, piglets to name a few) and outdoors, they look forward to going each year.
Highly recommend this UK holiday to families/couples/groups of friends alike. The walks in the area take some beating and the stunning Devonshire beaches are only a short drive away.

  • Stayed: February 2012, traveled with friends
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Thank poppy08sam
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 27, 2012

Thank you. We had a lovely time! Hope to come back In the spring or early summer!!! 
I have to say that the meat from the butcher was wonderful! 
I think the high light was the roaming animals, piggies and donkeys!! We loved it! The cottage was lovely! Loved the furry blankets!

  • Stayed: February 2012
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Thank Meghanfa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 8, 2012

Resentment exudes from the farmer and his family at having to put up with annoying townies on their property. I felt quite uncomfortable even approaching them for anything.

Positives: beautiful location, were given full access to the farm and its facilities and very friendly farm staff.

Negatives; We were surprised that our money was taken off the card 6 weeks before it was due - and we were promised some extra goodies to make up which never emerged. We thought this was an error but seems like others have had this problem as well. The farmer was very apologetic and blamed his 'assistant' who had done it. We are surprised to see that others have had the same problem.

The electricity is turned off at midnight - yet nowhere is this stated until you arrive. This could have been a massive problem with babies.

The cottages are NOT 5 star. They are a reasonable 3 star. During the stay, there is no servicing of the cottages even if you are staying longer than a week. A number of small appliances don't work, and won't get fixed. Over the Christmas and New Years break, despite this being extremely expensive and peak period of the year, there seemed to be no-one on the farm to help with problems. We had to negotiate any requirements we had with a disempowered employee whose only reply was "I'll have to ask Philippa, but she's away".

Overall a real shame that this wonderful location is so poorly serviced - and the farmer and his wife clearly find little joy in running this business.

Specific issues:
- no chest of drawers in 2 bedrooms and in the 3rd it was broken.
- very inadequate sofa seating (very annoying to have four seats = 2 sofas for a cottage that sleeps 6!)
- broken bin that was not replaced despite repeated requests
- inadequate kitchen equipment (eg. veg peeler and masher didn't work, no casserole dish)
- bulbs not replaced
- kettle was faulty (but it was changed for one from another cottage)
- no cleaner/cleaning despite a 3 week booking
- spare sheets not provided for additional guests during the week (but new sheets each week)
- having been provided a zed-bed the farmers wife came to ask for it back because it had been offered to other guests.

  • Stayed: December 2011, traveled with friends
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7  Thank torwalker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
HolwellCottages, Manager at Holwell Holiday Cottages, responded to this reviewResponded March 5, 2012

This stay at the farm extended over the Festive period. All the conditions of booking on the websites clearly state that full payment is required 6 weeks prior to arrival. Deposits are taken at the time of booking and the balance is due 6 weeks prior. This booking was on the point of 6 weeks prior so the full amount was taken. The cottages booked slept 6 in each but over the New Year period they had additional guests that we had not been notified of. During their stay they had 2 complete linen and towel changes and one whole spare set for when they were "swapping guests over". Each cottage has the optimum amount of furniture for the number of guests it is intended to accommodate.

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Reviewed November 14, 2011

Ok first the positves, location is great.

However the running of this place is sadly lacking.

I had a problem before I arrived when they took the money from my card a month early and made all sorts of excuses to avoid giving it back to me and billing me on the correct date. I finally had a conversation where they agreed to repay the charges as I would be overdrawn but I have had no money back so far.

Secondly we had paid for 3 dogs to go with us for the week but due to circumstances beyond our control we only took 1. I asked for a refund over email never responded (their broadband is down apparently almost constantly!). So I eventually called her the day before we arrived and said actually instead of refunding me the cost why don't we have some meat from their butchers instead. This was agreed and we picked up the meat from her on the Sunday.

However on returning home I found we were charged for this meat the very next day whilst we were still there. I have called her and she has denied any of the arrangements we agreed over the phone and blamed the butchery for charging us. She also blamed half term as she was so busy. She said she would return my call and never did so I rang again on friday and I was told by her husband she would return my call at lunch again and nothing. I rang again this morning and all I got was she's too busy and i'm not a priority. Unfortunately that is not acceptable when you are offering a service and you owe someone money. I expect I will never receive my money back.

This is a warning to other people, try and avoid giving your card details to as I found they will use them as they like to add costs to your stay if they think they can get away with it.

Finally as some others have noted the 5 star rating they claim is dubious, I could list all the reasons why but it would take too long.

Extremely disappointed by the whole experience.

  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled with friends
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12  Thank hamish72
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
HolwellCottages, Manager at Holwell Holiday Cottages, responded to this reviewResponded March 5, 2012

This particular guest stayed at the farm over the Winter halfterm week and contrary to his statement, his payment was taken on 26th September; one month prior to his stay commencing 28th October 2011. Actually, all payments are due in full within 6 weeks of arrival. We had indicated over the phone that if a payment had been taken early and incurred additional charges then a refund would be made to cover any charges. Due to the imminent arrival it was suggested that they could have meat instead of a refund. As the payment was not taken early there was no responsibility to make a refund. Due to the remote location the broadband signal is erratic and it is a matter of record that during this period a large section of underground cable was being replaced at Hound Tor and this affected the phones and ability to check online data.

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Reviewed October 24, 2011

Our stay at the beautiful Holwell Farm was supposed to be the fabulous, family holiday we have once a year, in many different places, with our widely dispersed families. This time was to be even better, as we were attending and celebrating the marriage of one of our sons to our beautiful daughter-in-law nearby at the Great Barn. We were all very excited about the prospect of being together in such a lovely place. The location had been booked and paid for for more than a year. We had very high hopes of a 'family friendly' holiday, as we had four couples staying in two large cottages, and an assortment of ten children and teenagers, ranging from 10 months to 16 years. It sounded the perfect location and facilities. The first night was not great, as no nightlights had been provided, and so when the generator went off, there was no light at all in the house. Our other cottage had matches but no candles, and the main house had candles but no matches. We understand the 'clear skies' policy in the National Park, and approve of it completely, but some sort of lighting must be provided for the guests in the hours when the generator is off. From a health and safety point of view, alternative lighting must be provided for adults or children. People should not have to stumble round a strange house with no lighting at all. One of the youngest in that house, who was jet-lagged from travelling half-way across the world to come to the wedding, woke at 3.00 a.m. and screamed in the pitch-blackness, waking all other five children and all four adults. This was the morning of the wedding. When we were safely out of the way at the wedding on the Saturday, the owner entered this property, ostensibly to deliver some battery operated nightlights, and to collect a broken chair. She could have come when we were there in the morning. She came back on the Monday, at 9.30 in the morning and raged at our daughter, who was up preparing a late breakfast, threatening eviction if the house was not immediately tidied up. She said that the house had been in turmoil when she had entered on the Saturday (hardly surprising after such a night), when in fact some of the washing up had not been done and some cushions from a sofa were just behind it on the floor where the children had been having a teddy-bears' picnic with their toys. Hardly a crime, and she shouldn't have been in our house without our permission anyway. It was amazing after such a night that we were able to be ready for the wedding at all. She also went beserk when she saw that we had had to bring in some garden benches to enable us to seat everybody for family meals. I had been in e-mail contact for some weeks before our arrival asking for extra chairs, as one of our most important family experiences is eating together. She had said that the garden chairs were 'unsuitable'. She was right - they were unsuitable - and yet nothing else was supplied. This family also own a hotel, so it would not have been impossible to bring in a few extras. Supposedly five-star accommodation should try to help guests, if they have such simple specific requests. They eventually did find enough, but not until she had threatened to throw us out because of damage to the slate floor from the benches (there was no damage) and because the washing up had not been done on the Saturday or the Monday when she came back to shout at us. Provision of extra chairs would have been so simple - we would have been so grateful. She also initially blamed us for the chair that had become unstuck (three others came unstuck in exactly the same place during the week, so it was a manufacturers fault not ours). She did not come back and check the house again at 12.00 pm as she had threatened. One of our party had stayed to tell her what is, and what is not, acceptable behaviour towards your guests, missing a rare family outing to do so. But she did not come back.
Good things about Holwell. Yes, there are several. The position is outstanding and you really can walk right out on to the moors. The man who looks after the animals is friendly and knowledgeable. The beds are wonderful. I had one of the best nights' sleep in my life on the Sunday night. After her verbal attack, I have not slept through the night since. They offered to keep the generator on extra for when we got back from the wedding, so that we could get the children into bed in the light. We were grateful for that.
So, a potentially wonderful, and extremely expensive, holiday was completely ruined by agression, resentment and unhelpfulness. We are so sad that our memories of a fabulous wedding are clouded by the Holwell experience. Why did she decide to take against us? I really don't know. The children are all well-behaved and did not break anything. None of the adults are aggressive or unfriendly or unreasonable. We have never had this sort of treatment at other holiday venues. We have been welcomed in other places. Maybe we would have been better off if we had had dogs or horses, but it is described as being child-friendly, so we hoped that it would be. My title for this synopsis was just a warning that you may be accused of something you didn't do, of breaking something you didn't break, and your holiday home may be visited in your absence as ours was. I did write a letter with most of the above in it, but have not had the courtesy of a reply or an apology. Be careful, be very, very careful!

  • Stayed: August 2011, traveled with family
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15  Thank Naturewatch_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
HolwellCottages, Manager at Holwell Holiday Cottages, responded to this reviewResponded March 5, 2012

This family had congregated on the farm taking several cottages for a Wedding celebration.
They had come from all over the world and we had gone to significant lengths to assist them in planning their stay and arranging transport for them etc.
I was absolutely horrified with the complete lack of respect they showed for the properties and how the children were alowed to "run riot" around the place. They were climbing on walls and dislodging stones, chasing geese and generally out of control.
The state the cottage was left in on one occasion when I called to leave something for them rendered me to tears at the state it was in. There wasn't a square foot of floor space that wasn't covered with some item of discarded clothing or other. The kitchen was left with dirty plates, cooking pans etc everywhere. They had dragged heavy wooden garden benches in from the garden into the kitchen and we have since had to replace 2 x slate slabs that had been cracked and scratched beyond repair. They were given additional chairs so that the whole family could eat together but as pointed out at the time of booking; the cottage in question only slept/sat up to 10 normally and they were trying to get over 20 into eat a meal. We no longer had any hotels and they were given any spare chairs we had but they broke 2 !

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Additional Information about Holwell Holiday Cottages

Address: | Holwell Farm, Widecombe in the Moor, Dartmoor National Park TQ13 7TT, England
Location: United Kingdom > England > Devon > Dartmoor National Park > Widecombe in the Moor
Amenities:
Business Center with Internet Access Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 2 Specialty Lodging in Widecombe in the Moor
Price Range: $169 - $338 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Holwell Holiday Cottages 5*
Number of rooms: 5
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A collection of 5 Star Luxury Self Catering Cottages located in a magnificent setting in the heart of the Dartmoor National Park, Devon, South West England. Stunning scenery all around and wonderful walking, riding, climbing, fishing etc. Families and dogs very welcome. even horses welcome too; something for everyone, all year round. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Holwell Holiday Cottages Widecombe In The Moor, England

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