If you are on the hunt for an off-grid, low-impact, family-friendly glamping experience in South Devon, you have hit the jackpot. Meadow Barn Farm in East Portlemouth is a shepherd’s hut break the whole family will enjoy.
Stacey Sheppard was invited to check it out for Devon with Kids. Here’s her review!
*Advertorial Feature – review stay*
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About Meadow Barn Farm
Meadow Barn Farm is a family-run smallholding in East Portlemouth on the South Devon coast. This off-grid, low-impact accommodation is run by John and Liz who live on and run the farm along with their two sons, two dogs and countless farm animals.
The farm hosts numerous accommodation options, all aimed at families looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and take a break that allows them to return to a slower and simpler way of living.
This slow pace of life is exactly what Meadow Barn Farm offers and John and Liz try to make it as easy as possible for you to disconnect from mod-cons and reconnect with nature.
Camp Isopel Shepherd’s Hut
We were invited to stay at Camp Isopel, which is just one of the accommodation offers at the farm.
At the heart of camp Isopel is a beautifully refurbished English shepherd’s hut that has been kitted out with a double bed and a small log burning fire to make sure you can stay warm when that evening chill sets in.
The charming traditional wagon sleeps two, although we did manage to comfortably fit three of us in the double bed as my two daughters who are seven and nine decided that neither of them wanted to miss out on the luxury of the shepherd’s hut. But they also didn’t want to sleep in there without an adult.
Set up a few metres from the shepherd’s hut was a spacious five metre bell tent that sleeps three people and comes complete with flooring.
Inside, a day bed is accompanied by two roll out mattresses from Devon eco-bedmaker Naturalmat that can be set up on the floor.
The bell tent also doubles up as comfortable living area to hang out during the day or into the evening whether that is to play board games, read or simply sit and observe life at the farm.
Facilities at Camp Isopel
When we arrived at Meadow Barn Farm, John directed us to the designated parking which is adjacent to Camp Isopel and just a short walk.
You drive through the farm gate and park up right inside the field with another gate separating the parking area from the animal field.
It was easy to unload the car and walk everything across the grass to the camp although John did say we could drive the car into the field to get closer if necessary. But we didn’t need to do that.
Private kitchen and bathroom
Along with the shepherd’s hut and the bell tent you will find a cleverly converted horse box that elevates the camping experience.
It houses not only a well-equipped kitchen but also a thoughtfully designed bathroom, complete with a full-sized shower and a waterless compost toilet. The addition of the horse box is a nice touch which offers a blend of comfort and practicality.
All the bedding and towels were supplied so we didn’t have to worry about bringing those with us. And the kitchen had all the cooking equipment and utensils that we needed for a very comfortable stay.
Off grid glamping
It is worth noting that there is no mains electricity at Camp Isopel and it is not connected to the gas and there is no WiFi although we had a very good 4G connection whilst there.
There are battery operated lights though in the bathroom, shepherd’s hut and the bell tent and a hand-held lantern is also supplied to help you navigate between the various areas after dark.
I believe that there are power sockets that guests can use nearer to house if devices need charging. We didn’t need to use those though as we actually took our own portable Eco-Flow power station which we charged up with our solar panel. This provided us with all the energy we needed for the weekend.
The fire pit is at the heart of Camp Isopel and is the perfect spot for roasting marshmallows beneath the stars, sipping hot chocolate or enjoying a nutritious meal that you whipped up on the open fire.
Near the fireplace is a freestanding bathtub that can be filled with water heated on the fire.
As our stay was in October it was a little too chilly for us to take advantage of this but I imagine it would be a relaxing treat for adults and great fun for kids.
Meadow Barn honesty box
Outside the front of meadow Barn Farm you will find a small chest that contains eggs and other farm produce that you can buy such as potatoes.
This is operated on an honesty basis where you can pop the money in a jar and take what you need. You can also buy milk and bacon from the farm when it is available.
The girls loved wandering along the country lane to the front of the farmhouse on Sunday morning in their pyjamas and wellies to buy eggs for breakfast.
Whilst Camp Isopel is on the main grounds of the farm it is contained within a perimeter fence that separates the campsite from the farm.
Farm animals roam in the adjacent field and may well come over to the camp to see what is going on but once the gate is closed you have no need to worry about the animals wandering in.
This also means the camp is great for keeping small children contained and stopping them from wandering off.
My girls really enjoyed being able to see and hear the animal from the camp and particularly enjoyed the wake up call from the cockerel.
Whilst staying at Camp Isopel, Liz kindly gave us a tour of Meadow Barn Farm and introduced us to all the animals including the chickens, the Devon Large Black pigs, the Devon Closewool sheep, and the Ouessant miniature sheep.
We also had the opportunity to meet their new puppy who was very excitable.
The children enjoyed visiting the chickens, holding some chicks, feeding the pigs and they were particularly enamoured with Pepper the goat who was extremely friendly and accommodating.
Handy things to know
John and Liz have a wealth of local knowledge and are more than happy to share recommendations for things to do in the local area and places to visit.
It was thanks to them that we were able to visit a beach that we had never been to before despite living locally.
If you want to visit Meadow Barn Farm but don’t have a car and are worried about the remote location, it’s not a problem. Liz and John encourage their guests to use public transport when travelling to the farm and are willing to collect you from the nearest train station in Totnes and drop you back.
It’s also good to know that you can hire e-bikes from them if you want to discover the local area without a car.
As explained, the location of Meadow Barn Farm in East Portlemouth is remote so be prepared for that.
The farm is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is very close to The South West Coastal path with Gara beach (Seacombe/Rickham Sands) a short walk away.
The famous beaches of Salcombe are also close by and the little foot ferry will take you across to the town in about five minutes.
Things to do nearby
Gara Rock is a short walk from Camp Isopel. Stacey wears a raincoat that was gifted by Lighthouse Clothing
With Salcombe so close by, you have access to all the shops, bars, pubs and restaurants that populate this stunning seaside town.
The area is home to some of South Devon’s best beaches so there is no shortage of days out where you can explore the scenic coastline.
The beautiful Gara Rock Beach is just a mile’s walk from the farm and we ventured this way on the Saturday afternoon. There are no facilities there, but as it’s so close to the farm it’s easy to plan for this.
There is also the beautiful Gara Rock Hotel on your way to the beach where you can stop to grab some lunch or an afternoon drink in their restaurant or café.
On Sunday morning, upon John’s recommendation, we headed to Mill Bay Beach, a privately-owned sandy beach.
We parked in the National Trust car park right by the beach which was already filling up fast as we arrived. There is limited parking here so I would suggest arriving early in peak times to secure a space. It can get full from 10am onwards.
The road to access is the beach is also quite narrow so can easily get congested which may be a little daunting if you are not used to driving on country lanes. The other option would be to get the East Portlemouth ferry and walk the five to 10 minute to the beach.
Parking is free for National trust members and between £3 and £6 for non members depending on the time of year.
We had a little trouble paying for the parking as we needed to download a specific app to pay or call a number but the reception wasn’t great in car park which made this difficult.
If you want to get food and drinks whilst at the beach, the nearest option is Venus Café which is a short walk back along the road you come down to access the car park.
You can even combine the two beaches in a circular walk from Gara Rock to Mill Bay.
Other beaches withing a mile and a half of the farm include Sunny Cove and Small’s Cove. If you’re willing to venture further afield you may want to visit Torcross, Slapton Sands, Blackpool Sands or Start Point.
Places to eat
If you don’t fancy cooking at the camp every night, the Pig’s Nose is apparently very good according to John although we didn’t visit ourselves as the children really enjoyed cooking around the campfire.
Final thoughts: Meadow Barn Farm review
All in all we absolutely loved our stay at Meadow Barn Farm and Camp Isopel was a perfect location for an off-grid family-friendly shepherd’s hut glamping break.
Getting back to nature and foregoing the fast pace of everyday life was just the tonic we all needed. The kids loved being so close to the animals and cooking on the open fire.
We also can’t wait to visit Mill Bay Beach again. I actually can’t believe that we have never been here before and it will certainly move up the ranks of our favourite South Devon beaches to spend time at.
If you don’t fancy a shepherd’s hut break, Meadow Barn Farm does offer alternative accommodation options.
Driftwood Cabin is a beautiful log cabin built by local carpenters using local wood and reclaimed items. It sleeps a maximum of two adults and two children and is slightly better equipped as it has a gas connection and a small fridge.
The Sheep Shack is a similar log cabin built by John and local carpenters also from local wood and reclaimed items. It has two double beds and sleeps a max of two adults and three children. It also has a gas connection and a fridge.
And if you are looking for something a little less conventional and plan to travel without the kids, there is always Oyster the boat, which is permanently moored high up on the foreshore of the Salcombe Estuary.
Don’t forget to take a look at the Devon with Kids guide to things to do in the South Hams for a big round up of days out and places to visit. And buy the South Hams Colouring Book for Kids to accompany your holiday.
Disclosure: Stacey and her family were invited to stay at Meadow Barn Farm in exchange for a review on Devon with Kids. All opinions and images are her own.
Find out about more about booking accommodation at Meadow Barn Farm in the South Hams.