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Valleyside Escapes Glamping review: family-friendly safari tents in the Exe Valley

Valleyside Escapes Glamping review: family-friendly safari tents in the Exe Valley

If you’re looking to escape with your family and immerse yourself in nature, you’d be hard pressed to find a nicer spot than Valleyside Escapes Glampsite in Mid Devon. 

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We were invited to spend the weekend at the Valleyside Escapes glampsite and experience all that the site has to offer in terms of accommodation and entertainment.

If you are looking for a luxury family glamping holiday in Mid Devon read on for our full review.

AND if we tempt you we have a special Devon with Kids reader limited time offer. Find a discount code at the bottom of this post.

About Valleyside Escapes Glamping

The dining area and kitchen inside Birch glamping safari tent

Hailed as the ‘Best Glamping Site in the South West’ at the South West Tourism Excellence Awards 2023/24, this multi-award winning 12 acre site in the historic village of Bickleigh-on-Exe boasts stunning panoramic views of the Exe Valley. 

The site is owned by Emma and Matt Wright who launched it in 2018 having taken the bold decision to leave their London life and escape to the Devon countryside for a slower pace of life.

Now in their sixth year, they are seasoned pros and have since racked up a number of awards. 

Arriving at this Devon glampsite

The loading bay at the glamping site - a grassy area inclosed by a wooden fence

The Valleyside Escapes glampsite is a short walk up a steep gravel road from the main carpark. You can drive up this road to a small loading bay area where you can unload your luggage. Here you go through a wooden gate and you can make use of the small wheeled cart to pull your luggage right up to the tent.

It is a small slope but the walk really isn’t that far so should be manageable as long as you don’t have any severe mobility issues.

The car can’t be left in the loading area though and has to be returned to the main carpark once your luggage has been unloaded. 

Midway between the loading area and the car park you will pass the honesty shop. More on that later.   

About the Valleyside Escapes safari tents

Safari Tents at Valleyside Escapes glamping site in Devon

Nestled in the top paddock, you will find three luxurious safari tents named Oak, Maple and Birch. All three are fully equipped with everything you will need for a very comfortable stay.

Emma and Matt really have thought of everything for you, taking all the stress our of your weekend or week away with kids. 

We stayed in Birch in the far corner of the paddock, but our tent was extremely close to the other two safari tents.

I don’t believe these tents were occupied during our stay, I certainly didn’t see any other guests, so we didn’t have to worry about disturbing our neighbours. If the other tents had have been occupied by families with children, I wouldn’t have worried too much. 

However, if there were couples staying in the other tents, I may have been a little anxious about how much noise our kids were making.

Having said that, it’s clear on the website that the site is very child-friendly so any visitors should expect there to be children present when they book. 


Iron frame double bed with blue patterned bed spread inside glamping tent

All three safari tents sleep six people making them perfect for larger families. We could have invited my parents to come along too and there would have been plenty of space for us all.

There are two bedrooms; one has a king-sized bed with storage area that has ample hanging space and hangers in so that you can unpack your clothes upon arrival.

Twin beds inside a bedroom in the glamping tent

The twin bedroom has two single beds. Both bedrooms have access to the bathroom.

Cabin Bed

Stacey's children peeping out of a heart shaped window in the cabin bed in a safari tent at Valleyside Escapes

There is also a king-sized cabin bed, which our girls absolutely loved. It was also the warmest place in the tent so they hung out up there of an evening when things started to get a bit chillier. They also enjoyed spending time in the den below.

All bedding and towels are provided so there’s no need to bring these with you. 


The bathroom pod in the Birch glamping tent

Both bedrooms have separate access to the bathroom, which really was the show stopper of our stay. This is located in a covered area directly outside the tent.

Not only is the bathroom very sizeable, but it is very nicely decorated and boasts a shower, toilet and sink. There are complimentary luxury toiletries from 100 Acres so no need to worry about bringing your own. Although don’t forget your shampoo like we did!

The area that houses the bathroom is protected from the weather so you can use the supplied clothes airer to hang and dry clothes here if needed. This is also where the recycling boxes are kept. 


The kitchen inside Stacey's safari tent with all the mod cons - and oven, sink utensils and shelving

At the front of the tent is small L-shaped kitchen with hot-running water, a two-ring gas hob, toaster, kettle and a small fridge-freezer.

We did find the fridge a little on the small side and if you’re staying for any longer than a weekend you may find yourself having to do more frequent shops. We didn’t use the freezer compartment at all, but I guess it could be handy for ice or frozen desserts. 

Basic household essentials are supplied including foil, washing up liquid and cloths, tea towels and bin bags.

Some cooking essentials were also provided such as condiments and olive oil. There was also a small welcome basket that included milk, tea, jam, coffee, bread, some local biscuits and a pack of marshmallows. 


The dining area inside a Valleyside Escapes glamping tent

The wooden dining table seats six and there is ample crockery and cutlery provided along with all the pots, pans and cooking utensils you might need.

We were extremely happy to find that there was also a cafetiere for us to use for our morning coffee. 


The dining area and kitchen inside Birch glamping safari tent

The wood burning stove was very much needed at night and first thing in the morning as it was still very nippy given that it was only mid-April when we stayed.

Ample logs and fire lighters were supplied for our stay but additional logs can be purchased from the log store next to the gate at the entrance to the paddock. 

Extra blankets and hot water bottles are also provided for those chillier times, and we made good use of these. The children loved snuggling up with blankets on the bean bags in the den below the cabin bed so that they could read before bed. 


There is Wi-Fi should you need it which is a real bonus as the 4G signal wasn’t the best on site. 


Stacey's safari style glamping tent at Valleyside Escapes

Each safari tent has its own gated veranda with another dining table that seats six plus children’s seating. This means that small children and dogs can be easily contained.

There are seven or eight steps up to the veranda and entrance to the tent so do bear this in mind if any members of your party have mobility issues. 

We enjoyed a local cider on the veranda as we watched the sun set over the valley both nights and the fairy lights rigged up along the roof of the veranda looked really pretty after dark.

They probably allow you to stay outside for longer on the summer evenings but it was far too chilly for us to stay on the veranda after dark so we retreated inside. 

Fire Pit

Barbecue food cooking on the fire pit

Outside the tent is a Kadai BBQ which also acts as a fire pit so you can cook dinner, toast marshmallows or simply sit by the fire and keep warm at night. 

Valleyside Escapes Glamping Facilities

Away from you safari tent there’s even more facilities for guest to use during their stay.

Children’s play area

Play area with wooden play equipment at Valleyside Escapes glamping site

Valleyside Escapes has a children’s play area situated a literal stone’s throw from the safari tents. So parents can sit peacefully on the veranda and keep an eye on the kids while they play safe in the knowledge that small children can’t escape the paddock. 

The play area is best suited to younger children. It has a swing, slide, tree stumps and tyres to climb and balance on and a little mud kitchen to keep them occupied outdoors.

My girls are eight and 10-years-old so they weren’t that interested in the mud kitchen and the slide was too small for them but they did spend a fair amount of time playing on the swing. 

Skittles & boules court

The outdoor boules and skittles area in a field

Right beside Birch tent in is a small skittles and boules court to entertain the whole family. Our girls really enjoyed playing here and again we could still see them from the tent.

Games room

One of Stacey's daughters playing tale football in the games room

Down by the main house, just off the courtyard and above the bar, there is a new games room where kids and adults can enjoy playing table football, pool, darts or games on the retro Nintendo games console. 

Courtyard bar at Valleyside Escapes

Stacey's husband enjoying a beer in the courtyard bar

Down by the main house, just off the courtyard and above the bar there is a recently opened games room where kids and adults can enjoy playing table football, pool, darts or games on the retro Nintendo games console. 

Directly below the games room is the Mediterranean-style courtyard bar which is open Friday evenings. We popped in to sample the local cider and were surprised to see so many people in the bar. It is used by locals and not just glampsite guests. 

The log burner was roaring giving it a cosy atmosphere. My daughters were very taken with Emma and Matts very friendly pet dog who was lapping up all the attention that was showered on her. 

The bar is child-friendly and there is a chest of games to occupy the children or colouring in to keep them busy.

Although the bar is only open on Friday evenings, you can buy drinks from the bar on other days to take back and enjoy in your tent or out on the veranda. 

Honesty shop

There is a small honesty shop for clampers halfway between the car park and the paddock. It stocks a very sparse selection of treats and essentials including chocolate, Pringles, Haribo, marshmallows, hot chocolate, bread, small pots of locally made jam, warm socks, toothbrushes, and coal for the fire pit.

There was also a cupboard stocked full of board games for all ages to borrow. And for children there were activity sheets for a nature trail and a colouring in competition. 

As we stayed shortly after Easter, there were some leftover Easter eggs, so Emma kindly allowed our girls to take part in the Easter egg scavenger hunt.

They had to answer questions about the glampsite and do some sums in order to crack the code and unlock a chest inside the honesty shop to get to the egg. This kept the girls occupied for far longer than we expected. 

Riverside Meadow

River running through the meadow at Valleyside Escapes

Just a few minutes’ walk from the safari tents is the riverside meadow which is about seven acres of beautiful country explore that the kids will love to explore. We tracked the route along the river and the girls loved playing in the shallow water and stepping stones in the riverbed. 

We walked a total of 4.5km of the route there and back and stopped half way to enjoy a lunchtime picnic in the meadow. 

Things to do near Valleyside Escapes Glamping

Whilst the glampsite is seemingly in a remote location and you are surrounded by nature and fields, you’re actually extremely close to civilisation.

Family days out in Mid Devon 

You can see the Devon Railway Centre from the paddock at Valleyside Escapes Glamping.

This popular attraction offers a unique railway experience and is great for kids who can enjoy unlimited rides on two different railways, explore the model railway exhibition and the Edwardian model village. Smaller children can enjoy the  railway-themed soft play,  sand pit, wooden railways, build ‘n’ play area and a ball pool.

If you want to go a bit further there are plenty of family days out in Mid Devon.

Both The Bear Trail and Crealy Adventure Park are nearby.

Places to eat

Bickleigh Mill is an 18th century historic working water Mill that houses shops and a bistro which serves all day breakfast every Saturday. 

The Fisherman’s Cot pub is also a short distance away serving pub classics, with a modern twist. 

Local shops

If the honesty shop doesn’t cater to all your needs, the nearest shop is Exe Valley Farm shop which is a seven minute drive away. It is open seven days a week and has a café and butchery.

There are also four local supermarkets in Tiverton which is a 10 minute drive away. Choose from M&S, Morrisons, Tesco and Lidl. 

More handy things to know

The courtyard at Valleyside Escapes with plants and picnic tables

Here’s some more handy things to know about stays at Valleyside Escapes Glamping:

First night dinner

If you want something different for dinner, Emma and Matt can bring you with a paella meal kit.

This is perfect if you’re arriving and don’t want to worry about sorting out food for the evening. They provide all the ingredients, the pan and instructions for cook al fresco on the fire pit outside the safari tent. 

We didn’t take advantage of this because our daughter is vegetarian. We ended up heading in Tiverton and getting fish and chips and a veggie burger from one of the local takeaways. If you do want to pre-order the paella, make sure you give at least 24-hours’ notice. The cost is £9 per adult and £6 per child.

Baby and toddler equipment

If you are travelling with babies and toddlers, Matt and Emma can provide you with pre-school toys, a play mat and a baby bouncer to make your stay a little easier. You can also ask for a travel cot and a chair and you can borrow an off road buggy free of charge. 

Family events

Valleyside Barn is also situated on the site down by the main house and can be booked for weddings and events.

When the barn is booked, glampsite guests are not able to make use of the games room or the bar. For this reason, you can book your stay at a 15% reduction. This is a great deal if you have small children who won’t be using the games room anyway and you’re not that bothered about using the bar.   

Valleyside Escapes Glamping is the perfect venue for larger groups up to 18 people who may want to book all three tents together. 

If booked along with Valleyside Barn, it would be the perfect venue for a family event like a birthday party, anniversary party or anything else you may want to celebrate. 

Dog-friendly glamping

Valleyside Escapes is dog-friendly and you can bring one large or two small dogs with you for just £25. Dog bowls and treats can be provided.

The gated veranda will keep your dog safe and there are lots of great walks you can take your dog on in the near vicinity.

In the summer months, you can also pre-order a doggy ice cream to be ready in your freezer.

Where to find Valleyside Escapes in Devon

If using Google Maps to find the glampsite, a search for ‘Valleyside Escapes’ will take you straight there. If you have the What 3 Words app on your phone their reference is 


Devon with Kids reader offer

We have teamed up with Valleyside Escapes to offer readers 10% off weekend and mid-week breaks in May, June and September 2024 (excluding school and bank holidays).

Use the code DEVONWITHKIDS10 when you book on the glamping site’s website.

T&Cs: bookings need to be made by 31 May 2024. Subject to availability. Discount code cannot be used in conjunction with other offers.

Disclosure: Stacey and her family were invited to stay at Valleyside Escapes Glamping in exchange for a review on Devon with Kids. All opinions are her own. All images were taken by Stacey and her husband.

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