Yesterday I had the great pleasure of spending the afternoon in the stunning tithe barn at Great Fosters Hotel in Egham in Surrey along with 99 other accommodation providers from across the length and breadth of England to be presented with a 2023 VisitEngland Recognition of Service Excellence "ROSE" Award.
Blackdown Yurts was nominated for the award by Teresa, our VisitEngland assessor who has carried out our glamping accreditation visit for the last two years (for which we achieved Gold by the way!). The ROSE Awards "recognise accommodation businesses which go the extra mile for their guests".
Nadine Thomson, VisitEngland Advisory Board Member, who presented the awards (pictured on the right with Katie above) said "the ROSE Awards celebrate and champion the accommodation businesses across England who go above and beyond in their customer service to guarantee visitors have amazing experiences."
A question from one of our yurt guests this week got me to thinking about what our visitors can do if it’s wet on your holiday. We are lucky in having the barn as a refuge for guests to enjoy whatever the weather - with sofas, a wood-burning stove, cooking facilities and a large dining table - it's a lovely place to while away a few hours reading and playing games while rain patters on the tin roof. But if you want to get out and about when it's raining where should you go? Read on to find out...
A big one of course is Exeter, Devon's historic cathedral city, which is surprisingly close being only one junction down the M5 from Cullompton. It has numerous attractions and lots of shops and restaurants. A few highlights include:
The RAMM (Royal Albert Memorial Museum) is an excellent indoor option with fascinating free galleries and temporary exhibitions that you may have to pay extra for. It's also close to some of Exeter's best and varied eateries.
Exeter Cathedral is also nearby and well worth a visit. The underground passages are interesting and most definitely out of the rain being beneath the streets. They are accessed via an entrance on Paris Street next to Next at the John Lewis end of town.
To get active while it's raining look no further than Clip and Climb, Exeter's indoor climbing centre down in the Quay area. It claims to be the Southwest's largest indoor climbing centre. There are also some great restaurants and antique places to explore in the Quay along with a new yarn shop Lauren Aston Designs run by a friend of ours where you can stock up on your quality colourful knitting yarn and knitting patterns before returning to your yurt or the barn to knit the rain away.
We are very nearly half way through our open season of our glamping site this year! How did that happen? June has simply flown by in a haze of beautiful sunshine and warmth.
We are fully booked in our Devon yurts this weekend but we have a smattering of availability next week and over the following two weekends. Starting from £80 per night. Perfect for a short stay getaway before school is out for Summer.
Woodpecker (sleeps 6) is available for two, Willow (sleeps 4) for three and Buzzard (sleeps 6) for four nights all from Monday 3rd July.
Badger (sleeps 6) is available from Thursday 6th July for a minimum of two nights and up to eight nights including over next weekend.
Willow and Woodpecker are both available on the weekend of 14th July and we have some midweek availability either side too.
Once the summer holidays start availability is more limited but we do have Woodpecker for four nights from 24th July and Willow is available for four nights from 31st July. Then nothing until 14th August.
Live availability calendars are available on each individual yurt page or take a look on the Book Now page where you can search availability.
Alongside our four fully equipped Mongolian yurts we have a spacious communal barn with dining, seating and cooking areas. Next door are private bathrooms for each yurt with hot showers and flushing toilets. Never fear for middle of the night wees you don't have to venture far from the yurt as each has a composting toilet and urinal adjacent along with its very own camp kitchen and fire seating area.
We generously provide wood, kindling, firelighters, matches and a starter pack of charcoal for the kettle BBQ. We even provide marshmallows for toasting. Come and check out our little piece of heaven in Devon for yourself.
Our beautiful fields and meadows are teeming with wildlife including barn owls, kestrels, deer, butterflies, birds and bats. Come and relax in nature a while. Bat detectors available to borrow on request, if Katie is around she may be able to lead a bat walk for you. Do ask or put a note on expressing your interest when you book.
"Blackdown Yurts is a well established site which maintains a very good standard of accommodation across each of the yurts. The yurts are well spaced out and the maturing surroundings provide each with a good amount of privacy. All enjoy an uninterrupted view across the fields and woodland as well as the very attractive natural growing areas with wild flowers. Well presented with freshly treated woodwork and items replaced as required.
Save £15 per night on glamping stays with us throughout the rest of April and May up to and including Thursday 25th May. That makes a stay in one of our six sleeper yurts cheaper than our four sleeper yurt would usually be. Effectively a free upgrade!
Simply enter code SAVE15 at checkout to receive £15 off each night of your stay.
Two night minimum stay still applies. Valid for new bookings made on or after 20th April 2023 only. Book now at www.blackdownyurts.co.uk
And the discount is valid at the weekend as well as midweek. We have weekend stays available from tomorrow Friday 21st April, next Friday 28th April and also in mid May on the weekend of 12/13th May.
April and May are such beautiful months to visit the Blackdown Hills and Devon. With wild garlic and bluebells flowering, birds singing and the sun getting warmer by the day.
We have one stay remaining in the May half term, in Willow which sleeps 4, from Monday 29th May for four nights. Availability is fairly good throughout June and the first half of July but is becoming patchy during the Summer holidays.
This is still one of my all-time favourite photos that Mark has taken here at Blackdown Yurts. The majesty of the Milky Way coursing down the centre, Mars at far left and a shooting star at centre right, with a group of happy glampers enjoying the campfire next to their yurt. 'Happy days', or rather 'happy nights'.
At the end of last year I attended a meeting where representatives of the Exmoor Dark Skies Project and the UK Dark Skies Partnership spoke about the importance of keeping our landscapes as free as possible of light pollution. It's so important to avoid excessive lighting as it can harm wildlife and prevent us from seeing the stars, never mind the waste of money and energy and the harmful contribution that makes to climate change.
We are lucky that our yurts nestle in a dark valley on the edge of the Blackdown Hills AONB with very little light spill. We have been careful not to introduce a lot of lighting on site, instead relying on guests to use torches and lanterns to find their way around. We have a lot of nocturnal wildlife, which you could spot (or hear) on your holiday including numerous species of bats, barn and tawny owls, and foxes.
Read on to find out five ways you can embrace your dark side this year...
We watched such a fantastic movie last weekend and it inspired me to write a list of the zoos and wildlife parks that you can visit while on holiday in the region.
It was only at the end of We Bought a Zoo*, which stars Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson, that I discovered it was inspired by real-life events at Dartmoor Zoo here in Devon rather than being a story from the USA where the film is set. We've not visited Dartmoor Zoo ourselves yet, but it is now firmly on the list for this year.
Visiting a zoo is a fantastic family day out while on holiday and one of the benefits of Blackdown Yurts being located in Mid-Devon is that you can go in pretty much any direction to find one. I've listed these in order of distance to reach them. Some are large, some are tiny, all are fascinating places to visit so here goes:
1. Wildwood Devon
The first 100 trees will be planted at the start of April by a group of volunteers from Buddhafield who are using the yurts as a base for a tree-planting retreat on land they own nearby. They have kindly offered to spend a morning planting trees for us at the yurts too. We can't wait to get digging!
Katie is one of the owners of Blackdown Yurts and likes to write about things going on at and around her beautiful glamping site