Being immersed in nature as we are here at Blackdown Yurts, we like to think we are in tune with the seasonal year, and so try to learn as much as we can about pagan rituals. Rather than the mass commercialised holiday of Halloween, we like the more simple, ancient traditions and so thought we would introduce you to this holiday of Samhain.
The week after we returned from holiday I found myself feeling rather down in the dumps. Why on Earth was that? I couldn't understand it. I'd just returned from a fantastic fortnight away with my family in sunny Italy, Slovenia and Croatia, our first summer holiday in five years and our first two-week break in eight! On arriving home we were warmly welcomed by friends who had been house-sitting and we still had ten days of the summer holidays left including fun with family so why did I feel so flat?
Many of you know I love bats and enjoy guiding bat walks on the farm for our guests. We listen to bats' echolocation with bat detectors as they fly over the ponds catching mosquitos and midges. Back in June I borrowed a recording bat detector from the Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat project for three nights to see what activity it picked up. I located it between our two ponds in our garden at the farmhouse and to be honest I didn’t hold out much hope as the forecast was for rain, rain and more rain. However I was pleasantly surprised when I got the results back after a couple of weeks.
One of my goals this year was to start walking the South West Coast Path after reading Raynor Winn's fantastic book The Salt Path. Various stretches are accessible from Blackdown Yurts - the closest being East Devon, but you can also reach the North Devon and Somerset coastline and South Devon should you wish. We started with a beautiful circular walk from Branscombe to Beer and back, up and over the cliffs to the attractive fishing village for lunch and back along the jungly undercliff.
The National Trust has a good guide to the walk. We parked in the beachside car park in Branscombe (be aware you still need to pay for parking even if you are a NT member). You can charge yourself with a coffee at The Sea Shanty beach cafe before you tackle the hill up to Hooken Cliffs. We enjoyed watching a pair of peregrine falcons hovering and diving while hunting on the clifftop.
A cause very close to our hearts here at Blackdown Yurts, on Saturday 20th July we are hosting a 'Crafternoon' in aid of Mind - the mental health charity.
As well as supporting worthy charities, we're passionate about the local community and so thought this would be a fantastic opportunity to invite families to come and join us here at Blackdown Yurts, as well as our sister business; Halsbeer Farm.
We've got so much space here to craft and play that it seems silly not to open it up every now and again to those who aren't staying here. So if you'd like to come along, there's no need to book - it's totally free so just turn up and get crafting! We'll have plenty of refreshments to keep you going, all we'd ask is that you donate to the charity while you're here.
Here are our top ten things to do this half term and beyond near Blackdown Yurts and Halsbeer Farm. We've divided into places you have to pay entrance for and things that are free. The titles to each attraction below are clickable through to their websites for more information, and we've provided links to some of the blogs we have done previously about attractions we've visited so you can see what we really thought and read our top tips for visiting.
Hooray for the holidays. Have fun whatever you are up to! Katie. x
Mark and I were recently treated to a wonderful evening at nearby Pipers Farm. One of the owners, Peter, ably assisted by his beautiful sheepdog Fly, showed us around the farm which showcases their grass fed, traditionally-reared livestock.
Pipers Farm is actually so much more than this little Devon farm with a view of the Blackdown Hills in the distance. The company supports a network of family-run farms and sells their quality meat online. It has a loyal following of ethically-minded consumers who want to know that the animals are treated well and reared outdoors in tune with nature.
On Tuesday evening I went running for the first time in nearly three months since fracturing a bone in my foot. I've missed getting out in the beautiful landscape and getting the headspace and exercise that comes with it.
I ran from the picturesque village of Culmstock along the River Culm through the water meadows to a little Woodland Trust reserve called Hunkin Wood where I stumbled on a granite gateway with a beautiful poem on it by Elizabeth Rapp.