Growing up as a child, I was lucky enough to have both parents who worked in schools which meant during most of our school holidays we would go on holiday together as a family! When I was quite young, my parents brought a touring caravan and we would often during our holidays drive up to Devon or Cornwall with our caravan and hook up somewhere nice for anything from a long weekend to sometimes the whole of the summer holidays! One year my parents found a little farm park in Ashburton, Devon and we all completely fell in love with it and ended up leaving our caravan there permanently so we could go down whenever we wanted and have almost a home away from home. Some of my best memories as a child was playing on the farm, meeting the animals and walking the dogs around the beautiful sights in the Devon countryside.
This year, Nathan and I were meant to be getting married and sadly because of Covid-19 our plans were put on hold and there were little options for a holiday to take a break from work. We both decided we wanted to go away and so I contacted the farm we used to go to when I was younger and we booked a long weekend away, camping in a tent with 5 of our pack! I know what you're thinking - yes we are mad!
The lovely farm we went to is called Parkers Farm Holiday Park which is on the outskirts of a little town called Ashburton in Devon. At Parkers Farm you can camp in a tent, take a touring caravan or rent one of their static caravan's on site so there's something for everyone and it's super dog friendly!
We chose this time to camp in a tent with an electric hook up but you can go all out and choose to not have electric if you're feeling hardcore! Onsite there are lots of plots with plenty of space for you to make yourself a little home for your stay and in the light of Covid, it's easy to social distance and they have lots of safety measures in place to ensure everyone's safety. They have an onsite shop with all the essentials and a clubhouse where they have events like Bingo and karaoke on throughout your stay as well as a bar and restaurant with some great home cooked food that is cooked onsite. There is also a separate dog room for your pooches to join and an outside garden to sit in too!
As it's a farm, there is obviously lots of animals on site! They have an array of small animals like rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens and ducks as well as other animals like goats, ponies, sheep, pigs, calves and alpaca's all of which you can meet on your walks around the site or join one of the farm walks where you get to be a part of farm life, meet all the animals and help care for them.
They also have a great dog walk at the top end of the farm with two large fields where your dogs can be off lead and have a run around freely. Just be aware there are animals in the fields beside you so only let your dog off lead if you are certain they won't react to livestock!
They have plenty of onsite facilities with toilet blocks, changing rooms and showers as well as washing up points, waste disposal and clothes washing and drying facilities if you needed them. The onsite staff are very friendly and helpful too so if you need something, they'll happily point you in the right direction and help you out if they can!
Just a 5 minute drive from the farm is the little town of Ashburton which is just gorgeous and has an array of shops, coffee shops and takeaways if you fancy a night in. You're also 20 minuites from Newton Abbot which is a much larger town and about half an hour from Plymouth both which are super easy to get to and quite large so there's plenty of shops, facilities and lots to do.
Just 5 minutes from Parkers is the beautiful Dartmoor National Park where you can park up somewhere and walk for hours on the Moors completely isolated from others. On the Moors there are rock formations called Tors that you can climb up and the biggest one being Haytor in the middle of Dartmoor which has it's own separate car park as it's a big tourist destination that lots of people enjoy climbing up.
On the National Park there are free roaming animals everywhere so it's important to drive carefully on the roads and ensure if you are taking your dog that they are on lead or under strict control off lead and have done some livestock training. There are wild ponies, sheep and cows on the land roaming free all of which are owned and well cared for. If your dog hasn't done livestock training or doesn't have a solid recall I would definitely recommend Keeping your dog on the lead. Dartmoor is HUGE and the land is kept as natural as possible so even if there doesn't look like there are any livestock nearby, it's easy for them to be hidden in the shrubbery just in front of you and pop out of seemingly nowhere.
All of our dogs except our new Dachshund have all done livestock training and have very solid recalls even in the presence of other animals and distractions so they were all allowed off lead and our Daxie was kept on a long line to ensure he wasn't causing stress or harm to the wildlife around us. As I said, the National Park is huge so you can park up somewhere, start walking and apart from the local wildlife, you probably won't see anyone unless it's a particularly busy area. It's the perfect place to go exploring with your dogs off lead and just enjoy the surroundings without any distractions.
We spent hours each day walking for miles with our dogs exploring the Moors, everyone off lead and enjoying the space, freedom and beauty surrounding us. It was great for the dogs to be off and enjoying their freedom and really relaxing for both of us too!
Here's some photo's of the pack exploring on the Moors:
If you're looking for a holiday where you can explore the countryside with your dogs by your side, this is definitely the place for you! Parkers is a wonderful place to be and we both loved being able to 'check out' of normal life for a few days and just have fun with our pack and they loved it too!
We loved it so much we've already booked another weekend away in a static caravan and have both said we want to go camping again with the pack in the new year! Our pack loved the change in scenery and were always looking forward to the next walk together - by the time we got back to the tent in the evening they were all snuggled on their beds to keep warm and rest up for the next day of fun!
If you want to have a look at Parkers Farm for yours and your dogs next holiday, here's their website: https://www.parkersfarmholidays.co.uk/
Be sure to share your pictures of you and your dogs with us if you end up going! We'll be heading back with the pack soon and we'll be sure to share more of their adventures for you all to see too!