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“Great Visit”
Review of Occombe Farm

Occombe Farm
Ranked #17 of 39 things to do in Paignton
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: This organic, working farm on the edge of Paignton is open to the public 7 days a week. You can see farm animals including cows, sheep, chickens, pigs and alpacas, and walk a lovely 2km nature trail with a bird hide. Our Farm Cafe serves local produce and seasonal dishes and there is a kids play area outside. Visit the beautiful kitchen garden with a wartime allotment and air raid shelter. The farm is run by local charity Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust with all profits going to support its conservation and education work. The Trust run a selection of chargeable events throughout the year at Occombe and it's other sites, so please check the website for details of what's going on before you arrive. Free parking!
Reviewed 15 April 2017 via mobile

We visited this farm with my grandson recently. He took part in the "Egg Hunt" which was very educational as well as good fun. He saw some animals and trekked through the woods, finding the trip very enjoyable. However his favourite part of the trip was watching the tractors pick up hay bales and put them in the cow shed.

This is a free location which is very enjoyable for all ages. Quite unbelievable that it is free.

Thank Maureen R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"nature trail"
in 36 reviews
"bird hide"
in 10 reviews
"farm shop and cafe"
in 8 reviews
"anderson shelter"
in 3 reviews
"bird watching"
in 3 reviews
"play area"
in 14 reviews
"meeting friends"
in 2 reviews
"egg hunt"
in 2 reviews
"farm visit"
in 2 reviews
"chickens and ducks"
in 2 reviews
"real sense"
in 2 reviews
"great place to visit"
in 4 reviews
"older children"
in 2 reviews
"wellies"
in 7 reviews
"tractor"
in 9 reviews
"skirt"
in 2 reviews
"animals"
in 46 reviews
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35 - 39 of 207 reviews

Reviewed 13 April 2017 via mobile

We enjoyed a morning at Occombe Farm. There are some basic play facilities, a variety of animals and a lovely short walk, ideal for little ones. We had some coffee and food in the cafe at lunch time and the service was great and the food was tasty.

1  Thank Road371259
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 March 2017

The food is really good, reasonable price and brought to your table. I have met with friends there several times as it is located conveniently on the outskirts of Paignton.

Thank Debbie M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 February 2017

It’s a cool early morning in April. Dew is rising from the tall grass as sunbeams break through the stems. The wood is beginning to fill with birdsong. In the distance, a lamb bleats and the cattle stir. I tread softly past the shoulder-high stems, a feeling anticipation in my gut. Suddenly I freeze. I am being watched.
Beyond the first bank of grass in front of me something stirs in the clearing. I turn my head slowly…and a pair of dark brown eyeballs are staring back. A small family of deer are gathered five metres way. The doe is motionless as she evaluates the risk. Two fawns lay before her basking in the day’s first light. The buck hasn’t seen me and is feeding on the stems. And that’s how we stood eyeball-to-eyeball waiting for the other to give itself away.
This encounter was one of several I experienced last year at Occombe Farm and each time it was a thrill. The very timid fawn-coloured deer merge so well with the background of bark and brush that they become vague spectres; only almost there as if to represent the woodland spirits. So these meetings are always magical. Tables are turned. The observer becomes the observed.
But deer are not the reason I come to the Farm’s Nature trail.
From late February birds are gathering. They are gathering in numbers and varieties, some recognisable, others less so and I am interested in them all.
Occombe Farm is an ideal environment for birdwatching because the landscape of its 2km nature trail offers enough diversity to attract a range of species. From dense, canopied woodland, to more spacious areas with little streams and then opening up to path-lined fields and small gorse heathland it maintains interest for bird and human alike.
Another welcome feature of this Torbay Coast & Countryside Trust-managed plot is the ban on dogs. In the contest between our feathered and four-legged friends, I’m afraid there’s only going to be one winner so the absence of yapping canine is a big plus. The other factor guaranteed to evacuate all possibility of wildlife from view is the short-legged kind. So, to capture the wood at its best, be as a bird and get there before the under-fives have finished their Coco-Pops.
About seven years ago, Occombe started a programme which involved building a cookery school , planting an orchard and establishing a vegetable garden. The orchard yielded its first major crop of apples last year and is beginning to attract some interesting birdlife. I saw a pair of Green Woodpeckers on the trees last year and, rather excitedly mentioned it to one of the wardens. “Oh yes,” she said. “They’re usually in the car park” So the lesson is, if you’re bird-watching, be on alert even before you get out of the car!
To get the best from Occombe, you need to tune in. Calm, quiet alertness is a skill that nature nurtures in you if you allow it. The calmness comes from how you move with conscious thought of where you tread so as not to make a noise. The alertness is your radar-like eyes and ears picking out the unusual or unfamiliar and filtering everything else out. With time, your senses become more sensitive to the subtle changes in the sound dynamics of the environment and the small details within your peripheral vision that might otherwise go unnoticed. Mindfulness in action.
So, suitably tuned in, the trail starts from the bottom left side of the orchard although there is no reason you can’t do it in reverse from the ‘exit’ on the right.
You enter the wood through one of a number of gates set up along the trail. Gently does it with that gate if you don’t want to scare off every bit of wildlife on the other side. Then stop, take in the surroundings. Listen. What are the birds you can recognise? Which songs are unfamiliar? Are there any other sounds? Is that rustling from a squirrel or something else? This is tuning in.
Through the next gate, we are turning away from the fields on the left into the wood and the bird hide here is always worth a visit. It can get very muddy near the entrance on your right, so make sure you’re wearing hardy and waterproof footwear.
As you creep in you’ll see apertures in the hide opening out to a small area of cleared woodland. There are usually three feeders here, one on the left of the hide and two in front. The most common sites are blue and great tits but a patient wait can be rewarded by great spotted woodpeckers, bullfinches, nuthatches and occasionally siskins.
Moving on, we pass over a little bridge. There are birch and lark trees around and these can attract particular varieties of bird which can usually be first identified by their call, so tune in to any unfamiliar sounds. There is a small pond to our right as the path turns up into a large clearing canopied by giant oaks. Stop and scan the arena. Wait for the call or the movement. It could be a tree-creeper whose mouse-like motion you home in on as it darts up the bark of a tree.
The gate on the far side of this scene takes us along a short path that is open to tall grass on the right. This is where the deer like to feed early in the morning. Going through the next gate, we turn right as the path skirts along some fields. On the far side of the lower field there are tall oaks. Listen for the mournful wails of the buzzards that nest there every year.
Through the next gate and we are back in another enclosed woodland – my favourite spot on the trail: Bird Central. With little streams, abundant varieties of flora and fauna, talk oaks, straight birches, ivy and moss, the habitats attract the most amazing array of birds. In fact, the only places they seem to steer well clear of are the bird boxes placed on trees by well-meaning humans who think they know what’s good for them. In April this area is a cathedral of bird song. Many people think about taking a camera and binoculars along to a birdwatch. No bad thing, but for me, the auditory qualities are what makes this place so special and I always bring along a means to record some of the sounds on days when the wind has supressed the traffic noise in the background.
In fact from April onwards, you are probably using your ears more than your eyes. Get there in March before the blossom is out and you will see more with those binoculars.
In recent years Goldcrests and have taken residence and they are remarkably tame little birds. They are not that noticeable because of their size – as small, sometimes smaller, than a wren – and their call is right up at our upper hearing range. So they are the perfect model on which to test how sensitive your perception of nature is.
Stand by the bridge next to the stream. Take in all the sounds. Filter out the ones you know and tune in to upper range. Most of the high-pitched ones are tits. If you can recognise their call, you can probably pick out a goldcrest because it’s higher. The sound is a tingly five or six-phrase call repeated quietly, never varied. Once you have picked it out, it becomes hypnotic. Next try and focus your attention on where it is coming from. Goldcrests often give themselves away by fluttering, hover-style next to a bit of vegetation. If you wait for this behaviour, you will be rewarded with a view of the most beautifully delicate creature crowned by a plume of yellow on its forehead. And without any sudden movements, it will let you get in close enough for a picture - although a selfie is probably pushing it!
At the end of this path by the stream, you can either head back to the orchard to your right or go for the extended trail straight ahead.
The extended trail offers up a more scenic route passing by marshland and farmland hills to the south, a more enclosed area before skirting around a gorse-like field which takes you back to the orchard.
Of the entire trail I would say its lack of steep and difficult terrain makes it suitable for all walkers, young and old, lazy and energetic. That means you can focus on the views or tuning in to the wildlife as you wish.
The Trust do a generally excellent job of managing the woods although sometimes I wonder if they over-manage sometimes. For example, I am concerned about particular trees being felled which I know are habitats for certain birds. There are dead trees where I know woodpeckers nest and inauspicious looking ivy-covered stumps that are homes to the goldcrests year after year.
And I haven’t mentioned the other scourge of the woods, and a much bigger threat than dogs – the ubiquitous squirrel. Having almost wiped out the population of the indigenous red, the grey feasts upon the eggs and food of birds. Rarely have I been to the bird hide at Occombe and not seen this vermin devouring the contents of birdfeeders. Contrary to general opinion, greys are not protected and managing their population in a humane way must be a priority of every landowner.
My other concern was the sight a few weeks ago of two guys dressed in fatigues and carrying shotguns standing next to a hedge in farmland adjacent to the extended trail. Sadly the object of their shoot was not squirrels but pheasants, pigeons and it seemed anything else that happened to fly over their heads. Needless to say, it brought my birdwatch session to an abrupt end.
I cannot finish without mentioning that it is all completely free: the parking, the trail and the rest. It is all funded by the other activities that the Trust get up to, most notably, the beer festival. And while I find the festival no longer to my taste, every time it comes around I raise a glass of my favourite brew to the flock of boozers in thanks at funding my avian excursions.

1  Thank Dave J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 16 February 2017

Went in for a quick cuppa but the service was slow and rather disorganised. Grand daughter enjoyed seeing cows.

Thank Bikelovertoo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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