Kate Taylor of Dotty4Paws, a dedicated Doggy directory, came to stay at Woodfarm HQ and have a good look around the Barges too. This is what she said about us…
We were invited to stay at Woodfarm Barns, a collection of luxury dog-friendly self-catering barns in the heart of Suffolk.
Having driven almost three and a half hours in torrential rain, [I’m sure we passed Noah and the animals at some point on our journey!] we could not have been more pleased to arrive at Woodfarm Barns. We were greeted with an extremely warm welcome by Anne who showed us around and recommended some nearby places to visit. The visitor information folder was literally brimming with ideas of doggy days out, and I could already feel myself wishing we were here for longer.
A Cosy Country Retreat
We’d left Mr T at home looking after Bert the Tortoise for this little staycay, so it was just Pops and myself – a proper girlie holiday. I felt rather like Cameron Diaz in the film The Holiday, arriving to my cosy country retreat and hunkering down with Poppy dog. Needless to say, no dashing middle-aged man arrived on my doorstep in the middle of the night [one can always dream!]
Unfortunately the biblical rain seemed to have followed us from Wiltshire, and when we arrived it was still lashing down so we decided to cosy up with a cup of tea, catch up on a spot of social media and familiarise ourselves with our new surroundings. Woodfarm Barns comprises six luxury barns and a beautiful thatched farmhouse. We were staying in Stour Barn which sleeps two people [well a crazy dog lady and her hu-dog in our case!]
Having read the plethora of five star reviews and knowing that Woodfarm Barns had been awarded the Visit England Gold Award, we were expecting amazing things, and boy we were not disappointed. The barn really is perfect in every way and just oozes a rustic, cottage-like charm, making you feel instantly at home as soon as you walk through the door. The living space is compact and cosy with a fabulous log burner being the focal point of the living room.
I never did make the girl-guides, so was I little worried at first that my fire lighting capabilities may let me down somewhat! However, much to my own amazement, within about half an hour of arriving we were enjoying a roaring fire and Poppy instantly bagsied the best seat in the house!
The Perfect Location
Set down a quiet country lane and off the beaten track, the barn is extremely well appointed and immaculately clean, with every essential you could possibly need to hand. The high vaulted ceilings and exposed oak beams give the barn a charming character, and compliment the homely cottage style interior. This is mirrored by colourful patchwork bed quilts and a carefully chosen selection of antique artefacts and collectables dotted about.
The Barns are only ten years old and so, whilst they look quaint and rustic from the exterior, inside they have all the luxuries of modern living such as underfloor heating and an efficient hot water system. Equally, they all enjoy their own space giving you privacy from neighbouring holiday-makers, with carefully manicured box hedges and quirky garden sculptures adding interest to the communal areas.
Outside is a shed, in fact it’s more like an Aladdin’s cave of things to do throughout out your stay. There are push bikes, (which you are welcome to borrow) a stash of dog towels, additional fire wood to purchase should you run out, information leaflets aplenty [seriously it is like a mini tourist information centre on your doorstep – just fab] and the biggest DVD and book collection I’ve ever seen.
The Ultimate Luxury
The pièce de résistance about Woodfarm Barns has to be the covered hot tub in the back courtyard! Oh my goodness what a luxury, I just couldn’t resist having a little dip, even though I was on my own and it was blowing a hoolie outside! The fluffy towel, snuggly over-sized bathrobe and slippers were just too tempting…..well you only live once don’t you!
The Local Area
Suffolk is somewhere that I’ve never been before, and certainly never considered a holiday destination. However, I’m well and truly converted – it’s such a beautiful county – I’m already planning our next visit to see all the places that we didn’t get time for. Steeped in history and adorned with cutesey thatched and Tudor style cottages painted in pretty pastel shades of rosy pink, and subtle creams, it has a unique character all of its own.
The scenery is such a contrast to the rolling hills of Wiltshire and the flat, iconic Constable landscape is truly breathtaking and perfect for walkies, of course. There are so many walking trails in the area and the beauty is that you have the coastline within half and hours drive, so you really do get the best of both worlds – coast meets country, quite literally.
Just For Dogs
Carl the owner of Woodfarm Barns has gone out of his way to make our four legged friends feel just as welcome as their human counter parts. We arrived to a very welcoming hamper for humans, [containing all the ingredients for a scrumptious cooked breakfast] but also some treats for my girl and a poop bag dispenser.
Positioned conveniently around the communal areas are dog bins, and in the enclosed back garden is a hose to wash your pup down after a muddy walk. I love it when we stay somewhere with an enclosed garden, it’s so much less hassle and means Poppy can sniff away to her hearts content without me having to worry. I can also rest easy, knowing that I won’t have to frighten the neighbourhood with my best Wee Willy Winkie impersonation in the middle of the night should Pops need a comfort break. [It is very rare, but Murphy’s Law it’ll happen if we’re staying in the middle of a city!!]
Woof Farm Meadows
Over the road from the Barns is a secure two acre field where guests are welcome to exercise their dog. There is even an area cordoned off for old or nervous dogs, which is such a thoughtful idea and something that I really appreciate as the owner of an anxious dog who’s getting on a bit. In the paddock is a seating area, a bench and even a few agility exercises if you’re feeling energetic! Naturally Poppy looked at me like I had two heads when I tried to coax her through the weave poles!
On the second day of our visit we met up with Carl who showed us around his two rather splendid converted 19th Century Dutch Sailing Barges. Both the barges are static, so there’s no need to be a barging pro to stay on one of these beauties. The original plan was for Pops and I to spend a night onboard one of these impressive vessels, however as Storm Gareth decided to gatecrash our little adventure, I made the decision to spend both nights on dry land!
The Barges were amazing though and such a fabulous way to spend a holiday with a difference. Onderneming is the larger of the barges [in fact it’s huge – it has three bathrooms!] and is moored at Snape Maltings – I could have spent hours here. Seriously everything you need for a dog-friendly holiday is on your doorstep [or board walk should I say!] Walkies through the marshlands, cafes, pubs and an array of independent boutique shops; all occupying what was once an old mill and is now a very sought after tourist destination – it’s the perfect spot for a bit of R and R.
Carl and I enjoyed a coffee in the Plough and Sail pub, one of the few businesses within the complex that allow dogs inside. Meanwhile, Poppy nibbled away on her lunch, whilst we chatted all things dog-friendly and I got to hear all about Carl’s exciting new dog-friendly holiday let in Tuscany before we headed to Tidemill in Woodbridge where his smaller barge, Twee Gebroeders, is moored.
Much smaller in size, but just as big in character and charm, the interior decor just exudes charisma. With a bright red cast iron range cooker the focal point of the kitchen, and floral country style bed linen, it really is so inviting and would be a holiday experience you’d remember forever more.
We were so very sad to be leaving Woodbarns Barns, Poppy and I really had had such a wonderful adventure. It was the first time we’d been away just the two of us and I can safely say it was one of my favourite girlie holidays I’ve ever had! There’s so much still to explore about this beautiful county – we will definitely return.
A huge thank you to Carl and Anne for making us feel so incredibly welcome, we will treasure the memories of our stay with you forever.
Woofs and Wags
Kate and Pops