The lake, the cows, the chalk stream… Woodfrys Farm isn’t just a campsite, it’s a taste of rural Dorset. This 25-acre smallholding, nestled below Melbury Hill in Melbury Abbas, is home to Liam, Hannah, their children and herds of pedigree rare breeds like Hereford cattle and British Lop pigs. Tawny owls and Soprano Pipistrelle bats can be spotted in the sky at night, while ducks, herons and the occasional egret take the dayshift. There’s room on the farm for campers too, of course. But only a few, and only if you book early enough to bag one of the small handful of pitches available.
Surrounded by mature trees, Woodfrys is an easy place to relax. There are two camping areas, the Water Meadow and the Ridge. The former is just for tents and is set between the campsite’s one-acre lake – crowned by a beautiful willow on an island – and a clear chalk stream that’s ideal for dipping your toes in on a hot summers day. The Ridge, meanwhile, is on a raised bank overlooking the meadow and valley and can accommodate a couple of campervans as well as tents. All pitches have their own picnic table and fire pit and are each individually mown into the grass, so your tent is really in the midst of it all. You can’t choose your exact spot in advance, since Hannah and Liam rotate the pitches to protect the ground, but if you choose the meadow you’ll always get a waterfront patch.
From the recycling and the compsting loos, to the ‘Shower Shack’ made out of locally sourced waney edge larch, everything here is done with sustainability in mind. When you book, you also join the Greener Camping Club, giving access to some of the greenest campsites in the UK and planting a tree for every holiday. Liam and Hannah have also begun to develop their productive market garden, planting up areas with orchards and soft fruits so that they can provide fruit and veg to campers and locals alike. Alongside this, free range eggs from their chickens are up for grabs at the gates, fresh from the farm hens.
If you want to get fully immersed in nature, the farm’s well located on the western edge of the Cranbourne Chase AONB, with Melbury Beacon across the other side of the valley (a scenic walk from the campsite) and Fontmell Down just beyond. Swathes of this land are owned by the National Trust and the area is also within a Dark Sky Reserve, meaning there is just as much to enjoy here on a clear starry night as there is on a sunny day. The pretty hilltop town of Shaftesbury is within walking distance too, with streets that are (literally) out of a Hovis advert and, for a long day out, it’s a 40-minute drive to the Jurassic Coast.