Lower Damgate Farm had a secret review!
Carolyn is a warm and welcoming host and ensures you feel at home as soon as you meet her. She is originally from a farming background and purchased Lower Damgate Farm in 1996.
When we met Carolyn, she told us a little of her story. Her dream was to start an Animal Sanctuary but never thought it would happen as she was working in the corporate world for Microsoft and was travelling the world with little time for anything else. However, when Carolyn developed cancer this gave her the incentive to make a lifestyle change, her father had seen Lower Damgate Farm in the Farmers Weekly and sent her the profile of this run down and derelict farm. Not phased she grasped the opportunity to do the farm up and follow her dream. What transpired was a lifestyle change for her and her family as well as a new beginning for Lower Damgate Farm and Dovedale Animal Sanctuary.
The Farmhouse was completely derelict when Carolyn moved in and with a new family on the way she put her heart and soul into renovating the buildings and providing a loving home for her three small children. Moving on to the barns she created what is now Reuben’s Roost, Bremen’s barn and Hopes’ Hideaway, all named after her children. This was also the time that Dovedale Animal Sanctuary was founded, with a passion for saving anything and everything Carolyn now provides a forever loving home to many needy and neglected animals.
Since 1996 the house and cottages (originally cow sheds) have undergone a complete transformation and a program of major restoration was undertaken, and as she tells me “it was complete mayhem and upheaval for a number of years but it was fun too” The first phase was completed in 1999 just after the birth of her second child.
The buildings are Grade 11 listed and situated in the Peak District National Park, it was important for Carolyn “to get it right” and she worked extensively with the authorities to create the finest holiday accommodation that I have seen. Her aim was to keep the original features and characters of the buildings and this has culminated with her providing the best holiday accommodation, wedding barn and holiday experience possible.
Sadly in 2001 Foot and Mouth stopped all visitors to the farm but as Carolyn explained, that was just a hiccup. Since then the business has grown with her enthusiasm and over the years Carolyn and her family have continued to invest in the holiday business. They have transformed the farm and properties into a beautiful and homely place for guests to enjoy all year round.
Carolyn still lives at the farm with her partner Karl and their three children Reuben, Bremen and Hope and as a family they continue to manage and maintain the farm for your enjoyment.
I certainly found this when I stayed at the farm with my family this summer. Carolyn’s mantra is that “nothing is a problem” and we felt this as well as the ambiance of the farm as soon as we arrived.
The area has a special surreal beauty, and as we drove on a little b road to the farm you could see the glorious Peaks surrounding the farm and for miles beyond. As you climb up the hill from Ilam (eye lamb) which is home to the National Trust white peak estate, I felt as though I was driving into the middle of nowhere and as you crest the hill before the farm, the expanse of the Peak District unfolds.
The farm is Nestled in the bottom of the valley and its position is spectacular, protected from the elements but with fabulous views around, we were excited to be here. The farm looked tidy and welcoming and as we drove past the cottages and down to the farmhouse Carolyn was there to meet us.
Carolyn and her family pride themselves on old fashioned values and think that it is important for you to feel the ambiance of the farm and what they have to offer. This isn’t always possible before you book especially in today’s climate where you can book online, however if you do visit you will be welcomed, with a cup of tea and a slice of cake. The family go out of their way to make you feel special. We had been sent extensive helpful information before we arrived which we found invaluable. There is a wealth of beautiful places to visit and lovely villages with cosy pubs for you to enjoy, Chatsworth, Bakewell, Buxton and Ashbourne are close, as is Alton Towers for the children! However, you don’t need to go anywhere as you can walk this stunning county straight from the doorstep.
There is plenty of character in these cottages and as Carolyn mentioned they are like a Tardis, on looking around we quite agree, there is a lot of space to escape to and Carolyn’s attention to detail shines through. These cottages have been thoughtfully planned with a myriad of antiques as well as a modern accent in technology. They are unique in their design, lots of plush furnishings and soft sofas, there is an emphasis on comfort with a country feel, though the main large kitchen is modern and stylish and can cater for large groups or small. The farm lends itself to any combination of groups with a general feeling of being at home in a relaxed and welcoming environment. What we loved is that if you want to spread out and put your feet up you can.
We felt very relaxed in the cottages and managed to explore the National Trust estate, Ilam Park. We also found time to walk from the farm down Hall Dale to the River Dove and on to the stepping stones. After our walk we arrived back at the farm to be greeted by Tiffin, the family Labradoodle. Dogs are welcome at the farm but Carolyn says she tries to keep the B&B Rooms in the Farmhouse allergy free!
We fed the goats and Alpacas, collected eggs for breakfast and had a game of pool, we also enjoyed lazing in the Hot Tub after we put the children to bed, sipping the unexpected welcome gift that was waiting for us when we arrived. Exhausted but happy we fell asleep into extremely comfortable beds.
To sum up, we had a wonderful time at Lower Damgate Farm. The sun shone and when we return, which we will, we know that we will be welcomed back with open arms and with Carolyn’s great big happy smile.
Thank you Carolyn
Mark F – Editor – The Sunday Telegraph