February – walk round Slapton Ley National Nature Reserve

February – walk round Slapton Ley National Nature Reserve

Oh what a beautiful day!

For weeks, I’ve been meaning to walk round the National Nature Reserve (NNR) just down the lane from Watermill Cottages at Slapton Ley. With the first spring birdcalls in the air and a beaming sun, today was the day,.

Slapton Ley towards Torcross

A fabulously crammed fresh crab sandwich and a cuppa at The Start Bay Inn at Torcross for lunch then a walk round the Ley – the colours, my goodness. 

And as I rounded a dip in th path at the edge of the lapping Ley, nine young swans preening – I couldn’t believe my luck.  Some of the young from last year, such a good swan year.

The view from the hide at Ireland Bay, round the walk from the bridge on the Slapton road is magnificent –  looking over reed beds to Ireland Farm which was evacuated in preparation for Operation Tiger in 1943, a rehearsal for the D-Day Landings in World War Two.  The inhabitants didn’t ever return.      

A Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) the Reserve is managed by Slapton Ley Field Centre and is home to otters, birdlife, butterflies, including bitterns, Cetti’s warbler and kingfishers.  The Gara brook that runs through the garden and valley of Watermill Cottages feeds the Higher Ley, which is why we take so much care of our land.

Come and enjoy this beautiful stretch of Devon coast, Watermill Cottages, behind Slapton and near Dartmouth is the perfect base, call Christine and John on 01803 770219.

View over the ring bench at Slapton ley to the monument commemorating Operation Tiger in WWII



The Times recommends Watermill Cottages 23 May 2015

The Times recommends Watermill Cottages 23 May 2015

The Times recommends Watermill Cottages

The Times, to our delighted surprise, recommended us in its Travel Doctor column on Saturday May 23 2015.  

Watermill Cottages’ 20 acres of rural coastal retreat near Slapton Sands beach in South Devon’s AONB is perfect for families of all ages and sizes with plenty of dogs!

It was in the Weekend Section, which  Andy at Strete General Stores had luckily held for us on Sunday morning.

The Times quoted prices for May half-term 2016 for Rose, Quack and Barleycorn Cottages – the same price as 2015 – prices and availability for 2015 are on this link.  

For 2016 prices and availability please call us on 01803 770219 or email christine@watermillcottages.co.uk

Word has got out! 

Bottte Feeding Matilda the Lamb

Bottte Feeding Matilda the Lamb

Matilda’s mum only has half a working udder so we’re bottle feeding
Matilda twice a day at Watermill Cottages smallholding and teaching her to eat lamb food… She comes
running and bouncing when you call her name… why does bottle feeding a
lamb make everyone so happy!

Teaching Matilda to eat solids is not easy – she is easily distracted and likes to jump for joy… the Belted Galloways, last year’s calves, are not impressed…  Matilda was born in mid-February, she’s thriving we’re happy to report.  She’s in the sheep shed at the moment but shall soon be in the field next to the kitchen garden, behind Barleycorn Cottage, where there’s plenty of fresh grass for a growing lamb and her mum.


Hens on wheels …

Hens on wheels …

checking out the ‘Hentrance’

John’s mobile hen house …

 A New Year and a new move for the chickens at Watermill Cottages …  

John has spent a few winter weeks in his workshop happily building a new mobile home for the hens. 

Yesterday they took a first look round.

It’s compact, warm, easy to clean (detachable roof and rear nesting boxes with lid), has light-sensitive door closing, and best of all, it’s on wheels.

The plan is to involve the hens in weeding and prepping the kitchen garden.  

We’ll move them over the lane and use electric fencing to keep them safe from fabulous and very friendly Mr Fox as they weed, fertilise and dig over some of the ground.

Happy faces all round (except for Mr F) and scrummy eggs and veg too.

ten rescued  ducklings

ten rescued ducklings

‘There are ducklings all over the lawn, quick come and help’ so we ran to the rescue ith buckets, fishing nets, wellies and anything we could find…  

A mallard had nested in a clump of pampas grass by the bridge,and her ducklings were leggily darting down the bank into the stream and being washed away.  they pooled in the eddies by the lawn, ran to the grass then back into th stream as we approached them.

The flow under the bridge was too strong for them to swim back upstream to their mum who called them to join her and the few duckling who’d entered the river well above the bridge.
We collected ten of them and put them in an open-topped box where we hoped thier mum might join them and encourage them out.  She didn’t.  So John rigged up the poultry heat lamp in the chickenarium he built for hen chicks last year and we made a warm nesting box at one end with a dog-bowl pool and food at the other.  They were there for a week before the whole construction was sodden – 
mallards ducklings love to splash!

They’re now in the dog kennel with a heat lamp and a large baking tray pool in the sunshine – it doesn’t matter how wet everything there gets.  We crush corn and pellets for them, give them grass too.  They are thriving! And very fast.

A few more weeks of heat lamps and they can join the muscovies and ducklings.  So far so good….  

It’s spring at Watermill Cottages!