Steward Profile

‘Forget stress and get your life back’ among ancient woodlands and 'wildlife in all directions'

A Higher Wicombe escape that’s perfectly suited for families and its royalty of wildlife including rare bats, otters and a majestic ancient woodland tree that has marked time since King Henry.

We're Alistair and Lorna Handyside, owners of Higher Wiscombe. Looking for a way to create meaning in our lives, we decided to leave our tech jobs and explore a future in farm stay hospitality.  Ten years ago the UK didn’t have a label for sustainable or eco-tourism. We just knew that we wanted to transform our run-down farm in Devon into a unique, minimal-impact-on-the-environment property, and even our decor is made of recycled materials and timber. Today, we're proud to say Higher Wiscombe is recognized as an award-winning model of sustainable tourism and a magnificent place for nature connection.

We're fortunate to be located at the epicenter of outstanding natural beauty. Higher Wiscombe is an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) one designation down from a national park and offers views and wildlife in all directions — we're surrounded by an ecosystem of rare bats, birds, otters and deer. We also have wildwoods, ancient woodland and a 600-year-old oak tree that was alive when Henry the VIII was on the throne. Where the headwaters of the river meet, we've built a dozen ‘leaky dams' to slow the water and protect the land from flooding, which has restored the otter population back to Higher Wiscombe. This fall, as part of our regeneration project to replace the ash trees we’re losing in the UK, we’ll be planting 8,000 slow-growing trees on one of the fields.

But the best part of Higher Wiscombe? We get up in the morning with the enthusiasm to help our guests have a wonderful day and the best experience possible in nature. We watch them get out of their cars looking stressed — by the next morning, they look transformed, relaxed and free. We 're here to share to have the best possible time and forget their stress and get their life back and come back often to visit us again.