We’re continuing our Things To Do On Holiday In Devon for those of you who have already booked a holiday at Stonehayes Farm or are thinking of coming to stay at one of our Devon holiday cottages. Today we’d like to tell you about Dunkeswell Airfield, just a very short drive away from our family friendly and pet friendly accommodation.
Dunkeswell Airfield is high up on a plateau in the Blackdown Hills AONB, 850 feet above sea level; it was built in World War II as a special advanced base and played a significant part in The Battle of the Atlantic – planes flew from here to help fend off the threat of German U-boats. Dunkeswell became an airbase for the US Navy (the only one in the UK) in 1943, so you don’t need us to tell you that it has a very interesting and important history. Go there and you can spend time in the Dunkeswell Airfield Heritage Centre, packed with artefacts, memorabilia, replica uniforms and hundreds of photographs that give you an insight into not just the military operations, but into the day to day lives of the men and women who lived here. The heritage centre is open from Good Friday to the last Sunday of October from Thursday to Saturday and on Bank Holiday Mondays. Entry is free though donations are very much appreciated, and if you’ve got the family pet in tow the good news is that provided Fido’s well behaved, he can go too.
It’s easy to while away a few hours at Dunkeswell Airfield, especially if you’ve got a thing for aviation or have children who are fascinated by planes. There are always interesting aircraft to see (a recent visitor was a Spitfire) and if you look up to the skies you can watch light aircraft taking off and coming in to land, and if you’re lucky, performing aerial acrobatics, which is quite something to see. It all goes on here – wing walking, sky diving, parachuting, and there’s something really rather special about this place. It has an ambience entirely of its own; despite the noise of the engines it feels very peaceful and there’s a certain laid back air.
It gets chilly up at the airfield, being so high up, so bear that in mind and take a warm jacket even if the sun is shining, just in case. If it’s a bit too breezy for you, you can watch the goings on from the Aviator Coffee Bar and Restaurant where you can grab a nice hot cup of something, a big fat slice of cake and find your viewing seat. The café is a popular spot, light and airy with the feel of a relaxed diner, and as you’d expect, there’s a bit of a vintage aircraft theme going on with the décor. Besides the cakes they serve decent homemade food all day; go early and tuck into a cooked breakfast or a bacon sarnie, go for lunch and choose from the likes of beer battered fish and chips, a burger, salmon and dill fishcakes or a stone baked pizza. They do light bites too – deep filled sandwiches, potato wedges, toasties and jacket potatoes, and there’s a menu for the young ‘uns. On Sundays they serve a carvery, which we haven’t tried, but we know people who have and they tell us it’s very good.
Something else you can do at Dunkeswell Airfield is have a pre-booked Air Experience, where you get to take control of a light aircraft. Now that’s a great if one of you has a birthday or you have some other special occasion to celebrate, but mind you, it’s a great idea anyway, an amazing thing to do just because. What’s more, it doesn’t have to be done solo because they have a Cessna 152 two seater and a Cessna 172 four seater. It’s all weather dependent of course, but hopefully the sun will be shining for you and the clouds will stay away, so you can put your pilot’s hat on and spectators can watch every minute from the clubhouse or the outdoor viewing area.
So how’s about that for something to do when you’re on holiday in Devon? We’re very lucky to have such a brilliant attraction more or less on the doorstep of Stonehayes Farm and we often pootle up there to watch the parachuting or for a bite to eat at The Aviator. Get yourselves up there, enjoy it. Next month we’ll tell you about another of our top things to do on holiday in Devon, but for now, it’s over and out. Happy holidays folks!