Former builder strikes gold on edge of Honiton

PUBLISHED: 10:44 04 November 2009 | UPDATED: 00:30 16 June 2010

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THE building industry was one of the first and biggest casualties of the current recession, but former builder Leslie Farley saw it coming. He decided to get out two years ago and moved to Devon.

THE building industry was one of the first and biggest casualties of the current recession, but former builder Leslie Farley saw it coming.

He decided to get out two years ago and moved to Devon.

Mr Farley, 54, and his wife Lesley, 51, bought a run down farm in Combe Raleigh, which was sold with planning permission for holiday cottages.

The former Londoners spent a small fortune doing it up, but achieved four stars and a Gold rating from Enjoy England in their first year of trading.

"We opened two of the letting units last year," said Mr Farley. "The other three opened this year, at Easter.

"We launched our own website and became the first customers of the then newly established Lyme Bay Cottages, which is based in Silver Street, Lyme Regis.

"We are now fully booked and have been since May.

"Our visitors come from London suburbs, the Home Counties and all over. We've had foreign visitors as well and there's a real mixture."

Stonehayes Farm boasts a games room, children's play area and farm animals - pigs, sheep, chickens and ducks. The Farleys are planning to add a swimming pool at some point in the future.

Guests can take advantage of produce grown on the farm.

Nestling in rolling countryside, with the River Luv at the bottom of the garden, Stonehayes Farm is a deceptively short distance away from Honiton - something that has proven a real draw for guests.

"People like it here because they are only two minutes away from Honiton but in the countryside," said Mr Farley.

"In fact, it's only a 35-minute walk into to town through Combe Raleigh."

The River Cottage production team was staying at Stonehayes when the Herald visited.

One guest, a businessman, was flown in by helicopter.

Mr and Mrs Farley say they are delighted to have achieved the Gold standard for three of their five holiday cottages.

"It's a real accolade to get Gold in the first year of trading," said Mr Farley.


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