I’ll tell you a strange little story about how I found out about this delightful little place. Earlier in the year, I was admitted to hospital for a nasty infection and a gallbladder removal, and whilst I was there I met a lovely lady who was also under the weather, shall I say. We got talking and she said that she was a chef at the Lower Clopton Farm Shop. She told me about all the events they hold during the year and in particular their yearly Pick your own Pumpkin week for Halloween. Despite being dosed up to my eyeballs on morphine, I wrote down the place and remembered for 5 months about their pumpkin extravaganza. So the time came for us to make the trip to see if it was as good as it sounded.
Well, where shall I begin? The answer is yes, it was amazing and we all loved it. But let’s head back a step and talk about the venue.
The place itself
The Lower Clopton Farm Shop & Cafe is situated just a 10-minute drive outside of Stratford-upon-Avon on the border of the Cotswolds. The place is much bigger than I expected with the “farmhouse” being where the shop and cafe are situated, along with working farm buildings and surrounding fields. There are crops being grown as close as the field next to the car park and a playground/outside seating area, should the mood take you.
In the farm shop, they sell many local and in-house products, boasting that they farm, butcher and cook their products for you to enjoy. There are all the usual items, fresh meat, cheese, fruit & veg, jams, chutneys and cakes; with the adjoining cafe selling the items on the menu for you to try straight away. I’ve heard that their full English breakfast is a speciality, however, we didn’t partake on PYO Pumpkin day. In the cafe there are plenty of tables (including the outside ones if the weather permits) and you order at the till with the lovely staff bringing many items to your table. I enjoyed a Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola whereas Mr Mama enjoyed a mocha, which he said was a “really good coffee” (a strong compliment from a very hard-to-please bloke). As a sneaky treat, we also tried their Millionaires traybake, which was just right – not too much caramel to make it too sweet and a thick layer of chocolate on the top. Prices are about right for what you would expect at a high-end farm shop; including a full menu with all day items available at fair prices as well.
The PYO extravaganza
Now onto the gem of the venue. So the idea of the PYO Pumpkin festival is to be able to go along as a family to find a Pumpkin of your preference. In the local PYO near us in Leamington, there is usually a big tent where you can choose from the selection in the pallets. However, at Lower Clopton, the pumpkins are in the field they’ve been grown in. So true, authentic PYO. You start off at the bottom of the hill and have the option of a tractor ride to the field for £2 per person with deals on for bigger families. We decided to walk as it was a 30-minute wait for the ride. You walk up a nice trail path (uphill for those with mobility issues and small children) past all the fresh hay bales and hundreds of Turkeys clucking away. Isabelle was absolutely pooped by the time we got to the top, little 3-year-old legs did find it quite hard work. You then walk around to the pumpkin field where there are literally thousands to choose from.
Most of the pumpkins are already chopped off from the root, with the occasional tiny one still growing here and there. There are loads of wheelbarrows available for those collecting a haul, or to give the little’uns a ride down to the bottom. Whilst we were there we must’ve seen 20-30 families all choosing their pumpkins with some trailing back with 6-7 in the wheelbarrow. We picked a small one (at Isabelle’s request) and started the journey back.
When back at the bottom of the hill you go back to weigh your pumpkin and pay. They start from £2 and then increase by £1 per each kg (eg 3.4kg = £3), the top price is £12 for anything over 12kg. There are carving kits, led tea-lights and bespoke pumpkin stands available to buy. We picked up a carving kit for £1.50 then went for our coffee.
We had such a lovely time going along as a family, making memories. We’d not carved pumpkins with Isabelle yet and she thought the whole event was just enthralling. When we got home she decided on a cat design, after I mentioned her initial choice of a Minnie Mouse design was far beyond my creative capabilities! I’ve already written it in the Where Mama Went rule book that this will be a yearly tradition. So maybe we’ll see you there next year! Their PYO Pumpkin event normally lasts for a week to 10 days, depending on when half-term is and the day Halloween falls on. If you’re looking for a good place to try, then oh my God, go along! I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.
*We went along to this event and paid for all the items ourselves, this was not a review opportunity. We just loved it so much that I wanted to share it with you.
If you have any ideas of places to visit in Coventry and Warwickshire, please let me know on Facebook or in the comments below.