Remnants of the early morning mist cling to mountain coves, before gradually dissipating. “Good morning, ma-yum.” Even words gain an extra syllable here on the outskirts of Walland, Tenessee, to accommodate a relaxed southern drawl.
Off the back of enthusiastic recommendations from well-travelled friends, I’ve made my way to this secluded resort, loved for its storybook setting, pastoral lifestyle and all that comes with it – from farm-to-table cooking and gardening, to woodland hikes and horseback riding.
Placed in the hills of East Tennessee, within the Great Smoky Mountains, Blackberry Farm is a 4200-acre estate that allows guests to connect with nature – without sacrificing any of the creature comforts – and unwind. Many flock to the Farm to take a break from the city, and it’s easy to see why.
"Blackberry Farm allows guests to connect with nature without sacrificing any of the creature comforts"
The buildings of the property are strategically positioned so that the wild terrain completely envelops you, and all you see in each direction are majestic peaks, pristine forest, and a powder blue sky. The sequestered feeling of the place is linked to the serenity you experience as you walk the grounds; even at full occupancy, you rarely see another guest outside the common areas. There’s a sense of boundless space, and you can breathe.
"Many flock to the Farm to take a break from the city"
Relinquishing my usual desire to create a packed itinerary, I give into the leisurely pace of the place instead. On the way to breakfast, my urban speed walk is nowhere to be found, as I adjust to my surroundings and decelerate to a country stroll. Once seated at the table, I take time perusing the menu and opt for the chilled oatmeal parfait with blackberries. Eating blackberries at Blackberry Farm seems both apt and silly. It makes me smile.
The rest of the day glides along effortlessly. I take a flow yoga class, which precedes a Hesse Creek stone massage. Hours are spent between the spa’s Meadow Lounge and Tranquillity Room. The latter is equipped with plush, wooden swings that are ideal for napping. I idly sip herbal tea with a drop of de-stress tincture, and snack on tiny pieces of dried apricot.
In the afternoon, my travel companion and I venture over to the farm to meet Gertie the pig and her just-born piglets, as well as Mr. Tom the turkey. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to feel hungry, or be overwhelmed by their charms and go vegetarian. We wander past horses, sheep and cows, and attempt to enter the cheesemonger’s quarters but the doors are locked.
As dusk falls, the scent of wood smoke and the chatter of cicadas fill the air. After dinner at The Barn, we make s’mores by the bonfire, watch fire flies shimmer in the ink blue sky, and attempt to capture the magic of the star studded sky on our cameras.
When it’s time to leave the Farm, I climb onto a rope swing to take in one final view of the landscape. Low hanging fog has gathered once more by the mountains in the distance. The haze has softened the edges of the scene before me, transforming it into a bucolic painting. This is the image I’ll hold on to.