Bear Hill Farm is a beautiful and charming getaway rental property in the rolling hills of the western Catskill Mountains. The 1850’s farmhouse is just 15 minutes outside of the town of Delhi in Delaware County. The scenery in “DelCo” (short for Delaware County) is comprised of large, rolling hills and flat valleys which made it suitable for what was once, in it’s heyday, a major dairy industry. This part of the Catskills region is much more bucolic than mountainous; and just as plentiful with cows and sheep farms as it is with sweeping mountain views.
The Bear Hill Farm was once a farm too–a dairy farm which was one of the major milk producers in the area. The whole property is full of history, and who better to tell you about it than a man who grew up on it? The property’s caretaker, Jeff, grew up in the farmhouse, and now lives right next door. Definitely expect a drop-in from him and make some time to chat about the history here with one of the genuinely friendliest people we’ve ever met. We arrived late at night–Jeff was kind enough to have a fire already going for us when we arrived, then checked on us first thing the next morning.
Bear Hill Farm is owned by Jeffrey England and was built during the 1850’s. It’s been lovingly restored and renovated since he bought it ten years ago. It has three private bedrooms–one king, one queen, and two twins–plus an additional twin bed between one of the master rooms and the hallway. There’s two bathrooms, one on each floor; one has a shower, the other a clawfoot bathtub. The house features a lovely wood-burning stove in the living room (and another gas stove in the kitchen/dining room), and a huge back yard with a waterfall, hammock, and fire pit. The entire first floor is equipped with Sirrius satellite radio, and is Bluetooth-ready, to set the mood of the house with music. When we scoped out the house, it looked like it would be a fun place to fill with people–so instead of our regular property visit, where we stay alone, we had some friends come along. We had a fabulous dinner party that seemed to span the whole house, friends and neighbors, everyone contributing something.
What to Do Around Bear Hill Farm and Delaware County: Explore the Countryside, Take a Dip in a Swimming Hole
When you’re in this part of the Catskills, it’s incredibly tempting to get in the car and drive around aimlessly. The countryside is dotted with barns, cows, sheep, wildflowers, and rolling hills. Make a point to visit some of the nearby cute towns–downtown Delhi, Andes, and Bovina.
We made an afternoon of visiting Andes for what turned out to be great for shopping. Our first stop was Kabinet + Kammer. Owner and contemporary artist Sean Scherer has curated a beautiful antiques/oddities shop with a nice collection of unusual taxidermy, rare anatomic posters and creepy victorian art. Sean’s neighbor is Clementine Vintage, a boutique vintage shop. With its white floors, large women’s selection and overall airy-ness, it’s a fresh take on a vintage shop, and it has great quality stuff. We rounded out the afternoon at the Andes Hotel for a couple beers, a pool game, and a surprisingly great meal. If you’re an antique collector, check to see if Fisk Auctions has anything going on over the weekend; if not, there’s a regular barn sale in town.
We’re also big fans of Bovina, which is a tiny strip of a town with a couple places to check out. Stop into Russel’s General Store–“the only store in town!”–for breakfast, any general supplies, local dairy, and some of our friend Mark Foster’s coffee. Bovina is also home to Brushland Eating House, a beautiful farm-t0-table restaurant offering up comforting fare and curated libations.
If you’re in the area during the summer, there’s so much to do outdoors–like this swimming hole in Delhi! Find directions to it in the guide to the house, or email us for directions. If you’re into hiking and/or scenic mountain views, don’t miss Palmer Hill just outside of Andes. Even if you’re not going to do the hike there, it’s one of the best roadside scenic overlooks in the entirety of the Catskill Mountains. At Bear Hill Farm, there’s also a nice four-mile walk taking you through winding country roads and the woods, and it’s just steps outside the house. The tourism website for the Great Western Catskills has some great ideas for outdoor stuff, too.
Where to Eat and Drink around Bear Hill Farm
You should plan at least half your meals at the farmhouse. Not only because you’re booking a great kitchen–but also, you’re also pretty far from the nearest restaurants, especially for dinner. In town, though, there’s a fantastic cafe called Blue Bee with sandwiches, salads, and great coffee. If you’re in need of a grocery store, there’s a 24-hour Price Chopper that’s so big you can get lost in it. Both are 15 minutes from the house.
For some real fine dining, head a bit further away to Bovina for our favorite restaurant in the area, Brushland Eating House, where fancy carrot starters and farm salads pair well with a can of Genesee. The atmosphere and food are terrific, and the road to Bovina is really scenic. Also closeby, the small town of Andes is home to the Andes Hotel, serving up solid lunch and dinner in a lodge-y atmosphere with lots of neon signs, a jukebox, pool table and lots of taxidermy. (Also, a good beer selection!)