The Stables. Unwind and relax in this calming and unique location with its far-reaching views across rolling fields to the sea. Part of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it's the perfect retreat from which to explore North Devon and Cornwall.
The Stables is, as the name suggests, converted from the old stables of a now non-working Grade II-listed Victorian model farm. Arriving at Highford Farm you'll drive between two stone lions on columns inscribed with "Oh how peaceful art thou, O! Highford". Words as true today as they were nearly 150 years ago.
Unwind and enjoy relaxing in this calming and unique location with its far-reaching views across rolling fields to the sea. Within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it's the perfect position to explore the delights of Hartland Peninsula, the beauty of historical villages Clovelly and Bucks Mill, the surfing beaches and coast walks of North Devon or to head into Cornwall with it's numerous attractions.
The Stables is part of a collection of holiday homes that all share Highford Farm and is the perfect getaway whatever the time of year.
Inside the Stables you'll find many of the original features such as the stable door and pillars still intact. There's a large and comfortable open-plan living room with a cosy seating area in front of an HD TV and Blu-ray DVD player. You'll find plenty of books and games to enjoy during your stay. There's also free wifi. The kitchen has beautiful wooden work surfaces and a large range cooker, perfect for cooking for the whole family. Both bedrooms are doubles and stylishly-decorated, with fresh linen and towels provided. There's also a double sofa bed in the living area, allowing up to 6 people to stay. Enjoy relaxing in the lovely roll-top bath or head out to the private garden to take in the sea views.
Hartland Abbey. EX39 6DT.
Built for the Augustinian monks in the 12th Century, it was the last Abbey in England to be dissolved by Henry VIII and was given to the Keeper of his Wine Cellar at Hampton Court, Mr. Abbott. From the Abbott family it has descended to the present owners. It now houses collections of paintings, fine furniture, porcelain, family memorabilia, early photographs, documents and seals. The interior architecture and decoration comes from the Mediaeval, Queen Anne, Georgian, Regency and Victorian periods including work by Sir George Gilbert Scott, architect of St Pancras Station and The Albert Memorial.
The 50 acres of grounds include a Bog Garden, Victorian fernery, three 18th Century Walled Gardens, glasshouses and woodland shrubberies. There is also a private path leading to the beach at Hartland Quay and a tea room.
Hartland Abbey is suitable for all ages and open May-October.
Hartland Quay. E39 6DU.
This beautiful bay offers an ancient quay, spectacular geology, wonderful sunsets, a sandy beach, the Shipwreck & Smuggling Museum and the Wreckers Retreat Bar. Open all year, it is situated right on the edge of the Atlantic, accessed by an exhilarating drive down a windy cliff-edge road.
On calm days the beach is perfect for sunbathing, paddling, sea bathing, digging in the soft sand, rockpooling, crabbing and picnicing. On wild days there is nowhere better to view the awesome power of the sea as the waves crash against the rocks and cliffs.
The Wreckers Retreat Bar offers very good lunchtime and evening food (including fish straight from the sea), seating inside and out (snug on wild Hartland days and glorious views on sunny and calm ones), and real ales including some local ones. Children are welcome.
Docton Mill Gardens & Tea Rooms. EX39 6EA.
Set in nine acres of beautiful gardens surrounding the original working mill and mill pond, the sheltered wooded valley offers a microclimate enabling tender species to flourish. Things to see include a river walk, bog garden, wildlife pond, vegetable garden and award-winning tea room. Located 1Km from the coast and Spekes Mill Mouth where North Devon’s tallest waterfall tumbles into the sea, Docton Mill is easily reached by road or by foot form the SW Coast path. The gardens and tea room are open every day from March to October.
Clovelly Village. EX39 5TA.
Clovelly is an enchanting fishing village, unchanged in a 100 years. Car-free, the village has one steep cobbled street that leads down to the harbour. The street is lined with small cottages and a handful of shops selling local produce. There are two pubs, one half way down the street, the New Inn, and one right on the quay-side, the Red Lion. Both do good food. If the walk back up the street is too much, there is a Land Rover service that will take you back to the top.
Donkeys were once used to transport goods up and down the village and the Clovelly donkeys still live in the village, at the Stables near the Visitor’s Centre. Seasonal donkey rides for children can be arranged. Walks from the village along the coast can be taken in either direction, with maps available from the Visitor’s Centre. The village is open all year round apart from Christmas.
Clovelly Court Gardens. EX39 5SY.
When visiting Clovelly Village, your entrance fee also includes entry to Clovelly Court Gardens. The walled gardens and greenhouses give crops of peaches, apricots, grapes, oranges, lemons, peppers, tomatoes, melons, figs, apples and pears. There are also substantial herb gardens and a good selection of the garden’s produce is usually available for sale. The gardens are open all year round.
Walking the South-West Coast Path.
The South West Coast Path encircles the whole of Hartland Peninsula offering beautiful and dramatic coastal walking.
The complete 630 mile route goes from Minehead in Somerset to Poole in Dorset, and although the Hartland Quay to Bude section is generally regarded as the toughest part of the whole walk, it richly rewards those prepared to make the effort with unparalleled scenery.
However, there are also much gentler, level sections of the path on the Peninsula and connecting footpaths and circular walks offer easy access on and off the route. There are several walking guide books on the shelves in The Stables.
Visit Lundy Island.
Just three and a half miles long and half a mile wide, Lundy Island sits 12 miles off the coast. The island and surrounding waters are a haven for a huge collection of wild flora and fauna. Dolphins, seals, basking sharks and puffins can all be seen at Lundy, with many varieties of rare birds also to be spotted. The whole island is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the seas around Lundy are England's only Marine Nature Reserve owing to the rich array of sea life and coral beds.
You can visit a cave once used to hold prisoners, see the remains of an ancient burial chamber, climb to the highest lighthouse in Britain, identify the first tee of what was once Lundy’s golf course, inspect the Georgian cannons which fired every ten minutes in fog, find the chasm created by tremors from the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, find debris from the German Heinkel that crashed landed in 1941 and follow the track of the quarry railway.
Apart from a few service vehicles there are no cars on the island, no street lights and only one shop. There is however the 13th Century Marisco Tavern, which offers fantastic food (including Lundy's own lamb) and drink.
Day return trips to Lundy can be taken by boat from Bideford or Ilfracombe from March until October. Trips can also be arranged at the Clovelly Visitors Centre. Booking is advised.
During the winter months, Lundy can be reached by helicopter departing from Hartland Point, providing spectacular aerial views of Lundy and the North Devon Coast!
You can also travel to Lundy via a charter or in your own boat, there is a £5 per head admission fee to land at the island.
Bucks Mills Village & Beach. EX35 7TY.
Bucks Mills is an ancient fishing village, an out-of-the-way spot nearly a mile by minor road from the A39 at Bucks Cross. There are no shops or other facilities, just a lovely place with a steep path leading down to the beach. On a clear day once down on the beach you are rewarded by some stunning views of Lundy Island and Clovelly. Depending on the weather it is used for sun bathing, swimming, barbequing, shrimping and crabbing. Experienced surfers will enjoy surfing here.
Gnome Reserve & Wild Flower Garden. EX22 7XE.
For both kids and adults alike, the Gnome Reserve features over 2000 Gnomes up to various antics in a beautiful Beechwood glade. Gnome hats are on hand for all visitors to wear as they explore. The Wild Flower Garden contains about 250 species of wild flowers, herbs, grasses and ferns which attract insects, butterflies and birds. There is a quiz to take as you explore the garden, which is deceptively hard! There’s a tea room and picnic area with lovely views across the valley and a small gift shop full of mini-gnomes. The Gnome Reserve and Garden are open March to October.
Local Food & Drink
Both the New Inn (High St, EX39 5TA) and the Red Lion (48 The Quay, EX39 5TF) in Clovelly Village do food. It’s always worth booking, especially in the Red Lion which has a separate restaurant and a Devon Wine List.
The Wreckers Retreat Bar (Hartland Quay, EX39 6DU) does a very good range of pub grub, with the freshly-caught fish specials worth looking out for. It’s also the perfect place for a well-deserved drink after a long walk on the Hartland coast line, with seats outside overlooking the beach. The Cornish Rattler is particularly recommended if you’re a cider fan.
Hartland Village has a handful of pubs, all with a selection of local ales. The Anchor (Fore St, Hartland, EX39 6BD) is is a 16th Century Inn with a large open fire and a separate restaurant. The Hart Inn (The Square, Hartland) can be found on the main square in the town. Before the pub recently changed hands, it had a very good reputation for food but we’re yet to give the new menu a go…
Also on the square is the Old Bakery Coffee Shop offering hot drinks, cakes, sandwiches, light lunches and Devon cream teas.
If you’re a fan of gardening and eating you can combine the two by visiting the lakeside restaurant at the Merry Harriers Garden Centre (Bideford, Devon, EX39 5QH), not far from Woolsery. Its carvery is supposedly the best in the area, all with locally-sourced meat.
A few miles back along the A39 towards Bideford you’ll find The Hoops Inn (Horns Cross, EX39 5DL), a proper thatched-roof tavern. Food and drink here is both very good. There is a candle-lit restaurant area as well as a large pub garden with a stream running through it. It’s always worth booking here, especially on the weekends.
If Fish & Chips are your thing, then head to Woolsery Fish & Chips (Chapel St, Woolsery, EX3 95QS). The food is excellent and the newly-opened Farmers Arms next door makes for the perfect place to grab a drink whilst your fish and chips is prepared.
Going further afield
Head up the coast for the seaside resorts and huge expanses of sandy beaches at Saunton and Woolacombe. Saunton Beach is three and a half miles long so there’s plenty of room for everyone. Renowned for some of the best surf in the country; it’s a great place for beginners to start, with gear hire and lessons easily arranged. The privately owned Woolacombe Beach, recently voted best beach in the UK, is alive with beach huts, which can be hired for the day. As ever with Devon, it’s a favourite with surfers and it’s also possible to hire a horse from the local riding stables for a ride on the beach. If looking for somewhere a little more off the beaten track, then the beaches at Croyde, Barricane and Grunta, although they take more effort to get to, will usually be crowd-free. If you are here for the surf then you should also pay a visit to Braunton, one of the main surfing towns in the area. There’s a multitude of surf shops and England’s only surf museum.
For nature lovers head to nearby Braunton Burrows, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Best explored by bicycle, it’s a pleasingly flat ride partly along the canals. It’s Braunton that is the start of the 180-mile long cycling Tarka Trail. Bicycles can be hired in Braunton, Bideford, Barnstaple and Torrington. Following a disused railway line, it’s perfect for all the family. With not many people intending to see out the whole 180 miles, the most popular leg is Barnstaple to Instow - a more manageable six miles, or a twelve mile round-trip with a good pub lunch in the middle!
Instow, found where the rivers Taw and Torridge meet, is a small harboured fishing village with a sandy beach at low-tide and a popular spot for windsurfers. With the proximity of the Tarka Trail cycling is one of the main attractions in Instow. You can also visit the Waterside Gallery, with local artworks and pottery or head out onto the mud flats to look for wildlife, as described in ’Tarka the Otter’. There’s also a very good award-winning pub, more of which below. From Instow you can look across the water to Appledore and there’s a small ferry that makes regular trips between the two.
Appledore is a mass of colourful cottages, local craft shops and narrow winding streets. A historical fishing village, the tradition continues today with fishing and boat building the main staples of village life. Various events are held here through the year, including the Appledore Book Festival and the Appledore Instow Regatta.
If you’re after some shopping action then head to Bideford. It has a historic Pannier Market and its car-free lanes are lined with quirky little shops. There’s plenty of pavement cafes to stop and take a break in too.
Westward Ho!, named by the Victorians after local-boy Charles Kingsley’s novel, is the only place in Britain to feature an exclamation mark in its name. Featuring another great surfing beach, it also offers kite-surfing lessons. If that’s not your thing then pay a visit to the Northam Burrows Country Park. Great for kids, and a Site of Special Scientific Interest, the area is home to a diverse range of natural habitats, including salt marsh, open grassland, rocky shore, sand dunes and all kinds of wildlife.
A day trip to Ilfracombe to see Damien Hirst’s huge harbour-side sculpture, Verity, is well worth it. There’s a number of art galleries in the town and every May it hosts the Art Trail, with live music, open-house studios and plenty of local food. There’s also the Aquarium to visit and the beach, accessed only by Victorian-era tunnels dug through the rock.
From Ilfracombe it’s a short trip east into the Exmoor National Park. A truly breath-taking area to explore, its unique mix of landscapes, includes high sea cliffs, rolling moorland, working farmland and deep wooded valleys. The setting for the classic novel ‘Lorna Doone’, these days you can challenge yourself with mountain biking, kayaking, horse-riding or simply walking the main beautiful trails that criss-cross the park.
If you make it to the very top of North Devon you’ll find yourself at Lynmouth and Lynton. Ancient twinned towns, Lynmouth sits at the bottom of a very steep hill, Lynton at the top. Luckily there’s the cliff railway which transports you between the two, powered by water alone. Lynmouth has an array of craft shops and tea rooms and a couple of very relaxing pubs. There’s also two essential walks to take. One, leading out of Lynmouth, down alongside the river Lyn and through a beautiful wooded valley eventually takes you to the National Trust’s Watersmeet. The other, starting in Lynton, takes you along the coast path to the breathtaking Valley of the Rocks. Neither will disappoint. For those who like to rummage around in bushes there is also a Geocaching Trail.
Far & wide food & drink
If heading along the A39 then the Thatched Inn (Abbotsham, EX39 5BA) is worth a visit for simple pub fare and it’s recently revamped garden.
Also recommended is The Pier House (Merley Rd, Westward Ho!, EX39 1JU) for its fresh sea-food and stunning cliff-top views of Bideford Bay and Lundy Island.
If heading to Saunton Sands beach then pay a visit to Sands OnThe Beach Café (Saunton Beach, Nr Braunton, EX33 1LQ). Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, grab yourself a table on the terrace for views overlooking the beach.
Broomhill has an award-winning restaurant, Terra Madre (Muddiford, Barnstaple, EX31 4EX), which specialises in organic and home-made food all from local produce. If booking a three-course lunch you get free entry to the sculpture garden.
The Thatch (14 Hobbs Hill, Croyde, EX33 1LX) in Croyde is, as the name suggests, a thatched-roof pub that offers a large menu of pub classics and Tex-Mex. They’ve got an excellent range of drinks on offer and have live music every Friday night.
If you find yourself in Woolacombe and feeling flush then the place to eat is NC@EX34 (South Street, Woolacombe). Despite the terrible name, the food is reputedly excellent! Each day they cook just one fixed multi-course tasting menu, consisting of either seven or nine courses. An optional matched-wine list is also available. Booking in advance is essential.
Instow offers up the Instow Arms (Hatton Croft, Marine Parade, EX39 4JJ), possibly the closest thing North Devon has to a gastro-pub! Smack-bang on the waterfront, overlooking the estuary, this restaurant and bar was converted from an old period house a few years ago. They serve up the obligatory local ales and local produce, along with daily specials. Recommended.
If you visit Lynmouth then make sure you grab at least a drink in The Rising Sun (Harbourside, Lynmouth, EX35 6EG). A 14th Century thatched smugglers inn, its dark wood interior and warm fire makes it the perfect place to cosy up in after a walk. You can eat in the bar but there is also a restaurant area and a menu favouring local sea-food. RD Blackmore apparently wrote several chapters of Lorna Doone whilst here and Percy Shelley is also believed to have stayed on honeymoon in 1812.
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Higher Clovelly, England, Storbritannien