If you want a really local brew, and a taste of Devon, try the cider made at the Winkleigh Cider Factory. You’ll find it in the local pubs, and the factory has a shop too, where you can try the different varieties and buy some to take home. Continue reading “Winkleigh Cider Factory”
Here’s a real holiday adventure, and it’s indoors, so perfect on a rainy day. Clip and Climb, on the quayside in Exeter, has a self belaying system that’s really great for kids. And their adult climbing walls are pretty innovative too.
Children as young as 5 can have a go. You can too – either on the clip and climb walls or on the proper climbing wall.
Or just have a coffee and watch!
Clip and Climb is bookable online, and we recommend you do just that if the forecast is looking bleak.
You can drive, and park in the large and good value carpark nearby, or you can get the bus (stagecoach 5B from Winkleigh) into the city centre.
Designed between 1910 and 1913, it took 20 years to build. Sadly, Drewe died, aged 76, a year after it was completed. The family gifted the house and grounds to the National Trust in 1974. It was the first 20th Century property they took on.
Drogo was special because the Edwardian building was designed by Edwin Lutyens. Lutyens was arguably Britain’s greatest 20th century architect. It’s a thoroughly modern castle he designed here – no dungeons! Yet it’s an awe-inspiring piece of design, with touches like interior courtyards to give natural light and internal windows build to suggest an older rambling building that has been built onto. I think my favourite room was the switch room, with all the old fashioned wiring. The wooden fittings in the kitchen, in use up to the 1960s, reminded me of my grandmothers’ house, though hers was somewhat less grand…
The formal garden is one of the highest in England – Drogo is so high that although a fig tree cloaks one of the castle walls, its fruits don’t ripen.
But there are plenty of flowers in the borders,and you can play croquet on the enormous circular croquet lawn (hire equipment from the visitor centre – June to September).
But if other people’s grand houses are not your thing, exploring the grounds may be. Drogo is perched high up on the northern fringe of Dartmoor, overlooking the Teign Valley. You can hike down to the river, maybe even walk to popular Fingle Bridge if you’re feeling energetic. The visitor centre sells leaflets with details of walks if you don’t trust our own nose. You can’t take your dog into the house or the formal gardens, but elsewhere dogs on leads are welcome.
The Trust, of course, has a cafe as well as a shop on site. There are often optional extras such as tours of the roof or boiler rooms (and an explanation of how Castle Drogo is hoping to go carbon neutral) or seasonal trails for children. The house sometimes has a cast of actors explaining what life was like in this Dartmoor mansion.
Winter opening: Castle Drogo grounds and tea room(but not the house) are open at weekends in January and February, and on extra days (sometimes including the house) around the Christmas break
Summer opening: from mid March to the beginning of November Castle Drogo is open most days.
Castle Drogo is about 17 miles from our Devon eco lodges and cottage.
In the city of Exeter you can visit galleries, take a guided tour, admire the Cathedral or just relax in a coffee bar.
And if you want to be green you can take the bus from Winkleigh (the 5B) or the train on the picturesque Tarka Line – Eggesford Station is only about 4 miles away. All the trains have to stop here – a condition imposed when the land for the station was originally sold by the Earl of Portsmouth’s estate.
Stay on the train until you get to Exeter Central (not Exeter St David’s). Coming out of the station turn left, and almost immediately you’ll pass the Royal Albert Memorial Museum’s main building.
But if you take the second left, just up from the end of Gandy Street you’ll come across the Exeter Phoenix gallery. Entrance to the gallery is free, and there are regular workshops – ring 01392 667080 to find out what’s on.
The cafe does local food (and is family friendly).
Coming back out of the gallery, go down the hill and turn left into Gandy Street – lots of boutiques, cafes etc, and if you keep going you’ll hit the high street. If you want to see the Cathedral, turn right in the high street, then turn left when you see the signposts.
You can also join a guided tour of historial Exeter. The Exeter City Council run several, covering, ghosts, murder and mayhem, the Cathedral, the custom’s house and many more. Check out their website a full list and timetables.
Exeter is about 25 miles from our Devon eco lodges and cottage.
The National Trust’s Finch Foundry is the last working water-powered forge in the country. On one of their regular guided tours you can find out what it really means to have your nose to the grind stone or to be pole axed.
Finch Foundry is in the village of Sticklepath, on the edge of Dartmoor. When it’s raining, this will show you what all that water was used for! The leat would originally have driven up to 10 water mills.
The forge made argricultural tools right up until the 1960s and is a sight to behold. They say the vibrations were powerful enough to shake glasses off the shelves in the next door pub. If you catch one of the guided tours you’ll see one of the hammers in action.
This is a small National Trust property, but well worth a visit. There’s a tea room in the grounds, and also Thomas Pearse’s summer house. That’s the Tom Pearse from the Widdecombe Fair song (plus Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all). He was a local serge maker, making the red material used to dress the British army.
There are also lovely woodland walks from the Forge. One takes you to Okehampton, where you can visit the Museum of Dartmoor Life. Or you can follow the river valley along to the village of Belstone (where there’s a pub that does food). Every November the Forge hosts the Sticklepath Fire show – a performance on a huge set which is burnt at the end of a fabulous fireworks display. The Foundry is usually open from mid-March until early November between 11:00 and 17:00 every day except Tuesday. There are tours about once an hour.
Finch Foundry is about 13 miles from our eco lodges and cottage. This National Trust property sometimes puts on events – check out our what’s on listing for details…
Sticklepath, Okehampton, Devon EX20 2NW
Telephone: 01837 840046