A walk at Fingle Bridge

Fingle Bridge woods makes a lovely walk with a great pub for lunch or a snack. It’s about 19 miles from the eco lodges and combines well with Castle Drogo. In fact, the National Trust’s Castle Drogo land goes all the way to Fingle Bridge, and meets up with Woodland Trust land. It’s now under joint management. Continue reading “A walk at Fingle Bridge”

Outdoor chess

Draughts and chess in the lodge field! (April through to the end of October). The draughts, made out of sliced-up branches, will be in a box under the board but the chess pieces will be at the house – under the sofa in the conservatory. Feel free to borrow them, but please return the chess set after use. (That way hard to replace pieces are less likely to get lost in the long grass.) Continue reading “Outdoor chess”

Go small game hunting!

From spring to autumn you can go ‘small game hunting’ in our wildlife pond. Voyage out across the pond in the good ship Tender and collect armfuls of invasive Canadian pondweed, which Maggie or Ian will help you search for invertebrates (and the odd newt). Continue reading “Go small game hunting!”

A dose of history at Cobbaton Combat collection

The Cobbaton Combat CollectionNot just war toys for boys, this collection of military equipment, some of which is still used in films today, focusses on the second world war and is dedicated to the memory of those who fought in it. The collection ranges from military surplus tanks, guns, helmets, artillery, grenades, and bombs, to Home Front ration books, gas masks, ARP and Home Guard uniforms, and blackout lamps.
Cobbaton Combat's home front
This is real equipment that people used – the sherman tank in the car park has genuine shell holes in it – all food for thought. The main collection is housed in 2 large hangers, so it’s good for a rainy day. Best to ring ahead (01769 540740) to check opening hours. In the winter the collection opens on some weekends. In the summer opening hours are broader.
Costs: Adults £6, senior citizens £5, schoolchildren £4, under fives go free.
Check out their website for up to date information.

Chittlehampton is about 15 miles from our eco lodges and cottage.

Cobbaton Combat Collection, Chittlehampton, Umberleigh, North Devon, EX37 9RZ,
Phone 01769 540740

Exeter galleries, cathedral and tours

Exhibition at the Phoenix gallery, Exeter
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).

Phoenix gallery, Exeter

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.

Westward Ho! and Northam Burrows

Westward Ho BeachThe huge beach at Northam Burrows Country Park, near Westward Ho! is about 40 mins drive away from the cottage and lodges at Wheatland Farm. It can be almost empty outside peak season, and even in August there’s plenty of room. At one end you’ll find a surf school, at the other loads of empty beach. At low tide there is plenty of sand. Parking is easy – there’s a car park (small charge in the summer – cheaper than Saunton Sands and a lot closer too). At the far end of the car park there is a really worthwhile interpretation centre / shop as well as public loos (closed in the winter).

Westward Ho! takes its name from the Charles Kingsley novel – ie the novel came first. But it’s probably the beach you want rather than the town, which is a little uninspiring (unless you like arcade games). Northam Burrows is famous for it’s pebble ridge made of rounded cobbles cast up by the sea. If you’re there in May, you may catch the ‘Pot Walloping Festival’where locals gather to throw the previous winter’s dislodged cobbles back up onto the ridge – traditionally, this protects their grazing rights.

Walking the South West Coast Path
The first mile or so of the South West Coast Path, from Westward Ho! to Cornborough Cliff, has been made an easy – access level path. Beyond that it’s more challenging. If you are sure of foot see our post on a great walk from Horn’s Cross(off the A39) back to Westward Ho! that you can do as a one way if you take the bus out.

Rudyard Kipling spent several of his childhood years at Westward Ho!, and scenes from Stalky and Co. were written about this coastline, which he knew from attending the United Services College here.

Getting there
Northam Burrows and Westward Ho! are about 23 miles from our cottage and eco lodges. Take the A386 to Bideford and go through the town to the roundabout joining teh A39. Head straight over and keep going until you see a sign and right hand turn for Northam (don’t take the turning to Appledore). Follow signs for Northam Burrows Country Park as you go through the village.

Bus: Well,it’s not seamless, but it’s doable. Get the 5B stagecoach service from Winkleigh to Bideford and change on the Quay to The First 1 service for Northam and Appledore. There’s a bus on the golf links road and you walk down through the Country Park from there. It adds a bit of exercise, so not necessarily a good option for young children or anyone carrying loads of beach gear.

Halsdon Nature Reserve

Halsdon Nature Reserve is one of the nearest of the Devon Wildlife Trust’s reserves to Wheatland Farm. Otters are sometimes to be seen from the hide overlooking the River Torridge, and orchids and bluebells abound in the woods in spring. Continue reading “Halsdon Nature Reserve”

Finch Foundry

Finch Foundry - fireThe 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 hammerFinch 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.
Water wheel at Finch Foundry, Devon
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…

Finch Foundry
Sticklepath, Okehampton, Devon EX20 2NW
Telephone: 01837 840046

Big tree walk

'The Big Tree' in Heywood Woods, EggesfordThis is why we call it the big tree walk! This douglas fir was planted around 1840 and is to be found in the Heywood Forestry Commission woodland about 4 miles from Wheatland Farm. This is an easy going walk which you can do with a push chair. But it’s better if you can cope with a scramble because then you can get down to the River Taw and climb to the top of a Norman Motte and Bailey castle.


Heywood is between Eggesford Station and Wembworthy – about 4 miles from the eco lodges. Just ask us to point it out on the map. You can cycle there on our free bikes. If you take the car there’s easy parking. Trails are marked. The Forestry Commission say their circular walk takes 1.5 hours, and it might at an amble. Follow the red posts, turning right at one by a downhill woodland path off the main track. You’ll soon come across the ‘big tree’. Hard to miss it! It was part of the Egggesford estate and was planted around 1840.

Push chairs and anyone with limited mobility should go straight on after the tree to the motte and bailey….

If you take the tiny path just beside the tree and head downhill some more you’ll come to a steep scramble or slide through bushes and rhododendrons. It takes you to the bank of the Taw. There’s a little river-shingle beach – a fabulous picnic spot in the summer and an essential ‘stone chucking’ spot. It’s not deep enough to swim, but suitably attired you can certainly cool off!

Skimming stones on the Taw at Eggesford
Then either retrace your steps or walk down stream along another path that goes alongside the river until you come almost to a stone bridge. This bit can be muddy. Zig zag back up hill on another well trodden path, and when you rejoin the main track, turn right and walk on to the motte and bailey castle. There are steps up to the top and you get some good views of the surrouning countryside.


There are 3 paths back from here – the one you came on, the next one which will take you back to where you turned off to get to the big tree (and then back to the car par), or one the other side of the mound which goes on through woodland and ends up on a quiet stretch of road. From here you walk for a couple of hundred metres back uphill along the road until you get back to the car park.

RHS Rosemoor gardens

RHS Rosemoor is just 11 miles from our cottage and lodges, and makes a relaxing day out, or you can combine it with other attractions in nearby Torrington (walks, exploring the Tarka Trail at Puffing Billy, Dartington crystal, The Plough Arts Centre). You can get there by bus from Winkleigh – the stagecoach 5B service stops right at the gate. Continue reading “RHS Rosemoor gardens”