A pet-friendly home from home (sleeps 10) and a fabulous place to stay all year round.
It is exactly 3 hours by car to drive from Banbury to Braunton, North Devon and we arrive at Rock Haven, East Street quite late on a chilly spring night. Thoughtfully, the timer has been set so as when we open the doors we are met with a comforting warmth not often experienced when arriving at a holiday rental.
This magnificent detached townhouse has a private parking space on the front making it easy to quickly decant our bags.
As I begin unpacking I spy a vintage style bread bin with mini pots of jam next to a bottle of premier cru, how thoughtful. On opening the bread bin I am met by the smell of freshly baked scones and in the fridge, our hosts have also popped in a tub of clotted cream and a pint of milk. Now that is what I call a welcome!
Rock Haven is a Georgian townhouse. And it is one of the grandest and most attractive in the centre of this small, bustling North Devon village. The ground floor has a huge open plan living room leading to a dining area with a table that seats up to 10. There is a sizable log burner set into the original inglenook fireplace making it a lovely central feature. I imagine how cosy it would be on a wintry night when you fire it up after a long day out walking or pony trekking along some of the UK’s most stunning beaches – bliss!
There are 2 very comfy sofas and an armchair providing space for everyone to flop down after a day out, surfing, dog walking, exploring, swimming, beachcombing etc. I love the combination of vintage and period furnishings and the state of the art mod cons; subtle touches that makes this house feel like home right away.
The downstairs games room houses the utility and a loo. There is a washing machine, tumble dryer, iron, ironing board – everything basically! The kids (and big kids) can play at the foosball table and for the younger children there are drawers and boxes filled with toys and games. High chairs, potties and dog bowls are kept in here too.
This would be a great space for your pooch to dry out if he/she comes home soggy after fun in the sea. Did I mention that Rock Haven IS dog Friendly? That’s right, no kennel fees as you are welcome to bring your best friend on holiday with you too.
The staircase outside the utility and games room leads us up to the first floor passing a huge window flooding it with Devonshire sunlight. The bathroom, to the right of the landing features a free-standing roll top bath that invites you to light the candles, add the bath salts, submerge yourself and melt away the aches and pains of modern life. Alternatively, for when you have a full day of exploring to do there is a walk-in shower big enough for two!
You can exit through another door that leads to the spacious master bedroom. Something small but worthy to note is that when I open the wardrobe I find a dozen wooden coat hangers! Something I find there are never enough of in rental properties or hotels. Further proof of the owners thought to the minutiae when renting out this house. There is heaps of cupboard space and a large dresser too.
There are two further bedrooms on this first floor, both en suite. A twin and a double.
To access the top floor, head through a door and ascend quite a steep staircase. Here we find a separate suite with bathroom and chill out room that is perfect for teenagers needing ‘some space’.
There are two more bedrooms and a walk-in toy/games cupboard stashed with all sorts of fun stuff. There is an extra TV up here too, if of course you haven’t already exhausted everybody from a day of activities.
We enjoy our delicious breakfast of toasted scones and lashings of the aforementioned jam and clotted cream (well it would be rude not to). I nose around the spacious kitchen, one of my favourite places in any house. I am amazed at how well equipped and stylish it is. Everything has been thought of so don’t worry about packing a thing! Cupboards filled with oils, herbs, spices and spare tins of the basics. The double hob with oven and an American style fridge-freezer means you can bring a clan of people and have space to prepare, cook and eat together. A large antique pine table with benches sits in the centre of the kitchen. I count more than 10 matching sets of all size plates, bowls, cups etc. If dinner parties with friends and family is something you enjoy when you are away, fear not there is enough of everything to lay on a banquet!
Now, remembering it is a period townhouse in the centre of this small village… I now want to explore the outdoor space which is a large paved L-shaped area which you enter from the ground floor back door gates adjacent to the main house. It is surprisingly large with plenty of space for BBQ’s tucked under a pergola covered in a tumbling clematis. There is parking space around to the side plus 2 large picnic tables for dining en plein air. All that is needed and space for kids/pets to play in complete safety.
I have travelled widely and stayed in all manner of styles and price range accommodation. My impression of this house is there is nothing to fault. That is not to suggest I was looking for faults either! The hosts really have gone the extra mile to welcome and accommodate everyone from the youngest, to the furriest. This includes the less mobile members of our family, as- long- as they can navigate the stairs!
I like to thumb through the guest book at any house I stay in as the comments speak volumes. Here are a few of the comments left by guests throughout the year:
“A lovely house to see in the New Year with friends. Thank you for the champagne.”
“Wonderful house. We had a great time celebrating our Dad’s 60 birthday here. Lovely and we will definitely come back. Amazing!”
Ideas on a handful of stunning places within a few miles of the village of Braunton include;
• Staunton Sands – where you can walk over the sand dunes, hire a beach hut for just £15 per day and walk the length of this breathtaking 2- mile long sandy beach.
• The beach at Woolacombe – recently voted the best beach in the UK, has great surf.
• Clovelly – one of Devon’s best kept secrets hidden on the Hartland Peninsula.
• Exmoor National Park – for those of you who love to walk, hike or pony trek (seeing the Dartmoor Ponies with their foals in the wild is a sight to behold).
• The Fish and Chip shop in Braunton is apparently The Best Fish and Chip shop in the World – go on try it and decide for yourself http://www.squiresfishrestaurant.co.uk/
• Many beaches and locations have been given Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) status, take a look for yourself: http://www.landscapesforlife.org.uk/
This is my first visit to North Devon and I am smitten by its beauty from the breathtaking scenery, stunning beaches, enchanting fishing villages and unspoilt coastlines.