A magical little hideaway in an ancient oak woodland, 5 miles from N Devon beaches
If you’ve ever wanted acres of woodland to yourself, this is your nirvana. This beautiful, rustic-chic barn sits bathed in sunshine in a clearing framed by oak trees, with only wildlife for company. Foxes, badgers, otters playing in the stream. It’s entirely off grid, an idyllic little haven that took its owners and a team of local craftsmen a year to restore from its ruined state. And whilst they’ve kept it natural in harmony with the surroundings (solar energy, water from a spring-fed well), there’s no sense of roughing it: interiors are stylish and comfortable and a wood-burner blasts out heat in colder months.
Best of all, it’s unbelievably peaceful. Unless you stroll to the local pub or day trip to Putsborough or Woolacombe’s beaches, all you’ll hear is the rushing of the stream and the hooting of tawny owls as dusk falls. Whether you come as a couple, or bring kids to share the adventure, it’s a place you’ll never forget.
Getting here: it’s easiest to drive.
The barn itself is an upcycled ruin, using oak timbers from the owners’ sustainably managed woodland, and reclaimed roof tiles. Fully off-grid, lighting is solar-powered and the woodburner uses timber from their wood. The owners provide local, sustainable charcoal for the BBQ, eco friendly cleaning products and Who Gives a Crap recycled loo paper. Water is from a spring-fed well, waste is recycled and composted, and the meadows surrounding the land are farmed organically; they contain rare plants and the water meadows are a feeding corridor for the rare Greater Horseshoe Bat. The barn is a mile from the bus stop and the local pub and village shop are within walking distance; the owners offer a home shopping service, in partnership with the community shop. Guests are encouraged to have a car-free break whilst here.
- The surrounding woodlands and wildflower meadows provide idyllic walking: keep your eyes peeled for wild deer and otters, and watch birds soar above.
- You’re about 5 miles from North Devon’s beautiful golden beaches: Putsborough, Croyde, Woolacombe and Saunton Sands. Bask in the sun, learn to paddleboard or go coasteering if you’re feeling brave.
- Hire bikes in town and cycle the Tarka Trail around the Taw and Torridge estuaries.
- We love gorgeous car-free Clovelly, with its steep cobbled street and sense of history; donkeys pulled up sleds of supplies in the old days. Pick up some fresh-from-the-ocean fish from Dan the Fish Man and bring it home to BBQ.
- Pretty seaside villages Lynton and Lynmouth were known as ‘Little Switzerland’ by the Victorians. Travel between the two on a water-powered funicular cliff railway.
- Take a picnic blanket and bottle of wine and head to Barricane Beach in time for sun set. A little beach hut serves up fabulous Sri Lankan curries (on china plates!) and the beach is famous for cowries and other exotic sea shells.
- Or stay local and stroll for supper at the The Crown Inn at West Down (1.5 miles).