Higher Westcott Farm

near Moretonhampstead, Devon, United Kingdom Book from £171

Reviewed by Abi Dare
Thatched self-catering cottage (sleeping 6-10 plus children) in Dartmoor National Park: great for friends and families seeking stylish seclusion
It’s hard to believe that Higher Westcott Farm, tucked away at the end of a single-track lane on the edge of Dartmoor, is only 20 minutes from Exeter and the M5. Green hills stretch out in every direction, and the only sounds are chirruping birds and the occasional tractor. Peeking out from underneath a thick thatched roof, this 300-year-old longhouse has been lovingly restored by owners Jo and Sam, who also run a boutique guesthouse nearby. Behind its rustic door lie 5 comfy and contemporary bedrooms, an additional child’s room, a sunny dining room, and a lounge with squashy leather sofas. Dotted here and there are stone hearths, vases of fresh flowers, and window seats that tempt you to linger and absorb the views.

Beyond the garden wall are endless opportunities for hiking, biking and riding, and some of Devon’s best beaches are just a short hop away. Even if the weather's bad, you can grab a glass of wine, borrow a book or DVD, and snuggle up under a blanket by the wood-burning stove. It’s cosy in winter and magnificent in summer; come here with friends or family and revel in glorious isolation.

Highs

  • Interiors blend period charm (beamed ceilings, flagstone floors, an original oak muntin screen) with stylish creature comforts and top-notch fittings
  • There’s a fancy kitchen should you want to cook; should you want to be cooked for, Jo can deliver delicious homemade dinners
  • Ideal for hen weekends, house parties or multi-generational gatherings, with room for up to 10 adults and 3 children. Smaller groups can book 3 bedrooms for reduced rates
  • Very child-friendly, with a toy-filled child’s bedroom, a playroom, and an enclosed garden with sweeping lawns to run around on
  • Impressive eco credentials - a biomass boiler provides heating, and water comes fresh from a moorland spring

Lows

  • There's no mobile phone reception (thank goodness)
  • The WiFi was a little temperamental during our visit, but Jo and Sam assure us it now works well throughout the house
  • The rough, narrow track leading to the house could prove a little tricky to negotiate in winter weather
  • Only 1 bedroom can be set up as a twin
  • Beware of the strict cancellation policy

Best time to go

Higher Westcott Farm has year-round appeal, with daffodils and bluebells in spring, moorland walks and woodland picnics in summer, and a cosy fireside feel come winter. Visit in autumn if you want to give foraging a go.

Our top tips

If you want to try some interesting tipples, you can buy local ales and biodynamic wines (grown in harmony with the moon and the stars) from Jo and Sam's guesthouse, located just a couple of miles down the road. And if you book through i-escape you'll find a free bottle waiting for you on arrival!

Great for...

Eco
Family
Great Outdoors
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Cottage
  • 5 double rooms + 1 child's room
  • Self-catering (+ dinner on request)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
Room:

Rooms

Décor is simple and understated, with calming white walls and cream carpets that let the lovely views take centre stage. But that doesn’t mean it’s short on style: furniture is sleek, striped cushions and throws add splashes of colour, and walls are lined with contemporary art.

Off the flagstoned hall is the lounge, where huge leather sofas and shelves of DVDs, books and board games await lazy evenings or rainy afternoons around the wood-burning stove (a bag of firewood is provided). Beyond are the kitchen and dining room, plus a playroom with bean bags, a laundry room with a loo, and a cupboard of useful supplies (candles, batteries and maps).

Head up the main staircase or the steep stone steps leading from the kitchen and you’ll reach the 4 first-floor double bedrooms (one can be made up as 2 singles). Three have ensuites (one with a tub and overhead shower, the rest with walk-in showers), and there’s another shower room off the landing. There’s also a child’s room with crammed with toys (and a small double bed).

Crowning the house is an attic room snuggled into the eaves - in our opinion the nicest bedroom of all. It has a kingsize bed, a window seat piled with cushions, and an ensuite bathroom with a fabulous free-standing bath (no shower) that’s made for long, indulgent soaks.

All the bedrooms face the front and catch the morning sun. Wardrobes come stocked with hairdryers, towels, and you’ll curl up at night under crisp Egyptian cotton and duck-down duvets.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dishwasher
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fireplace
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob stove
  • Ipod dock
  • Iron
  • Local maps and guides
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Toaster
  • Tumble dryer
  • Tv
  • Washing machine
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

The dining room has a huge hearth and a table for 10 - ideal for lavish family feasts. And the kitchen, set on the other side of an oak screen that once kept animals out of the living quarters, is kitted out with everything you need to prepare them: double oven, hob, fridge-freezer, microwave, toaster, blender, dishwasher, crockery and cutlery, drawers full of utensils, even a stack of cookbooks.

Cupboards come stocked with all the basics you’d expect (salt, pepper, dishwasher tabs, washing-up liquid) plus a few extras you wouldn’t (tea and coffee, organic milk, fresh eggs). For other supplies, you’ll find a grocer, baker, butcher and small supermarket 10 minutes away in Moretonhampstead, and weekly farmers’ markets in Chudley and Exeter.

But don’t worry if you don’t fancy cooking: Jo can deliver home-cooked meals, made with local, seasonal ingredients. These normally take the form of a hearty pie that you can pop in the oven (favourite fillings include wild mushroom, organic chicken and sweet leek, Brixham fish, or beef and ale with a blue cheese crust), followed by homemade ice cream - perhaps vanilla with seasonal fruit, or deliciously boozy brown bread and rum.

There are plenty of options for eating out within a short drive, too. We liked the The White Horse in Moretonhampstead (10 minutes away), which serves sophisticated Mediterranean-inspired pub grub, and nearby Bovey Castle is a grand venue for cream teas. For a special occasion, splash out at the double Michelin-starred Gidleigh Park (though better for lunch than dinner unless you want to get lost in the dark on endless windy lanes).

Features include:

  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob stove
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Toaster
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Go walking, riding or cycling through the dramatic landscapes of Dartmoor National Park, criss-crossed with 600 miles of paths, tracks and bridleways. You’ll find an information folder at the house, with details of tried and tested walks, bike hire companies and local stables

  • Pack up a picnic and head to one of Dartmoor’s pretty waterfalls. Becky Falls (25 minutes away) sits in a woodland park with bouldering and animals, and Canonteign Falls (15 minutes away) is one of England's highest. There are further falls - and a series of gushing whirlpools known as the Devil’s Cauldron - at National Trust-owned Lydford Gorge, 40 minutes away

  • Visit Castle Drogo at Drewsteignton (25 minutes away). The last castle to be built in England, it was designed by Sir Edward Lutyens to make the most of its spectacular location above the Teign gorge

  • The Miniature Pony Centre (10 minutes away) will be a hit with young children, who can ride and stroke the little ponies and meet lots of other farm animals

  • Hit the beach. Jo and Sam recommend Dawlish Warren (25 minutes away) for families, with over a mile of golden dunes and safe, clean swimming. Exmouth (40 minutes away) has a long sandy beach with kite-surfing and rock-pooling

  • Dozing on the Dart, lovely Totnes combines New Age quirkery with centuries of history. Spend an afternoon exploring 15th-century St Mary's Church, the 11th-century Guildhall and the healing waters of Leech Wells

  • You can play golf at nearby Bovey Castle, which has an 18-hole course overlooking the Teign valley

  • Fishing is available on local lakes, and most of the Dart river can be fished with permits from the Duchy of Cornwall. Salmon and trout are very popular. In season, Jo and Sam can also set up foraging and shooting

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Climbing
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Foraging
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Kitesurfing
  • Mountain biking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Shooting
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming

Kids

Higher Westcott Farm is ideal for self-catering family holidays, particularly if you’re coming with grandparents or another family. There are plenty of treats for children - toys, board games, DVDs, a playroom plus 2 cots and a highchair for babies. The enclosed garden provides space to run around in, and there’s lots to entertain littl'uns nearby, including a miniature pony centre, woodland trails, beaches and playgrounds. They’ll also have fun discovering castles and waterfalls, and spotting ponies on the moor

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

The child's room on the top floor has a small double bed and is packed with toys and books. The 5 double bedrooms (1 can be made up as a twin on request) provide plenty of space for extended families, and 2 airbeds and 2 baby cots are available free of charge. Smaller families can take just 3 bedrooms for a reduced rate

Babysitting:

Jo and Sam can recommend tried, tested and thoroughly trusted local babysitters

Baby listening:

Baby monitors work throughout the house - you’ll need to bring your own

Baby equipment:

  • 2 baby cots
  • Highchair

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

The house is fully set up for self-catering, with a large kitchen, snazzy kit and basic supplies - there’s even a pile of cookbooks to provide inspiration. Jo can deliver homemade dinners on request and will happily tailor them to children’s tastes

Kids Activities on site:

  • Playroom
  • Children’s DVDs
  • Toys and books
  • Board games
  • Enclosed garden to play in

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Miniature Pony Centre (15 minutes away)
  • Castle Drogo (20 minutes away)
  • Bellever Woods (20 minutes away) - perfect for picnics and paddling in the river
  • Becky Falls (25 minutes away) - woodland park with waterfalls, a picnic area, bouldering and animals
  • Dawlish Warren beach (25 minutes away)
  • Woodlands (50 minutes away) - a family theme park and indoor playground suitable for all ages, including toddlers

Families Should Know:

The stone staircase leading from the kitchen up to the first floor is rather steep; there are stairgates on one set of stairs

Distances:

  • Airport: 30 minutes (Exeter)
  • Hospital: 20 minutes (Exeter)
  • Shop: 10 minutes (Moretonhampstead)
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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