Weeke Barton

Near Moretonhampstead, Devon, United Kingdom Book from £110

Reviewed by Abi Dare
A cossetting B&B on the edge of Dartmoor National Park, with chic rooms, crackling fires and fabulous home-cooked food
When Jo and Sam swapped their hectic London life for the wilds of Dartmoor, they set about opening the hip yet homely rural retreat they’d always dreamt of - the kind of place where guests can kick off their shoes and unwind. You’d expect a former Conran restaurant manager and a graphic designer to know a thing or two about hospitality and style, and their first venture, Higher Westcott Farm, proved such a hit that they soon decided to move things to a larger building a couple of miles down the road. After a year of negotiation and careful restoration, their B&B was reborn in its new home, Weeke Barton.

The address and the name may have changed, but the couple have stuck to the same winning formula: beautiful interiors, total tranquility and a refreshingly laid-back vibe. Their latest property - almost 500 years old and rumoured by locals to be the longest longhouse in Devon - is delightfully quirky, with ancient nooks and spiral staircases offset by sleek urban furniture and a smattering of contemporary art. The 5 bedrooms have beamed ceilings, deliciously comfy beds and sheepskin-covered window seats; one even has a decadent double-ended bathtub. Downstairs, Jo’s excellent home cooking is served up in front of a blazing wood-burner, and drinks await in the bar. Whether you’re a city couple in need of a countryside fix or a family seeking lung-fulls of fresh air, it’s the stuff perfect getaways are made of.

Highs

  • A secluded setting, with green hills rolling out from every window, yet it’s only 20 minutes from Exeter and the M5
  • Jo’s admirable commitment to all things local and organic makes for some seriously tasty food: Devon sausages at breakfast, wild venison for dinner (available by prior arrangement), and regional ales and biodynamic wines in the bar
  • Plenty to do nearby - moorland walks, historic houses, horse-riding, wild swimming
  • Plus cosy corners, a funky lounge, a DVD library and a beautiful garden if you feel like kicking back and doing nothing at all
  • Groups can take over the whole house, or spread out at Jo and Sam’s original B&B, now a stylish self-catering cottage for 6-10

Lows

  • No mobile phone or TV signal - though you won’t miss it
  • The communal meals won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but we enjoyed the convivial atmosphere
  • Tall guests beware: low ceilings and stone archways mean bumped heads aplenty
  • It’s approached via a rough, single-track road and can be a little tricky to find - make sure you take detailed directions (provided automatically when you confirm a booking through i-escape)

Best time to go

Come at any time of year - Weeke Barton is lovely whatever the weather. Spring and summer bring the best chance of sunshine for walking, riding and cycling (or lazy days in the garden), and autumn is ideal if you want to try your hand at shooting or foraging, but in our view you can't beat warming winter breaks snuggled up in front of the fire.

Our top tips

If you can brave the chilly water, take a dip in one of Dartmoor’s beautiful wild swimming spots. Jo and Sam recommend Spitchwick Common and Newbridge on the River Dart. Dawlish Warren beach is also 12 miles away.

Great for...

Eco
Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique B&B
  • 5
  • Breakfast (+ 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
  • Local maps and guide books
  • Boules pitch
Room:

Rooms

Accessed via a pair of steep staircases twisting up from the dining room, the 5 rooms are named after the eldest children of the first guests to stay in them. All make stylish and soothing sanctuaries, with views over hills and wooded valleys, and pared-down décor that shows off the beautiful original features.

Each room has a different colour combination (grey and orange, purple and mint green, crimson and taupe) set against beamed ceilings and wonderfully wonky whitewashed walls. Furniture is an eclectic mix of vintage and contemporary, and lovely little details - an embroidered footstool, a horse-print cushion, a ceramic owl-shaped lamp - are dotted here and there. We particularly loved the sheepskin-covered window seats in every room, and spent a lazy afternoon curled up in the sunshine watching Jo and Sam’s cat chase butterflies on the lawn outside.

Orla’s Room, where we stayed, is a vast space with a free-standing double-ended tub and a TV which swivels so you can watch as you snooze or soak. Almost as large are Avalon’s Room, which has a bathtub and shower in its ensuite, and Henry’s Room, where an ornate mantelpiece and a shower room with double sinks sit under soaring rafters. Otis’ Room and Alfie’s Room are smaller but no less lovely, with ensuite rain showers.

All come with St Kitts Herbery bath and shower goodies, bottles of fresh water, WiFi, hairdryers, bathrobes and flat-screen TVs (there’s no signal, but you can help yourself to DVDs from the bar downstairs). Larger rooms also have kettles, tea bags and jugs of fresh milk; if you’re staying in a smaller room you’ll find a tea-making station on the landing outside. Beds throughout are super-kingsize or kingsize (no twins) and sink-into comfy, with cool, crisp linen and snuggly throws. Best of all, you get near-total silence, with nothing but the gentle braying of distant cattle to wake you from your slumber.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

Jo used to work in top London restaurants and her penchant for local, seasonal and organic fare, combined with her deft hand in the kitchen, produces some mouthwatering results. If it’s not homemade then it’s sourced nearby, and she’s even creating a biodynamic kitchen garden where vegetables will be grown in harmony with the seasons, the moon and the stars.

Dinner, available by prior arrangement, is a real treat. It kicks off with tipples from the honesty bar, which is stocked with local ales, cider, biodynamic wines, bottled beers and spirits, before moving into the cosy, convivial dining room. Here, guests sit together around a vast slate table, lit by flickering candles and flanked by a glowing wood-burner, as jazz plays softly in the background. Dishes are as delicious as the tempting aromas wafting through from the kitchen suggest: we tucked into venison and juniper pie and delicate buttered greens, followed by apple and vanilla crumble with blackberry-infused clotted cream - perfect comfort food after a day roaming the moor.

Breakfast is a similarly hearty spread. Laid out on the table are bottles of fresh apple juice, jars of homemade granola, baskets of home-baked bread, local jams and preserves, steaming pots of tea, and cafetières of coffee. Hot dishes are cooked to order - perhaps succulent sausages and bacon, eggs from a neighbouring farm, and juicy slow-baked tomatoes. In summer, you can eat outside on the sunny terrace.

For lunch and evenings out, there are plenty of good pubs within a short drive. Our favourite was The Horse in Moretonhampstead (15 minutes away), which serves up Mediterranean-inspired grub (gnocchi, rustic pizzas, club sandwiches). Jo also recommends The Ruggle Stone in Widecombe (30 minutes away), where outdoor tables line the banks of a burbling moorland stream.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Communal dining
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Organic produce
Eating:
Activity: Haytor Rocks Dartmoor National Park

Activities

  • Go walking among Dartmoor’s craggy granite tors, tumbling rivers and hilltop reservoirs. OS maps and guides are available, and Jo and Sam can recommend tried and tested routes taking anything from 1 to 5 hours

  • Bike hire and horse-riding can be arranged if you’d prefer to explore the dramatic landscape on 2 wheels or 4 legs

  • Dartmoor is dotted with Bronze Age sites, including mystical menhirs (standing stones), stone circles, cairns and huts. Some of the most impressive are Upper Erme, Challacombe, Drizzlecombe, Grimspound and Merrivale, all within an hour's drive

  • Or you can fast-forward a few millennia and explore the area's fascinating industrial heritage. A few remnants of mining, quarrying and peat-cutting remain, including the Wheal Betsy engine house, the ruined gunpowder factory at Powdermills, and the ghostly outline of the Haytor granite tramway

  • Visit Castle Drogo, 20 minutes away near Drewsteignton. Designed by Sir Edward Lutyens at the start of the 20th century, it’s perched above the Teign gorge and was the last castle to be built in England

  • Children will love the Miniature Pony Centre, 15 minutes away, where you can stroke and ride gentle ponies and meet other farm animals

  • Wander along Lydford Gorge (40 minutes away), a deep ravine known for its gushing whirlpools and 30m-high White Lady Waterfall. Lydford village is also worth a stop for its ancient castle, thatched cottages and pretty church

  • Spend a day on the beach. Dawlish Warren (25 minutes away) has sand dunes, safe swimming and traditional seaside cafés, while Exmouth (40 minutes away) is great for rock-pooling and kite-surfing. Bigbury (45 minutes away) is particularly pretty, with a 13th-century pub and sea tractors out to Burgh Island

  • Play golf on Bovey Castle’s 18-hole course (15 minutes away)

  • In season, Jo and Sam can arrange shooting, fishing and foraging

Activities on site or nearby include:

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

Kids

Weeke Barton's laid-back ambiance and homely charms make it ideal for families seeking a stylish country base. Children of all ages are welcome: baby cots and extra beds can be added to rooms for a small supplement, though the steep staircases mean you’ll want to keep a watchful eye on roving toddlers.

There are plenty of attractions nearby to keep little ones amused, and they may even spot a Dartmoor pony on the moors. Some of Devon’s best beaches are within striking distance, too.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

All rooms can accommodate a baby cot, and the larger rooms (Henry's Room, Avalon's Room and Orla's Room) have space for a rollaway bed. Avalon's Room and Orla's Room are the only rooms with bathtubs

Babysitting:

Jo and Sam can recommend tried and tested babysitters

Baby listening:

Baby monitors work between the bedrooms and the lounge, bar and dining room downstairs – you'll need to bring your own

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots
  • Highchair
  • Changing mats
  • Booster seat

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

Children's meals:

Jo can tailor dishes to young tastebuds by prior arrangement, and will happily prepare simple meals like pasta with tomato sauce. Children's supper is served at 5.30pm, and kids are welcome in the dining room until 7

Kids Activities on site:

  • Boules pitch

  • Children’s DVDs
  • Garden
  • Craft materials and crayons and pens
  • Books

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:

All rooms are on the first floor, accessed via steep spiral staircases

Distances:

  • Airport: 30 minutes (Exeter)
  • Hospital: 20 minutes (Exeter)
  • Shop: 15 minutes (Moretonhampstead)
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
9/
Food
9/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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