Travel – Devon by Tim Saunders

More Europeans are holidaying in east Devon, according to Susanne Westgate, co-owner of West Pitt Farm near Tiverton. With her partner, Adrian, she took over the holiday business 12 years ago, and has witnessed a steady increase in bookings especially from overseas.

Travel - Devon by Tim Saunders“During recession, there is increasingly strong interest from the Dutch and Germans,” says Susanne, who puts this down to a weak pound coupled with the unique experience guests enjoy. Word is now spreading as far as Austria, she tells me.

The 60-acre farm nestled in the beautiful Devon countryside near the village of Whitnage is home to seven luxury four to five-star properties. Susanne and Adrian have also invested heavily in catering for disabled tourists by building a lodge where accommodation is spread over one level.

We stay in the Farmhouse, a Victorian property with high ceilings and sash windows where guests enjoy views of the pond. That pond incidentally, is stocked with various fish including carp weighing up to 22lbs – of interest to the anglers who stay there. Picturesque views extend as far as east Devon towards Sidmouth.

Interestingly, there is a door connecting the Farmhouse to a cottage next door, making it ideal for sizeable wedding parties or family occasions. The four double bedrooms of the Farmhouse are more than adequate though for my family and I and the beds are comfy, which is always important. That, together with sheer solitude (such a contrast to where we live), ensures we all sleep well. What’s more, even our youngest daughter, Heidi (5mths), who was only sleeping for a couple of hours at a time before we went away, suddenly started sleeping the whole night through.

Susanne and Adrian have thought of everything required for a relaxing holiday including a tennis court and an outdoor play area for the children, which eldest daughter Harriett thoroughly enjoys. Every day we swim in the indoor heated swimming pool and on some occasions more than once. The confidence of both our daughters grows noticeably over the week. We stay during the summer heat wave where it only rains once, at night, despite the persistent doom mongering of thunderstorms by pessimistic weathermen. During this time, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge become proud parents to George. It is just as well that we can access rolling 24-hour news otherwise my wife would be beside herself!

There’s little time for television though because it is such a relaxing place that allows you to dream and contemplate as you savour the beauty of the rolling fields and the distant bleating of the sheep.

Not far from West Pitt Farm is the market town of Tiverton with its array of shops, many independent and some charity shops. Before my arrival, the British Heart Foundation shop stocked a good supply of Inspector Morse novels… The town is also home to Tiverton Hotel with its Gallery Restaurant and lounge bar. The bar lounge looked appealing. It’s not often that bar staff are friendly and talkative these days and our bartender certainly made a good impression. While we agreed that the curried carrot and apple soup was a little too potent, the Exmoor Ale and chicken sandwich was much more the ticket.

There are numerous tourist attractions in this neck of the woods too. RHS Rosemoor near Torrington is a gardener’s delight with all the plants imaginable. Its size demands that each visitor spends at least an entire day there, if not more. We are particularly impressed by the large kitchen garden where many varieties of apples and pears, tomatoes and melons are all happily growing.

About the author: Tim Saunders is an author, journalist and businessman. He meets celebrities, goes on holiday and road tests cars.