Lovebirds! This one’s for you.
A Dartmoor retreat that should star in a Rom-Com; the Oscar for Classic English Country Idyll goes to... Moorland View Cottage.
It’s happened. I’ve emotionally cheated on Mr Muddy. I’ve fallen totally, utterly head over heels and, if I’m honest, it was love at first sight. I’m a sucker for looks, you see, and I do love a nice thick thatch on top. Yep, I must be honest, Moorland View Cottage is a bit of a heartbreaker.
It’s the kind of place that disgruntled city types sit and gaze at in the pages of the weekend property supplements, brow furrowed, wondering if it might just be possible to escape to the country, live the dream and all the other associated cliches. This thatched 2 bedroomed cottage in a thriving Dartmoor village may induce daydreams for many, but it could certainly be your reality for a while at least, if you book yourself in for a stay at Moorland View Cottage.
Ridiculously pretty from the outside in, this cottage, made for couples, is testament to the talents and impeccable tastes of its owner, Suzy Bennett. An award-winning travel journalist and photographer, she has an eye for detail and has used her experience travelling the world to transform this centuries old cottage into a stylish, romantic bolthole for the modern traveller.
The 13th century village of North Bovey is quite the charmer, you know, and its residents play the part well. Located within Dartmoor National Park near Moretonhampstead, it’s certainly off the beaten track, a good 20 minutes or so from Bovey Tracey, but well worth the journey. The sun shone for the duration of our stay, bells cheerfully chimed, everyone we encountered went out of their way to smile and say hello and the local pub was everything it promised from its thatched exterior. Is this Devon’s friendliest village? It’s definitely a contender.
Step inside and you’re enveloped by a warmth and charm, the kind that makes you instantly want to kick off your shoes and throw some logs on the fire. It’s beautifully decorated, doing justice to the character of the cottage, with perfectly preserved exposed brick, flagstone floors and wood-beamed walls, while French inspired furnishings and antiques add to the romance. There’s no shortage of plumpy cushions, fluffy rugs and cosy throws, taking care of the chillier months. When it’s warmer, you’ll feel the urge to throw open the windows and let the scents from the rose garden do their wafty thing.
The kitchen is super-cute and very user-friendly, for those evenings where you just want to open a bottle and loaf in front of the fire.
But while this cottage looks like a set from a film, the details haven’t been overlooked; in fact, I think it’s the most thoughtfully presented offering I’ve experienced in a long time and I reckon that’s down to an owner who knows a thing or two about staying away from home.
You’ll find scented candles and fluffy dressing gowns with slippers; wellies and mountain bikes available for heading outdoors; a Sonos system wired up to Spotify and a movie library, along with glossy mags and interesting paperbacks. There’s even a Mac available if you fancy starting that novel, or doing some research on the area, although you’ll find plenty of useful info in the Welcome Folder.
Upstairs, the luxury continues, with a beautiful master bedroom, furnished with a marshmallow-like kingsize bed on painted floorboards. Linen is Egyptian cotton, draped in silk throws – it’s all the bits of The White Company that we love, wrapped up in a chocolate box.
The second bedroom is bijou but just as beautiful, with the option of splitting the kingsize bed into twins.
And then we come to the bathroom and *that* vintage copper and tin slipper tub, made for two – and described by the Evening Standard as “one of the UK’s best baths”. Yes, yes it is. Just add a generous dollop of White Company bubbles (on tap, of course) and you’ll never have another bath like it.
We slept like babies, waking in our own time, as it’s sooo quiet in North Bovey. Try playing ‘Country Bingo’ while you’re there; you might be lucky enough to hear the odd church bell, horse hoof or blackbird, but that’s about it.
SCOFF & QUAFF
It’s a self-catering set-up, but frankly, if you’re only coming for the night or weekend, you may find you need very little in the way of provisions. There’s a generous selection of treats awaiting you, from fresh bread, farmhouse milk and ground coffee, to Dorset cereals and fruit. We were welcomed with some tasty homemade cheese bites (Mr Muddy soon forgot his aversion to le fromage) and a bottle of bubbles.
In the evening, we discovered the marshmallows next to the fire, begging to be toasted.
Then, it was time to wrap up and make the arduous journey of, ooh, 62.4 seconds to the village pub, the Ring of Bells Inn (full review here), for dinner. It really couldn’t be easier.
Well, actually it could, because Suzy told me that, as well as the current optional extra of homemade suppers that can be pre-ordered and popped in the oven, she’s about to start offering her guests the services of private chef, Harrie, from Boo To A Goose. So if *that* bath has rendered you incapable of doing anything, which it absolutely could, then you’re covered.
Just to ramp up the romance factor another notch, your stay includes complimentary use of the spa, pool and country club facilities at nearby Bovey Castle – and when I say nearby I mean a gentle 30 minute stroll through the woods, alongside streams and up through the golf course. If you fancy it, you’ll also receive 25% off treatments and discounts on your food. We spent a blissful Monday morning there, before heading home; it’s what Monday’s should be all about.
Oh, how I wish I’d discovered this little beauty when the Mudlet was tiny. The cottage, I think, is a perfect retreat for allowing sleep-deprived parents to escape the daily grind and feel pampered, without leaving the small one at home. You have all the luxuries, but none of the awkwardness of a hotel when it comes to padding downstairs to warm a bottle, or making sure the baby monitor works. Beyond babies, the cottage isn’t really appropriate for toddlers under 6.
OUT AND ABOUT
I’d definitely recommend having a read of Suzy’s Welcome folder, which includes loads of suggestions of places to visit, options for eating out and ideas for the more adventurous. From walking routes, to discovering the Dartmoor Artisan Trail, cream teas to Michelin starred restaurants, it turns out that North Bovey is a brilliant base for exploring Dartmoor and beyond.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Couples, honeymoon/mini-mooners, walkers, foodies, those seeking a hideaway where they can retreat from the world like Cameron Diaz in The Holiday, or write that long-anticipated novel.
Not for: People over 8 feet tall may find themselves needing to book in for a neck massage at Bovey Castle, because of the low doorways. The cottage is also unsuitable for children under 6, but a free cot is provided for babies.
££: Prices start from £130 per night and for that level of peace and luxury, I think it’s a steal. If you’d like to bring a small/medium pooch, it’s an extra £15. A big plus for me is that stays are flexible, so you’re not tied to week-long lets; it’s possible to escape for a quick overnighter – hurrah!
Moorland View Cottage, North Bovey, Dartmoor National Park, Devon, TQ13 8RA. Tel: 07786 264865. moorlandviewcottage.co.uk