Muddy Find: Your Self-Catering Hols, Sorted
Who’s wondering if this year they can actually be arsed to pack their lives into 25 kilos and endure a flight with the family? Me too. Especially when certain airlines are taking away the perks of a free glass of plonk to help get you through the ordeal *rolls eyes* . Listen up, people: this year, it’s time to embrace the country and do a bit of Devon in self-catering style.
I’ve started my research nice and early and, you know what they say about birds and worms? Well I think I’ve hit jackpot already. I’ve been, I’ve road tested it and fear not, there’s room for us all, Muddy readers! So, fingers on keyboards and getting drooling over West Charleton Grange – GO!
This little collection of six cottages is literally smothered in catnip for families who just want the ease of somewhere that feels like home, but with all the luxury perks you hope for on holiday. You’ll find it buried deep in the South Hams village of West Charleton, which is about five minutes’ drive from Kingsbridge, so while it feels as though you’re pretty rural, you’re actually not that far at all from civilisation. From the brow of the hill that you drive up to reach its entrance, turn around and you’ll get a pretty impressive view of the estuary at the tip of Salcombe, that’ll help you get your bearings. I would have taken a pic for you, but there was too much rain on my lens *cough*.
Park up and unload and then you’re ‘home’ as it were – don’t forget your fluffy bedsocks. Me and the Muddy tribe were invited to come and shake off our self-catering L-plates for a few nights just before Christmas, staying in Twysden, the second largest of the cottages, sleeping six.
It has an upside-down layout to make the most of the view. So downstairs, you find three bedrooms; one a cosy double, a twin with bunks and a triple room. A quick bounce on the beds confirmed my suspicion that, nope, they haven’t scrimped on the essentials: these are seriously comfy mattresses. There’s a bathroom, obviously, it would be weird if there wasn’t, and a separate loo as well as plenty of storage space.
Upstairs is an open-plan kitchen with high ceilings and a nice big dining table. Everything you need in those cupboards too, including lots of decent takeaway menus should you be as lazy as me.
The lounge has slouchy sofas, with a big square bay window looking out across the grounds to rolling hills. And a Smart TV, so you can get your Netflix fix when the kids have finally conked out.
If you can get addicted to window-gazing in dreary December weather, just imagine what this place looks like come the spring.
This is about as easy and luxurious as self-catering gets. There are local, handmade treats to welcome you, Ren goodies in the bathroom (I can sniff out the extra’s like a pooch), all of the basics to get you up and running in the kitchen and tonnes of information to help you settle in.
The Mudlet wasn’t forgotten either, far from it. We arrived to a little play corner set up in our living room, complete with mini kitchen bits and bobs and books, ideal for a three year-old Nigella wannabe. They’ll probably ask about your kids when you book, so if they have any age-appropriate toys they can stock up your cottage so you can save on the packing. She was thrilled for a few minutes, but to be honest, she spent most of the time running feral outside. Here she is pootling up the lane towards the swimming pool. Yes, that’s an elf hat:
I did say swimming pool, yes, a complete lifesaver when the weather is grey and dreary. Heated to a nice and inviting temp (goosebumps are never attractive), it’s a bit of luxury seconds from your door, well-stocked with towels, plenty of pool toys for the kids in the clan (read: Dads, mainly,) to make use of. AND MORE REN than you can shake a stick at – this is important stuff for you to know!
We really didn’t get the weather for it, but you should know that once you’re parked up the grounds are a really safe place for little ones to roam and explore. Just across from our front door, there was a little gate with steps leading down to a football-pitch size garden area, complete with wendy house maisonette, that’s got more square footage than some London pads and a selection of ride-on toys. I also spied a substantial terrace down in the garden, complete with barbecue, so it looks like a pretty impressive set-up for parents and groups, who want to sit out in the warmer months with a glass of wine, while keeping a beady eye on the smalls. Here it is in warmer months.
I’ve obviously gone on about what makes West Charleton Grange ideal for families and I could continue if nobody stopped me: chunky stair gates, thoughtful little night lights in bedrooms, and wind-up toys playing lullabies; but it struck me that that this place can pretty much do it for anyone.
The cottages all vary in size, so that couples can take the cosy one-bedroom Granary and larger families can commandeer the West Wing; you can be completely private the whole time, but the cottages are also literally, a stones throw from each other, so if you wanted to descend on the place as a large group, the layout is going to make for good times.
You could easily spend a few days here and not get in the car once, but in a location like this, that would be just plain bonkers. You’re moments from Kingsbridge which is lovely for a wander and has the superb, ever-popular, family-friendly Crabshell Inn, with excellent pizzas. Bantham beach with its quirky and very tasty Gastrobus (even open for most of the winter) and Salcombe are easily reached too.
And if you want to book one of the recommended babysitters of an eve and push the boat out (literally, some sailor-types put-put over from Salcombe), you’re minutes away from a great pub, serving Devon grub with a French twist The Millbrook Inn. Heck, I’m even going to recommend a pootle around the local shop, Ashby’s Easy Stores, which might look like a petrol station from the outside, but is a tardis inside with toys for grown-ups too. Be warned, don’t be surprised if your other half disappears and returns with a Kayak.
Good for: families with kids from baby right up to teens, couples seeking solitude and a bit of crackly-fired romance, beach-lovers, walkers and groups wanting somewhere for exclusive use.
Not for: those wanting to be within walking distance of some bright lights.
£: 7 nights in the West Wing (sleeping 6) in January would cost you £725. In peak summer months that escalates to £2395. Cottages vary in size and price and some great deals can be found throughout the year on the website.
West Charleton Grange, West Charleton, Kingsbridge, TQ7 2AD. Tel: 01548 531779. www.westcharletongrange.com