Fancy a glam Dartmoor escape? Check in at Weeke Barton
If you’re looking for a cracking Dartmoor escape that feels a bit Hackney-meets-Wuthering Heights, then I have just the thing for you.
Weeke Barton, meet my lovely Muddy readers!
You can’t get more off the beaten track than this gorgeous guest house, run by a couple who shipped out of London (yes, Hackney funnily enough) to bring up their family in fresh air a few years back and went to town on the old longhouse.
You’ll find it about eight miles from Exeter towards Moretonhampstead (6 miles away) and the nearest village is a place called Dunsford. But Weeke Barton is in the middle of nowhere, up a very narrow single-track hill, perched overlooking the Teign Valley. You can hear the wildlife in surround sound up here.
The guest house itself has probably the fattest old front door I’ve ever encountered, deffo a photo opportunity with me dubiously in shot (not my finest modelling hour clearly!) so you can see what I mean.
Beauty, isn’t it?
Then, you’re in to a big old Devon house with beams, thick walls, low doorways and lots of little rooms. This place literally heaves with centuries of history and has aged with serious style. The owners, Sam and Jo, great hosts by the way, have gone for something a bit retro, a bit glam and ver-r-r-r-y cosy. It’s the kind of rural hideaway where you actually hope for a storm so that you can hunker down with a good book and a glass of red.
The Sonos set-up means there’s always a decent playlist quietly on the go in the background wherever you are and there is a whiff of crackling fires about the place. The lounge is full of squishy sofas and armchairs around a log burner; and the honesty bar can be found in a little snug.
As you can see, the bar is weeny but I’m going to let you in on a secret. The wine is biodynamic, which basically means you don’t get a hangover. Clever Sam and Jo.
We had a grown-ups only night away here recently (although this place is very family-friendly) and stayed in Orla’s Room, up a fantastically ancient spiral staircase:
Ours was one of the biggest in the house, but I took a peek at some of the other four and they’re all of a very generous size, in my opinion.
All of the rooms share things like cushioned window seats, cosy throws and exposed beams, along with retro art and fittings.
But ours was the only one where you can take a bath in the bedroom and stick on a DVD to watch while you’re preening and scrubbing if you so wish – a first in the Muddy house.
By the way, worth knowing that you’ll probably struggle with mobile signal here (a blessing for some) and consequently the television signal is weak, but there is a decent DVD library in the snug. Relax, there’s wifi.
They use products from St Kitts Herbery, just over the border in Muddy Cornwall’s patch; I’m now a total convert to their rosemary and bergamot hand wash and have stocked up.
Dinner is an interesting one. The dining room is one big, communal slate table, which means two things: if you want it, Jo will cook up a seasonal three-course dinner for you; and if you’re in when other guests are, it might be a communal affair. Not for everyone perhaps, but still, a nice opportunity to chat about new stuff over dinner with fellow guests. And if you’re feeling really anti-social I’m pretty sure something could be sorted out; it seems like a very laid back and flexible arrangement.
Jo’s dinners aren’t something to gloss over, by the way. In a past life, she was restaurant manager of the Bluebird in London and appeared to have picked up a few tips from that era. Typically you can expect (and hope for) a hearty steak pie dished up with seasonal greens, pretty in-keeping with the rest of the offering. Being the bleak mid-winter and late arrivals, we were the only guests and so headed out to a nice old pub a ten-minute drive away in Doddiscombleigh for a quick supper. You only have to ask for recommendations and you’ll get them, from old-fashioned pub grub to more exciting Mediterranean flair, all a little drive away.
Man, it was dark out there away from light pollution. Kind of glad we had moonlight.
I was out sparko for eight blissful hours and woke to one of those gorgeous misty mornings, prompting me to poke Mr Muddy awake and order him to get the camera. Well, he’s got to earn his keep.
Rounded off with home-made granola and eggs, seriously, where can you go wrong?
Typically, we couldn’t stick around beyond breakfast but there is lots I want to do around these parts, so we’re planning on coming back with the Mudlet. Weeke Barton is geared up for families, groups and couples who want to get out and explore and there are maps and guides all over the place that you’re free to borrow, including five homemade walks straight from the house ranging between one and five hours. It’s within the National Park, an hour from the North Devon coast and thirty minutes from the South Hams, so there really is no excuse not to get the wellies on.
The best bit about all of this for me, is the amazing value for money. Rooms with breakfast here are £130 a night, with seasonal deals on offer at the moment. And, it’s worth knowing that Weeke Barton is available to hire out exclusively at certain times of the year, so that dining table suddenly starts to make a lot of sense and the relaxed set-up of the house really comes into its own. With five rooms, it’s an ideal place to book for a group gathering and pretend you’re proper country folk for a few days.
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: couples craving peace, quiet and fresh air; walkers and families (high chairs, travel cots and lots of other convenient little touches are there for parents of babies and toddlers and most rooms can easily fit a cot).
Not for: those addicted to the telly box.
£: Stonkingly good value. The biggest rooms are £130 and smaller ones £110 with cooked breakfast included. A two-course dinner is £20 a head and 3 courses £30. You can hire the whole house for £600.
Weeke Barton, Dunsford, Dartmoor, EX6 7HH. Tel: 01647 253505. www.weekebarton.com