Welcome to East Devon. Home to rolling green hills, little wiggly lanes, a vast coastline of international scientific importance and some of the nicest most underrated scenery in the UK.
There are pieces of East Devon that are exceptionally quaint, other pieces that are rugged and handsome in a landscape kind-of-way, and other pieces that are as modern and comfortable as the rest of the UK with coffee, 4G and tarmac on the roads. It is in intricate jigsaw puzzle that, once put together, creates an unforgettable destination for a holiday in the UK. If you’re a local like me, it only goes to highlight why living in Devon is the best.
Travellers tend to think as Devon being the county that you stop in on the way to Cornwall. And if I had to present my case to anyone, I would wheel out this part of the world being one of the reasons why you should stop at Junction 29 and go no further (but maybe onto Dartmoor…we’ll let you off if you promise to visit!)
Ottery St Mary has already got a reputation in the foodie world as being a bit of a mecca. The Samosa Lady, The Rusty Pig, Tickety-Boo Cafe are all places with foodie fans, and that list is about to get stronger.
As part of a press trip, we were invited to an overnight stay to The Devon Spotted Pig, a luxury barn conversion based just outside Ottery St Mary.
The Devon Spotted Pig is smack bang in the beating heart of East Devon. It’s a short distance from the sea, not too far from River Cottage, a mere hop-skip from the M5. You get the idea.
Sitting in the shadow of East Hill, Carolyn and Paul Bellinger have turned this unassuming agricultural barn into a luxury destination for foodies. And it’s not just the lovely lush beds, luxury interiors and freshly painted walls, this will be the venue for weekend cookery courses and other events taking full advantage of the elegant and well equipped surroundings.
When booking (book on Cottages.com) guests are able to include Carolyn as private chef as well as self-catering options.
Despite the rural setting, The Devon Spotted Pig is relatively close to the centre of Ottery St Mary, just five minutes away and easily accessible by car. Just over half an hour from Exeter and an acceptable distance from a shop, the setting is so private and secluded, it was easy to forget that we were a convenient distance from civilisation.
Once you turn into the clean gravel drive of the barn and arrive, the first thing you see is the hot-tub. The second thing you see is the pigs and the final thing you notice is the expanse of green in the foreground and the distance. The rural idyll factor is strong as you look out over the rolling Devon Hills.
The Devon Spotted Pig is perfect for a big occasions, small occasions, getaways and any other reasons you might find to hire a boutique luxury holiday home. With chef. Yes. With a chef.
Soon after we arrived we were welcomed by Carolyn who would be cooking for us and our newly acquired housemates that evening. With her husband Paul, they not only run the Taste of the West Cafe at the Jurassic Centre in Seaton, but also their own catering business.
Carolyn had prepared a flavourful Pork Fillet Terrine using fillet from her own pigs. Then a refreshing Summer Salad with a splash of Tamar Tipple’s toffee and apple rum.
The evening was a delight, such lovely food and company. But the great thing about our experience wasn’t just the heated floors, super comfy beds and the amazing food, but the fact that a mere 15 minutes away was Seaton and the dramatic Jurassic Coast. We had a trip planned for the next day!
I woke up to the distant sound of horses trotting around in a nearby field. I blearily went downstairs and had a breakfast of Brie, Grapes and Toast. This is the problem with a fully stocked fridge, it all needs eating and being on a diet would have just got in the way. “I’ll start again on Monday” I said to myself.
We got to Seaton via the Seaton Tramway, hopping on at Colyton, a three mile trip along the narrow gauge tramway, laid on the bed of the disused branch that was closed during the Beeching closures in the sixties. The history of this tramway is fascinating, I haven’t ridden it for a number of years. The views from the tram were stunning, perfect for a good twitching session! If you want to take in more of the wildlife, then there is a walk that incorporates the many bird hides that is worth exploring.
When we arrived at Seaton we were treated to a lovely lunch at the Seaton Jurassic Centre – the Taste of the West Cafe located just inside is run by Carolyn and it has a strong focus on locally sourced products and ingredients. It is a real gem of a place, only recently opened – read about the opening here –
I was a big fan of the sausages that were made from Carolyn’s own pigs.
After lunch we got to look around the interactive exhibition at the Jurassic Centre. This is a really good attraction if you have kids, it takes visitors on a journey through the history of the Jurassic Coast and emphasises the importance it holds to the scientific community. For me, however, the highlight was the nature garden out the back, attracting bees and other vitally important insects.
The Devon Spotted Pig is available to book now.
I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on our stay, and it is hard to forget the luxurious fittings, the squishy duvets and the soft furnishings. The kitchen is even harder to forget, such a wonderfully large quality space perfect for making feasts, or having Carolyn create a feast for you.
This is a special destination, with a touch of elegance in a beautiful setting. Everything from the fully stocked fridge and cupboards, to the comfy chill-out inducing sofas creates an air of relaxation. It will be hard to find anywhere else quite like it.
Tel: 07966 490977
Address: The Devon Spotted Pig,
Oak Lodge, Holcombe Ln,
Ottery Saint Mary