All Dogs go to Devon
Woolacombe Bay, Devon
We usually go on holiday to Cornwall. This year we fancied a change and wondered whether we could find a slice of holiday heaven for us and our dog in Devon.
The first point in its favour is that it's quicker to get to Devon, unless of course you already live in Cornwall. And then why would you bother to leave Cornwall anyway?
That said, we were curious how Devon would fare against our main holiday criteria of good quality holiday accommodation with great pub grub and plenty of dog friendly places to visit nearby.
We settled on staying in rural isolation in a village called Shirwell in North Devon. During our stay we saw more sheep than people, which was fine by us. The cottage was really posh and spacious but had no internet access or phone signal so we were incommunicado for the duration of our stay. Unfortunately the water supply to the cottage was about as reliable as Keith Richards in charge of a free bar so showers were a bit of a hit and miss affair.
We found a couple of really dog friendly locals, where the food was good and we didn't have to travel too far down the perilously narrow country lanes to get back to the cottage. These were the Muddiford Inn and the Pyne Arms, both near Barnstaple.
The seaside holds little attraction for my dog. She enjoys a quick paddle and then looks at you expectantly as if to say, "Fine but what are we going to do now?" She's a dog of mixed pedigree but on a walk the spaniel in her comes to the fore and all she wants to do is sniff and there are precious few decent smells near the sea as the tide comes to wash them away. We stumped up the obligatory extortionate parking fee at Woolacombe Bay and Saunton Sands and went for a walk along the seashore. We enjoyed our walks next to the sea and our dog cheered up considerably on the way back as we let her run free at the sand dunes at the back of the beaches, where rabbit odours abound.
North Devon has a surprising number of dog friendly gardens and they pretty much all seem to have great tea rooms so you are never more than ten minutes away from a coronary-inducing cream tea. Ambrosia weren't wrong when they said, "Devon knows how they make it so creamy". Highlights of the gardens included a spectacular woodland trail at Arlington Court, Barnstaple, tea on a beautiful lawned garden at Tapeley Park Gardens, Bideford and the choice of delightful walled gardens or seaviews at Hartland Abbey, Bideford.
My dog Holly was unequivocal in her holiday favourite. We visited Marwood Hill Gardens, Barnstaple, and no matter where we were in the garden or tea room she dragged us on her lead (like a dog who has never stepped a paw inside an obedience class) down to the lake. There she would sit for hours if we let her, watching the ducks and multi-coloured carp who swim over as soon as you stand or sit near the water.
It was an excellent choice though as for sheer relaxation and beauty it was our favourite place in Devon as well.
So will I change my holiday allegiance from Cornwall to Devon? They are both so good I think that I will have to visit them both again before I make up my mind... All I know is that my dog found doggy heaven in Devon this year.
Marwood Hill Gardens
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